Trying to Get Paid for Online Content

Tony Isabella learns the hard way that people won’t pay for online comic commentary. Read on for more.

I sympathize with the desire to make money from writing online — heck, it’s a subject dear to my heart as well, since one does start thinking after a while that an investment of so much time should have some recompense. But it’s hard to demand readers pay for your wisdom when there are so many other options out there. Tony has decided that he’ll:

only be writing new TOTs when your “Tip The Tipster” donations justify it. This is the decision I came to after the dismal failure of my fund-raising attempts last month and this month.

He wanted to make $300 from donations in January, and he only got $192. (Which strikes me as a really great starting point, although likely not maintainable.) It’s hard to evaluate whether his goal was reasonable without knowing a lot more about his stats: what’s his average daily readership, how many are repeat, how often does he get new viewers, etc.

I understand that tough choices have to be made when money gets tight, and paying work comes first. Apparently, Comic Buyer’s Guide is cutting back on what they commission from him. (It’s not surprising to me that CBG may need to make changes, since I never hear anyone talk about that mag.) He’s had some other … not ideal experiences lately.

He’s also been doing a lot of polling, asking readers what they’d like to see, and personally, I think that matches up with my declining interest in reading him. He’s now covering DC and Marvel a lot more, which may be what people say they want to read about, but it makes his work a lot less unique, since there are so many other places out there to get similar content. When he talked about Archies and import comics and stories from his history in the business… that was material you couldn’t find anywhere else, or few other places.

Tony goes on to say that he’s cutting back on interviews, which I find somewhat surprising. If you want to raise money, I would think you’d want more visibility, not less. I haven’t seen many interviews with him, but it sounds like he’s getting requests from sources that one wouldn’t see online anyway. Ironically, this declaration makes me want to interview him to talk more about this decision and his view of online economics, but I’m not sure I could pitch “increased exposure” as something with definite reward for him, his new criteria.

Anyway, I hope he’s able to make the money he wants somehow, although (as is my nature), I’m pessimistic. It’s a hard sell. I’m also wondering about advertising support. I count seven ad slots on that page, two each Amazon, Google, and Project Wonderful and one indeterminate. How much of a cut is he getting of that? None of my business, I know, but ads are how I keep this site profitable. No need to ask anyone for money, but it trickles in all the same.

I think the overall lesson is: just because you want to sell out doesn’t mean anyone’s buying. And yes, online economics means that the good folks, the regularly presented columns worth reading, tend to go elsewhere, where they can more easily benefit, leaving the startups and the flakes and those too stubborn to quit. (That last one’s where I put myself. Thank goodness I have a well-compensated day job I enjoy.)


2 Responses to “Trying to Get Paid for Online Content”

  1. James Schee Says:

    Hmm.. I can appreciate Tony’s situation and hope things work out for him. Yet I just don’t really have the extra money to just give money, even if its something I enjoy but not to where I HAVE to have it.

    Especially if you consider that January is just after Christmas and everyone is a bit tapped out. I’m a bit surprised at $192, perhaps he would have been better served to wait until Income Tax return time to fund raise?

    I do try to support people whose work I enjoy in other ways though. Such as using CWR sponsored Amazon links when I shop there.

  2. Paul O'Brien Says:

    Also, if you’re on a site that runs plenty of prominent adverts, I don’t think you can get away with asking for tips at the same time. It’s really one or the other.

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