Local digital content comprises many online platforms and spans across just as may industries. Anybody can create local digital content but the entire “local content buzz” in Kenya around it will never gain any traction unless people clearly see the monetization channels. I read Techcrunch every waking day and the tech deals that are being made and money VCs are pumping into them are just ridiculous. The reason behind this is that people there have identified the potential and VCs have seen the opportunity and all the platforms/plugins/applications/widgets we currently utilize in our various social networks are the result. Until people begin to see where the money will be made with all these local digital content talk, all it is going to be is talk.
I remember when I started blogging almost two years ago; monetization was never in my head or plans. I blogged purely because I had something to say and blogs gave me the perfect forum to do so. And that is how the majority of people currently earning millions started, with a passion for something and blogs giving them the channels to exploit these passions without getting too “technical”. Since I would spend hours writing and managing the blog and a lot of money at the cyber, a couple of friends suggested that I put Google adverts on the blog to at least earn money from the blog. And I did, on one of the platforms I was using to blog. But after a long while, I had only made cents in revenues from the adverts and much of it had to with the traffic the blog generated. Eventually, I abandoned that blogging platform and continued with my wordpress blog.
Again, a couple of friends who were wondering what the hell I was doing writing great content and not getting paid for it advised me to start bidding for writing and copyrighting gigs. They directed me to a couple of sites but again I was not impressed with the monies offered and the process. I looked at everything I had to do and calculated the time I would spend on these writing projects and the end result was a “NO” vote. Then the same friends who still refused to believe that I loved blogging for what it is and not for the money I could make from it came to me with yet another suggestion. The deal was since I spend so much time in the cyber, I should join a site called Bux.net and all I needed to do was click on the adverts they listed there everyday. So I did, for a while. At the end of one month, I thing I had made a dollar or two. Never went back to the site again. But my friend who was still doing that told me a couple of months later that he had amassed a whole 30 USD.
I will not list these methods here because the good people at Blogussion have a great job breaking the 30 different ways of making money online.
The truth about monetizing digital content is harsh but very probable. People will be quick to tell you which platform is the best in making money and most of the time; the advice will fall within the above mentioned dud categories. But guess what, you cannot do sh*t with money you earn from these channels because they are merely petty cash. Just yesterday, I read a report saying that advertising is perhaps the worst way to make money from blogging and I tend to agree. I have tried most of these methods of monetizing blogs and I can confidently assert that you cannot make a living from these revenues especially with average traffic to your blog.
One thing which has worked tremendously well for me and is actually where the real money is is having an underlying business model beneath the blogs and social networks.
The following represent some key lessons I have learnt:
The reason I never seriously contemplated making money from my online activities was because research showed that I stood to make peanuts. And because most of these channels required the momentous task of generating too much traffic only to make a couple of cents. No! I was not ready to go through that. So I found something that worked for me and that was to have an underlying business model. This business model serves as a primary source of income and the various documented means of making money from blogs only as come in as supplementary income.
For instance, if you plan to create digital content around animation, look at the networks you publish in as the catalogue for your work. My young brother is the perfect example for this because through his blog – SkethyArt – he publishes great animation designs that he works on tirelessly. He is good at this but he is not making money from it despite his great skills. You may intend to create digital content based on your talent and skill level and my advice is to you is monetize that.
Formulate what you blog about or your talent, the passion that you plan to create digital content around as a service or product, give it a page on your blog or website, provide a contact area where people can get in touch with you, and use the various social networks as your selling points, with your blog content acting as proof of your expertise.
On my part, I run a social media agency which provides social media solutions to Kenyan businesses. Through my blog, I write about social media in Kenya and try to help my readers to understand how social media can impact their businesses. It is through these posts and how they affect the various industries in Kenya that I have been approached by businesses to help them with their respective social media engagements. In this way, my blogging on social media and participation in the various social media channels which I extremely enjoy doing act to further my underlying business model – provision of social media solutions to Kenyan businesses.
Now, what I make with one client is what it would take me more than a year to generate with Google Ads etc. So whatever expertise you posses and which has led you to create digital content, use your blog to promote and sell plugins, applications, services, products and whatever underlying business model you have.
For me, this is the most crucial bit when it comes to making money online. If your intention is to make a living from your activities online, make sure you define how you are going to make money. In the same way that businesses today outsource certain aspects of their business processes to concentrate on their core functions, make it explicitly clear what your core monetization channels will be and focus on perfecting that.
The problem with monetizing digital content even internationally has been trying to do everything but perfecting none. Instead of trying to get ad money, and do affiliate marketing, or selling pages from the get go, try building a brand around your core monetization channel. Later on, you can use one or two monetization avenues but only to complement the core channel as passive sources of income.
If you expect income from advert placements, make that clear and do the math in terms of the traffic that you will need to generate in order to make the right margins. If it is from affiliate marketing, examine the basic requirements needed to qualify in any of the affiliate marketing programs. On that note, @Kahenya has just started Web C, a platform that allows virtually anyone to monetize their content. The same rules apply in every other channel. The point being, look at the avenue for making money, its requirements, its margins, the amount of work you will need to do to make these margins, and whether it makes economic sense to pursue any of these mechanisms.
When you clearly define your monetization strategy, you will know that your primary source of income will come from subscription fees, direct banners ads, application sales, music and video downloads – based on your underlying business model above.
A big hurdle to effectively monetizing digital content online has been payment channels in Kenya. I use paypal to make payments online and that in Kenya today is like selling Mercedes to the mass market. Paypal will not cut it if monetization is to finally takeoff in Kenya and that is where the Mobipay, Pesapal, and eventually MPESA (when they finally release developer tools to enable people to monetize their systems – says an angry Idd Salim, the Chief developer of Tubonge, Zunguka and Sembuse) come in. These are indigenous online payment methods that will appeal to the Kenyan market and finally get them spending online. For now, any mention of credit card payment send red signals and erects barriers that inhibit growth of online shopping in Kenya.
How do you monetize your content online?