As old-school media enterprises shut down all around us, the issue of "how can we actually money off this Internet thing??" is becoming more important. Many people have no idea how to answer that question. I don't know if they should be heartened or disheartened by this article from Slate's The Big Money. Apparently, Icanhascheezburger.com--the primary purveyor of those LOLcat images that everyone finds so darn adorable--has figured out a way to monetize the massive traffic it generates, and might even be profitable.
Shortly after the site launched, it was snatched up by the web entrepreneurs who run Pet Holdings Inc, which runs a number of other popular internet meme sites.
Now, the Pet Holdings empire gets about 5.5 million daily pageviews, making it one of Web's the most popular blog networks. The company has a full-time staff of 10 developers, designers, and administrators. Most of the sites' content—the cat pictures, the FAIL videos, the Engrish signs—are contributed by a vast, devoted community of regular readers, a business model that scales well and helps Pets' bottom line. Huh says that the company is profitable and has been growing during an otherwise grim time for the advertising market, though he notes that "profitable" doesn't mean "cash cow." "Right now, it's not like printing cash—far from it," he says. "I work out of a 6-foot-by-6-foot server closet with no windows. We're conserving a lot of costs to stay profitable, but it's certainly a growing business."
The problem for companies like the Seattle PI that are now trying to get all their money from the Internet is that unlike Pet Holdings, they have considerably more overhead and more people to pay, even after all the layoffs.
Can only the small and nimble survive and actually make money in this brave new world we're entering?