We all want immediate gratification. It doesn’t matter whether we’re individuals or companies, we crave instant results right out of the gate, either in the form of traffic, visibility, revenue or at least venture capital. But it just might be possible that if we make those our only measures of success then we miss out on what Stephen Johnson calls The Slow Hunch.
I’m hoping the slow hunch materializes in the case of TNGG. A year and a half ago a few of us speculated that it might be a good idea to start a crowdsourced blog by and about Gen Y. It struck us that marketers would be interested in the next generation’s perspective and that young writers would rather express their own points of view directly rather than have some third party researchers speak on their behalf. It also seemed a good way for an ad agency to play around with consumer generated content and get a little better at social media.
Well I’m here to report that our trajectory hasn’t quite been that of the Huffington Post. We’re not flush with VC money. Nor have we received any offers from Murdoch. (We’d probably decline anyway.)
But we have accomplished something by being patient and by plodding along. This week TNGG will publish its 1500th article. Not bad for one paid employee and a community of volunteer contributors. Today seven talented and committed editors inspire and curate content from nearly 200 writers (some active, some less so) who generate 30-plus articles a week. Editor Alex Pearlman has become a sought after voice in advocating for Gen Y and community manager Christine Peterson has been singled out as a future leader by MITX.
Of course while all of that is nice, it doesn’t make for much of a business model. But that doesn’t mean the two ambitious 20- somethings who run TNGG aren’t working on it. In fact they’re about to close their first distribution deal as they slowly develop a model that will create new outlets for their content, generate more traffic, collect fees from media properties and provide pay for the contributors.
If we’d demanded that such goals be achieved in the first month, quarter or even year TNGG would be long gone. Instead this little experiment has yielded numerous lessons, gathered a valuable community, jump-started a good number of careers – at least 30 of the student writers who’ve come and gone attribute their first jobs in part to their bylined articles — and kept the possibility of that Huffington Post dream alive. It’s a slow hunch. But you never know, it may turn out to be a good one.
Working on something that’s long and slow but you hope might turn into something? Please share.