Getting paid for content

99% is crap, but what about the rest?

Cobey Williamson wrote a post on Medium that included this thought:

Content, whether via third party publisher or self-hosted, is the new advertising, created solely to drive customers to the point of sale. This is the future of professional content services.

Indeed.

So much of value is available at the click of a link that it more than compensates for the hundredfold greater excess of crap. People are forever creating things that assist, educate, entertain, amuse, reassure, inflame, soothe and just plain interest me. And I hope I'm doing the same for them. But the idea of being financially rewarded for that is still a huge conundrum.

There are a few models out there now,1 which I was discussing with friends over the weekend. The general consensus was that whatever you make available on the internet is a loss leader for something you're selling. One of my friends is selling tickets to seminars and courses, another to talks and books, and some are promoting their academic status. Walking back, I realised that right now, I have nothing to sell.

The reason is that people aren't buying. Partly that's because, as Cobey also observes, "No one will pay for content". Well, they pay, but it barely represents even an adequate reward, let alone decent money, for the work required. So I'd rather spend the time on my own projects. But despite having supporters via Patreon and directly from my podcast site, I don't feel I have anything to offer them over and above what I am offering everyone else, other than the inner reward of rewarding me. Some people who run membership schemes of one sort or another restrict some content to members forever, while others give members advance access. I've considered the second option, but failed to move it forward. Perhaps now is the time.

A better idea may be to embrace the idea of being paid a pittance because it is literally better than nothing, but focus on writing about things that emerge directly from my own projects. I'm already doing the research, I'm already doing some of the writing, I could (and should) try and sell a version of that writing somewhere.

Which brings me back to Cobey Williamson. The reason I follow him is because he was a guest on Eat This Podcast, with an episode -- Small-scale spirits -- launched by something he wrote. Which I didn't pay for.2 And which you can hear for free.

What goes around comes around.


  1. Including the late, lamented flattr, which has morphed into something more or less completely at odds with its original incarnation. 

  2. Not even with a Basic Attention Token or a Brave Payment, whatever they are. Yeah, I know, blockchain ... 

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