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Big Content Monetisation Ideas for the Little Guy

Earlier in this series, we talked about treating content as an asset. In reality, content may represent an asset for a number of reasons: because it’s evergreen and can be repurposed into other forms; because it’s time-critical and extremely viral, sparking conversation and attracting new users; because it’s unique and can only be found on your blog … the list goes on.

We all know the standard on-site means of monetising blog content: through advertising programs, affiliate programs, and so on — Darren’s written about them in detail. Here, I’d like to look at some of the other ways you can get more out of your existing — and evolving — content inventory.

Creative Monetisation

When we discussed content strategy earlier in this series, we talked about the importance of having a grip on your content inventory so that you can achieve the best possible return on your investment in content.

How can you achieve that ROI? There are many options. In fact, as we’ll see, being creative about your monetisation strategy really can pay off.

To get you in the mood, take a look at the blog of illustrator and artist James Jean (Warning, artistic nude drawings there). Check his store to see some innovative approaches to the concept of “content monetisation”.

Whitepapers and Ebooks

Whitepapers, reports, and ebooks are established means by which to repackage quality content you’ve published on your blog into new, cost-effective formats. But don’t forget physical products, either — it works for James Jean, and it could work for you, too.

Before you begin, consider existing competition in the space — if leaders in your field release quality research or insight free, you’ll have to do something different, and do it well, if your audience is going to pay for your offering. Simply republishing a selection of your current blog content as an ebook won’t cut it. Augmenting that content, as a basic platform from which you can provide a range of value-adds, tools, and philosophies, might.

If you’re constantly immersed in your area of interest, you’re likely to come across information that, while it makes for good blog posts, also fuels your creative fire. It might start you innovating and exploring, and the resulting insights and experiences may generate new content or new perspectives that can augment and extend your existing content in other formats.

Products like these are usually most successful if you can provide solid practical value, unique insights, and compelling evidence. Don’t neglect to give your customers a means to assess the information for themselves, independently, as well as under your guidance. Interpret the results of your research in a paid report, by all means — but provide the raw data to allow users to conduct their own analysis, too.

Paywalls and Subscriptions

We’ve all heard about the News Corp decision to charge for access to its news sites — a plan that’s now going ahead in the UK and USA. Although opinion is divided over charging for web news, many blogs offer premium subscriptions that provide access to suites of value-added content such as research and interpretation, or deep insight and opinion. The free GigaOm network does this with its GigaOm Pro subscription service. Subscription services may also take in alternative media formats, such as videos or podcasts, that aren’t available through the free area of the blog.

Subscriptions won’t work for all blog types — expert content on business and academic topics seems to be one area in which paywalls have proven successful, but the average hobby blogger may have trouble justifying this tactic to an audience that can obtain parallel content free of charge elsewhere. If you do go ahead with a paywall, you’ll have to think carefully about how you’ll communicate the value of a subscription to your readers: will you offer a free trial? A demo? Will you let users pay on a weekly or monthly basis, or have them purchase a longer period, perhaps at a discount?

Users are already skeptical of paywalls and subscriptions. They can work, but usually they’re best left to the larger players who can afford to take such risks.

Content Syndication that Pays

An interesting alternative to the online news paywall approach has been developed by the UK’s Guardian news organisation. The Guardian is launching a service that allows others to syndicate Guardian stories free of charge — with the caveat that the content must appear as provided, and that includes an advertisement.

Syndicating your blog’s content with automatically-included inline ads may not be an option just yet. But are there other forms of “syndication” you can use? Could you arrange to republish selected posts regularly in another industry publication — perhaps in print — for payment?

Reselling your posts can be tricky, since you don’t want to dilute your brand or readership. By the same token, a well-planned strategy can serve to build your audience and your income. For example, you might syndicate time-critical content to other publications for a payment, but publish timeless, evergreen content, posts that build and engage community, and articles that provide great educational value, exclusively on your own blog.

Finding outlets that will pay to republish your posts may be a challenge, particularly while you’re still establishing your foothold in your chosen space, but as the Problogger income split posts prove, the small steps — and approaches that aggregate a range of income sources — really do add up.

What techniques have you used to monetise your content?

Continue reading this series of articles on questions surrounding blog content.

About the Author: Georgina has more than ten years’ experience writing and editing for web, print and voice. She now blogs for WebWorkerDaily and SitePoint, and consults on content to a range of other clients.

About Georgina Laidlaw

Georgina Laidlaw is a freelance content developer, and Content manager for problogger.net. You can find her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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Comments

  1. Blog Tyrant says:

    Another fantastic post. Keep up the great work.

    Thinking outside the box when it comes to making money on a blog is a definite must.

    Sometimes its the odd ball ideas that make the most.

    The Tyrant.

  2. Jean Sarauer says:

    I really appreciated the insights here. I put so much time into product creation that I want to wring out every possible drop of value. You covered some things here (syndication for one) that I’d never considered.

  3. Personally I don’t really like paid subscription ideas because it sort of implies your best material is not on your blog. I do, however, think that that type of model is going to become really relevant for the music industry as albums become obsolete.

    What the news industry does is going to be a big lesson for all of us. Newspapers are dead and they are struggling to find something new.

    Ramsay

  4. Josh Garcia says:

    Hey Georgina,

    You do bring up a lot good points. However, there are still ways to monetize from content. I like to use content to promote affiliate products or to promote a webinar.

    Most of the time, I like to give great value post just for free to establish credibility.

    Thanks for your insight!

    Chat with you later…
    Josh

  5. I really appreciate insights here. I spent so much time on product creation that I want to squeeze every drop of value. Some of the things that do not belong here (in syndication for one) that I had never considered.

  6. G-lish says:

    This is excellent. Thank you Georgina. It really only takes about a week of focused effort to produce about a 30-50 page Ebook if you stick with it. We created 2 for our site. We then created a pay-for travel guide which has sold enough for us to live on since Feb. Find a problem, create a solution, monetise it, as they say.

  7. Carleen says:

    I occasionally publish syndicated content for payment. The site provides me partial material and then I am paid based on the number of clicks that it generates on their own site. I always found it to be an interesting monetization source, especially since it also provides content that my readers particularly seem to like. I have also published syndicated content that contained ads (all with no follow tags) for a flat fee.

  8. I like to take pieces of the content from my products and give the audience 95% of the answer, but they will have to purchase the product to really understand how to do it.

    I’m more of a “give away the kitchen sink” kind or person, with my content, but I always make sure that I am selling something in each of my posts.

    I have tried in-text advertising, which is a step up from adsense, but I found it to be really distracting. At this point I only sell my own products on my blog, because I want to keep it as the only place that a person can go to find this particular information.

    -Joshua Black
    The Underdog Millionaire

  9. I start blogging before I read any advice from the pro in the field, not because I know it all, far from it but I wanted to give first before I receive.

    The first advice you get when you start any internet business be blogging or affiliate marketing ( build a list). How am I going to convince someone to join my list and I have not gave them anything yet?

    While learning more about blogging, the wise advice from the pro was the same, do not get caught up on making money, we need to give first before we can receive. It is common sense really.

  10. jason says:

    Ebooks have been something that I have been looking into a lot lately, though it’s hard to determine which ones to give away, or whether to use free ebooks as incentive for the pricier ones.

  11. I like to see at content using the classic four step view point, Georgina. The four steps being data, information, knowledge and wisdom.

    Data is pretty much public knowledge – and should be ideally free. There are exceptions, but that’s the trend by and large.

    Information is what we, as bloggers, do of data – interpret it using our points of view, slice and dice it and offer comparisons and perspectives. I’d keep that free as well.

    Knowledge becomes interesting – because it has the potential to monetize effectively. I’d favor keeping knowledge free as well – and monetizing it through alternative routes (compilations, anthologies et. al.)

    All in the hope that what I’m doing in terms of data, information and knowledge ultimately leads to a point where I can monetize my wisdom much more effectively – with a much higher RoC.

  12. Rafael Brosi says:

    Carlton Bonnoitt

  13. Dave Doolin says:

    @Kapil, you’re into the crux of it, but I’m going to toss a few notions out here to think about.

    Data; there’s two kinds: The public stuff, and the private data. For examples, conversion rates for your competitors might well be private, and could quit expensive to obtain even an estimate.

    Information: more or less agree here.

    Knowledge: Information which can be executed on. Example: knowing my toothbrush is blue isn’t really knowledge. Knowing why blue tooth brushes do (or do not) outsell red toothbrushes is knowledge.

    Wisdom: Never thought about it, but I really your notion.

    These are distinctions I think about a lot.

    With respect to the OP:

    One way to monetize using “free line” principles is to give away the strategy and sell the tactics. The tactics being the special sauce that makes everything work.

    For example, the article implicitly assumes a “free line” at work. Thus, the tactics in the article are a result of executing on that strategy.

    Take home for me: Syndication. I’m looking into it now, both self-syndication (my stuff published under my byline on my accounts on different platforms), and distributed(?) syndication as you explain here.

    Thanks for taking the time write!

  14. Julius says:

    I like all the points in this article, especially the idea of creating ebooks that contain your best content and more new topics.

  15. Jimmy says:

    I’m considering putting up a donation button on my blog with some light advertising. Any incite?

  16. Nice article,

    Thanks

    Syndicating some content for monetization is a great idea and one that I have never tried. Are there any specific sites other than guardian that you know of for making direct money off of your posts?

  17. make money says:

    I really enjoyed the preview here. I put a lot of time for product creation, I want to wring every drop of their value. You covered some stuff here (for syndication) that I had never seen

  18. Marcel says:

    PDF sales works well for me, also edited a book on lulu.com for the ones who need to feel real book.

  19. One big thing that I think is already here but isn’t quite fully embraced yet is the new eBook possibilities that are now here due to things like the Amazon Kindel and the iPad.

    Previously eBooks were mostly just sold on Clickbank, and had somewhat become overcrowded. Now with the iPad and Kindel I think eBooks are going to resurface as an amazing way to monetize content.

    -Paul

  20. I still think that content in english language whether as blog, videos, podcast or another media still and will always get the largest market share which means more possibility to monetize. using a local language beside taking a lot of time to be found by reader we still have to wait for the market

  21. Tinh says:

    Great post. I love it very much. However, I think that building a brand that can easily be recognized globally and the money will come as Darren has done. Great example!

  22. Tech Maish says:

    I have not tried PDF, but going to try soon. Very helpful post.

  23. SQL Training says:

    I think a Subscription service is a great idea of monetizing a blog. In a subscription/membership service we can provide more contents to our readers. Also having a product is also a good enough way of monetization

  24. I actually tried a shop and it didn’t pay off… I’m now looking into building an email list and selling an on-line video course instead.

    The reason is it can be much more profitable at $50 a sale, rather than $10 a sale, and because it’s digital the profit margins are massive!…

    Long term, I think that the top internet business’s will be from “micro payments”. Say you enjoy a game on Facebook, and you want an edge on your competitors, then you will be happy to pay $5 for more energy or special objects which cost extra.

    Top games can have 25 million active gamers, then you can start to see how to make a proper business on-line.

    ;]

  25. dinariraqi says:

    Nice post. I love it. though, I think that construction a variety that can simply be standard globally and the money will come as Darren has completed. huge model!
    Iraqi Dinar

  26. Hi Darren,

    Ebooks is great giveaway to entice people to surrender their email to you. Just wonder if selling a pricey product to the email list collected is the best option to go with?

    Thnaks again for a strong post, I think. Really thought provoking post.

  27. Another great post. An e-book on photography in regards to my niche sounds like the next step in moving forward. Always a pleasure in reading Darren’s posts for great tips. Cheers!

  28. Subodh says:

    I want to tell you that most of the affiliate programs pays you in dollars not in any other currency.So what do u mean by blogging for dollars. Secondly you covered a lot of aspects of make money blogging which no other blogger covers. Thirdly i am feeling as i am in a dream when i came to know about your earnings.

  29. Penge says:

    Nice artickle I love affiliate marketing, have done it for years and you never get tired of it, build an good newsletter database as ground and then build on from there.

  30. You can sell article if you want, but I prefer selling links for many small blogs.

  31. Antonio Q says:

    If your going to charge someone for your content it better be good.

    Another great article. Keep it up!

  32. It’s getting harder and harder for new Bloggers to make any money. The lion’s share of the bucks is going to the “webfamous” Bloggers who have made a name for themselves and have a steady following.

    That being said, I want to thank you, Georgina, for the money-making tips. A lot of us newbie Bloggers are either working full time jobs to support our blogging passion, or are starving doing what we love.

  33. A B says:

    Your like to the artist James Jean’s website turns up a pornographic drawing, a full crotch drawing of a woman. I am a female, and I resent it. This is not something I wanted to see when i am out researching blogs and social media. I suggest you find another example if you don’t want to create bad feelings in your female readers.

  34. I published a small 80 page handbook “Promote Your Business or Cause using Social Media” using CreateSpace and their publish on demand. I’ve tied that together with a Facebook page and blog that offer free information. I’ll probably go the white paper route or an eBook later this year. I’m taking a Social Media class in Seattle this fall. I’m hoping to take what I’ve learned and teach classes here in Boise.

  35. nick says:

    I really appreciate insights here. I spent so much time on product creation that I want to squeeze every drop of value.The site provides me partial material and then I am paid based on the number of clicks that it generates on their own site.This is not something I wanted to see when i am out researching blogs and social media.If your going to charge someone for your content it better be good.

    Another great article. Keep it up!

  36. Hi Darren, regarding monetisation methods for blogs/mini money sites… I wonder what percentage of Adsense Google takes, and how much goes to the publisher. And then there’s other factors involved such as smart pricing and whether the big G consider how relevant the content is in regards to the ads it chooses to serve up. Even higher priced keywords such as “no win no fee” “home equity loans” etc etc only pay $mall change. I live in hope of $5 per click (“sigh”)

  37. Really good article. I am not sure why it took me so long to read it! I found definitely that “giving” information away is attractive for the reader. I think that I will need to work on building my brand. I can do that by giving alot of information away for free and then monetizing towards the beginning of next year. I want to help my readers, and earn their trust. To do that, I am more than willing to provide answers to all of their questions upfront.

    Thank you for this, it helped me to get my wheels turning. =)

  38. Michael Nunn says:

    The days of making serious coin from Adsense have pretty much gone. A couple years ago a bogger could easily pull a few thousand per month from just a couple of blogs, but the Big G put a stop to that a little ways back. Nowadays, bloggers need to be more creative and actively follow up on other leads for generating their income. Of course, there is always the ghost writing avenue. In an ever more competitive market, those who explore new ideas will move ahead while those doing the same old things will fall behind.

  39. I liked your blog specially syndication and white paper i liked the most. I will like to build a brand for my website but I dont know free give away of ebook should not build the mentality for costumer for free things

  40. Honestly, I get more web traffic and search engine rankings from articles than any other thing. I find it humorous that good old article marketing still kicks butt in spite of all the wonderful internet marketing gadgets that have come along.