5 new ways to monetize your content in 2012

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This week’s Pinterest content monetization ‘scandal’ has taught us a lot about the naivety the modern-day web user.

Yes, platforms like Pinterest (and Pocket-Lint and WIWT) use a tool called Skimlinks to generate revenue from subtle referral links.

As Skimlinks CEO Alicia Navarro so aptly explained: “It’s not a secret. We do monetize social discovery, and it’s great”.

For those of you about to fall off your high horse, how else can these sites exist without such revenue streams?

Banner ads are ugly, un-engaging and hated by users, so solutions like Skimlinks are a win/win/win/win (publisher, service provider, advertiser, user).

Yes, publishers have an obligation to disclose such arrangements (and you’ll see an example in a minute), but providing that box is ticked, we should encourage this approach to content monetization, not scoff at it, because the user receives the biggest portion of the benefit.

New ways to monetize your content

In the four years this blog has been around, I’ve never made a single Pound / Dollar directly from it, but I have often thought about the various approaches I could take if I wanted to monetize it.

After reading about Skimlinks this week (and even though it has been around since 2008), I have decided to apply to be part of its affiliate programme.

In the essence of full disclosure, if you click on any of the Skimlinks links in this post I can potentially earn a tiny bit of commission from the referrals this post generates.

I’m doing this so overtly as a test to see what the reaction is like and to get a tangible feel for how successful these arrangements can be.

To give this post the balance it requires, I’m also going to tell you about some similar products that help you monetize your content (minus the affiliate links).

Here they are…in no particular order…

1. Skimlinks – In their words: “Unlock the cash in your content”. This works by converting links and product references into affiliate links which take you to places to make a relevant purchase. Apply to be an approved Skimlinks partner here.

2. Cleeng – This works by hiding portions of your content which can only be unlocked if you pay a small fee.

3. Infolinks – In-text advertising that isn’t so subtle and verges on annoying. But, it has a proven track record of generating revenue.

4. VigLink – Very similar to Skimlinks, VigLink uses a thing they call LinkWeaver to connect merchants with existing product references.

5. PivotShare –  The newest kid on the block, this rewards authors and publishers with revenue based on how much a particular community has interacted with the produced content.

Where to from here?

As mentioned at the very top of this post, content requires some for of monetization for it to be sustainable.

While the enjoyment of people reading your posts and sharing them on Twitter and Facebook is a vanity boost, it doesn’t impact on the money you have in the bank.

Expect to see a bunch of new and even more ‘covert’ ways of content monetization in the future, and if you want to kick up a fuss about them, have a quick think about what you might lose if aren’t able to create win/win/wins.

Note: Mike Phillips made a good point after I published this – all of these aren’t necessarily that ‘new’ but in the wake of the Pinterest debate this is the first time many people have been made aware of such services / solutions.

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