Case study: Landscape Juice (UK)

The name of the publication and / or company

Landscape Juice

Established

Landscape Juice blog 2006

Web Address

www.landscapejuice.com

Form of the company

Auto-entrepreneur (self employed based in France)

Describe your site or business in few words.

“Featuring analysis and comment, Landscape Juice is a journalism blog running as a trade magazine – the trade voice of the landscape and horticulture industry. A sister site Landscape Juice Network was established to act as a forum where other members write their own comments, tips, advice and discussions. The Landscape Juice Network, which was launched in April 2008, is an open association of landscape and horticulture industries helping business owners of all sizes.

The blog began because I wanted to run something on the internet when I came to France and a professional friend felt it was an opportunity, to write about all my knowledge in the industry as we realised there was nothing really out there. I switched to Typepad and started writing about my industry, about landscaping. There wasn’t anything – there were industry magazines but not online. This site is me writing with comment facilities open.

I took the Landscape Network in a direction I wasn’t comfortable with at first and it has taken two years to turn that decision around: originally the network was free and open to anyone but that devalued the site. Anyone, including consumers could come on and join. I vet the membership now. I look at their profile to keep it most definitely as a business community. Both the blog and the network are both optimised for Google and the content is open to view so it is all still open to read but consumers would not be able to be part of the conversation in the professional network which is better as they may not know enough about it. There are 2,400 members now.”

Staff numbers

Who’s creating the content

Content creators, paid full-time

0.5

Are some of the content creators citizen contributors or interns?

“Two freelance journalists have been paid over a six month period and two other trade and event specialist staff whilst running a Landscape Trade Show. There has also been the occassional paid-for freelance contribution.”

How is your time divided between doing business and content?

“Business and content are divided aproximately half and half each. A lot of the business time is taken up talking to people, either face to face or over email primarily around building advertising and the concept of blogs and social media and how that can help small businesses. The content time includes writing articles on the network, and my epxerience of running a landscape business for 20 years. Other content may be links and navigation around the web or contribution to someone else’s thread. “

Business, marketing & sales, paid full-time

0.5

How they make money

Revenue models and sustainability

Would you say your business model is sustainable?

“A lot of hours go into keeping it sustainable, but it has been running for six years now and I happy to continue. All the time it is providing a service for the industry. This model does prove you can sell advertising and sponsorship on sites, it is just time consuming. Income is generated from Google ad sense, display adverts, donations, sponsorship, and a one-off event. We have learnt from experience that to rely just on social media advertising is not enough for our own events – when we launched a show for the landscape industry for the first time in October 2011. There were 482 people and it was free to attend with a charge for stall holders. One regret is not to have tried paid editorial/advertising in magazines to test the effectiveness of traditional media for publicising events. The event also generated sponsorship. Affiliate links are a total waste of time.”

How much is your yearly or monthly revenue?

“Enough as a general wage.”

Where does your revenue go?

“Running the website, my wage.”

How much do you pay to your contributors?

“Paid freelance on a story and time basis. Paid event staff for the event. More than 50% was going to pay freelancers at one time and I didn’t see any increase in traffic or anything, which is why it stopped.”

What about profit?

“It would be good to do regional events but you can not do it on your own – and the stress of working as a lone entrepreneur is hard going. It would be good to have someone else working in the same office with whom you could bounce off ideas. I started this from scratch but it needs a creative team behind it to make it work properly, working in the same office to be able to agree a way forward.”

What kind of advertising you sell?

Ad networks and sponsorship deals.

Events and donations.

Do you see your publication as your main product?

“There is a lot of cross connection between the blog and the network, and the trade show spun from that.”

What would be the most important thing on your road to sustainability?

“I have thought about trying to charge members for access but I am not prepared to take that gamble at the moment.”