It takes blood, sweat and tears to successfully pursue content creation – in whatever form – as a vocation. And even when you gain an audience – thousands or millions of likes, followers, views or what have you – getting paid is not always a given.
Sad starving artist stories abound. Take the YouTube channel Vlogbrothers, which is hugely successful, with 3,1165,260 subscribers and having amassed well over a billion views.
But as Hank Green, who runs the channel, ruefully recounted after having hit that billion mark: “At the average YouTube ad rate of $2 per thousand views (a $2 CPM), that’s around $2 million in revenue from advertising over the last eight years. Not bad! Though, during those eight years, we have spent more than $4 million on the creation of YouTube videos. So also, not good!”
Numerous platforms have sprung up with various strategies designed to enable content creators to monetize their efforts in a way that ideally better balances output with input. While some are geared to all types of content, from the written word to podcasts and videos, others specialize in particular content forms.
Here’s a look at three of them:
Substack has a subscription-based model for content creators, but its focus is its newsletter platform for individual writers as well as publishers. The philosophy behind it? When you pay writers with money instead of clicks, you get their best work. Writers can set their own subscription fees, starting at $5 a month (or no fees at all, their choice), and Substack takes a flat 10 percent, without any other fees collected.
For individual writers, the newsletter can supplant or be an adjunct to a blog or a book or a website. It’s a form of outbound marketing to create interest in a more stationery asset and another means to build an audience. For publishers, the Substack option is a way to expand their digital assets and audiences. Outside Magazine, for example, just announced its first foray into paid newsletters via this new platform.
ConnectPal caters to content creators in every media type, but tends to have a lot of podcasters mixed in with video productions and other formats. ConnectPal bills itself as a “community” for creators who have varying levels of fame.
Each member sets up a profile page describing who they are, what they do and why their content has value – and merits the visitor’s subscription. And that’s how they – and the ConnectPal platform itself – monetize their content. Members set their own monthly subscription rate and what it includes, like full access to the content, the opportunity to communicate directly and other perks to help make the sale.
Subscription rates are priced at what the market will bear. Obviously, the more the ConnectPal content is pushed out through each member’s social network, the more traction it gets and revenues grow.
Stream is a new platform for video that intends to reward content creators for their work, while also improving the streaming ecosystem. The startup’s belief, as it states in a white paper, is that “…in the current online content economy, built-in network effects and the rise of free content have rewarded centralized platforms and advertisers with monopolistic dominance at the expense of creators and their viewers. Stream is our attempt to level the playing field.”
Stream’s bid to make decentralized streaming practical and lucrative hinges on its economic backbone – a blockchain-based cryptocurrency (Stream Tokens), issued to producers based on the total views streamed. There are no middleman fees. It’s designed as a Chrome extension to work in the background of the Internet across the platforms that the designers are already using.
Content is still king, but creators aren’t usually paid in princely sums. Recognition of that fact is leading to interesting solutions that give them a better shot at it.