Yesterday I attended the local National Union of Journalists meeting near Euston to give a talk on using the web to help journalists, and a common topic for discussion, both at the meeting and in the pub afterwards, was how you can monetise your writing whilst at the same time raising your profile.
I’m a huge fan of blogging, and certainly for the profile raising role they play, but they are difficult to monetise. One member told a story of someone being offered $10 for a single blog post. Not really enough to live on.
Obviously paywalls have been used to varying degrees by large publishers in an attempt to move away from relying solely on advertising revenue to support their website, and thus their writers. The problem is, unless you have huge traffic numbers it’s very unlikely you’ll get much from advertising.
Micropayments have long been touted as an alternative source of income for the humble blogger. They’d allow blogs to have a kind of tip jar on their site, and readers could pay a small sum (or indeed a large one) for any content they found useful or interesting.
A drawback to this notion is that there has never really been an easy way to make micropayments, or indeed for bloggers to collect them. Plus of course many will argue that the cat is already out of the bag and that people are now so used to getting content for free that they will never again pay for reading online. It forces/encourages many online writers to blog for the ‘fame’ and then use that fame to gain speaking engagements or book deals or consulting gigs, which is where they make their money.
Alas, Google haven’t given up on the idea of micropayments, and have launched a new system via their Google Wallet service that aims to help writers and bloggers earn money from their work. The system is currently in testing via DK, Peachpit and Oxford University Press and will see people buying articles for between $.25 and $.99 each.
The way it works is that the reader will get a portion of the article for free, with a banner hiding the rest. The banner will display the price for unveiling the remainder of the article and a simple way of paying to see the content. You can see a screenshot of how it will look below.
It’s an interesting development for sure, but I’m still far from convinced that people will pay, even small sums, to read content online. Hopefully the system will be rolled out on a wider scale before too long though and it can be put to the test.
Would you pay a micropayment to read content? How should bloggers and online journalists be paid?