Craig is able to make a living without a single full-time job because he succeeded in identifying and developing a niche and developing multiple avenues to serve journalism (and generate revenue) within and beyond that niche.
Craig was a little-known freelance writer based in Montreal when he came up with the idea of blogging about corrections in newspapers. It was a brilliant idea. Through the years I have clipped, shared and saved corrections that were funny, embarrassing, horrifying or all three. I think a lot of journalists take a perverse interest in such corrections, knowing that someday it will be us (again), but laughing nervously when it’s someone else. I have shared such corrections with colleagues, showing them around the newsroom in hard-copy days and emailing links around the world in digital times. But it never occurred to me to launch a blog about corrections.
Where I saw screw-ups, Craig saw possibility, and that’s one of the first keys to entrepreneurial success: the vision to see possibility.
Buttry is a big fan of the Regret The Error name. He also thinks Silverman was strategic in his approach to self-promotion — a key part of becoming successful.
Another thing he likes about Silverman is how Craig logically grew out his business:
He could have settled for a popular blog just noting all the stupid errors and funny corrections that journalists make. But he recognized that he was becoming an expert in how errors occur. So he has become an expert in improving accuracy.
Craig has studied error-prevention in other professions, noting how pilots and surgeons reduce their errors by following simple checklists. A checklist, Craig says, is the most effective error-prevention system ever developed. So why don’t journalists use checklists to prevent errors? Craig has developed a checklist for journalists and suggests that journalists and organizations use or adapt his checklist or develop their own.
Buttry also praised Silverman’s willingness to collaborate with competitors. All this helped to land part-time paying gigs — although how much Silverman is making is not revealed in the story.*
* Note the comment below
Buttry and Silverman also talk about the nature of “free:”
“There’s good free and bad free,” Craig explained. “Bad free is just giving away free writing to an organization that is for profit. Good free is when you own it and you’re creating value for yourself either in a reputational kind of capital way or to it’s helping attract paying work.”
The story didn’t get into naming names about “bad free,” but note my recent post: The Divine Ms. H.