The Future Of Blogs, Publishing & Monetizing Textual Content

The textual content industry where I started from has been under a constant decline. Recent stats suggest that social, gaming and video streaming is taking up to 80% of the internet usage. There’s not much you can do to change consumer behaviors so if you want a larger piece of the pie you should adapt and move more to the video content.

That’s bad news because writing and reading need to continue to exist. There are many people who can best express their views over a blog post instead of a YouTube video or they just prefer to do so.

There are two major reasons why I think textual content is dying.

The first problem that I saw blogs face during my career was the shift of traffic from desktop to mobile resulting in lost estate for advertising. This was a major blow as far as revenues were concerned for most content websites.

The second event that I saw happen was ad blockers which are now used by a large majority of the population making the free publishing unviable. Youtube, Facebook, Instagram and all of video content are safe from this as none of the ad blockers block video ads or pre-rolls/mid-rolls.

Since free publishing is seen unviable today, whenever we visit any mainstream news or content websites we’re presented with content-blockers and payment walls.

The thing is that most people do not prefer reading wall street journal every day and so they don’t see paying $5 or $10 or $20 a month as a viable option to reading that one article that they were really interested in. Instead many people, including me, would much rather pay $5-10 a month and distribute it proportionally between the sites we read the most.

There are two solutions that are in the works.

The first one is Medium. You could move your publication to Medium that can be seen as a platform to host all textual content just as Youtube is a platform to host all video content. Medium will charge users reading medium a monthly subscription fee and proportionally distribute that subscription money to writers of the blogs that subscribers read the most. There are many downsides to this arrangement. You move to a platform so you adhere to their rules. You lose your freedom. They own your content and a ton of other platform risks. I wouldn’t do this unless it’s an existential crisis for my publication.

The second solution is Basic Attention Token & Brave. I will try to explain it as simply as I possibly can but forgive me if I fail to do so.

As a user or a reader you download the Brave browser which blocks 100% of the ads and trackers, auto upgrades HTTPS, saves you bandwidth, improves your browsing experience and allows you to continue to read everything without pay-walls. You have two options here. You can receive small notification ads (like push notifications) that come and disappear and get paid (in BAT) for seeing those ads. Or if you’re not interested in advertising at all, you can buy $5 worth of BATs and auto-contribute them over a period of time to the sites you visit the most via micro crypto-payments.

As a publisher, you don’t have to have pay-walls any longer. You don’t have to move to Medium to get a share of those $5 payments. You can continue to publish at your own platform with your own terms and get a share of the auto contribution from the users in the form of BAT and for the users that decline to pay, you can generate revenue through push notification attention ads.

Watch this video for better understanding of how the BAT/Brave model works.

Creating New Revenue Sources In Your Existing Business

One of the things that we frequently do as a startup is that while solving many problems within our own startup, we often come up with solutions that we feel can be also be provided to other startups.

We obviously do not make all solutions available to other startups, especially the core solutions that keep us competitive. But we don’t shy away from offering services that do not affect our core competitiveness.

Today, I wanted to share a story of how we ended up creating an ad network, despite having nothing to do with wanting to run an ad network in general.

One of the problems that all content websites want to solve is maximizing the juice out of their pageviews and visits without affecting usability and user experience. Since our websites heavily depended on driving traffic out of influencers, it made our primary audience acquisition a paid source. And our survival game was to maximize the revenue per each visit to be able to stay competitive for the paid audience acquisition.

During the process, we ended up testing 100s of different advertising partners, networks, RTB platforms etc. In the end we were able to create our own advertising waterfalls that out-performed most independent exchange bidding solutions.

Doing that not only increased our RPMs but also prepared us in offering this advertising solution to other publishers. Many of our publishers saw significant increase in their revenue, and we also created a significant side revenue stream without doing additional work.

As a bootstrapped startup, it is the responsibility of founders to explore all additional revenue sources like the one explained to create a sustainable growing business.