Creatives take on social networks

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After the success of MySpace, a slew of new social networking sites have hit the scene, from shopping sites that offer consumers the opportunity to share the experience with their friends to business-to-business networking sites.

Oddpodz LLC, which had a soft launch last summer, invites creatives to post profiles, network, shop, showcase and sell their work and view the work of others on its site. So far, 15,000 people have registered.

"We knew that the future of Web 2.0 would include many more social networks but that the future would also include niche markets," said Karen Post, CEO of Oddpodz, Tampa, FL.

She and co-founder Jocelyn Ring believed that since MySpace and YouTube are mass-oriented, account holders might be interested in a social networking site that is targeted more toward their specific needs.

Oddpodz's target audience was chosen due to research that points to the influence and buying power of the creative group. For example, there are approximately 38 million creatives in the United States and they represent 30 percent of all employed people, according to Richard Florida, author of "The Rise of the Creative Class." In a few weeks Oddpodz will be relocating to Savannah, GA, which is known for its strong creative community.

Oddpodz launched with features including a blog, an Ezine and a T-shirt line. In

January, the Muzeum launched, a place where members can set up exhibits, market their work and post events. Exhibits focus on five areas: fashion, writing, digital expression, traditional work and audio visual. The content has been expanded and includes contributions from Mental Floss magazine.

"We're trying to add more dimension to our nation and not be a pure social network play," Ms. Post said.

The site's e-commerce strategy includes a marketplace that uses the affiliate model, with Oddpodz getting a commission for sales from sites that are showcased and clicked through to. Flaxart.com and Uncommongoods.com are just two of the more than 100 vendors currently on display in the marketplace.

In addition, Oddpodz is offering product placements throughout the site. For example, in the lounge area of the Muzeum, visitors can click on a vase of flowers and be redirected to www.giftbaskets.com. More traditional banner ads are also available.

The portion of the site that lets artists sell their own work is under development. Artists can set up a free gallery. Oddpodz is providing the tools for online selling in exchange for a transaction fee. Artists ship the products themselves.

An "auditorium" on the site has three multimedia stages, including an Atlantic Records-sponsored area where people can listen to music videos.

Admission and posting basic profiles on the site is free. For $39 annually or $3.25 a month, people get more space to post their work and product discounts.

The social networking aspect of Oddpodz is just one of many elements.

"The older people get, the more there must be some purpose to the time they spend on the Internet," Ms. Post said.

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