Can You Make Money from Online Content?

October 17th, 2008   •   8 comments   

Would you pay for a half hour comedy on Youtube? Or a nice fancy photograph gleaned from Flickr? How about donating perhaps a couple of bucks to Wikipedia for using information there?

If you are like most people, the answer would be “no”.

In fact, I just heard that Google is still trying to profit from its multi-billion dollar acquisition of Youtube, which is bleeding precious cash flow at the rate of about a million a month.
So how does one monetize content creation online? Advertising and sponsored content? Perhaps if you are like mrbrown who has a huge number of hits. Pay per view, listen or download? Maybe (if iTunes would want to take your creation in the first place).

Maybe you can use it as a pre-publicity channel for a real life, face-to-face concert or live performance that you are doing. In fact, quite a few bands have been doing it, offering music for free on the Net, and creaming it off later through concerts that sell tickets. However, you better be good or else…

These were some of the interesting discussion topics which we spoke about last night at the prelude hosted by Text 100 to the upcoming Singapore Digital Media Festival (or DMFest), organised by the Singapore Infocomm Technology Federation (SITF) from 30th to 31st October 2008. Boasting some of the upcoming and leading names in the digital content creation scene, it focuses on the theme Television 2.0: Internet Services and New Media Mashup.

It was quite an eye-opener for me to view the preview videos, some of which were beautifully rendered using machinima techniques (a production method using computer generated imagery using real-time interactive 3-D engines). I also discovered how Twitter has a video counterpart called Seesmic (started by famous French social media guy Loic Le Meur).

The crunch for me though was this. Should Singapore try to create yet another Search Engine, photo hosting service, online community website, or microblogging platform? Or should we instead invest in improving the quality of our created content?

I believe that the answer is in the latter. Sure we can create yet another application to connect, compile, consolidate or confuse (haha). However, without that flash of inspiration blended with the fine art of storytelling, our media businesses are going to find it difficult to pit themselves against players in the global stage.

We need to teach our guys how to shoot beautiful photographs, pen poetic prose that persuades and moves, and produce movies that can win hearts. We need to also go beyond our fetish for hardware (the latest, greatest, most featured-packed gadget) to understand the fundamentals of what makes a great script, how camera angles can make all the difference, and the difference between good and abysmal acting.

Sure, there are amateurish flashes of brilliance in Youtube. However, they are few and far between. In fact, there is such a thing called the professionally amateurish video (eg Lonely Girl 15) which purports to be done at home, but actually have a complete crew behind it.

What’s your take on this? Can we create an internet sensation without yet another Tammy NYP effect?

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8 comments

  1. posted on Oct 17, 2008 at 12:33 PM

    Hey, thanks for coming yesterday. Really liked that you were coming from a Singapore angle (erm, occupational hazard? =)), and interesting question on whether SG should try to create another platform, i.e. red nano.

    I think it’s worthwhile, if they can find a way to present very localised info and find a strong value prop to offer to us (leveraging the SPH content perhaps?). Just not sure if going local might affect sustainability and biz growth though, since SG is so small.

  2. posted on Oct 17, 2008 at 4:56 PM

    Can people make money from online content? I think so right? I mean we do have Singaporean bloggers who claim to be full time bloggers?

    But can I make money from online content? I somehow can’t see how even if I can be taught to write better and to be taught to take better pictures.

    On a side note, I think I was onto Lonely Girl for a short period of time and have ‘grown’ out of it. Don’t know why. In fact, these days I hardly have time to spend time sitting in front of YouTube. I still spend the same amount of time in front of my computer after work though … doing something else.

  3. posted on Oct 18, 2008 at 3:43 AM

    Can you make money from online content?

    My ans is “Yes”. There are many ways to make money online, not necessary from people who pay to buy a service or donate to your site. Some sites with super great traffic appear just like an ordinary site, nothing flashy about it. Traffic is the king. It’s not about how beautiful the site is, alot depend on how the site is optimized technically so as to boost its traffic. Of cos, in the end it’s the conversion that matters if one were to make money online.

  4. Anonymous
    posted on Oct 19, 2008 at 3:36 PM

    Interesting article. I don’t know much abt this topic.

    However, I will just add this. From what little I have seen, I don’t believe it is possible to make $ in Singapore.

    The reason why I say this is bc, when I look at the top grossing reads of Darkness nearly 98% of it is to service the foreign markets. With 30% in Korea and 25% in HK accounting for most the reads that is usually published in the love story snippet market.

    So the moral of the story is yes, it is possible to make earn alot of money.

    I mean when you consider one love story episode sells for roughly USD$0.50 cents with a circulation of over 50,000 to 60,000(tax free) definitely (published every day)

    But I really dont see what is the point of tying up with ST. I mean you also need to consider the cool factor, who wants to associate with a dead beat really? That really beats me man.

    Thanks

    Y2K

  5. Pam
    posted on Oct 20, 2008 at 3:27 AM

    Thanks for joining us at the meetup! And for bringing back memories of Tammy NYP! I think the Internet is a great leveller, making the playing field a little more equal for small outfits to compare against the big boys. As you pointed out, quality of work is important and for UGC to monetize in Singapore, we need to have a quality UGC work in the first place beyond a corporate rap.

  6. posted on Dec 19, 2008 at 4:15 AM

    Content is huge business, not just online but in new medium like mobile. As anonymous commented, content will attract eyeballs and interaction and with that traffic, and with those traffic, you find ways to monetise!

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