Things I learnt running Vulcan Post

So for those who know, I have been running Vulcan Post for quite some time now, since August 2013. Here’s what we have achieved so far:

  • Over 1,500,000 people around the world has read Vulcan Post.
  • On average, we have 200,000 unique readers per month.
  • We are averaging 5 – 6 articles consistently per day.
  • We have grown to almost 30 writers, mostly contributors. We are planning our expansion to Malaysia now, and exploring new product offerings for our readers.
  • We have shot 5 episodes of Vulcan TV so far, on track to hit our planned 10 episodes by end of the year.

Really excited to share that we have managed and built all of this organically, in just 9 months.

Here’s a couple of things I’ve learnt:

Consistency

Consistency is underrated. It’s similar to being disciplined in things you do. For Vulcan Post, since I started it, I told myself and the team that no matter what, every single day we must keep our article quantity consistent. We are now averaging 5 – 6 articles per day, published every hour from 10.30am. We want to hit the ideal number of 8-10 articles.

Consistency means that readers can expect new content every time they come in. For example: if a reader is having lunch at 1pm, he can expect to read 3 new articles on Vulcan Post that day (10.30am, 11.30am, 12.30pm). This is very important in instilling reader’s loyalty and building return traffic. For Vulcan Post, 1 out of 4 of our readers are returning readers.

So how do we build consistency in the team? We schedule them in advance. What this means is that for all our articles tomorrow, we have all of them scheduled tonight, one day in advance. This ensures that we have our articles and content ready for publishing the next day. So everyday, we have time to look for new topic and write new articles without fighting against time or worry if we haven’t hit our quota of the day.

Of course, this takes a lot of discipline.

Content Partnership & Brand Equity

For Vulcan Post, we are excited to be working alongside some great partners such as Yahoo Singapore, Coconuts Singapore, Evernote, Facebook, The Smart Local, Twenty First Tech and many more. We are also fortunate that companies open their door for us to feature their office space and speak to their executives for Vulcan TV, our official video channel.

These partnerships are important because they attract other brands to come work together with us. As we help build up their brand equity through our distribution channel, they also build up our brand equity.

80 – 20 Rule

The 80 – 20 Rule holds true for us as well: 80 per cent of our traffic comes of 20 per cent of our content. We generally follow the 80 – 20 rule:

  • 80% of our stories are news and opinion pieces, 20% of our stories are buzzfeed-ish articles
  • 80% of our content follows the editorial strategy we set out for Vulcan Post, 20% of our content are fresh new content we experiment with
  • 80% of our traffic are generated by 20% of our writers
  • 80% of our content are produced in house, 20% of our content are from content partners and guest posts

The question then is, how do we identify the 20% of the things that matter (which brings in 80% of the results)?

Experimentation

I am a big fan of experimentation, and all writers have full flexibility to explore the topics and content they love. Want to do a movie review? Go ahead. Tech round up? Done that. Things you didnt know about a country? Works well. If it doesnt work, we kill it. That’s the only way we know what content may stick and what may not.

This goes in line with the 80 – 20 rule. Constant experimentation ensures that the chances of you discovering the 20% of the things that matter (which brings in 80% of the results) are significantly higher.

The same goes for writers. We are also fortunate to have a lot of people who wants to contribute on Vulcan Post. Over the past 2 weeks, we have about 7-10 people emailing us to see if they could join our team. We are keen to take them in, because again, that is the only way we discover great talents. (Of course, this causes a new set of problem, which i might share in another article).

Hardest to manage: Human

Perhaps the biggest thing I’ve learnt and is learning is this: human is the hardest to manage. Different expectation, different opinions, group think.

Motivation

One of the most important about running Vulcan Network is to constantly motivate myself and be really disciplined. As i am the one setting the milestones and timeline for the whole company, everything can crumble if I am not disciplined enough to keep things running.

It has been quite a lonely journey so far, but there’s no turning back. I wont lie and say that there werent time that I doubt myself and what I am doing, or whether I am making the right decisions. There are definitely time where I wake up and wonder what am I doing. But of course, more importantly, I have to trust myself to be able to brush it off and just get back to work. 🙂

What’s next

Vulcan Network, started in September 2013, aspires to be a company managing a few business portfolios. Vulcan Post was never the end game. It’s not big enough.

Vulcan Post was started because I wanted to start a product company, but i didn’t know what it was yet. What i do know is this: for the company that I am trying to build, I would need a distribution channel for it. But that should not be an excuse for me to not do anything about it, hence Vulcan Post was started. Vulcan TV and a few other products came along after that.

Here’s the different business units under Vulcan Network:

  1. Vulcan Post: Our main distribution channel. This is where people discover us. We report on Internet Lifestyle news, and we are writing for the mass public, people who are curious about technology.
  2. Vulcan TV: Our video channel. This is where we highlight the great companies and culture behind popular Internet websites. So far we have featured Viddsee, TripAdvisor, Zalora, Facebook and Groupon. There are three segments: Interview with an executive about company and vision, Interview with an employee about office culture, and then an office tour. I am very bullish about Vulcan TV and video being a better medium for story telling, and definitely excited to push this further.
  3. Vulcan DigestOur official weekly newsletter. We have almost 2000 subscribers now using Vulcan Digest to keep updated with our news on Vulcan Post and Vulcan TV.
  4. Vulcan PrintOur e book division. It was a side project I did last year. We will be converting some of our best stories on Vulcan Post to e-books too from time to time.
  5. Vulcan ConsultancyOur consulting arm, which we are working alongside some great clients on website development, mobile app development, digital marketing and PR consultancy.
  6. Vulcan: The content recommendation engine we are working on. The Outbrain of Southeast Asia. This is what’s gonna determine where we will be at in the next 5 years. This is our trump card.

Cant wait to:

  • Increase our daily article numbers to 8 per day on Vulcan Post!
  • Finish shooting 10 – 12 videos for Vulcan TV this year!
  • Start working on our second ebook for Vulcan Print!
  • Reveal our key clients for Vulcan Consultancy!
  • Launch Vulcan and grow it!
  • Cant wait for our growth the next 9 months!

Is it too much? Some might argue so.

To me, it is very manageable: all 6 items are necessary, and they are interconnected with one another. They power each other. In fact, we are thinking of possibly including another Vulcan brand, but that might stretch our resources too thin. If you were to break down each item to its individual time resources needed, you would quickly realize that it is very manageable.

And I still have time to write this blog post too. 🙂

 

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