A time of change – and growth – for CONTACT

In my last blog I told you an awesome 😉 story about car keys, field signals and serendipity, which proved to me that 2016 is going to be a good year. And while I just know it will be, I also know it won’t happen all by itself – I need your help!

For now, what I’d love to hear from you is your opinions and advice.

You see, my biggest plan for 2016 is to add a Member’s Only area to the CONTACT web site and, what I’d love to hear from you is…

if you had access to a Member’s Only area of CONTACT, what would you expect to see in it and what would you like to see in it?

Please send your thoughts to editor@militarycontact.com – after you’ve read my ideas…

 

The Member’s Only area will be available on a paid-subscription basis – and because I’ll be asking members for money, I need to make sure that the Member’s Only area delivers real value, way above and beyond what you’ve come to expect from our free web site.

In fact – I promise that it will.
“Satisfaction guaranteed, or your money back”, as they say.

Before I go on, let me assure you too that if you don’t want to access our Member’s Only area, this new venture will have only minor affect on the level of service you can still expect in our free HQ.

 

Some ideas I have in mind for the Member’s Only area are…

 

1Forum or closed group
Forums on web sites and closed groups on Facebook are very popular. Many are free. But in my experience, free forums are open slather and often full of irrelevant rubbish. I want to start a forum or a private Facebook group for CONTACT members where the content is managed and relevant – and where members dictate discussion topics. Obviously, this is one area where your input will be immensely appreciated. And, if managed well, could be an awesome place to participate in and learn.

 

2

COMBAT Camera magazine could return
I’d really like to bring COMBAT Camera magazine back. It was a great product that didn’t get a fair go. Currently, however, I get no return for the effort of producing it. But, as a member’s only value-ad and a saleable item to non members, COMBAT Camera could be resurrected.

 

3

Every magazine story archived as an individual web page
Archiving every story individually will make our back catalogue of awesome magazine content more easily accessed, categorised into topics and  fully searchable. Currently, each magazine is individually searchable, but there’s no way of searching across the entire collection. With more than 50 magazines already published, that’s a huge catalogue of great content, with no easy way to find and access individual stories. This was reinforced to me recently when I was looking for a particular news story, which I ‘knew’ it was in the ‘last couple of mags’. I eventually found it after searching through six back issues.

  • I’d really like your input on this idea, particularly because it is a very big project that frankly scares the bejazuz out of me just thinking about it! Is it a good idea? Is it worth the effort? Should I archive oldest stories first working forward, or newest stories first working backwards? I could even take requests and prioritise your favourite stories or favourite categories first.

 

4

Free stuff, discounts and special offers
Any product we offer for sale to non members will either be free or discounted for members. For example, COMBAT Camera magazine, the Weapons of the ADF viewee-twoee series etc will, in future, be sold in our HQ, but will be free in the Members Area. Any paper-based books or magazines, T-shirts or other merchandise we produce will be discounted for members. And we will work to secure retail discounts for CONTACT Members through affiliate merchants.

 

5

Downloadable .pdf version of CONTACT magazine
This is one of the few things currently available for free in our HQ that we will charge a fee for in future. The electronic page-flip version of the magazine will still be free to everyone, via issuu.com, but the downloadable .pdf version will be made a for-sale item in our HQ – but free to members.

 

6Viewee Twoee guides
Our viewee-twoee-sized Weapons of the ADF guides and any other similar goodies we produce from time to time will also probably be offered for sale in our HQ in the future, but will be free to members.

 

 

7Membership fee
I bet you’ve already asked yourself, “How much will all this cost?” Well, I’m thinking $7 per month or $47 per year. I’m also thinking the first 100 or so people who sign up, or members who volunteer to help build this ‘community’ will get a nice discount too. But, don’t get your wallets out just yet! This is a big project and I anticipate it will take several months to put the bones of it in place.

 

In the mean time, what do you think?

  • Would you join a CONTACT Members’ Club?
  • What would you expect to see in a Members’ Only area?
  • What would you like to see in a Members’ Only area?
  • Do you have any ideas to add to mine?
  • Are my ideas sound?
  • What should I call this community?

Your feedback could be invaluable to this process.
And your reward could be great! (well, probably not, but I’m sure I can dig something out of the CONTACT cupboard for the best, most actionable ideas 🙂 )

Please send me your thoughts via editor@militarycontact.com

And I thank you in anticipation,

Brian Hartigan
Editor

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15345 Total Views 9 Views Today

Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

16 thoughts on “A time of change – and growth – for CONTACT

  • 07/02/2016 at 5:17 pm
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    Hey Brian, I have absolutely no problem with the members only area and would be fine with paying for a subscription, I enjoy reading the magazines and the website keeps me up to date with defence news. Basically what I am saying is keep it up and awesome job!

    Reply
    • 07/02/2016 at 8:29 pm
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      Thanks Josh. I really appreciate the support and love I’m feeling.
      Brian

      Reply
  • 25/01/2016 at 9:59 am
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    Brian, your outline plan looks pretty good to me and would be well accepted by those who look forward to reading your great work. I pay around $47 a year for a cooking mag – Delicious, so your in the ball park as regards costs. Count me in as a future paid up member!

    Reply
    • 29/01/2016 at 8:38 pm
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      Thanks Greg. I’m beginning to feel the love – most of the feedback I’m getting is positive.
      Cheers, Brian

      Reply
  • 24/01/2016 at 11:50 pm
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    I miss combat camera ……
    that is what I came here for in the first place.

    please be careful how much you charge !
    I am only 1 person,
    but I am on a disability pension
    and I need to justify where I spend my money.
    at the moment there is free photos out there ….
    but they are not “Australian” and we need our photos back
    I wish there was a compromise.
    can you find money from advertisers?
    having members does give you accreditation to justify your charging advertising space, as you know your circulation base.

    Reply
    • 29/01/2016 at 8:51 pm
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      Hi Steve,
      Thanks for your feedback. Yes, cost is a big worry for me too. I have to earn a living, but I am also very mindful of the cost, especially to those who have other commitments on a tight budget. That’s why I will definitely offer generous discounts to early adopters. I will also explore ways of segregating vets and reward them for their service too.
      Sadly, the advertisers option is very limited. Sure, selling more ads is an option – but I’m a much better editor than I am a salesman 🙂 And, with CONTACT produced only 4 times a year, growth in that area is physically limited too. That’s why I really have to find alternative sources of income – ever mindful that not everyone can afford it.
      Membership will be voluntary, of course – and the free services I currently produce will not be changed too much.
      I will certainly be seeking the path of least pain for all concerned, while also structuring this business so that it is sustainable in the long run. And, honestly, if I don’t change it up and start to make this thing pay its way, the ONLY alternative is to shut the whole thing down. And I don’t think you, me or anyone else wants to see that happen.
      Brian Hartigan, Editor

      P.S. If there are any advertising sales experts out there willing to help a non-salesman-editor make a few quid, I’d love to hear from you – editor@militarycontact.com – plenty of opportunity on commission-based reward.

      Reply
  • 24/01/2016 at 9:43 pm
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    Hi Brian,Thanks for your magazine,I have had the opportunity to read a few of them and some back issue’s.
    I subscribe to many a internet magazine and news letters on all sorts of technology.
    recently I have unsubscribed to several due to the large amount of news flash e mails and invites to webcasts etc.
    As for you to get a few dollars for your efforts,I don’t see a problem.
    The price has to stay low as there is soo much info on the net and opinions by ‘experts’ that unless you can come up with a lot of firsts ,$50.- is probably going to kill the whole project. As you have limited resouces it would be difficult to get your hot stories and news. I would suggest to get some advertising into your magazine,I get a lot of trade magazines,like what’s new in ……,and I don’t pay for them. Charging for the PDF version is ok for me but I am sure that within a week it will be on the net for free download,so not really of future for you. I am member of several gun owners clubs and the printed glosy magazine cost me less then $80.- for a hard copy 12 x a year.I do not find that on the net,as it is not in electronic format.Problem for most of us the amount of information on a daily basis stops me from going back into old magazines,it’s old news.
    One project that could be done is the stories section and do that for members only,and have some sort of discussion board with some non whinging rules,most of these forums kill them selves off,also going to need a moderator,lots of time into that sort of work.All the stories of one year could be compiled in funny or fiction or history sections and then maybe published once a year for sale,this could be pre-ordered to see if it is worth the time for you.
    sorry for not much in the idea’s ,most of us are too old to get to involved.

    cheers and I do enjoy your efforts and funny coments,like the training aid for the ADF and the mass histeria .
    Jv

    Reply
    • 29/01/2016 at 9:46 pm
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      Hi John. There’s a lot to digest in your feedback – and I am extremely grateful to you for taking the time to consider my stuff in such depth.
      Your first point re unsubscribing because of the volume of emails you get – absolutely valid, and I’m super conscious of this. My promise to subscribers is that I won’t spam – and I’ve openly said one fortnightly newsletter and a quarterly magazine. But, even this is a change from what it used to be (with just the magazine) and many people are opting out. I lost about 60 subscribers after the latest email – but gained back about 40 new ones. However, the extra communication with those who are willing to accept the extra traffic is very, very valuable to me. I’ve noticed a massive difference with this change.
      That said, there are actually people who want more info via email. So I am actually thinking of starting a new and different email list with multiple emails per week – possibly even daily. But that will be a separate opt-in, so don’t panic – I won’t be upping the volume on the current list.
      I hear you re price. That’s the biggest worry – especially at the start. But that’s also why I’m going through this exercise – to outline my ideas and garner new ones from readers, so that I am absolutely confident that I’m offering a package that is at least worth the price of admission – and then some. Unless I’m confident in my price, I can’t expect members to support it.
      Re the .pdf ending up on the net for free – well, there’s not a lot I can do about that. But, to be brutally honest, it doesn’t really worry me too much either. If someone thinks it’s worth stealing and distributing, then let them. At least more people will see it – and viewer numbers are important to me. Putting the .pdf on the members’ side and charging non-members (a small fee) for access is not really about making money anyway. It’s more about reminding people that it does actually have value.
      I don’t actually agree with you about old magazines being old news. Sure, the news sections are dated the minute I publish them – but the bulk of every magazine is filled with ‘timeless’ stories and info. So much so that I am confident that breaking them up and re-publising individual stories in a searchable database will give a whole new life to a plethora of awesome materiel currently locked away in un-searchable blocks. That’s my theory anyway.
      I agree re the level of work involved in moderating forums. I’ve actually done them before – until they got attacked by a porn-posting virus, so I shut them down. But, they can be good and there’s no harm in trying again. I can always shut them down again if the value isn’t there – for me and for participants.
      Pre-order a once-a-year compilation doesn’t work. I just proved that with the 2015 Yearbook. I thought it was a beautiful product, full of value – but I sold the princely total of 3 copies! And, while I’m in a brutally honest mood, I’ll tell you that that was about 60 hours toil for about $10 profit! But, as with this new venture, there’s really only one sure way to find out if something is going to work or not – just do it!
      No ‘sorry’ required mate – your thoughts and feedback are a very valuable addition to my deliberations.
      BTW – you’re the first person to mention the ‘mass hysteria’ in the Weapons’ Guide. So thanks for that too – I was beginning to think I wasn’t half as funny as I thought I was 🙂
      Brian Hartigan, Editor

      Reply
  • 24/01/2016 at 7:53 pm
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    Brian, long time reader first time poster 🙂

    I would love to see Contact expand and would like to offer the following suggestions:

    1. Video articles/interviews. Nothing more than a 5 minute clip – not after a documentary!. Try and get a hands on, if the ADF will allow, with various weapons systems, interviews with Diggers, Sailors, Airmen etc on their jobs, day to day, Defense Life etc and not just the ‘about as camera shy as Peter Beattie’ Officers … start up a Contact Youtube Channel and put the clips on there, link back to Facebook, Blog and Newsletter. One or two a month is all you need to compliment all your other print stories and articles.

    2. I don’t think you need a private forum. I’m an IT guy, been in various Internet based communities since the mid 90’s and private forums are dying a slow death. If ‘too much crap’ is getting through Facebook – appoint a sensible and mature co-admin or two to help clean it up and settle the clowns down.

    3. Book reviews. This is a golden age of Australian Military History books. There is a veritable metric ‘shitload’ of books that have come out in the past decade. Get some reviews in from yourself or from readers. Have readers engaging with your reviews on Facebook/Blog. Throw in a book give away every now and then.

    4. Combat Camera FOR SURE! I loved that! Especially more so since I bought myself a D7200 and have been teaching myself the ins and outs of some ‘proper’ photography.

    5. Network with a few of the Facebook Australian Military History groups. I myself have been running a ‘day by day’ recounting of the 9th Battalion AIF on Facebook (gratuitous self promotion here!) and there are plenty of others around. It’s the Centenary of WW1 and lots of events to commemorate, especially this year with Fromelles, Poziers, Mouquet Farm etc coming up. I’m sure your readers would love to see some articles on the anniversary of those famous battles.

    6. Some tie-ins/interviews with people like Matt Maclachlan, Peter Fitzsimmons, Les Carlyon, Peter Stanley, and any of the new breed of Australian Military authors, battlefield tour companies etc

    7. Some free plugs, interviews with various ‘ex-Diggers’ businesses. Seems to be a growing trend to promote within friendly circles various ex-military members new business ventures. Can do that in the newsletter, on Facebook in a blog article etc

    8. More articles/interviews with all the various ex-Services and Veterans Welfare agencies and charities that are around. Let them get the word out and promote their services to your readers who may not need assistance now but could in the future.

    I could go on, but my Pizza is cooked and I’m kinda hungry 😉

    Cheers for ALL your fantastic work so far and I look forward to reading Contact, in any guise, for years to come 😉

    Reply
    • 29/01/2016 at 10:37 pm
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      Hi Dave. Thanks for being a long time reader and thanks for your first post. It’s a beauty.
      So, let’s have a look at your suggestions, in the same order they came…

      1. I like videos. I certainly intend to do more. I’ve done some Periscoping recently, and enjoyed that a lot (new video upload next week some time). However, I think they have much more value as mass-communication tools – so therefore more valuable to me on the free side of the firewall. But there could be scope for special videos on the members side – especially, perhaps, of an educational nature (photography training, for example) or documentary (submitted by Defence, AWM, or commercial entities). That’s my current thinking, anyway.

      2. You might be right about forums – though when I was dissing Facebook, I was thinking about a couple of groups I’m involved in outside of CONTACT. Mine is perfect, of course 🙂
      That said, though, nearly every business-advice podcaster I currently listen to says closed groups on Facebook and forums on your own platform are very valuable in terms of adding value to the tribe – and keeping your ear to the ground on what the audience wants and needs.

      3. Absolutely love this suggestion – and hadn’t given it much thought recently. We used to do reviews in the magazine, but they were a lot of work for little return. But, on a web site, on the members side – and especially if I can get volunteer or guest reviewers to participate, this could be a real winner. So thanks for this one in particular.

      4. Yeah – COMBAT Camera for sure. It was a great product that I loved putting together – but it never really got the chance to shine. And you also bring up the subject of photography (which I mentioned under videos). I’m a pretty handy photographer, if you’ll allow me to say so myself. But I also know a lot of awesome photographers, many of who would love to pass on their knowledge. So, there you’ve given me two gems in one 🙂

      5. Absolutely. Except you failed in your gratuitous self promotion by not including a link. Seriously, though, if you or anyone else seeing this wants to send me info and links on such things, please feel free. Much like the videos in item 1, though, this is another thing that should be mass communicated, on the free side.

      6. Noted – but, again, mass-communication worthy.

      7. Ditto. And another good suggestion that’s actually come up a couple of times via email.

      8. Ditto and ditto on this too.

      And now that the pizza is consumed, please do go on 🙂

      All jokes aside, thanks again for your brilliant feedback and for your long-term and ongoing support.

      Brian Hartigan, Editor

      Reply
  • 24/01/2016 at 7:10 pm
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    I am a retired ADF member and on a pension, however I would certainly contribute to your idea. Even though I am near crippled fro my service I still like to keep in touch and you magazine does this for me. I might add that nothing comes without a price even though some people would always be in the line holding their hand out for anything free.
    In a members only section I would like to see some stories on past members, and there are plenty out there.
    Also a thought to those who are ex members doing it tough and what DVA are doing to help them. I could go on and on but I guess you will get plenty of ideas, well I certainly hope so because this is a great move forward.
    Yours Sincerely
    LHS

    Reply
    • 29/01/2016 at 10:59 pm
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      Thank you Lindsay. I really appreciate you taking the time to consider this.
      I hear you re cost and it is my absolute goal to deliver value for money. I will also offer early-bird discounts and discounts for vets and so on. But, as I said elsewhere, membership will be voluntary and the free services I deliver currently will not be affected greatly. In fact, going through all the feedback I got in this past week, I can see the free side of our web site getting even better too. And, of course, if I can make CONTACT work properly as a business, then that success will only flow on to all aspects of our offerings, including the free side of our web site.
      I especially like your suggestion to focus on DVA etc. In line with CONTACT’s general focus and philosophy, I would intend to tackle that with a constructive, informative, educational focus, as I’m sure you would want.
      Anyway, thanks again mate. Your feedback and support is very valuable to me.
      Brian Hartigan, Editor

      Reply
  • 24/01/2016 at 6:13 pm
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    I really do think you will loose readership by charging for access. I like to download the PDF version of your magazine because I work away and am not always connected. Having to pay for it will probably stop me from reading it. Sorry, I know I am being cheap and you want to make a living, but I have too much competition for my money as it is 🙁

    Reply
    • 29/01/2016 at 11:06 pm
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      Hi Peter. I agree with you – I’m very sure I will lose some audience over this.
      But, here’s why I’m not going to let that stop me…

      The brutal truth is, if I don’t do this, my only alternative is to close down and get a real job.
      If that happens, I lose the entire audience.
      And that’s not an option I want to contemplate.

      Reply
  • 24/01/2016 at 5:47 pm
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    Brian, just the fact that you are having a go gets my vote, I don’t do internet banking ( I’m an old fart ) but I will direct deposit funds into your account if there is a branch of your bank here in Alice Springs, or as a last resort send an Aust Post money order, for a years membership

    Reply
    • 29/01/2016 at 11:11 pm
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      Hi John – I love you.
      I mean I love you for voting for me 😉
      But, hang on to your funds for now – I’m not ready to start charging just yet. This thing could take 6 months or even a year to fly.
      In the mean time, your support is all the love I need to keep me going 🙂

      Reply

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