What It Takes

What It Takes

Developing Multiple Revenue Streams

By Callie Oettinger | Published: November 22, 2013

The Nov. 18 edition of Fortune Magazine contains a story about Barefoot Books and Nancy Traversy, who:

Pulled out of national store chains years ago because they made her eat large quantities of unsold books . . .

AND

Severed her relationship with Amazon this year out of frustration over its discounting of her products.

AND

Sells via partnerships with companies like Lakeshore Learning and a network of home-based sellers called Ambassadors.

AND

Marched into the digital age with its award-winning Barefoot World Atlas app for the iPhone and iPad, already downloaded 4 million times.

(Side note: That app is currently priced at $4.95 on iTunes. Multiply that by just one million downloads and it’s a nice revenue stream.)

Fortune positioned the story as a David vs. Goliath story, of Barefoot Books against Scholastic, with the challenge of “finding the right way to sell children’s books.”

The bigger challenge for publishers and authors is finding multiple revenue streams.

Barefoot Books didn’t rely on other publishers’ formulas for selling books.That’s step one. Then there’s step two, which in this example is the app, offering another revenue stream and branding opportunity for the company.

Step three would be along the lines of repackaging older titles for re-release, a la the announcement of the Bob Dylan collection announced this week. About fifty years after the release of “Like A Rolling Stone”— Dylan made headlines after the interactive video paired with the classic song was released. The video reinforced my love of Dylan and my hate of today’s TV programming, with the voice of art being the voice of reason throughout the video. I don’t know if Dylan had anything to do with the video or if it was his music label’s doing, but the video got people talking and checking out the packaging of:

• All 41 official albums, including 14 newly remastered titles

• A 2CD compilation of songs not included on the original albums

• All the original artwork reproduced

• Hardcover booklet with extensive liner notes and rare photos

I have most of his albums, but… newly remastered . . . And a compilation of songs not included on the original albums . . .

Though I haven’t yet fed Dylan’s addition revenue stream this week, I did give to another.

This week I found myself standing in line for Harry Potter “Forever” stamps at the post office—fifteen years after my godmother hooked me on the series, which led to me sneaking away from my boss’s Book Expo booth to grab Potter swag every year a new book was released. A series that started with a boy living in the cupboard under the stairs has turned into a powerhouse of revenue streams, bringing in new readers from younger generations. There’s the books, yes, but there’s so much more.

The same holds true in other arenas, too. That local gym? The one with special programs for seniors, camps in the summer and after-school programs for kids, unique classes and hours for parents, and so on? One gym, multiple revenue streams. Could have stopped with the basic membership and left it at that.

Magdalene, an organization based out of Nashville, which helps women, comes to mind as an example in the arena of social enterprise. Magdalene launched Thistle Farms, which employs graduates of Magdalene and creates a line of handmade products that are “as good for the earth as for the body.” The organization then launched the Thistle Stop Cafe, which creates “food as good for the body as it is for the earth.” One organization. One goal. Multiple ways to help the women who are a part of achieving that goal.

So for each writer and publisher and artist and entrepreneur and whomever/whatever else . . . the challenge isn’t just finding the right way to sell books or albums or artwork or a business, it’s finding ways to create additional revenue streams, via apps, repackaging, licensing, bundling and other options, to create longer legs for their work.

I can hear the echoes of suffering artist pals from college saying revenue streams are for sell-outs. The art is more important. Yes . . . Art is important, but so is eating and paying the rent or mortgage. And while multiple revenue streams won’t buy you happiness, they will —as Steve wrote in a recent “Writing and Money” post—buy you another season.

Posted in What It Takes

13 Responses to “Developing Multiple Revenue Streams”

  1. Mary
    November 22, 2013 at 5:11 am

    This is fascinating stuff and your post clarifies how much I don’t know but need to know about developing multiple revenue streams (once I actually have some finished products to put out there of course). How about expanding this into a book for us Callie?

    • November 22, 2013 at 6:29 am

      The reason why I like this post so much is because in addition to summoning the fortitude to fight Resistance and actually create my art, there’s also the challenge of making enough money from it to sustain myself. (No easy task, which is why so many artists find themselves working in day jobs.) So it really makes sense to invent ways to optimize your creations’ marketability once you’ve worked so hard to produce them. Thanks, Callie for giving us examples on how to achieve this goal by thinking in a different way. Very thoughtful and useful information.

      • November 27, 2013 at 2:34 am

        Maria Brophy has a lot of great resources for artists who at her site – mariabrophy.com.

        Just a heads up :)

  2. November 22, 2013 at 6:21 am

    Good strong piece, Callie! I personally feel that finding different creative ways to make a buck from one’s Art is both fun and rewarding.

  3. November 22, 2013 at 6:55 am

    This is a great post – inspiring, and the links to other sites are great, too.

  4. Stephanie
    November 22, 2013 at 7:50 am

    My husband and I were having a conversation last night. He finally updated his iPhone to OS7. He was complaining that he didn’t like it as much as OS6. I said, “You know what buddy, get over it.”

    If there is one thing I have come to realize is that everything changes now. You can’t get too attached to the way things are – or were, (especially with technology) because it will change. Same is true in business. And don’t kid yourself, making money (through art or otherwise) is business.

    There is no ‘box’ to think inside of anymore. Gone are the days of, ‘Well, this is how it’s done.” Rules are gone. Technology has changed the game. You have to let your creativity flow in different ways. Open yourself up and create new ways to make money. It’s been a huge and on-going mindset shift in me and how I was raised, but the potential opportunities are incredibly exciting.

    Thanks for the post Callie.

    • Mary
      November 22, 2013 at 8:46 am

      I completely agree with you Stephanie – the box is gone. I can also relate to your husband’s lament and to your response; I swore I would never give up my Blackberry, but I did it earlier this year when the company started circling the drain – we have to keep up with the ever-changing technological landscape, which is both sometimes painful but also challenging and exciting.

  5. wendy
    November 22, 2013 at 8:11 am

    This is a great article!
    I think revenue streams CAN buy you happiness. As someone who gets bored easily and must change up the projects I’m working on in order to stay focused (I know, seems oxymoronic…), the building of different, yet related income streams is a good way to keep myself engaged by stumbling upon new areas of interest and meeting a whole new set of people who would be interested in my work because I’ve presented it from a new perspective.

  6. November 22, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Thank you Callie,
    Your article helps me see I don’t have to follow a traditional path to publish my books and make money. Or as my late father said,”There is more than one way to skin a cat.”

  7. November 22, 2013 at 1:03 pm

    Callie, Great post as always! Hitting the nail on the head! We can re-create ourselves in so many ways today, and who knows what new forms our art can take tomorrow?! As a teacher, I have a video course on Udemy [https://www.udemy.com/how-to-run-a-successful-blog-tour-for-authors/], teach live online classes and webinars [http://aliciadunams.ontraport.net/t?orid=261&opid=28] and do live presentations at conferences, where I sell my books and services [http://www.bethbarany.com/events.html]. And, I have novels which right now are ebooks and print books, and eventually will be audio books, and someday hopefully films. I love the era we live in. The possibilities and opportunities are everywhere. Okay, back to editing my next novella. :-)

  8. November 22, 2013 at 11:42 pm

    A truly useful post. Building multiple revenue streams is a required skill now, for writers and anyone else who aspires to a life beyond the corporate dome.

    I am a writer, a publicist, a teacher, a speaker, a technologist and a husband and father. Each of us has multiple roles. I wish you well from Dublin, Ireland.

  9. November 27, 2013 at 10:30 am

    Callie: Super post. Thank you. Working on some multiple streams myself. But the biggest challenge I’m having is noted in this quote from above

    “Severed her relationship with Amazon this year out of frustration over its discounting of her products.”

    That’s really hard to do. I’ve tried it and it killed me on a small Christmas video I have. Is there truly an option to the 800lb Amazon Gorilla?

    Best to yo – have a great Thanksgiving 2013

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