Warning: I expect to be engaging in a practical investigation of web site monetization, including through modifications of this site.
Generating some income directly from this blog would be only one goal of such an investigation, and likely not the one most important to me. I mainly intend to demonstrate and further develop expertise – as well as methods, tools, research, and so on – transferable to other virtual locales, for instance for writers who are more popular or well-established than I am, and who desire greater independence and security than they currently enjoy, but who do not possess requisite coding abilities and design experience.
I do not anticipate hosting ads and launching fundraising drives of the sort more appropriate to higher-traffic sites. The solutions I’m envisioning will instead likely focus, first, on “soft” pay-walling via membership/subscription options and what I’ll call “guilt-dripping,” and, second, on direct and affiliate sales of downloadable/digital as well as “real” products. A soft paywall is a paywall that is easy to circumvent, and exists to remind users that they could pay (or even offer some service or trade) for what they are getting, not to require them to do so. Guilt dripping is or would be similar: “Dripping content” is content that a user receives “drop by drop,” either by paying as he or she goes or by maintaining access during a subscription or rental period. Under guilt dripping, as with the soft paywall or donation-wall, the user would instead merely be reminded of donation options (or nagged or nudged) while being shown how to make the pain stop through completion of a specific donation or registration routine.
I stress donation rather than payment options because I imagine that, for a writer like myself or even for financially successful ones, a hard sell or strict subscription arrangement would be undesirable if not counterproductive if not disastrous (reduce low traffic to no traffic). Typical alternatives tend to resemble a “shareware” or “pass the hat” approach that could be updated and refined for bloggers who would enjoy and who deserve greater rewards for their work, but who are unwilling to sacrifice users or distort their approach. (Many of us would prefer just to stay pure amateurs and free-timers.)
As for particular post topics, I don’t plan to re-produce one of the many “how to monetize your blog” general overviews that a net search will turn up, though I do plan to examine some other popular monetization methods, and even show how to implement versions of them that I do not expect to use here. I may also look further into semi-independent for-pay blogging models, and at some point I may share some research into non-profit and foundation considerations, but my intention is to keep things practical and even technical: focused on tools and considerations especially for WordPress and other “microbloggers.” I’ll also likely keep most posts in the series off the main page, while providing an option to subscribe to the series separately (I’m experimenting with a new service for that general purpose – see below – please let me know if you use and like it).
You can get in ahead of the rush now by checking out the simple Paypal donation form that I recently added to my “About” page: It’s “live,” but you won’t be committing to anything if you click on it just to see it take you to a Paypal payment screen. The addition of such a form to a blog seems like a good subject for an early, beginner’s level post in the projected series, especially since the one I have up now is currently in basic/draft state, meaning that I’ll be making improvements that can be documented in a “how-to” format.
I can’t say now, however, when I’ll put up the first post, as I am about to descend again into “pay the bills” mode for a couple of weeks, meaning most of whatever I post on the blog during that time will likely be scraps, notes, and relatively untimely pieces on other topics. In the meantime, if you’ve had experiences with this kind of thing that you think might be of general interest, or of special interest to me – e.g., sites that “do it” really well or interestingly poorly – please feel free to share them in the comments.