Christopher Null, founder of Null Media, San Francisco
Christopher Null is one of the most versatile professionals in today's media industry, and among the most entrepreneurial media leaders.
Among Null's accomplishments: he launched Filmcritic.com in 1995 (which was acquired by American Movie Classics in 2009), Mobile PC magazine in 2003 (it was the first periodical to exclusively focus on mobile technology), Drinkhacker.com, the book publishing company Sutro Press and the video production firm Nullkron Productions. However, this profile focuses on Null Media, which provides editorial consulting, strategic direction and writing services to media and non-media companies.
Q: What was the inspiration for Null Media?
Christopher Null: Null Media originally grew out of a contract position I started in 2010. Intuit was looking for a contractor to help manage its corporate blog, and this was a perfect fit for me. I had spent the previous 4.5 years blogging for Yahoo!, and I have worked with the format since it was invented.
I have an MBA and a longtime interest in small business and entrepreneurship, so I jumped at the chance to work with Intuit. We brought a few dozen writers onboard to begin producing daily content, and Intuit's blog grew from a relatively ignored website to a major small business publication. Two years later, it's grown into a key, daily destination for small business owners. We've published over 2,000 blog posts on the site to date.
Over time, we started winning awards and the blog started getting more notoriety, and other prospects began asking if I could do the same thing for them. Meanwhile, Intuit was looking for a more turnkey solution instead of having to deal with dozens of writers individually, so I formalized Null Media to take over all of the administrative work in addition to the editorial work. The client doesn't have to worry about any of that any more, and now my writers produce content for all of the clients we work with, depending on their expertise.
Q: How long did it take to create Null Media, and when did it official launch?
Christopher Null: Once the decision was made, it all came together quickly. I worked on getting the licenses and contracts set up in summer 2011. It formally launched in June 2011.
Q: What have been some of the challenges in starting and maintaining Null Media? And conversely, what have been some of the high points of this endeavor?
Christopher Null: The biggest challenge for me is sales. Bringing new clients onboard is a lengthy process that requires a lot of education. Our corporate motto is: "We blog so you don't have to." That was born from the fact that so many corporate clients want to have a blog presence (and something to Tweet about and post on Facebook), but few have writers and editors on staff to do the work. They try to get managers and vice presidents to write for them, but these endeavors usually don’t last long because the last thing those managers and vice presidents want to do is blog, so the blog is quickly abandoned. So we take the headache out of the operation and provide high-end content for them. All of our writers are primarily former or current journalists.
But building a successful blog isn't something you can do overnight, and it can take several months to see results. The effort involved with getting hundreds of high-quality posts written requires time and effort, and in today's budgetary environment, it’s not always an easy sell.
The high point is easy: Watching our clients succeed!
Q: How have you been able to promote your message? And what kind of a feedback have you received, to date?
Christopher Null: We blog at www.nullmedia.com/blog, and have Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/nullmediasf) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/null_media) presences, too. We advertise with Google AdWords and have had success on all of these fronts. But most of our business to date has come via referral and word of mouth.
Q: What professional advice would you give to someone who is interested in following your example and launching their own media company?
Christopher Null: Now is definitely the time to do it. Google has devalued old SEO tactics and now prizes fresh and original content as a key metric for how it ranks search results. The old methods of slapping together a keyword-filled blog post once a month won't get you anywhere. You have to blog regularly and thoughtfully to climb the search ladder now. More and more companies are going to need blog content in the next few years, so now’s the time to start building a business around that.
Of course, if you don't want to launch your own media company, you can always hire us instead!