I brushed off another book from my To Read book pile:
Money for Content and Your Clicks for Free
Turning Web Sites, Blogs, and Podcasts Into Cash
Author: JD Frazer
I think many of you will be interested in it and find it a worthwhile read.
The book isn’t a ‘Get Rich Quick Online’ guru net marketing kinda book, it’s actually quite useful I thought. It’s more for content creators rather than net marketing or affiliate marketing type sites. JD talks a lot about serving ads, being tuned into your site visitors and being aware of what methods will fit them best.
He discusses various things like working with ad agencies and agents, copyrights and protecting your work, dealing with fame, dealing with feedback (both positive and negative), paid memberships, developing online communities (forums) and what to look for and be aware of. It isn’t rocket science and you probably won’t have any big ‘Ah Ha’ moments if you’ve been a web developer for more than a couple years, but the information provided is a solid reference package IMO. I’m glad I bought it and spent the time reading it (it’s a quick and easy read as well).
One of the biggest takeaways I got from the book was looking at the content you create and freely provide as a trade between you and your visitors. You create, you freely provide, they need to give back a bit if they want to continue benefiting from or enjoying the information you crank out. Even if everything was free (the domain, the hosting), the time you spend creating content to be consumed has value to it.
That’s a concept I embraced last year for myself. If you have good visitor counts and the time you spend on a domain isn’t generating a level of response from those visitors (comments, links, ad support, etc.), you have two choices as I see it. Figure out what your visitors are responding to (look at the success stories in your niche) and decide if that’s a direction you want to go in, or move the bulk of your efforts to the domain(s) that are succeeding in generating a visitor response.
If your market is responding to boobies, beers, and rock & roll–are you willing to go down that road? Can you come up with an environment that will trump that with the readership you’re going after? Do you have good reason to (ie. is it a worthwhile focus for your overall goals)?
Here’s JD’s ‘contract’, he’s a cartoonist and his website provides an original daily cartoon:
*(found on page 150)
- I will provide one cartoon a day, every day, 365 days a year (366 on leap years).
- I will always be the author of the daily cartoon. I will not feature guest cartoonists to fill in for an absence.
- I will not use the daily cartoon as a promotion vehicle for $CORPORATION. What goes in the daily cartoon is limited to the story I wish to tell. Any products or services within the daily cartoon exist solely for the sake of the story.
- I understand that making a living from this is a privilege, not a right.
- I will strive only to run ads that are relevant to the audience.
- I will not gate off the cartoon to paying members only. I understand that not everyone has money to spend and that they can contribute in ways other than with cash.
- I will always remain within the boundaries of ethical behavior and will let my conscience be my guide.
In return, I hope:
- You will respect my intellectual property and acknowledge my sole right to determine how it will be used and distributed.
- You understand that content is not actually “free”; someone has to put their time, money, and/or effort into creating and distributing it.
- You will support me and the other independent creators whose work you enjoy through the purchase of memberships, visiting our advertisers, or even just by spreading the word and letting us now you like what we do.
- You will not use an ad blocker, particularly when you can turn the ads off by buying a membership.
- You will not consume content by Web-scraping or any other unsanctioned means that denies me or any other primary content creator pageviews and, therefore, ad impressions and, therefore, money to help keep their efforts afloat.
- You understand that you don’t have a right to free content on the Net.
- You will always remain within the boundaries of ethical behavior and will let your conscience be your guide.
A few things I see here, one is that JD is committed to his visitors. He’s going to give them all he’s got, a steady stream of original work, not bring in hired guns or volunteers to fill slots. He’s going to provide them with steady content (in this case cartoons). He’s not going to rape them for financial gain (sell them out to the highest bidder or whoever waves a buck), he will be considerate with his monetization. He acknowledges that cash support isn’t everything, word of mouth support, feedback, it’s all good and appreciated. And also: he’s not obligated to his visitors to provide a continuous stream of original content if they don’t support it. He’s not entitled, but neither are the visitors.
One of the best, best, BEST things I did for myself online was last fall in my decision (and action) to be cutthroat, ruthless and slice back time spent on web properties that weren’t connecting well with visitors. For whatever reason. Maybe the content sucked. Maybe the content was ‘meh, ok’. Maybe the content had some value, had something to offer–but nothing to dig in and support (in the visitors opinion). Whatever the reason, I learned what I could from that experience, then sliced that time down and re-focused it on creating content in places that were working and that are making a connection.
When you have made a solid connection with visitors, keep feeding and nurturing that success, and it keeps growing. More energy/content creation => More response => More success. If the content production isn’t producing growing response and growing success, there’s a reason (assuming that you do have a visitor base in place).
How do you know you’re connecting with your visitors? Feedback, comments, they’re sharing your site with others, inbound links, ad support, social media encouragement. If they’re not doing those things, your content is probably just ‘meh’. When something’s worthwhile to you or holds value, you respond, give support and maybe have an emotional attachment in some way. You’re happy to share it and respond in a natural way.
One thing I was surprised by: he was the first web success story I’ve come across (at least that I remember) that says Adsense is filler only. There are much better returns found elsewhere.
Overall, I enjoyed the book and am glad I bought it :).