EllisLab, Your Brand & Your Business
For those of you in the ExpressionEngine universe there was a lot of “hot drama” the beginning of this week. Brand new websites, sweeping licensing and support policy changes, taking down the whole Pro Network without any prior notice. I'm not going to try to analyze anything that EllisLab is doing because quite frankly their business is their business (see what I did there - you know you giggled).
However, I do think that this whole situation sheds light on the importance of building your own brand and not basing your business entirely on top of someone else's.
We've worked hard at FortySeven Media to create a brand that stands on it's own regardless of the CMS we use. We write on this blog, go to conferences, do silly web video shows, and all kinds of other projects that don't make money, but help build our brand. We also do great work for our clients and they spread the word.
And while we love ExpressionEngine, we don't just do EE development - we bring branding, design, marketing and consulting to the table as well. The technology is just a means to the end of an amazing final product for our customers. It's tempting to piggy back off of something like EE's success and build your business solely around it, but you have no control if they make drastic changes.
If the news this week is pulling the legs out from under you, maybe it's time to step back and focus more on your brand and how you're different from all those other EE shops.
But that's not the whole story. Because while our brand doesn't live or die by ExpressionEngine and web design work, a good chunk of our income does.
This is something we've been thinking quite a bit about lately: Multiple streams of revenue. We also like to call this “not having all your eggs in one basket.” For the last 6 years FortySeven Media had all our eggs in the web design basket. And EE has been a huge part of that. But if we're really going to build a business, we can't keep doing the same one thing over and over. We've got to diversify because you never know when changes completely out of your control will happen.
We finally got off our butts this year and took our first crack at adding another revenue stream with Kicktastic. It's re-ignited our passion for building our own stuff and broadened our understanding of how other businesses work, too. Basically, it got us out of a rut we didn't even know we were in.
If you haven't already, I'd urge you start planning on how to build a strong foundation for your business that uses more than one way to make money. Because it's really hard to stand on one leg.