Creative Revenue Ideas for Digital Content

photo of storm troopers saving money in a piggy bank
Image courtesy of https://www.flickr.com/photos/kalexanderson/

You have an idea for a publication and now you want to think about how you can generate revenue for your content. Whether you need to pay contributors, distributors, or fund an entire business with full-time salaries, there are some very creative ways you can fund digital publications. Here are just a few: 

PAYWALLS

PAY PER ISSUE

  • summary: Issues or individual documents are downloadable after paying a one-time fee
  • example: The Atavist stories (iOS app) – https://atavist.com/
  • tool: There are many solutions – you can roll your own or a WordPress plugin like easydigitaldownloads will do the trick — https://easydigitaldownloads.com/

JOIN A MAILING LIST FOR ACCESS TO EBOOK 

Ready for Zero example of signing up for a mailing list to download an ebook

PAY BY TWEET 

Example showing paywall to unlock content with a tweet

DONATIONS / TIPS 

CROWDFUND

screenshot of kickstarter-style publishing project

THE OLD FAITHFUL: 
DISTRIBUTORS – Amazon/Kindle, Apple/iBooks, Google Play, Barnes & Noble, etc.

ADVERTISERS – Using paid advertisements relevant to your audience to provide value for readers, advertiser and you the publisher (we like non-intrusive, full-page responsive ads like this one: http://readidea.com/magazines/issue1/blacknight-advert.html

screenshot of dynamic, interactive advertisment used by Blacknight

SUBSCRIBERS– More and more consumers are happy to pay for content they find valuable or want to support. Follow Model View Culture’s example and charge your subscribers on a regular basis: https://model-view-culture.myshopify.com/products/model-view-culture-digital-subscription



Distribution: Just putting it out there

You’ve created a book, you’ve proofed and edited it, and everything looks fantastic. Now you need to help your audience find your book and read it.

CREATE A LANDING PAGE
Having a specific web page or URL you can point people to can be very helpful in marketing campaigns. Being able to consistently say something like “Just go to ‘my-website.com/book’” will help people to remember where to find it and allow you to keep that content rich, relevant and updated with quotes, reviews and any download links you might be tracking. 

A landing page like this one allows you to offer a marketing site for your book, something that shows perhaps a summary or some book reviews as well as up-to-date links for customers to purchase your content either via your site or through marketplaces like Amazon or Apple. 

Here’s another example of a useful landing page:

For publishers offering a web-based version of their book, the landing page could be the entrance to their paywall site as well, something like this one:

One other thing having a landing page allows you to do is get some analytical data on how many people are clicking through to purchase, where they’re coming from, if they used search terms to get here, etc. If you are selling content on your own site, you might want to track downloads as well to see which versions are downloaded more often or if there are any clear purchasing patterns to keep in mind. 

SELLING VIA KINDLE
Kindles are widespread for good reason: the devices are a joy to read on. Selling to Kindle owners is a good idea due to the popularity of the platform as well as the ease of purchasing through the platform. We’ll have a future article on selling through Kindle, as there are many factors to consider, but to get started a good idea is to go ahead and register yourself here on Kindle Direct Publishing, or KDP, as an author or publisher, and you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about the different programs and pricing models offered via Kindle. 

SELLING VIA IBOOKS
Apple devices continue to grow and their marketplaces are no exception. iBooks market share isn’t as strong as Kindle, but it is growing. While registering and distributing free content via iBooks costs nothing, you may need a US Tax ID and a paid books account through Apple. 

You can read more about their process and requirements on their FAQ page here

SELLING YOUR BOOK YOURSELF
Many authors are seeing fewer and fewer reasons to pay a middleman like Amazon or Apple and want to publish and sell their books themselves. There is no shortage of success stories of authors doing this, and it’s easy so why not have a way to let your readers give a larger percentage of the purchase price to you instead of a retailer? 

Easy-to-use merchant services for authors and publishers include Stripe and Gumroad, and there are many easy WordPress themes that incorporate sales templates (we have used and recommend MemberPress, especially if you want to do subscriptions or membership sites).

WHERE TO START?
A good landing page might be the first factor to consider as it allows you to build a marketing campaign with your link ready, and you can always update or modify that page to add new links, change wording or design, or update linked download files.

Woopie customers receive free custom landing pages for their first publication – get in touch if you’d like to try out Woopie and get your own beautiful & responsive landing page!

WHAT’S NEXT?
Next week we’ll be looking at some interesting and creative revenue ideas for your content. If there are any particular revenue methods you are curious about, email me and I’ll be sure to cover them.