So you get the experience… That’s the PoetrySpeaks.com experience and it’s about a community of poets Some of you may recognize the gentleman in the bottom row between Emily Dickinson and Joy Harjo.
We had a lot of goals for PoetrySpeaks.com. To create a site where poetry lovers, poetry novices, and those who’ve somehow lost their connection to poetry over the years can experience a poem that touches, moves, or inspires them.
To make the poetry they find here visceral and immediate so that they keep coming back to explore, discover, and find new poems and therefore new poets.
To create a site for poets where they can perform, share, and sell their poems and interact with readers, fans, and other poets.
And by making this a site focused on discovery, to create a space where poets and poetry (of all varieties) can be discovered, where readers will immerse, engage and play. The most important tool for marketing that we’re using for this site is discovery. We want to make it easy for you to discover poems you love.
When we conceptualized the site…we defined 6 primary revenue streams We went into Beta with 1 only implemented. So we started with downloads: audio/video & text and 7 secondary revenue streams.
--> It is important to remember Trying stuff no one’s tried before As such PoetrySpeaks.com is a living and ongoing experiment (which is different from being a book publisher and publishing a book) And my expectation is that it will provide some revenue but more importantly information. And what interests us is business models. And particularly the business models that are available with content continuums and communities. And because it is an experiment, we have to let data guide us and to some extent we have to be ego-less. In other words, we’re going to get some things wrong and we’re going to move forward from that
And we started with spoken word poets and this is the original spoken word template we had for the site
This is Spoken Word in Beta -> A bit different.
We ended up with 3 sections to the site…
Voices=Tremendous range of classic and contemporary poets From Alfred Lord Tennyson recorded by Edison on wax cylinders to Whitman to Joy Harjo and Jennifer Milletello.
Spoken Word is VERY interesting because it breaks out slam/performance-oriented community and here you’ll find Marc Kelley Smith (who invented the poetry slam), Kevin Coval and Patricia Smith.
3rd section…. Yourmic is the online stage for unpublished poets or published poets who are experimenting everything on YourMic is free
And within each section there are two primary building blocks - the poet page
And a poem page // And I want you to have the experience so this is the experience of PoetrySpeaks.com -> You hear 30 seconds of audio just like iTunes and can read the text of poem on the site and can purchase all of it…buy links…
The most important thing that’s different about PoetrySpeaks.com as a poetry site is permissions Flying in the face of longstanding internet tradition, we’re actually obtaining permission for everything that’s on the curated parts of the site: PSVoices and SpokenWord. Now for us, that’s incredibly complex. Here’s why.
There are three permissions required for every poem – and it’s fairly complex. WE HAVE 170 POETS AND 2200 SKUs right now on PoetrySpeaks.com. There are sites on the web with a lot more poets but with no permissions . And that’s actually a slowdown in adding poets is making sure that all the permissions are cleared. Creating a legal site for poetry is time consuming. Nonetheless we are adding poets everyday.
So where we are… Really early in. Still very much in beta. Its up so that we can start working with our partners and debugging the site. Should point out that we still haven’t really marketed the site (that’s coming up this year). So mostly these are people who are hearing about us and have found us.
So first let me talk about community and engagement
This is really interesting. This is the power of the internet. people in 102 countries have found it. And people are using it different ways So for example, black riders press in Australia has started using it and formed a group on yourmic—they’ve posted 12 videos so far…clearly they’re using it as their site… So people are figuring out how to use the site for themselves
More and more people are finding us…ranging from 17-year-old high school students to Executive Directors of literacy groups
Unplanned uses…so for example,… Never talked to u of miami
One of the first things that we noticed was that while people liked using the site, we were not providing enough tools for interaction….ways of building engagement. So that’s a clear next step.
Particularly on poet and poem pages. We want for there to be an easy way for you to share a poem you love or one you’re puzzled by.
Current version of our poem pages…
And this is what we’re looking at revising to… And you can see how much easier this is to respond and interact with. This is designed to make the functionality more apparent to the user.
PoetrySpeaks.com has a clear traffic flow. People come into PoetrySpeaks.com, then use the search box to look for poets and then move to poems from there. By the way, that’s not what we expected. Clearly these early users have an idea of what they want to experience when they come to the site.
Even at this early junction we can already start looking at engagement. So the question I asked was: Was there an effect on book sales for poets who join poetryspeaks.com? We looked at one press in particular all of whose poets went live the same day. So you have a sort of natural experiment. Before they went live and after. Looking at book sales for the 6 weeks before and after joining Bookscan sales numbers. And I took out new releases to get rid of launch effects so these are all backlist titles/books with established sales record. They shold have a pretty stable sales record. Realize that we’re talking poetry books, so we’re not talking huge numbers, but nonetheless I thought I’d take a first look since this is an important goal of ours. We want to help publishers sell more books.
And obviously it’s early yet but what I found was that these poets had a 55% increase in bookscan sales after they joined the site. Which is certainly in the right direction. This is preliminary evidence that users are engaged with the site. They are finding poets and then buying their books. And since we don’t sell the books on our site (as yet), they have to go buy somewhere else. But this exactly what we were hoping to have happen. We want people to discover new poets on the site to matter enough to them to go buy their books.
So the focus on poets seems to be beginning to work and we’re focused on adding more poets.
Because of the 3 perms involved, our original contract was really complex. We are simplifying ….LOADS! The biggest upcoming change we’re making is one that our end users won’t see: we are revamping our current publisher agreements in order to simplify the contract AND offer our partners more revenue opportunities.
We received feedback from the poetry publishers on the site that they would like more of a presence on their poets’ pages. Therefore we are creating ways to enhance their branding both on the site and in our marketing materials.
And clearly we should develop a ….. Since we seem to be selling books.
In 2010 we’re also going to be doing a lot of marketing experiments to support poets and poetry publishers
The first of these is....
Baseball cards for poets. (This was an idea I saw Fran Toolan use for bloggers at BookExpo) And I thought: Perfect! And I actually brought Emily Dickinson for you. This actually the first of these trading cards. We want to supplement and enhance the marketing that poets on the site do on their own when they tour, give readings, participate in slams, etc. We’ve developed Poet Trading Cards as our next big marketing campaign experiment. We’ve selected poets from both the PSVoices and SpokenWord sections of the site to pioneer this campaign. Each poet will pass out their trading cards at their events to raise awareness for their work, their publisher and PoetrySpeaks.com. Emily Dickinson even has her own trading card! But this idea was based on the spoken word poets who really function almost like musicians. They are touring artists. And it made sense for us to provide a way for their audience to have immediate access to the poetry that they’d just experienced live. And I imagine that we’ll find other uses for these as well. So collect them all!
The other things that we’re going to try is poetry bundles. This is our 2 nd revenue stream and it was actually Michael Cader’s idea. If you love a poet, the chances are good that you will love the poems they love So poet’s as Curators…. Allowing the poets to create their own playlists that you can access and purchase. When Michael and I talked about this, I immediately thought…..
We will also introduce our new product line of Poetry Bundles. The debut of this collection presents the Robert Pinsky Love Poetry Collection, which will be available just in time for Valentines’ Day. Robert Pinsky, the former Poet Laureate of the United States, is the world’s expert on love poetry and I would absolutely buy his collection of the world’s best love poetry. This was before Robert joined our advisory board. And guess what, just in time for Valentine’s Day, Robert is in the studio recording right now.
Theres’s going to be a Lot More to come… Obvious performance opportunities On the agenda But starting with marketing of perf artists to see hwo that works Can imagine a slam being conducted this way – it’s one of the reasons we broke out spoken word You can see the mobile applications of the site … just a few minutes with PoetrySpeaks.com is great (though the average amount of time on the site is about 5 minutes)
And film looks like it’s going to be part of our space We had our first film launch on December 11 th . If you haven’t watched this short film, it’s INCREDIBLE and it’s based on the poem Invictus. More film to come!
If you’re interested in poetry + would like to work with us… Or if you just want to connect…
Poetry Speaks: 90 Days In
PoetrySpeaks.com: 90 Days In Dominique Raccah Sourcebooks Digital Book World January 2010
PoetrySpeaks is discovery experience classic spoken word the new poetry experience