Once, way back in the first half of the ’90s, when the World Wide Web was really a new thing, I was asked to participate in a conference for science journalists. My expertise derived from being a newspaper editor and from my early dabbling in online stuff, and believe me, it was only dabbling. I was on a panel with a couple other editor types, and the subject was the impact and promise of the Web for journalists and journalism, or something like that. A question came up about whether the Web would give individuals the ability to follow their own paths — to become self-publishers. I was not and am not a seer, but I said it was undoubtedly true that the Web would create such opportunities. I wasn’t sure that would make anybody a living, much less make them wealthy. After all, I said, the world has never been short of opportunities to get poor doing something you love. It’s just that sort of entrepreneurial acumen and spirit that has built my current publishing empire.
Now: I’m sure those of you who read regularly have noticed that I sometimes ride a bike and sometimes blog about bike-related matters. I’ve thought about doing a new blog or site devoted to all this cycling stuff I do and pay attention to, and to try to make it something that goes well beyond what I’ve done already. Maybe do some product reviews and book reviews. Try to track the most important news of the day. Include fitness and nutrition news. Offer a full gamut of riding advice, from what to do in traffic to what are the best cross-country tour routes. Try to involve some other people, at least as occasional contributors, and make the whole thing both down to earth and written with voice and humor. Oh — and it would be commercial, to some extent: I’d take ads and look for other ethical money-making opportunities.
One issue, writing down these general ideas, is that I know at least one other site doing this kind of thing: RoadBikeRider.com. It’s done by a really veteran crew from Bicycling magazine once upon a time. There are probably others out there that people might now and could point me to. The point about that is that, in the language of startups, one needs to have some points of differentiation with such potential competitors. “Being better” is not a differentiator, because that’s what everyone sets out to be. “Being free” might be, if you can really pull that off (RoadBikeRider, for instance, uses its weekly newsletter as its come-on to pay for membership; all the good stuff is available only to paying customers).
Not to get too far ahead of myself, though: Today what I can easily do is set up a blog (a very crude beginning effort is here); yeah, the name — re: Cycling — needs work. On the Bike? I haven’t come up with anything snappy, and Bikezilla is taken. I can set up a Google ad account. I can begin thinking through the basics of plans for business and content. What I’d find really helpful, though, is any feedback and ideas people have on useful or attractive features.