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My Take on the 2018 Maven Coalition Conference in Whistler

Updated on April 20, 2018
Glenn Stok profile image

Glenn was voted the “Most Helpful Hubber” with the Hubbie Award in 2017. His articles on HubPages have also been read over a million times.

In April 2018 Maven had a conference with over 200 Maven Coalition journalists and authors in Whistler, British Columbia, Canada, to discuss their business plan for the Coalition. They asked HubPages to invite 50 of their authors to attend the three-day conference, of which 21 showed up.

We learned that Maven’s goal is to create a revolution (James Heckman’s words in his keynote address). That business plan is necessary in the wake of large media firms that are too powerful.

HubPages has always worked hard at doing whatever is necessary to help us succeed while other writing sites have come and gone. Maven is continuing that effort, in many unique ways, so that we will all survive.

Combining the three companies, Maven, HubPages and Say Media, is a self-fulfilling prophecy with a combined 98 million monthly visitors.

James Heckman, Maven's CEO, said in his keynote address, “This makes us bigger than the New York Times, bigger than Yahoo News, bigger than CNN.com, and heading towards Twitter size.” He explained that the plan to combine the best authors and journalists, who have survived the latest struggles of the Internet and have a passion for writing intense and superb content, creates the most powerful union that demands a premium opportunity for advertisers.

Maven’s Journalism Platform

The way I understood what I learned is that the Maven platform is mainly for journalists who dedicate their work to the business of writing for a particular audience.

This includes best-selling authors, top analysts, and those involved with important causes. These are the writers that Maven invites­—offering to have their content hosted on their site.

I spoke with several Mavens during these days at the conference and a couple of them told me that they pay Maven 50% of their earnings. I asked if they meant that Maven splits the earnings 50/50 similar to how HubPages splits ad impressions 60/40. I was surprised to learn that they need to get their own revenue source and they pay half of that to Maven for hosting their channel.

Journalists, who are considering joining the coalition, have a following of loyal readers. Their readers pay to register with them for access to additional content beyond a pay wall.

This is totally different from the way we have it on HubPages, and I’m not even sure this is the norm for Maven or if it was only unique to the Mavens I spoke with.

However, later in the week I learned that Maven is creating a tool to allow readers to subscribe at a fee to specific channels. I’ll discuss Maven's monetization tools in a moment.

How HubPages and Maven Are Different

I see the two platforms as unique in their own right. Maven is more related to building a coalition of journalists and bloggers, while HubPages is a community of writers for magazine-type articles (our hubs).

The two can definitely exist as one while sharing the brains and business backbone of their respective founders.

Changes will be expected, but the tools and publishing methods HubPages has put into place will not be pulled out from under us. No one should have any fears of that happening.

For example, our individual network niche sites will remain under the domains as they have been created. For that matter, Maven is already linking to them from their new search engine (maven.io). In some cases the links go direct to subcategories in our niche sites.

The work that HubPages has done has already proven to help improve our ranking with search engines. I spoke with Paul Edmondson on a number of occasions over these days together, and he agreed that HP understands that. There is no reason to unravel that progress.

In any case, our method of income for writing hubs will not change. For that matter, it will only get better with new income streams being created such as Header Bidding and Exchange Bidding Dynamic Allocation (EBDA), not to mention new technology from Say Media.

Say Media

Maven is expanding their efforts for our success with the acquisition of Say Media, a technology and advertising firm.

I personally had the opportunity to chat with an employee of Say Media on the shuttle back to the airport and we discussed their use of Header Bidding. This is a method of selling ad space on our articles to the highest bidder, thereby leading to increased revenue for us all.

What Does Maven Ownership Mean?

On the last day of the conference Josh Jacobs, one of the founders and a media and technology innovator, gave a speech that made everything clear. He was addressing the authors who are Mavens or who are under consideration.

Josh explained that Maven invites writers to join the coalition who already have an existing audience. Writers continue to own their content and are free to use it as they see fit, but in return for bringing their audience to the coalition they will be rewarded with shares of Maven publicly traded stock (Ticker symbol MVEN).

Writers can concentrate on content creation and not worry about how to make everything work. Technology is changing really fast and Maven engineers are working on methods to engage readers, keep them on the site longer, and keep them coming back often.

Maven's Monetization Tools

Maven is also working on integrating various monetization tools that writers can use on their channels. The advantage writers have is increase in revenue through various types of monetization.

The Maven platform offers a subscription service. Readers have a choice of engaging with content and ultimately deciding to pay to see the best content. Maven subscription provides an added revenue stream.

Josh Jacobs compared this to the way the New York Times sells subscriptions to readers. He says that readers are more and more ready to pay for content. I guess that all depends on the type of information.

Maven will soon be rolling out an advertising portal built right into the site with a custom media kit where the reader can buy a subscription with a credit card online.

Loyal readers who do not subscribe will still create revenue because of ad impressions.

Socializing with Other Hubbers

It was wonderful to have had the opportunity to finally meet other Hubbers and get to know them personally. We’ve shared socially over these few days in Whistler. It wasn’t only conference meetings.

We ate together in restaurants, traveled into the mountains where the skiers were enjoying the snow, and some took excursions on Friday to enjoy the morning hours away from the hotel.

The experience of getting to know other Hubbers has been most delightful. I’ve learned that no matter what their beliefs, attitudes, or backgrounds, they are all genuine people with kind manners and respected insight. One can see why they are successful with their writing.

Peak to Peak with Paul

I felt privileged to ride the Peak2Peak gondola on Whistler Mountain with Paul Edmondson. This was another opportunity to get to know him and hopefully for him to get to know me a little.

Ironically, I used this opportunity to share a few system bugs with him that he will convey to the programming staff.

Paul Edmondson and Glenn Stok in the Whistler Mountain gondola.
Paul Edmondson and Glenn Stok in the Whistler Mountain gondola.

I also learned from Paul the reason why we were having trouble understanding the way the new Q&A works. I mentioned that there seemed to be a discrepancy with the way each of us were experiencing it as we discussed it in the forums.

He explained that this is because they are running an A/B test. Some Q&A become individual pages that Google can index and others simply are included in the respective hubs. This test is being done to determine which works best.

In Conclusion

Writers on HubPages will continue to have the tools to publish articles on our vertical network niche sites that are monetized by Google AdSense and the HubPages’ Ad Program, as well as Amazon sales.

Mavens who join the coalition to write on the Maven platform will have the built-in tools to allow readers to purchase subscriptions to read additional content.

The way I understood everything, we will remain as two separate platforms with the publishing tools that we are both familiar. That’s not to say that the technology of one will not be used by the other. I’m sure that may happen, and it already is in some cases.

All in all, I came home with a new appreciation for this entire business plan that we are all part of in one way or another.

Don’t underestimate the revolution. I expect us all (Hubbers and Mavens, or Maven Hubbers, whatever) to be around for a long time while the Internet, and media in general, changes over the years.

© 2018 Glenn Stok

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    • Jodah profile image

      John Hansen 3 days ago from Queensland Australia

      Thank you for sharing this, Glenn. It all points to exciting times ahead for us all.

    • Don Bobbitt profile image

      Don Bobbitt 3 weeks ago from Ruskin Florida

      Thanks Glenn - This whole Maven thing has been interesting but, at the same time, confusing. I finally decided to just sit back and wait for something simple that a dullard like myself could understand. And, you did it.

      So Thanks,

      DON

    • sholland10 profile image

      Susan Holland 4 weeks ago from Southwest Missouri

      Glenn, thank you for going to the conference and sharing this information. Things are changing and being armed with information is the best way we can move forward. Thank you, again!

    • Kenna McHugh profile image

      Kenna McHugh 4 weeks ago from Northern California

      Glenn, Thank you for the clarification. I am hopeful the business plan will be successful. It is exciting times for HP writers, and I look forward to the changes.

    • Glenn Stok profile image
      Author

      Glenn Stok 4 weeks ago from Long Island, NY

      Kenna McHugh - On the first day of the conference James Heckman, the CEO of Maven, said their goal is to create a revolution. That goal is make us (Maven and HubPages) the top source for information and journalism.

      I said “Don’t underestimate the revolution” because I feel that their goal is feasible with the technology they are creating: Improved reader engagement, integrated subscription management, and built-in search capability.

      In addition, enhanced advertising features that Say Media is developing will add to our revenue. Many of us are already seeing the results of Header Bidding in our ad revenue.

    • Kenna McHugh profile image

      Kenna McHugh 4 weeks ago from Northern California

      I appreciate your debrief. It is very helpful and sounds like you had a nice time. I have a question: What do you mean by "Don’t underestimate the revolution."?

    • Leonie Manguilin profile image

      Leonie Manguilin 4 weeks ago from Belgium.

      Thank you so much for sharing what you have learned.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

      Thanks for sharing what you learned by attending that Maven conference. It sounds very encouraging for those of us who write articles on HubPages.

    • Glenn Stok profile image
      Author

      Glenn Stok 4 weeks ago from Long Island, NY

      Very good question Brian. I can give you my opinion based on what I learned at the Maven Coalition Conference last week.

      They compared revenue from subscriptions to the likes of the New York Times. People are very willing to pay for a subscription to read the paper. It’s also true that people pay for various magazine subscriptions. So we know there is an audience willing to pay for content and it’s not unrealistic to expect success by selling news and journalism on a subscription bases.

      However, this only works well if the publisher (journalist or other writer) has a reasonable following. This is why Maven invites authors who can bring an audience, as I mentioned in this article.

      I think both methods will continue to be successful for their own type of content. HubPages will continue to provide ad revenue for writing magazine type articles that can stand alone and are found by organic search, while Maven requires ongoing content creation by the Coalition of Mavens to deliver what their existing audience desires.

    • B. Leekley profile image

      Brian Leekley 4 weeks ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Recently I read about Twitter co-founder Evan Williams's writing platform Medium. Medium abandoned getting revenue from ads in favor of getting revenue from subscriptions. HubPages gets revenue from ads. Maven, going by this hub, gets revenue from both subscriptions and ads. Steemit makes its own money, a "cryptocurrency". Which, in coming years, do you think will be the most successful and most used way for online writing platforms to make money?

    • Glenn Stok profile image
      Author

      Glenn Stok 4 weeks ago from Long Island, NY

      It was't easy Linda. A lot had been discussed at the various meetings and conferences. I had to make notes quickly before I forgot what was said. Thanks for your feedback on my article.

    • AliciaC profile image

      Linda Crampton 4 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

      Thank you very much for creating this article, Glenn. You've shared some information that I didn't discover at the conference. I want to learn as much as I can, so I appreciate the facts that you've shared.

    • Glenn Stok profile image
      Author

      Glenn Stok 4 weeks ago from Long Island, NY

      It was great meeting you too Angela. And thanks for your nice comment. I wrote some of it in the hotel while everything was still fresh in my mind. You should feel honored since you are one of only 50 who were invited to the conference.

    • angela_michelle profile image

      Angela Michelle Schultz 4 weeks ago from United States

      It was nice to meet you! You did a great job covering the coalition and explaining the things we learned! I feel I am probably one of the least qualified to attend, but felt so honored to join you all. I am hoping this will really kick off my career as a writer, so I can only grow stronger and maybe more focused.

    • Glenn Stok profile image
      Author

      Glenn Stok 4 weeks ago from Long Island, NY

      Hi Dan, I enjoyed our discussions too. I’m glad to have met you and gotten to know you. Guess your all set now and back online with the new computer.

    • wilderness profile image

      Dan Harmon 4 weeks ago from Boise, Idaho

      You beat me to it, Glenn - not surprising as I hung around there for another few days and then had to get a new computer and set it up when I got home.

      I think you did a very good job of summarizing the information we got - better than I could have. A key word seems to be "coalition" - Maven is a coalition of many companies and writers and will stay that way. In this regard HubPages fits in very well and will most likely benefit from what Maven, or the other companies that join, can offer. Just as they will benefit from what HP brings to the table.

      I was great meeting you and at least some of the other hubbers that attended. I appreciated our discussions.

    • Eurofile profile image

      Liz Westwood 4 weeks ago from UK

      This is a very interesting article with great feedback about what you have learnt.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 4 weeks ago from The Caribbean

      You were the ideal HP ambassador to the Maven Conference, in my opinion. Thank you for sharing this report. I feel more comfortable about the merger than I would have been if I did not read your article.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      BTW Glenn, I am so focused on your profile picture, I've seen for the past 6 yrs......I did not recognize you at all with a HAT on!! I guess I'm easily fooled! Doesn't take much to throw me off! LOL

    • Blond Logic profile image

      Mary Wickison 4 weeks ago from Brazil

      Thank you Glenn,

      After being part of Squidoo, Bubblews, and Niume I was seriously worried when news of the sale came out.

      I'm pleased to hear that the companies are all benefiting from the venture. I didn't realize there would be a paywall on some articles. I can see that for those people it can be a bonus.

      Thanks again for the update on the conference.

    • Kierstin Gunsberg profile image

      Kierstin Gunsberg 4 weeks ago from Traverse City, Michigan

      Glenn, thank you for writing this! I couldn’t make it because of school obligations and the matter of small children but I have been SO CURIOUS. You answered a lot of questions and I’ll be clicking back for reference many times, I’m sure!

    • HoneyBB profile image

      Helen Laxner 4 weeks ago from Illinois

      Thanks Glenn, I was curious to get an opinion from a fellow Hubpages writer of where this merger will take us. I was already optimistic but your insight adds another layer to it. I'm amazed that 25 people didn't show up as I know many who would have loved to go in their place. I'm already seeing the increased traffic and earnings so I'm pretty enthusiastic to see it continue to grow.

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 4 weeks ago

      Hey Glenn, I did not say that they have made any rash decisions in the past. I was just trying to understand what you meant by the statement: "There is no reason to unravel that progress." I understand it as Paul suggesting that they will do their best not to be on bad terms with Google search again. But I don't want to assume something, it would be easier if I knew what you meant. I'm really glad you were one of the people who went to this conference.

    • Glenn Stok profile image
      Author

      Glenn Stok 4 weeks ago from Long Island, NY

      Brandon, In reference to your question, I never saw them make any rash decisions. Everything is always well thought out and tested.

    • bdegiulio profile image

      Bill De Giulio 4 weeks ago from Massachusetts

      Thanks for the update Glenn, appreciate you sharing your experience at the Maven Coalition.

    • lobobrandon profile image

      Brandon Lobo 4 weeks ago

      Hey Glenn, thanks for taking the time to write this and also for answering the question I was most worried about: The QnA feature. I am glad that the team is running A/B tests to see what actually works best and is not just assuming that new pages would mean better rankings (considering some answers are answered in no more than 10 sentences).

      I do have a question though: About your conversation with Paul, you add: "There is no reason to unravel that progress." Does this mean that they do not want to undo the progress they made with Google by making some rash decisions or does this mean that you would not elaborate on the progress made by the niche sites? Thanks again for this. Things do really look good.

    • FlourishAnyway profile image

      FlourishAnyway 4 weeks ago from USA

      Seems like you learned a lot. Thanks for sharing your insights. I’d be interested in knowing how Maven people are selected and what their income experience is relative to Hubbers. I guess time will tell.

    • fpherj48 profile image

      Paula 4 weeks ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

      Hi Glenn.. This is all so interesting. Having not spent much time on our site as of late, I hadn't read anything about this conference you and other selected fellow-writers attended in Canada. Since my Hubpages enthusiasm has waned so drastically over the past several months, as well as recovering from a health issue, I have paid little attention.

      Your article is most appreciated, while I feel I may need to know much more in order to fully understand what this is all about. (in communication with others, I know I'm not alone in my need to understand better)

      You certainly were an excellent representative to be chosen. I do hope some of the others who attended will present the information they garnered, as well. The more we're informed, the better.

      Just wanted to say,"Thank you, Glenn." You may be bombarded with questions from this point. Fortunately, you're always willing to help. Paula

    • sallybea profile image

      Sally Gulbrandsen 4 weeks ago from Norfolk

      I really appreciate you giving us an insight into the Maven Conference. It is also reassuring to think that HubPages is likely to be around for a long time. So glad too that you had an opportunity to meet fellow writers and speak with Paul.

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 4 weeks ago from Southern Georgia

      No, merely another long flight delay because of the weather in Toronto. I'll tell you about it sometime. :)

    • Glenn Stok profile image
      Author

      Glenn Stok 4 weeks ago from Long Island, NY

      Randy, Hope they didn’t lose your luggage on the flight home too!

    • Randy Godwin profile image

      Randy Godwin 4 weeks ago from Southern Georgia

      I'm pleased you wrote this, Glen. You explained things much easier than I could, or would have, wanted to.

      P. S. I thought my flight there was bad, but the flight home? :o

    • Rochelle Frank profile image

      Rochelle Frank 4 weeks ago from California Gold Country

      That sounds really good, Glenn. Of all people, I'm really glad you got to go and interact with the principals. I suppose I am among many others who do not understand all of the technical details, but I think we can trust that you do know quite a bit. Your comments are very reassuring, as many of us just want to know that we can do what we are doing now-- and keep improving. Thanks so much for your comments and revalations.

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