Written by Kjetil Manheim
We all know the stories. Easy money coming in from just “posting something” on the Internet. Influencers, YouTube stars, and all kinds of viral phenomena pop up in our news feeds and inspire many people to go online and see if they also can pull it off. However, whilst the influencer economy is real, the myth that it is easy to become an economically successful one is not.
It is hard to earn your own. You might succeed by luck but that would be an exception to the rules. Luck is seldom the reason behind a success. Hard work, skills and the right tools are more common and there is no exceptions in the business of content.
For many this equals quality. Whether it is a song, a blog article, a book or research paper, it is the uniqueness or quality of the work that matter. Unfortunately, this is seldom enough. You can be one of the world’s greatest writers but if no one notice you, it does not matter. Everyone who lives of his or her own content or use content and not paid advertisement to reach their audience and new customers have a common challenge: Distribution.
Whether you are a freelance journalist, a musician, scholar writer, photographer or blogger you need attention to earn money. In the brick and mortar world, you get attention through networking, talks and appearances, referrals and direct sales, and so on. Having a publisher, representative or agent is helpful but you must probably do most of the legwork yourself. The Internet world is not much different.
In the age of the Internet, we tend to think that distribution is one of the easiest parts of being self-employed when the opposite often is true. Getting attention on the Internet requires as much work as it does in the physical world. It is just different mechanics. It is easier to do the legwork yourself but leaving distribution to chance on the Internet will probably get you nowhere.
What, where and when to publish?
To get the attention you need you must have a publishing plan or strategy. What you publish where and when is crucial because it matters.
If you use content as advertisement for your services, you should give away anything that provides you with leads. If you earn money of your content, you probably want to give away just enough to get customers to buy more. In both cases, you need to know what you should publish to get the attention and conversions you need.
What you publish should be consistent and recognizable so that people encountering your content recognize that you are the source.
Where is important because the “where’s” are what is giving you attention. If you publish to too many places, you risk dilution and a fragmented presence. Too few and you risk missing out of opportunities.
Deciding on where to publish is difficult because you might have to make choices. You cannot, or should not have multiple blogs or web pages for instance. That will only confuse your customers (and search engines) unless each cater to different audiences. If you do benefit from more than one channel and post much of the same content in them learn about canonical links.
Where should never be a cut off satellite or a sleeping destination and you should never mistake a “sharing post” with actual published content.
When is all too often neglected. Publishing by random is never a good idea. Your frequency should be to some extent consistent and an ongoing operation so that you build your own flock of followers. Intense publishing followed by long periods of silence does not work well on followers and makes you more dependent on others to give you traffic.
When should be affected by events of course, like when you publish a new report or release a book. However to only publish something when you have something “to sell” makes people think of your content as marketing. When you use content to draw attention to your work it rather is marketing of course but the more consistent your flow of published content is, the less marketing it becomes.
All roads should lead to “Rome”
No matter how many “where’s” you have and what they do to sell your content, you need a main destination for your call to action. If you are a You-tuber living of the ad revenues on your videos alone you probably only need your YouTube channel for this but if you are anything else I would recommend you to establish a blog or web page. Even a You-tuber could benefit from having a place outside of the network they can call their own where they publish related info and content but they do not need it.
This place should be where visitors could see all of your work, buy, subscribe, and find samples, links and free stuff. If you are a writer, your e-book should be there for direct purchase. If you are a musician, I should be able to buy your music on the spot. Freelance journalists should have a “book me” button and bloggers and podcasters should have a pay wall in front of their subscription only area.
If you want to earn money of your content, you need to make your content and yourself easy to find and easy to purchase. Gathering all of your activities and content in one place will help you do that.