Friday, 12 October, 2007

After a mere ten years fiddling around with websites, online journals, and finally blogs, certain aspects of blogging, and making money online, are becoming clearer to me.

Yep, that’s right ten years, but I am, after all, the web designer who can amble away hours moving design elements on mockups several pixels to the right, and then, after deciding that they don’t really look right, move them back again.

I call it being thorough. And while I’ve been my usual over analytical self, others have been enterprising. I’ve been taking notes though, and have so far uncovered no fewer than six methods utilised by enterprising and successful bloggers to make a buck or two online.

There’s bound to be more, and give me another ten years, I’ll have some more ideas for you. In the meantime here’s something to start with, plus an assessment of their viability should you have entrepreneurial leanings.


Kottke website

One sure fire to make money online is to outright ask for it, as Jason Kottke did in 2005. He decided to throw in his job as a web designer and devote all his time and energy to blogging.

He put out a call to his readers asking them to “donate” what they felt was a worthwhile sum of money to fund his blogging for a year, coining the term micropatron in the process.

In a fund drive lasting three weeks he raised almost US$40,000, all of which was received in advance. He not only spent a year “focusing” on his blog, but was also fortunate enough to enjoy holidays to Paris, Ireland, Hong Kong, and Vietnam.

If that’s not a successful instance of making money online, what is?

Chances of pulling this sort of thing off again:
Ordinarily I’d say the odds were slim, but in a world of Million Dollar Wikis where people are willing to throw their money at anything, with a little spin, yes, you could do well. Send me a postcard if you visit Tokyo…


Jennicam website

I couldn’t help mentioning this one again.

We all love to perv, and we all like to think we might see something we shouldn’t, but who would have thought that placing webcams all through the house, and then wandering around scantily clad, or completely naked, would have been of interest to anyone?

Clearly not me, but in 1996 the notion struck then university student Jennifer Ringley, as having some merit. She proceeded to broadcast her every movement, through her website “Jennicam”, and as soon as the idea gained momentum, she began charging for “premium” webcam content.

With upwards of four million viewers a day she surely stood to become the first Adsense millionaire, had it have been around.

Jennicam, which ceased broadcasting in 2003, cemented Ringley’s place in history as a lifecasting pioneer, and doubtless had some sort of influence bringing about the likes of the Big Brother reality TV shows.

Chances of pulling this sort of thing off again:
Sky high. Having a nudist disposition and an unhealthy disregard for privacy is essential though. Otherwise it’s not like you have to do much else. Simply dress (or undress) suggestively, that’s about it. The prospect of seeing a little flesh is more than enough to evoke mass curiosity…


John Cow

Copy something and you’re in the crapper. Parody it and everyone’s laughing and pushing up the value of your stocks.

John Chow is the well known “Dot Com Mogul” who has been dispensing bloggers with online money making advice since December 2005.

John Cow is the just slightly lesser known… mooney making bovine who, since last July, has been showing us that not only is imitation the sincerest form of flattery, it’s also a damn fine way to build some heavy duty profile very quickly.

But is John Cow really parody, or in fact a carefully crafted duplicate?

I can’t imagine the Cow is much bothered by that point, and nor should you. He now enjoys a top 15000 (and rising) Alexa ranking, and the immediate attention of the blogosphere every time he posts something.

And all from discarding a letter H (one down, one to go?). What more do I have to say?

Chances of pulling this sort of thing off again:
Excellent. Remember a thief copies, a genius steals…


Million Dollar Wiki website

The Million Dollar Wiki and its hype inspired carbon copy Million Euro Wiki are sure to launch a 1000 ships that will end up sailing no where.

Anyone can create sub domains and then sell them off for US$100 or €75, and it seems people will fork out the money to buy them.

This is the sort of idea that will appeal to speculators and those out to make a fast dollar, and if the indications are anything to go by, there’s more than a few such people about.

Whether or not it will go the distance, or even be around after Christmas, is beside the point, the idea has people talking. That much of the talk isn’t always positive is likewise irrelevant. After all, any publicity is good publicity. People are interested. People are buying.

Chances of pulling this sort of thing off again:
Very good. To enhance your prospects of success you should consider undercutting your competitors’ prices and offer pages for $50 a piece!


The Hampster Dance

Memes. Viral content. This is the sort of stuff any self respecting fame whores loves. It spreads baby, like wild fire.

The problem is devising something that will appeal to the masses. Hitting a moving target is probably easier. Ironically though much potential viral content is right in front of our noses, it’s just we can’t always see it.

Take the Hampster Dance, arguably the first ever internet meme, as a case in point. It was very simple. A couple of four frame animated hampsters gyrating to a catchy musical hook, but it was enough to strike a resounding chord with net users in 1999.

There’s no accounting for taste in matters viral, so if you have an idea give it a go. The Hampster Dance went unnoticed for six months before it took off, so whose to know?

Chances of pulling this sort of thing off again:
All your base are belong to us.


Zeldman website

If nothing else works, you could always resort to a good old fashion dose of consistency. Simply hang in there, keep your blog online for 12 years, and you’re bound to see a few visitors.

This I have on very good authority. Straight from Jeffrey “15 million hits” Zeldman in fact. He points to the Amazon example in an interview at Design is Kinky.

“Think of how Amazon grew. One guy links to you. His five friends see the site and two of them link to you. Their ten friends see those links, and so on.”

Even if your website is, let’s be blunt, total and utter crap, consistency can still save the day, according to Zeldman.

“The longer you’re around, the more that kind of momentum builds. Even if your site is terrible, if it sticks around long enough, it will get some kind of momentum.”

Chances of pulling this sort of thing off again:
Good to excellent. It works all the time, for million of websites. You’re visiting one such place right now. ;)

Related: , , , , , , ,


  • I’d like to have a week in Tokyo. Just wondering if you’d front me the $2.00 for the postcard to send you.

    This was an interesting list to read and it has provided me an idea.
    Came upon this post via stumbleupon.
    Megan from the Carnival of Australia

    Megan from Imaginif at 3:28 pm on Saturday, 13 October, 2007
  • Well Megan I guess if you managed to raise $40k to pro-blog for a year and also squeeze in a few holidays at the same time, I’d be more than happy to contribute $2 for a postcard! ;)

    John at 10:05 pm on Saturday, 13 October, 2007
  • […] and at this point it’s more fun to be on the sidelines watching this unfold (along with John Lampard). The original MDW has an excellent, passionate marketer behind it and it should be a resounding […]

    Million Dollar Wiki Domain Names at 12:13 am on Sunday, 14 October, 2007
  • That made for some very interesting reading ;)

    Stumbled it!

    Karthik at 1:46 am on Monday, 15 October, 2007
  • Thanks Karthik – I appreciate it :)

    John at 2:05 pm on Monday, 15 October, 2007
  • I love hamster dance! Ba da di da di da do do

    Andrew Benton at 5:10 am on Friday, 19 October, 2007