loading...
Cover image for How To Make Money From Your Software Blog Without Hosting Ads 💸

How To Make Money From Your Software Blog Without Hosting Ads 💸

aleccool213 profile image Alec Brunelle Updated on ・5 min read

Want more great content like this? Sign up for my newsletter, visit: alec.coffee/signup

We all know advertising sucks, but when it comes to writing blog articles and getting paid for it, a necessary evil. If you are a conscious online user, you care about leaving a minimal online footprint. You also know that advertising companies track every move a user makes online so that their banners are clicked through. You shouldn't have to subject your blog readers to ads so that you can make money. Leaving you with two options, either succumb to the ad overlords and add them to your blog or gate your content behind a paywall where little people get to read what you write. If you are starting, good luck making any return on blog ads as your views need to be in the thousands to return any profit. Hosting ads on your blog is also tough because most people block them, especially software developers, making them worthless. The good news is that there are great alternatives for people who want to get paid to write words, just like how people are paid to generate other sorts of online content, like videos on Youtube and stock photography.

The solutions I offer supplement posting on your personal blog, compared to another hosted platform. This way, you aren't subject to changes in a companies direction; examples being a platform doesn't have ads today but adds them tomorrow.

A little disclaimer, I have no disrespect for people who want to write and share knowledge online for free. Like open-source software, writing contributes positively to a vast amount of people. If you look at the other side of the spectrum, getting paid to write for a blog is like getting paid to write software, the people who value it highly and have the means to do so will donate funds. There are examples of how this works in open-source sponsorship programs, examples like Tidelift, Github Sponsors and Issuehunt, to name a few.

Medium

This platform is a place where writers of all disciplines can post their content, and when it's read paying you in the process. Their revenue model is simple, readers pay \$5 a month, and while interacting with content, funds get distributed to the pieces they interact with. So far, I haven't seen a platform that does the same with much success. Usually, writers have a tough time making money online; it's the sad truth. You may have a great story on your hands, but if you aren't out pitching to publishers every day, your story may never be read by that many people. Think of Medium as a publisher who lets most pieces in on the platform, but lets their algorithm do most of the work to get the user base to read it.

Cross-posting

If your writing only lives in Medium, you are potentially leaving out readers who don't use the platform. The group of people who want to read your blog content isn't the same exact group that uses Medium. While I'm advocating to put your content behind Medium's paywall (something I mentioned before was terrible), I'm not saying this is the only place your content should live. If you are like me, I want my content to be read by the most amount of people that it can. Medium's SEO is fantastic and most likely better than your blogs unless you are an SEO master. Not only that, but while on Medium itself, there is a feed that hands out recommendations. This feed is how you will get the majority of your views, at least I have from experience.

How I Use It

What I do, is first post content on my blog and dev.to, which gets some early feedback and gives me signals as to what is sticking and what isn't. I post a final edit to Medium and point the personal blog canonical_url to it, when search engines pick it, I want to use this link as it gives me money. To provide more traction for the post, I often submit them to Medium publications. To find a couple of top publications related to the content of the post, I use this website.

Read more about canonical URLs here

Patreon / Ko-Fi

For blogs, you usually don't see a Patreon link or a 'donate here' button. For me, I see anyone who produces content online as someone who should be using this. Just like streaming on Twitch or creating Youtube videos, writing takes time, and if someone has the funds, they will see donating to you via these platforms as viable, especially if they see you don't use advertising as a source of revenue. Offering subscriptions can go as far as you like to take it; you could offer monthly subscriptions, give higher tiers of subs earlier access to your writing or give them the ability to write you personally for Q/A. When you write more, your communication skills improving, people will want access to this.

How I Use It

For ko-fi, I signed up for an account and added a link to it in the bio on my blog.

Brave Rewards

After the Great Cambridge Analytical Scandal and many other events like it, I started to re-evaluate my online usage. I began to ween myself off apps from companies that use advertising as a source of revenue. One of the best alternatives to Google Chrome right now is the Brave Browser. It blocks ads while browsing, it does so at the browser networking level and not the Javascript level like most browser extensions do, giving performance benefits over a traditional browser extension. They knew that without ads, some websites couldn't exist, so they built in their own donation platform, which distributes funds to sites you visit and give attention to. Another option for users is to tip the website directly using the icon in the address bar.

How I Use It

After signing up to be a creator on Brave, that's it! When users visit your blog, if they have auto-contribute on, you will receive funds based on the amount of time they spent there.

Like this post? Consider buying me a coffee to support me writing more.

Want to receive quarterly emails with new posts? Signup for my newsletter

Posted on by:

aleccool213 profile

Alec Brunelle

@aleccool213

Words on React, GraphQL, Next.JS, Cypress, Privacy and Remote Work

Discussion

pic
Editor guide
 

Their revenue model is simple, readers pay \$5 a month, and while interacting with content, funds get distributed to the pieces they interact with.

While their model can look good for writers and some readers, it's expensive in my opinion as a reader. I am not willing to pay $5 a month for Medium, but if they asked me only $1 then I would pay it.

If I would accept this tendency of charging $5 for some of the paid services in the internet, then in the end of the month I would pay more than I pay now for my mobile plan, home internet and Netflix.

So I don't mind to pay, but be more reasonable with the prices, because $1 for 10 services is $10, but at $5 each will be $50.

 

This is a problem inherent to the aggregated subscription model, you pay for the whole bundle, not the stuff you want.
Unfortunately there is a reason ads have been so dominant as a source of income on the internet.

 

When I pay £8 pounds for the whole bundle of Netflix, I feel that I have a huge return for what I am paying for, despite that I only use a fraction of the bundle.

Now paying $5 dollars for Medium, just feels to pricier.

Unfortunately there is a reason ads have been so dominant as a source of income on the internet.

Bloggers are now starting to use the sponsor model, and the security researcher Troy Hunt was the one I came aware first. You can read more about his journey to drop ads here.

Publications in the likes of Medium must drop a lot their price model, otherwise they will reach only a fraction of the paid audience that they could potentially reach with a cheapest price model.

If they do their jobs right, they should have determined the best price point to maximize profits. You can optimize your profits or you can optimize your reach. Subscription methods don't offer both, ads do.

I'm not saying I like ads, they are bad for lots of reasons, but the reality is that they make a lot of business sense (though not for every business).

 

It all comes down to value and time imo. I was like yourself and initially thought the price of Medium was steep. As time went on I found myself getting blocked by the paywall more and more on pieces I wanted to read. This led me to believe the service was worth the price and now I pay for the subscription.

 

The pay wall they impose to me each time I try to read an article, just makes me hit the button to close that window, and its one of the reasons I use now DEV instead of Medium.

Hackernoon left Medium and some bloggers are doing it so... something must not be right with them.

In my case is not a question of if I can pay, its I just that think is to expensive.

Mhm, I address this sort of in the piece here saying that free content should exist and there is nothing wrong with that. Having a paywall goes two ways, pays the people who are creating value for the readers but also blocks people without the funds. Having both dev.to and Medium popular is a win for the internet :)

Having a paywall goes two ways, pays the people who are creating value for the readers but also blocks people without the funds.

Just to be clear I am not against Medium paying writers with the money that comes from the paid readers, by the contrary I like it. I just don't like the price asked to me.

Maybe by charging $5 for each reader they only get n paid readers, but if they charged $1 they may got n x 10 paid readers... just my 2 cents!!!

 

"getting blocked by the paywall more and more on pieces I wanted to read" -> incognito

My Firefox browser is configure to no keep history after I close a tab/window, thus Medium is not showing me the paywall that often now, but anyway I am not going there that often nowadays, but I already have used incognito with them in the past.

 

For Medium, I doubt I will use it since I don't read it often to justify the reason for me to do it.

Plus I would focus on just providing a weekly newsletter or other ways to get an email to allow me to send products, services or sponsorships that I believe in or use to make money indirectly.

 

The day after I post this, looks like Medium is changing how they distribute payments: blog.medium.com/improving-how-we-c...

Will be interesting to see if the traction sticks.

 
 

Great addition. Looks like they just launched 2.0 on ProductHunt today as well: producthunt.com/posts/buy-me-a-cof...