Monetize me! How to turn digital content into revenue
(Image: via freestockphotos)
When social media and blog channels first appeared, no-one could have predicted that posting on these platforms would be the basis of multi-million pound careers. Nowadays, ‘job titles’ like YouTuber, Instagrammer, Blogger and Influencer are everyday words, and the concept of personal branding is firmly established. If you’re a content creator, the thought of turning video making or blogging into a revenue stream has probably crossed your mind, but how do you turn this dream into your reality?
When you think about making money online, advertising is probably one of the first things that comes to mind.
Once you’re set up, you will need to decide the level of advertising you’re willing to accept and their formats. This is often a case of compromise as more prominent advertising might boost your initial Google Adsense earnings, but it can also disrupt the user experience and distract from your content, particularly in the case of non-skippable and pop-up style adverts. Choosing more discreet placements and only accepting brands and companies which relate to your content’s themes are the best ways to reduce the risk of frustrating your audience.
Nonetheless, online advertising can potentially be a good source of income providing that you monitor the impact on your audience and their interactions with your content.
Promoting products and services can be a great way to start making monetized content and companies like Izea can connect you to brands wanting to collaborate and share sponsored content.
The requirements of the promotion will vary by company, but to maintain trust from your audience you should always make sure your content is honest and that you disclose that it’s a sponsored piece.
You should also only accept sponsorships that really make sense in relation to your other content, and ideally products or brands that you actually have experience of using so you can genuinely endorse them. When writing or filming the piece, it can be useful to think about how and why you might discuss the product with a friend - you’d probably be excited to share your positive experience as you think it might be good for them too. Framing your review in this way can help alleviate the risk of being seen as ‘selling out’ or alienating your fans.
Unless you’ve really made the big-time, you’ll be more likely to get paid with free products rather than direct income, but often brands use this approach to promote a new product so you’ll be one of the first to try it. Getting a sneak-peak of the latest thing can make product sponsorship an exciting option for you and your audience.
Affiliate links work by tracking who clicks the links in your content and paying you a percentage of the sales resulting from them. Typically you can choose to include text links within articles, reviews and comments or use banner or image based links which look more like traditional adverts.
Many companies offer an affiliate program, so if you’re thinking of writing a review it’s often worth seeing if you could be making money from an outbound link you were going to include anyway. One of the most popular and flexible options is Amazon Associates. Once you’re set up with the Amazon affiliate program you can choose to link to over a million products and earn between 1%-10% on qualifying purchases.
Consider if this option is right for you. Links which look like adverts can clutter your page and if you’re using body copy links, it will require you to focus on discussing or reviewing products, which might not fit the type of content your followers are used to seeing from you.
Nonetheless, when done well, affiliate programs can offer a real revenue stream if you’ve got the traffic to drive potential customers through the links.
After you’ve built a significant audience you might find that you can start to make money from your own personal brand, for example from merchandise or personal appearances.
If you’ve got loyal followers you could also consider setting up a paywalled fan club to provide exclusive content, perks and behind-the-scenes access. A monthly or yearly subscription business model is great for providing a reliable and regular income and could be set up via secure login section from your website or with an app.
Since your fans are paying you directly, this model means that you don’t need to reply on advertising or sponsorship and instead have complete control over the content you post and how you want to connect with your audience.
Creating and maintaining your own app can be expensive, but whitelabel app development companies like SupaPass can provide a much more affordable option for creating iPhone and android apps with automatic software updates. With this subscription service, your followers sign up at the price point you set, and as you can earn up to 100% net revenue you could potentially make more per paying subscriber than you would through advertising.
There are a variety of ways to monetize your digital content, depending on your audience and chosen platforms. Assess your options and start turning your passion into a profit!