I’m a huge fan of PSFK.com. I’ve been following Piers and his team for years. Recently I’ve even started publishing weekly cartoons on PSFK, for no other reason than I think it’s a very groovy crowd to be part of.
PSFK is a well-known strategy, trends and ideas blog, focusing mostly on advertising and design. In the early days Piers mostly wrote it all himself, but these days he has this vast army of volunteers writing guest posts on PSFK’s behalf.
The point of PSFK is to give its readers a constant stream of inspiration and new ideas, stuff they can use to inform their own work.
And it works. Close to three quarters of a million people read it a month, mostly from the ad and design community. In that space, it’s extremely well known [For an industry niche blog, trust me, three quarters of a million people is A LOT].
So how does PSFK make money? Hint: It’s not by selling advertising, like a lot of the big blogs out there.
The thing is, PSFK’s primary business is not publishing blogs. Its main revenue stream is as consultants in the advertising business. They’ve got a small handful of clients and a small staff of super smart advertising futurists, who get paid top dollar to share their brain power with large, global brands.
The blog is just a way to get the PSFK name out, to get their name on the radar screen of potential clients.
Basically, the PSFK blog is just an advertisement for the PSFK consultancy, even if on the blog there’s hardly any mention of the latter.
A “Smarter Conversation”, a smarter way of talking to potential clients, than say, just buying advertising space in one of the big trade publications.
Would this kind of model work for your business? If not, wouldn’t it be great if it did? Just askin’…
Of course it would be great if it did! I’m curious as to how they scale their services though.
Acquiring the audience is hard of course, but I’m more interested in what it takes to grow that smart, broadcasted conversation into a smart, intimate conversation.
Thanks for this write up Hugh. Of course, this is one way to look at the business – and although, it’s not how we hoped it would structure – but the site being an ad for our consultancy is what’s driving the business. What you should also remember is that the events are part of that conversation. Every prospect and client are invited to our events so we can show how we bring to life the conversation further.
I still hope that we will drive more revenue through the site – because it’s a product business that avoids many of the issues of scale that Tan is highlighting. But to counter Tan a little – because we use a network of people who are focused on data gathering using digital tools tools, scale isn’t as great an issue for us. When we expand from time to time, we find someone in the PurpleList to do the work for us; or we just build on data we had already uncovered to rapidly delivery advice for a client. Because of this network model, beyond staffing for some client service & quality control, increased client base doesn’t directly lead to increased head count.
Very cool, Piers. I think it’s an insanely great business model. Highly networked and all that.
Excellent point, Piers… I didn’t count the conference side of thing too heavily in the equation. Mea Culpa.
The other thing is, what may be your business model today, may not be the same next year. Like with my own shtick, I’ve got a lot of irons in the fire, and the amount of cash they bring individually in is always in flux.
Anyway, good job. You’ve done well, my friend…
[…] GapingVoid: smarter conversations: psfk.com […]