I’ve mentioned this before, and I’ll mention it again today: I run a creative online brand called Craft It. It’s my side-hustle. My labour of love. My pet project. It’s where I experiment with my creative writing.
I launched in late 2017.
Someone who religiously reads this column (hey, Teresia) recently asked me over lunch, “What do you sell there, anyway?”
We don’t sell anything. Yet. We write stories (what they call these days ‘creating content’).
FUN AND FRIVOLOUS
They’re fun and frivolous stories, very fluffy. They’re what the creator of Rafiki would call bubble gum art. (Rafiki is a movie, by the way. The one about lesbians, the one that was banned in Kenya? Yeah. The creator’s name is Wanuri Kahiu. Watch her TED talk when you get a minute. I promise your creative self won’t be the same after.)
Our community is gradually growing. We’re not where I’d like us to be yet but someday soon, we will. We’ll have a large enough community to command a religious following.
I’ve been running the blog and respective social media platforms long enough to know where the money for online content creation is.
What I’m about to share will apply to your collective online platforms – your website or blog, and social media channels (Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube).
That said, here are my suggestions on how to make money from your online platforms:
1. ADVERTISE FOR BRANDS
When you advertise for other brands, your platform essentially becomes a billboard for that brand.
Think of how a billboard sits on the side of the road for X number of weeks, and traffic – human or otherwise – sees it when they walk or drive by.
Your audience, your readers is the traffic here. Your platform is the billboard, you are the voice behind the billboard.
There are a number of ways to advertise so that your traffic can see the brand’s ad: You could plug in videos into your content. Or you could put up banners on your website; side, top or in-text banners.
Side banners go on the right side of the website. Top banners are up there, right below the address bar. In-text banners sit strategically in between the body of copy.
Banners are however static and so 1992.
They’re not engaging and interactive, either. And they’re intrusive and can get annoying for the reader, especially in-text banner.
The other way to do it is through native advertising.
2. NATIVE ADVERTISING
How native advertising works, is that you create content around the product or service you want to push.
Native advertising is so subtle, so creative, so smart that your audience doesn’t know you’re pushing a product or service, or making a sales pitch for a brand.
You simply create your content as you regularly would, then find a spot to seamlessly and naturally plug in the product or service. (Keywords: seamlessly and naturally.)
Native advertising can be used on any platform of storytelling – blogs, YouTube videos, and social media posts.
Here’s an immediate example of native advertising. If you’ve seen the movie, Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation, you’ll see the lead character take out his phone and it’s a Sony Xperia. He uses it in a way that the back of the phone, where the logo is, is clearly visible to the audience.
3. BECOME A SOCIAL MEDIA INFLUENCER
Being an influencer means you become something of a brand ambassador for the brand you’ve partnered with.
You embrace the brand, openly talk about the brands’ products and services, including discounts, where to source them, how to use them and whatnot.
The beauty regimen I’m currently using is Korean. There’s a facial cleanser, moisturiser, toner and charcoal scrub. I bought them because a social media influencer banged on and on about how it worked for her skin.
As an authentic influencer, she gave it the stamp of approval I needed to go to the next beauty store and invest in the products. I’d never have bought the products if she hadn’t talked about them.
Some influencers take their influencing too far, though, such that every post they put up becomes yet another push for this brand or the other.
I usually unfollow such influencers because I feel that they’re now blatantly monetising our follow-follower audience relationship, and taking me for granted.
4. HAVE A SUBSCRIBER-BASED MODEL FOR YOUR BLOG
This is like having non-redeemable entrance into a nightclub. You pay at the door, the back of your palm gets stamped with glow-in-the-dark ink then you’re allowed into the club. Only thing with this club is, you can’t go to the barman as ask for drinks equivalent to what you’ve paid at the door.
Same goes with a subscriber-based model – your readers pay an annual (or monthly) fee to access your content.
Here’s the kicker: your content better be worth paying for, or else it’ll just be you and your cat reading it. Also, remember there are several websites in the jungle of the Internet who don’t charge a dime for their content, so the questions the readers will be asking is, Why must you? What’s so special about what you create, does it remove the carbon dioxide from the ozone layer?
There’s also the question of one log-in credential serving 100 subscribers. Si you know how crafty Kenyans can get?
Your content better be worth paying for. I’ve said that already, and it’s still true.
Subscriber-based model is an old model that hasn’t found its place in the new world.
Be honest with me and tell me how many blogs and websites – especially local – you’ve legitimately paid a subscription for? C’mon, tell me.
5. SELL YOUR OWN PRODUCTS AND SERVICES ONLINE
Alternatively, your platforms could also be your own platforms to sell your own products and services.
I’m talking e-books, online courses you’ve created, consultancy services, woollen sweaters you’ve knitted or Ankara dresses you’ve tailored with a sewing machine that sits in the corner of your living room....
Anything goes, really.
Do you have questions for the writer? E-mail: [email protected]