Interview with Thom Chambers about publishing

I’ve been following In Treehouses for a while – a magazine that inspires freedom business – and noticed Thom had launched a new publishing house called Mountain & Pacific. I decided to put some questions to him about what’s happening in micro- and self-publishing, and how to stand-out in a crowded world. I’ve pulled out some quotes below but be sure to check out the full interview over on The Fetch Blog.

“With a computer, you can now be your own publishing house. You can commission work from yourself, you can ship it to the world, and you can build a business around it – all on a personal level.

In essence, micropublishing combines the intimacy of blogging with the professional approach of a traditional publisher.”

“Publishing houses are, amongst many other things, curators. If they publish something, it’s got a stamp of approval that gives a reader confidence.

But now that self-publishing is a legitimate destination in its own right – not just a backwater for the desperate and delusional – how do readers know where to look? Amid all the writers rejoicing that they can publish to millions, very few people are considering the reader.

One of the aims of a micropublishing house is to improve the quality of the work you produce. As I said before, micropublishing combines the intimacy of blogging with the professional approach of a traditional publisher.

When you set your own high standards, readers come to trust you. It’ll take time, and it won’t be easy, but that’s all you can do – establish trust and earn permission and build your small tribe of dedicated readers by publishing exceptional work.”

“Before the internet made it easy to start a business as an individual with minimal overhead, things were more clear cut. Artists went to workshops and sought out patrons and publishers. Entrepreneurs started businesses and went to networking events.

Now, artists can build an audience online by starting a one-person business. And entrepreneurs can take the risk of funding out of the equation by doing the same. They’re vastly different approaches, but have started to look the same from the outside.

Now that it’s hard to tell at a glance whether an individual is approaching things out of love for their craft (the artisan) or out of trying to grow their business (the accountant), they’ve started to be lumped together online. The artisans read the same blogs as the accountants. They start worrying about conversion and click-throughs and building their business more than their art.”

More @ The Fetch Blog

Aussie Startups relaunches

Quick post to let you know that has relaunched with a YC Hacker News style board and I think it’s a great idea. The aggregated community-selected approach should do the trick in getting important, relevant and well-crafted content out there to interested peeps. It should also co-exist nicely with the HN due to the localisation and focus. Anyway, check it out and submit items to get it bubbling away. And for a bit of weekend reading, check out this post on Hacking Hacker News!

Building a community for PlanBig

I recently did an interview for PlanBig, for those not familiar it’s a place for sharing ideas and making them happen. Kind of like a Kickstarter or Pozible without the crowdfunding aspect. The video touches on how to build a community around your brand, so it’s community from a business sense and differs in some ways to how I would approach a community like Socialmelb for instance. I didn’t know the questions or what I had to do beforehand so while my top five tips are mentioned, I’m sure I could find another top five with more time. It was also raining outside (ah, Melbourne) so excuse the bad hair day!

If you don’t have time to watch, here’s the tips:

  • Make your first action now
  • Encourage your community to meet offline face-to-face
  • Remain nimble and small in your culture
  • Think like a publisher
  • Maintain a curious and beginner-like mind

Mixed bag

I’ve been meaning to write a few updates and announcements over the past few weeks but things have been a bit hectic. So, for the sake of getting it done – I’m doing a mixed bag post now.

The Fetch London

First up, The Fetch officially launched in London. That’s right – we’re now covering what’s on in the digital, business and creative communities in the UK, and oh my, there is so much! It’s been fun ‘armchair eventing’ and perusing all the amazing things to do, especially with unique offerings like de Botton’s The School of Life. I’m pleased to be working with fellow pom/Oz-heritage mashup Chloe Nicholls on this. Check it out if you’re a resident or in town visiting –>

Dumbo Feather

Secondly, I’ve started collaborating and working with Dumbo Feather magazine. The name leaves everything to the imagination, but in a nutshell it’s a publication and community around extraordinary ideas and the extraordinary people behind them. Originally started by Kate Bezar, Dumbo has now been ‘passed on’ to the great team at Small Giants – a company founded in 2007 that focuses on and supports social enterprises. The beautiful thing about the magazine’s content is that it’s largely long-form interviews, something I find incredibly refreshing online. To get a taste, delve into some recent interviews with Chris Anderson (curator of TED) and Brené Brown (a grounded academic and vulnerability thought-leader). I’m sinking my teeth into their digital offering and online community, and will be experimenting with everything from Kindle Singles (check out Alain de Botton’s here) to video stories and Instagram campaigns. Follow along at @dumbofeather and /dumbofeather.

Here’s a pic of the latest mag’s cover:

Tripping 2012

I’m off again to San Francisco next week and London in April. Part of the San Francisco trip will be to immerse myself in the Valley’s culture and get some feedback from investors and industry peers about The Fetch. I’m currently refining the core offering but really need to have these conversations to take it to the next level. Part of the trip is to also get to some rather cool conferences:

If you happen to be at any of the above or would like me to cover any specific elements –  say hi or ping me on Twitter/email and I’ll do my best with updates. Content will be published here and on Dumbo Feather.

Startup World

The inspiring Hermione Way of Newspepper and The Next Web has initiated a global startup competition called Startup World. Much like competing on American Idol, the competition will be held in 36 cities world-wide, with the regional winners flying to Silicon Valley to battle it out in front of a panel of judges to be crowned the world’s best startup. I’m an advisor along with some other peeps, so check it out and shoot any questions through. There’ll be more updates re: Australian dates soon.

“Whilst there’s certainly advantages to building startups in Silicon Valley due to the sheer amount of entrepreneurs, venture capital and access to talent, startups and entrepreneurship is a global story.”


Not really much to report here but I’m totally three years to late to Tumblr and absolutely loving it. I’m unsurprisingly


I’m running another Melbourne Community Management Workshop this week but have decided to head to Sydney in mid-April. If you want to hear what social media is really about (i.e. the people not the tools) and what brands are doing it well, come along! –>


And before I bore you to tears, there’s been a few media features I haven’t mentioned here yet. For completeness on this mixed-bag update, here they are:

Enjoy the rest of your weekend and keep on fighting the good fight!


Attention Australian startup founders

Edit 7/2/12: Enter!

Someone was recently chatting to me about the lack of awareness of Australian startups by VCs (even local ones), with poor national press coverage doing us no favours. I agree with this to a large extent and as result have been posting more about our startups here and also over on The Fetch Blog. However, I also think Australian startups need to stand up and own the fact that they’re Australian. I think we can often be obsessed with trying to appear global and appeal to certain markets, like the US, rather than pushing our own story and roots. What I’ve witnessed in other startup communities around the globe is that they have a real pride and bond around origin – particularly their city. New York is perhaps the best example of this – and likely a result of the ever-present dominance from the West Coast. ‘Internet Made in NYC‘, which lists all the NYC-based startups is one of the most useful startup resources to have. It’s visited by job seekers, journos and investors alike.

You can read more about the list in the FAQ at the bottom but the following will give you an idea about the structure.

“What do these companies have in common?

  1. They are mostly coded in nyc
  2. They have 10K+ people use or visit their site monthly
  3. They display “Made in NYC” as prominently as its copyright — and it links to this page ( [Optionally, (a) spell out “New York City” and/or (b) precede with an adverb/verb]”
No denying where Skillshare is based

In Australia, I believe a crucial step in evolving our ecosystem is bonding cross-city and providing transparency around who’s here. We should create our own version of ‘Made in NYC’ as ‘Made in Oz’, and pop links in footers everywhere! It’s good to see leaders like 99designs have kicked things off.

99designs is "Proudly Australia" (although only on the domain)

Perhaps we could even add some green and gold into the mix… ;)

So cheesy it's back in fashion

And one for good measure – 6wunderkinder wearing the badge:

A proud Berlin-based startup 6 Wunderkinder (check out Wunderlist & Wunderkit)

Thoughts, commentary, discussion?

Have a good weekend.