Alec Brunelle's Blog

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

October 18, 2019

Photo by Artem Beliaikin on Unsplash
hands with money in front of computer

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.


Alec Brunelle

Written by Alec Brunelle who lives and works in Toronto, building useful things. Email Me, follow me on Dev.to, tip me using Brave, or support me on Ko-fi