Lessons Learned from the Printed Blog: How Too Much Press Can Result in Loss of Focus, Failure

Don’t think just because you have a great business idea and it draws tons of press that you’ve created the automatic formula for financial success. That’s exactly what Joshua Karp realized when he got caught up in a whirlwind of press about his new business venture, The Printed Blog.

At the SocialDevCamp conference in Chicago, I chatted with Karp after he gave a presentation about learning from failure. Karp admitted the biggest mistake his group made with The Printed Blog is that they lost focus on their business objective, which was to sell local ads in a print newspaper around transportation areas, such as train stations.

Karp’s early success was ultimately his initial demise. He came up with a great idea, which was the world’s only print newspaper comprised entirely of blogs and online content. They got a tremendous surge of media coverage. Tons of it. So much so that all they could think about was all the press they were getting. They started to believe that they created some new, higher form of art that was going to displace traditional newspapers.

But, at the same time, they stopped thinking about their business — and how to turn the great idea that was getting so much media attention into real revenue. It became so severe that they stopped cashing checks from their current advertisers. He admitted being arrogant at the time and to being too focused on the art — and not the bottom line.

He realized that they were going in the wrong direction when potential investors, who liked the press, said he wasn’t actually demonstrating how he could make money from this venture. “The Tribune can make papers and not make any money also,” said one investor.

That was the wakeup call Karp needed to realize he had been heading down the wrong path. Karp took a year off from The Printed Blog, regrouped, and then relaunched the blog in a handful of venues. Today, The Printed Blog is published once a month.

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