Can you make money monetizing your blog or YouTube Channel? Some folks make a living at it!
My experiment with monetization continues. The thrust so far is that it generates more income than I thought, but not enough to justify the labor involved. Again, I started writing this blog simply because I like to write, and never expected to make any money at it.
For example, this month - today in fact - Google has deposited $396.80 into my checking account for December's advertising income. And so far for January (which is rapidly drawing to a close) income is about $250. Income is variable, it seems, and one reason this last check was so large was perhaps election-related reading.
If we assume a 30-day month and an average of about $300 a month, that is about $10 a day. If I spend an hour a day writing, that works out to a little better than minimum wage. If you ask most writers or artists what they make at their endeavors, you'd find about the same thing - minimum wage or less. A painting that takes hundreds of hours to complete might fetch only a few thousand - or few hundred - dollars at a gallery. You don't do work like that for the money, you do it because you don't consider it work.
So clearly, while this has the potential to make a few thousand a year, it is not about to be a full-time job.
Could I expand the income? Sure, and there are a number of ways - all of which involve work, chicanery, or deception - none of which I am inclined to do.
For starters, I could just do fake news, which seems to sell a lot - but that ship has already sailed. Google AdSense has tweaked their algorithm so that if you have a fake news site, the ads get shut down. One successful Fake News fellow lost his job as a Congressional Aide when it was found out he was running a fake news site. Worse yet, Google cut off the income from his site, so now he is properly fucked to be sure. So the era of making money from fake news may be long gone. But of course, the Russians will still be at it - for other, non-monetary reasons.
Another method is to start a shit blog - just create random pages with lots of links and text that search engines will find. The Internet is finding more and more of this stuff, usually from India, where making a few bucks a day at blogging could buy you a new motor scooter. It is not hard to do this - you can cut and paste text content from the Internet and put it on your own blog or site. A lot of my postings end up this way - garbled snatches of text on some Indian click-bait website.
Shit Videos are another way. You take a copyrighted video, reverse the image to avoid Google's copyright bots, and post it. Get a few thousand or few hundred thousand hits, and the income starts rolling in - all for little or no effort.
The other way is to go pro - start up a YouTube channel and do videos full-time and hope to attract an audience for your content. I noted before how a young man - SaabKyle - started making home-made videos of the cars for sale near his home. He used an interesting format - going over each car in the same methodical manner, and it became hypnotizing. Today, he is reviewing high-end sports cars, and no doubt getting paid for some of it. His viewership went from tens of thousands to millions, and he probably makes a good living at it. But of course, now it is a full-time job. And he has to hope his channel keeps growing in popularity and isn't a fad. He lost me when he went from rusted old funky used cars to shiny showroom new ones. Popularity on the Internet can be a very brief thing. YouTube is littered with "has been" sites and fads.
Again, this smacks of effort, and I'm retired.
Speaking of which, cars and finance are two huge income streams for online advertising. If you are going to monetize yourself online, do something with cars or finance, or financing cars. It will be a hit.
The other way to make coin at this is to sell out. I have posted here actual e-mails I have received promising me free products or even cash, if I would "review" a product. It is not hard to see where this goes. You make money on the ads, and you get a free widget for saying how great the widget is. And no, I have not taken anyone up on these offers. If I appear to endorse a product or service, it is because I actually liked it.
The other way to sell out is to pander to your audience. I have noticed that in my blog, there is a predictable pattern to readership, which probably mirrors most other blogs. I attract a reader who stumbles upon an entry and likes it. They read some more for a while and then finally get pissed off at me because I said something they don't agree with. And I tend to do that a lot.
It is like a fundamentalist church. At any give time, 1/3 of the members are joining, 1/3 of the members are static, and 1/3 are leaving - there is a continual flow, which is why I would not be in the business of underwriting mortgages for mega-churches. 30 years is a long time, and you can run out of parishioners over that time period.
Again, I started this blog to write down my own random thoughts, not to make money or to be loved or something. As a result, the content is not consistently liberal or conservative, libertarian or socialist, one way or another. And of course, I might be wrong a lot of the time, but of course, rarely admit it. In other words, I am just like everyone else.
A pandering blog would say things people want to hear - that their money troubles are not their fault, and that scoring that rebate card was sound financial management. I've seen blogs where people spend all day clipping coupons so they can get a free bottle of shampoo at Walgreens. I just cut to the chase and buy them at the dollar tree - for a dollar. Overall, I probably come out ahead for a lot less effort. I could get more readers if I went down the pandering road, instead of saying that coupon clipping is bullshit.
Also, enabling comments would also generate more readers. People love to interact with an article or blog, myself included. But it is a bad habit - spending hours commenting and then responding to comments, and pretty soon, some asshole is trolling you and it is damn hard not to get sucked into some sort of trolling flame-war. As a blog owner, you then have to "curate" your comments section and weed out the trolls, ban them, get in the middle of flame disputes, and whatnot. Some fun, eh? You can set comments for "awaiting approval" but you know how that works - people just give up and stop commenting.
Also, you have to be careful when curating comments sections that you don't just allow positive comments and erase all negative ones (as many blogs and sites do) - the comments section becomes like the "letters to the editor" page of the New York Times: "Dear New York Times, I loved your editorial about how Donald Trump is such a rotten person! I could not have said it better myself! If you keep up with these editorials and we keep writing circle-jerk letters to the editor, his administration will surely collapse any day now! Signed, A. Hipster, Brooklyn, New York"
That is not useful content, which is why I cancelled my subscription to the New York Times.
There are a lot of things you can do to generate more clicks and eyeballs. But most of them end up turning your blog, your channel, your site into what you didn't want to do in the first place - pandering to people and writing to the lowest-common-denominator. It also ends up turning a hobby into a job - a job you end up hating. Ask anyone who does this - their hobby goes from fun to none in no time.
But with even a dollar on the table, it is interesting how it affects your motivations. For starters, I feel less guilty about writing, and thus write more - perhaps too much, which could turn away readers. But that's just the deal - once you start thinking about your readers and what they'd like to read, the whole deal is over. You've sold out, even for a buck.
The other tactic is to package and sell yourself. Create a trendy title and trademark. Call yourself "Mr. Money Beard" or "Debt-Free Guy" or something. Maybe you'll be the next Sooze Orman or Rich Dad or maybe even Tithing Guy! The problem with that approach is that the market is already saturated with "Online Personalities" and there may not be room for many more.
And in order to be successful at that game, you have to do what P.T. Barnum said to do, tell people what they want to hear. You'll notice most of these "financial Gurus" tend to morph from "stop spending like a drunken sailor!" to "You're approved to buy a jet ski!"
Hey, I'm not saying you shouldn't go for it, any more than I'd condemn you for opening a check-cashing store. Go for the money if you want to. The people I condemn are those idiotic enough to believe there are gurus in the first place, or stupid enough to patronizing the check-cashing store.
You see, we don't believe in "trickle down" economic reform here - trying to fix the people on the top so they stop ripping off the people down the chain. That would be nice to do, of course, but it has been my experience that the people on top have more money than I do, and thus control all the levers of the system - or at least most of them. Waiting for "top down" change is pointless. You'll wait a long time - the rest of your life, in fact.
And the political party that promises to change everything usually ends up just putting different people in charge and you are in the same situation. You have to hope We don't get fooled again - which we always do.
So I have this radical theory - that you do still have some choices in life, and those choices have a far more profound impact on your life than agitating for the people on top to change. When the guy up the ladder from you starts taking a piss, you can ask him to stop - but he won't. A better approach is to bring an umbrella.
And that is not a popular thing to say, so it will never generate a lot of hits or be "the next big thing!!" which is OK, as I never intended it to be anything, just a chance for me to get my own head in the right place.
We'll continue this experiment to see where it goes. It may end up going nowhere, which is about what I expected. Maybe after 3,000 blog postings, I'll just pack it in.