Before we begin, let me just say that if you’re getting into music writing to make money you have undertaken a fool’s errand. There are far easier, much less aggravating ways to earn a few dollars, and most don’t even require you to formulate original ideas on a regular basis. Music writing is a passion project through and through, with the return rarely matching the work put in, but for those who manage to cultivate a community of dedicated readers there are ways to profit from your endeavors. You might not make it rich. In fact, I can almost promise you that will never happen, but if you work hard and prove yourself to be an upstanding industry professional there is money to be earned.
What follows are a series of tips and tricks for generating income with your music writing efforts that I have learned over the better part of the last decade. Some are obvious, others require a willingness to be honest with your readers in a way some might not be comfortable with, and still others will require a good relationship with the labels and publicists you interact with on a regular basis. I cannot tell you which will work best for you, but there is no reason you cannot try them all. Experimentation is great way to learn what does and doesn’t work for your site. Keep an open mind, be patient, and in time at least one of the following methods will help cover the numerous costs associated with being a music writer in 2015.
Remember when I said some of these suggestions would be a bit obvious? Google Adsense has been the most reliable source of traffic based income for as long as I can remember. Anyone with a site can signup, and approval of your site usually happens within 24-hours. The return for clicks and views is incredibly low, but that is simply the state of the digital advertising market today. For those looking to dip their toes in the monetization game, this is the perfect place to start. Just don’t be surprised if it takes a long, long time to see any substantial return. Click here to learn more.
Disqus is a commenting system used by most music blogs operating today. The company behind the platform has developed a special program that rewards site owners with cash in exchange for comments and little a bit of ad space. This feature involves the use of a discovery box, which is a native place where your visitors finds related post on your blog or website, as well as the internet as a whole. You can set how much exposure these related posts get within your Disqus admin control, but know that you make more with increased exposure. Click here to learn more.
For those who believe they are the best dealers of ad space on their site, Sponsored Posts may be the way to go. A sponsored blog post is a blog post which you are paid publish on your blog. It may be written by you or by the advertisers. It could be about anything, from a list of reason why one brand of headphones is better than another, to a preview of the most anticipated acts at a particular festival. The person buying the sponsored post will usually dictate the type of content they want to receive, but it may be on you to create the post. Every situation is different, as is the rate people are willing to pay for such placement.
In accordance with FTC regulations you should always mention that it’s a sponsored blog post, usually at the end of the post with a byline such as: “This blog post was sponsored by (sponsor name here)”
The biggest issue with sponsored posts is usually that bloggers do not know what to charge sponsors, and as a result they end up doing a lot of work for very little money. If you choose to pursue this path of monetization, know what you want going in, and make sure you have the analytics and facts needed to back up such a request.
Ad Networks are one of the more reliable ways to generate money for your site without running the risk of having ads from companies/products you don’t know appearing on your front page. Sites enter into revenue sharing agreements with ad networks, typically allowing the network to take a sizable cut in exchange for curating and placing relevant ads on the site. Some networks deal with genres, while others deal with industries as a whole. Some of our favorite ad networks include Blast Beat and The Laugh Network.
This may be our favorite form of monetization in existence today, if only because it does not require third party ads or content to appear on your site. Patreon is essentially a digital tip jar where readers can pledge to contribute monthly to your site’s continued existence. For as little as $2 a month anyone can become a supporter of your organization. Signup only takes a few minutes and, unlike most services Patreon does not take a single cent from your contributions. You do, however, have to pay taxes once the funds received surpasses $600 in a single year. Click here for some tips and tricks to help maximize your Patreon experience.
James Shotwell is the Marketing Coordinator for Haulix. He is also a professional entertainment critic, covering both film and music, as well as the co-founder of Antique Records. Feel free to tell him you love or hate the article above by connecting with him on Twitter. Bonus points if you introduce yourself by sharing your favorite Simpsons character.