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Making money from blogs and podcasts [Nov. 26th, 2004|11:19 am]
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Drew Benvie points to this article on sponsored blogs. It'll come as no surprise that people are starting to take cash for mentioning stuff in their posts. The loosely defined clique of tech bloggers have been discussing the introduction of advertising and sponsorship for ages. There's been no end of hoo-hah over whether it's appropriate or not.

I don't really see why it's so complicated. If you get paid to mention stuff in your blog, then mention it, but say so, and take the inevitable loss of credibility you'll suffer among your audience. For some, it'll be worth it. For others, it won't. If you don't want to risk it, don't take the cash and don't do the sponsored posts. And if you take the money and make the posts and don't disclose your interests, then you're a liar, and if people find out, your credibility will drop faster than Bill Clinton's pants. The other alternative is not to put the full text of your post in your RSS feeds, and suck readers back to your site, where they can see all those luverly ads. On the other hand, you risk annoying some RSS readers with this approach.

I find it funny that bloggers are finding the idea of sponsored editorial and advertising to be such a huge issue. The traditional journalism media have been dealing with these issues in their own language for years. The idea of profit isn't going away. Deal with it, get over it, and move on, why dontcha?

What interests me isn't so much the bloggers who want to turn a profit. It's the podcasters who need to pay their hosting fees. I'd love to podcast Radio Arthur - probably will - but let's say that the world recognises my undeniable talent and begins to appreciate me for the true radio genius that I really am. Then what? My traffic rates will rise and my ISP will start making dark noises about charging me more. If my ISP hosting bill rockets to $200 per month, I'll have to start putting ads directly into the show because RSS readers that support enclosures mean that people don't have to go directly to the site to look at any AdSense commercials I choose to put up. DopplerRadio takes all my preferrerd Podcasts and dumps them into iTunes. I barely know that it's happening.

I don't really see any way around this, except perhaps for Blogtorrent. Blogtorrent is a nice concept but its scope is going to be limited. You either need a Bittorrent client pre-installed, or the BlogTorrent plugin, which comes in the form of an exe file, Try getting people accessing your link from inside a corporate domain to persuade their IT dept that installing downloadable exe files before you start consuming content is a good idea. Or that having a P2P client on their machines is a good idea. Many podcasters will want to reach people inside companies, so that chokes your audience a little.

Those podcasters who are doing it for brand building purposes only will continue to pay large ISP traffic bills because it's good for their business. The small, independent Podcaster that suddenly begins to make it big is going to have to think hard about how to pay for the gigabytes of traffic that their audience is starting to download. Not to mention the space that their audio files take up on the ISP's server, if they choose to keep an archive.

Another point of view is that, even when the software you use eliminates the need to go and visit the Web site that is the origin of the RSS feed, you'll probably end up going and taking a look anyway. Nanopublisher Nick Denton is apparently making cash from his sites, including Gawker, but the RSS feeds from Gawker aren't clipped. You get the full text. And yet, he's not to my knowledge selling RSS-based ads. He's selling banner ads at the site. Similarly, even though I don't need to visit IT Conversations, the site that creates a lot of the Gillmor Gang and BloggerCon and PopTech! shows I've been listening to, because I get all the shows in my iPod, I still visit the site anyway, 'cos it looks interesting. And hey, I've just linked to them, which means my readers will go and visit it too. (Yeah, both of you. Hello mum).

So maybe small, indie Podcasters who start to make it big will be able to make some cash to pay for their bandwidth through the ads on their site. Or they could all just try and sell their radio shows through the wonderful Public Radio Exchange, or the Radio Freelance Database. That's what I'm going to try and do.

Oh, right - for anyone who hasn't got a clue what I'm talking about, check out the basics on Podcasting here. If you like talk radio, it's a must-have technology. It's made my iPod worth about ten times as much to me as it did.
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