When coming up with the idea that eventually became UpUrAlley.com, I spent a considerable amount of time mapping out the brand, business plan, content structure, etc. and organizing it into a document that I could refer to throughout our group meetings. I cut down the document considerably for the web treatment assignment, to try to fit it within the 500-word limit, but I have been constantly referring to my original plan as we’ve been building the website. I figured I would post it here in case anyone is interested in the thinking behind UpUrAlley and as an easy reference for the rest of the group.
• Age: College age (both undergraduate and post grad students), roughly 18-30
• Gender: All
• Occupation: Students at Melbourne University and RMIT
• Race: Mix of both Australian and International students
-A 2007 study from the Victorian Government, Melbourne, states that in Victoria the nationality of international students is divided as follows: 25% India, 23% PR China, 6% Malaysia, 4% South Korea, 4% Indonesia, 4% Hong Kong, 4% Sri Lanka, 3% Thailand, 3% Vietnam, 2% Singapore, 2% Japan, 2% Pakistan, 17% other countries.
Although the statistics listed above are a bit dated, they are sufficient to support that the audience will be primarily Australians but with a substantial international presence.
• Income: Most students are on a limited budget, but reports show that they still spending money on things other than school.
-According to the 1997 Australian International Education Foundation estimate, international students spend $280 per week ($14,560 per annum) on non-education related expenses.
Although no published reports have been reviewed, it is assumed that most students have income from full-time jobs, part-time work, and/or their parents, and while they may not have large incomes, the also have few financial responsibilities and therefore have the potential to spend a large portion of their disposable income on social activities.
• Interests: The primary interests of students when they first arrive at school are finding rental housing, work, and getting to know the area. Students are a very social group, and although their specific interests may vary, most spend time hanging out at restaurants, cafes, bars, and movies. They are often in search of a good deal, such as happy hours and student specials, and almost always looking for places where other students are hanging out.
• Overall Audience Numbers: All students at Melbourne University and RMIT are potential visitors.
-According to “International Students in Victorian Universities”, a report created by the Auditor General Victoria and published in 2002, in 2001 RMIT had 17,056 Australian students and 10,197 international students. University of Melbourne had 21,588 Australian students and 5,550 international students.
And trends show that the number of college students at these two universities increases each year. This means that every year new members will be added to the audience. It is also true that as students graduate, there is the potential to loose them as viewers, but hopefully after years of using the site, they will continue to use it as a resource for as long as they remain in the area.
It is safe to assume that since the audience is students, they will all have regular access to computers and be fairly savvy web users.
• General Audience Notes: If more details audience details were necessary, data could be collected fairly easily by surveying people in the area to be covered.
• Possible Competitors: Housing sites like realestate.com, job-search sites like seek.com, and social event sites like thatsmelbourne.com.au are potential competitors for the housing, job, and social event sections of the site, respectively. EZ Street will set itself apart from housing, job, and social event sites by offering information about all three of these categories in one location. Also, because the site will be highly focused geographically, it will offer more in depth information that sites that cover Melbourne, Victoria, or Australia in general.
The sites’s most direct competitor may be lygonst.com. Currently, this site provides limited information on accommodation (hotels), restaurants, and attractions on Lygon Street, although there is a note on the homepage that the site is undergoing “radical changes”. Even if the quantity and quality of the content on the site improves, the audience will remain different: lygonst.com is focused on tourists, ezstreet.com will be focused on students.
• Effect of Competitors on Audience Size: Initially, established housing sites, job-search sites, and social event sites will have a huge impact on the audience. It will take dynamic, useful content to draw users away from other sites, but the benefit of getting all of this information in one place combined with the community aspect of EZ Street will lure a loyal local set of users.
• Unique Visitors: There is a potential for 50,000 unique visitors (based on the number of students at the University of Melbourne and RMIT).
• Total Visitors: It is expected that the number of total visitors will be significantly higher than the unique visitors as the site is designed to be a place that users visit regularly, say daily to a few times per week. Even if only half of the potential audience visits only twice a week, that’s still millions of viewers per year (2.6 million).
• Site: ezstreet.com/ EZ Street
• Site Summary (including general ideas, feature ideas): A guide to everything happening on Lygon Street that caters to the exact interests of the student user with information about what’s happening right where they live, work, and hangout while building a sense of community that allows users to mutually benefit from adding to and taking from the site.
• Staff Generated Content: Initially, a handful (10-15) of short (25-50 words) and medium length (250 words) stories will be commissioned to get some content on the site. After a user base has been generated, there will be no staff content.
• User Generated Content: After users have been established, all of the content will come from the users. Almost all of the content will be in the form of short, casual posts added by users (say a post on a flat for rent, a shop that is hiring, or a group of footy fans that are meeting at a pub).
Each month there will be one paid user story that looks at one of the site’s categories in detail. As users add posts, they will get “credits” for contributing content. All posts will be reviewed and rated by other users and a post’s rating will translate into additional credits for the person that posted it. At the end of each month, the user with the most credits will be asked to write a 250-word story on a specific topic (say the rental situation in the area or the best deals on winter coats) and will be paid either in cash or in credits at a local restaurant, bar, or shop. This feature will not only encourage contributions but will also serve as quality control.
• “Need-Based” Content: The site’s “Live” and “Work” sections will be considered the “need-based” content. It will extremely valuable to new users, but will have only occasional value to other users.
• “Want-Based” Content: The “Play” section of the site will be non-essential information, but will be the type of posts that attract frequent visits over a long-term period (like bar reviews and information about happy hours).
• Expected Visit Frequency: Weekly, with some visitors visiting multiple times a week or even daily
• Frequency of Content Updates: It is reasonable to assume that in time users will post new content daily
• Expansion: This site could easily be expanded to cover other streets and other university areas. There is enormous potential in the Melbourne area. It is likely that there is potential in other parts of Australia and beyond, although at this point no research has been done on potential competitors in other areas.
• Innovations: Initially updates will only be accessible online, but this site has great potential for mobile updates, which could be a feature that users pay for.
• Revenue: Revenue would come from selling ad space to local businesses, including restaurants, bars, retail shops, movie theatres, etc. Not only are there a lot of business on Lygon Street, but business in the vicinity would also be interested in advertising to our audience. Initially, ads would need to be inexpensive, but as the number of users increase, the price of ads could increase, too.
Businesses like Safeway, Cinema Nova, Readings, Tiamo, Grill’d, and other Lygon Street shops could easily benefit from advertising with EZ Street.
There is also potential to create revenue via paid subscriptions to email and mobile updates, but this revenue would come down the road.
• Expenditure: The most expensive period for this site will be the start up. To launch the site, a staff of writers and at least one designer would be necessary but after the site is established, one full-time web editor and one full-time sales person should be sufficient. As innovations are introduced, additional staff might be needed.
Each month, there will be an expense for the paid user story. It might be possible to get local businesses to sponsor this with gift certificates to their shops.
Web Editor $35,000 per year
Freelance Startup Content $1,000 (2000 words at $.50 per word)
Freelance Designer $5,000 for three months part-time work
User Content $1,200 ($100 per month)
Total Expenditure (1st year): $42,200
Advertising Level 1: $24,000 ($100 per month, with 20 advertisers)
Advertising Level 2: $24,000 ($200 per month, with 10 advertisers)
Subscriptions: N/A first year, but potential future revenue
Total Revenue (1st year): $48,000
Based on the above, the site should break even towards the end of the first year, and start to see profits as the number of advertisers increase.