Walden 3 (or “Utopia as business model”)

Jerry Michalski broke it down for me years ago. I was hosting a brunch for him at my loft in New York after he had moved out West. Over some H&H bagels we talked about happiness, something he always seemed to have in abundance. He told me that we humans were simple creatures at the end of the day: we just wanted to make a living doing something we loved.

Wow. That stuck with me.

WINs outward facing business modelthe one the public experiencesis as a long tail publisher. Weve got a bunch blogs, a bunch of bloggers, and a bunch of advertisers. We surf Chris long tail to profitability. Case closed, you can file us away in your dotcom history books as the latest evolution of the AOL Greenhouse, GeoCities, and About.com breed.

However, the truth is that what we are creating has nothing to do with publishing. What were creating is a lifestyle for passionate people that *results* in our outward facing business model.

These days we dont spend time saying asking ourselves how can we make better blogs, we spend our time saying how can we support our bloggers better?

Our bloggers work for a couple of hours a day and magically a check arrives every month (100+ checks last month). Every couple of months the check gets a little bigger and the bloggers love and knowledge of their topic grows deeper. The blogging becomes easier and more rewarding the more bloggers blog. The community gets more involved and their jobs get even easier and more rewarding. We give them raises when they dont expect it. We send them to trade shows they always wanted to attend, but never had a chance too. We have a total blast when we go to these trade showsits a party!

The dream is to have hundreds of people working for a couple of hours a day about a subject they love without having to answer to a boss. Without being filtered. If someone loses their passion for a subject they cn simple glide over to another subject in the network and become inspired all over again. If they have two or three passions in their life they blog about all of them as muchor as littleas they want. No filters, no politics, no commute, and no office.

Sounds crazy I know. However, weve got over 100 bloggers right now and many of them are experiencing exactly what Im talking about. I get emails and IMs from our bloggers telling me that they decided to take a couple of weeks off and sit by a lake or beach. While there they dont stop working, nope. They blog for a couple of hours a day and since they are sustaining themselves they can take a longer vacation and not feel guilty about it. I ask themand myselfsometimes why they dont trade their normal life for their vacation life. For some of us the line is starting to blur. My partner Brian gets more work done when he is on vacation! Im super productive when I spend 15 days at Sundance. Peter and Ryan from Engadget have a blast when they cover CES, CTIA and all the other shows Engadget covers.

Our bloggers are happy. Theyre spending more time with their kids and more time taking care of themselves. They have the time to cook a healthy meal or go for a long walk with their significant others. When they post to their blog and get comments from their audience they feel a sense of accomplishment, community, and belonging.

Many of our bloggers have full-time jobs and they sneak in posts during lunch, before work, and during their commute home. They ask me all the time let me know when I can quit my full-time job! Some of our bloggers already have, and many more have stopped looking for full-time work. The $1-3k they are making blogging is enough to be their anchor freelance gig. Add some

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