Barry Cohen on The Art of Monetizing What You Love
Barry Cohen, Managing Member of AdLab Media Communications, LLC has inspired others to follow his lead in publishing for thought leadership and has learned how to monetize doing what he loves. He has taken some time out to share insights with Bob Barratt, Co-Founder of the Industry Leaders.
Can you begin by telling our audience a little about yourself, your business, and what led you to pursue your particular passion as a profession?
I began my career in media and marketing in 1979, first selling radio advertising. I transitioned over to the ad agency/PR firm side. Along the way, I succeeded in becoming a published author of business books, sharing my knowledge. From my youth, I aspired to become a writer.
I'm curious to know, what was the defining moment that made you realize that this passion could actually become a business? How did you identify the unique value it could bring to others?
Once I began promoting my own books, people began seeking me out and asking for help with their book projects. The referrals from satisfied authors began pouring in.. I knew then it was time to shift my focus to helping others publish, and that it would be profitable, as well..
Every entrepreneur faces obstacles, especially when turning a passion into a business. Can you share some of the initial challenges you encountered and how you overcame them?
The challenges came in the early years of the business when we "bootstrapped " with limited capital and our overhead became overwhelming during recessionary periods.
Monetizing a passion requires a solid business model. Can you walk us through how you developed yours, and the key factors that make it successful?
The business model for my publishing business involved closing down the office space and reducing overhead to a minimum, paying off all business debt and setting up a fully functional home office. In addition, taking progress payments and creating a recurring revenue stream with retainer clients evened out my cash flow. In addition I formed a solid alliance with an established publishing partner.
Many people worry that monetizing their passion may take the joy out of it. How have you managed to balance the business aspects with staying true to what you love?
By narrowing my focus to my niche of working primarily with serious aspiring authors, I maintained the joy while still monetizing my serrvices.
As your business grew, what strategies did you employ to scale it while maintaining the core values and essence of what made it special in the first place?
We formed a "bench"--an editorial board of qualified colleagues in the event the workload became overwhelming. Each member was carefully vetted for their skills and signed a compensation agreement.
Your journey is truly inspiring. What key insights or pieces of advice would you offer to someone looking to turn their passion into profit?
First of all, treat it like a business, not a hobby. Follow the rules for taxation; get a competent CPA and a good bookkeeper. I always recommend you work for someone else in the type of business you want to own before you hang out your shingle. Learn from their mistakes. It's a lot less expensive!
Reflecting on your journey so far, what are you most proud of? What future developments or projects are you excited about in your business?
What gives me the most proud is seeing my clients' businesses take off and their level of recognition and success increase. We are currently in talks to help a small university create their first ever university press with our assistance.