The idea of programmable money is still in its infancy, and we’re going to go through several booms and busts as people try to figure out where programmable money fits into the internet. Despite its lauded potential by many enthusiasts, we simply do not know what applications will be suited to this new method of monetisation.
As a marketer, my job is to figure out how to monetise a website, to turn website traffic into cold hard fiat. So I know the pros and cons of the current options available, which is why I was so intrigued with what bitcoin could offer.
I always felt current options had way too many trade-offs that can leave you holding the risk rather than the reward for your labour.
While donating bitcoin to a blogger or podcaster without the need for a bank is a highly underrated tool added to internet users’ toolkits, the ability to pay to consume down to the second is something that I think the internet is sorely lacking.
I am a big fan of bitcoin podcasts and podcasts in general as a way to learn or get introduced to new topics and opinions. At the same time, I work out or complete some work, but to me, it’s not the best way to learn about a given topic, but rather a guide towards deeper topics. Between all the “um’s”, “ers”, the filler conversion, self-congratulation and poor formatting of chapters, podcasting isn’t an efficient medium to get to the meat of what you want to know.
It’s actually through listening to podcasts that I came across the concept of streaming satoshis, which I thought was a pretty nifty way of using programmable money that can be applied to a host of services. Now you can’t judge something unless you’ve used it, so I’ve been giving the whole value-for-value monetisation model a try with podcasting 2.0. Personally, I hate the whole podcasting 2.0 term. It gives off too many altcoiner grifter web 3 vibes, can’t we use something else like Podcontributing or Patroncasting.
I hate to sound salty; perhaps it’s the marketer in me, but in the game of getting eyeballs and users to pay attention to your product or service, the messaging needs to be a bit slicker; it needs to roll off the tongue. As for the value-for-value model itself, I see it as more of another weapon in the arsenal of content creators and online businesses rather than a way to replace the current monetisation techniques.
Despite my little rant on naming conventions, I enjoy the model; getting to engage with podcasters directly, paying them for the entertainment they provide up to the second and paying for engagement where you are entirely in control makes so much sense to me. The best part is that since we’re using bitcoin, we limit middle-man participation, and you are fully aware of where your money is going, with most of it going to the content creator.
Now, if podcasting can get an upgrade like this, it got me thinking, why don’t we apply this to the broader web in the form of blogs. The inventory is already there, the creators are already looking for better monetisation tools, and the consumer’s base for written content is way larger.
Podcasts have a tiny total addressable market compared to blogs
Podcasts have made quite the comeback in recent years; it feels like everyone with a zoom account and a crappy webcam has started one of late, but according to podcastinsights.com, there are only 2 million podcast shows as of 2021, with slightly over a quarter of them being active at 525,000 according to FastCompany. If we consider that there is a reported 48 million podcast episodes available as of April 2021, then the average podcast makes it to around 24 shows before calling it quits.
If we consider the number of blogs on the internet, there are over 600 million, according to oberlo.com. At the same time, many bloggers have consolidated their content into services like WordPress.com, Medium, Blogger, Substack and other newsletter writing services.
So we don’t have the full extent of the blogosphere. Still, it’s safe to say it’s easily ten times bigger than the podcasting market, so wouldn’t it make a lot more sense to tackle a market with a fair larger user base and consumer base if the value for value (v4v) model is going to make a serious case as a monetisation medium?
Closing the loop on v4v
Recently the Fountain app added a much-needed upgrade to the value for value model, and that is one of closing the loop to create a circular economy. The problem with value for value was you’re asking people to buy bitcoin, then convert it into the Lightning Network, then set the amount they would like to stream, donate or pay to comment and expect people to come out the other end after jumping through all those hoops.
The latest update, however, allows you to seed your consumers with satoshis and then allow them to redistribute it as they see fit. The Fountain app would now pay users to listen to podcasts through their app, encouraging users to swap podcasting apps, while podcasters can promote their shows and attract listeners by paying them to listen to their shows.
The user is paid to listen per second, set by the podcaster, and as they earn bitcoin and fill their wallet, they may use some of it to stream back to the podcaster, to comment on their shows or use it on different shows. The listener gave up their time, and they were compensated for the action, and then they’ll go ahead and compensate others they think are worth the money.
It’s a pretty elegant solution to bootstrap the economy, but one that can continue as the value for value model scales.
What is value for value’s monetisation competition?
If you’re a blogger and thinking of turning the hours of research, writing, photography, photo editing and proofreading into an income stream, you have to select one or all of the following monetisation options.
- Advertising banners direct deals
- Display network ad banners
- Sponsored posts
- Affiliate links
- Paid link inserts
- Sponsored newsletters
- Product reviews
- Selling digital products
- Selling physical merchandise
- Accepting donations
- Offer consultation services
- Sell leads to companies
- White label products
- Sell a course
- Write for larger publications
- Paywall some or all of your content
You can probably tell that not all of these monetisation options are applicable to every blogger, and some of them require considerable scale if you’re going to earn anything, which is the problem with blogging today.
The monetisation doesn’t scale well.
You first need to achieve scale and then hope to monetise it in the future. You’re delaying monetisation and flying blind for ages before you can hope to earn an income. Still, with a micropayments model, you’ll be monetised from day one, and you can use those funds and data to make better decisions on if this is a worthwhile pastime.
How value for value could work as a blog income stream
If we consider how articles could be turned into a stream of satoshis, the following examples come to mind.
Pay per scroll depth or time on page
When a user hits a post on a website that has a lightning wallet attached to it, the wallet could prompt the user to set a minimum value for either time on-site or depth of scroll. The longer the user is kept on the site and reading, the more you earn. You can only earn by keeping the user on your site longer and keeping them entertained, and remaining on your site.
Pay to unlock
The first option would be opt-in; if the user doesn’t feel like paying you to consume, there is nothing you can do about it. Alternatively, you can look to pay walling some of the content, all of the content or portions of the content and ask the answer to pay to unlock the rest.
Pay to comment
Most blogs have the option of creating a comment and providing feedback, while site owners could leave the base comment as free; if a user wants to get a response, more recognition for their comment or have it listed higher on the page, they could set a payment alongside the comment on the blog.
Pay to endorse
We’re all used to endorsing content all day long; you might not think of it that way, but when you like or upvote content on social media, that’s exactly what you’re doing. Since these likes and upvotes are free, people think very little of handing them over, and the metric carries more noise than signal.
Value-for-value-enabled blogs could have an endorsement feature that is picked up by wallets, and users could see how many readers endorse this post and the total amount of sats used to endorse the content.
Value for insight
While much of the focus may be on the ability to earn through these features, we also need to consider the level of signal bloggers would get from these user actions. When user actions have a monetary value assigned to them, you have a stronger signal of what people find interesting, and this can point you in the right direction for creating more of what people value.
How value for value could work as a blog marketing tool
On the other end, if we want to seed users and get more satoshis floating around the value for value space, we need big pockets to come in and push advertising dollars into bitcoin and then use the Lightning network to redistribute those value, where peers to peer transactions will take over.
Pay to read
As a blogger, it’s tough to get people to read your content and to get an idea of what works, as the longer it takes to get readers, the longer it takes to get feedback on how to optimise and improve your content, which is why so many bloggers give up. Traditionally bloggers would try to promote their blogs using social media or search ads and then review the traffic metrics and use that as a data collection method for improving their work.
In the v4v space, you could seed a post with satoshis and people willing to read it and scroll as far as possible will earn bitcoin for their efforts. You can then see how far people are willing to go, how long they are willing to read a post, which parts of the post they spent the most time on and use that insight to create content your readers enjoy.
Pay to share
If a blogger wants more users to read their content, they could set a paid incentive to share their content. A blogger could provide an incentive, say 100 satoshis for every social media app you share the piece of content on, so you’re paying readers to drive traffic to your blog.
Promote organic content
If you’re a brand, you love it when people create content about your product or service, when it’s authentic and comes from their untainted experience. In the traditional marketing world, when we find someone who has created an article, we normally spend a bunch of money promoting that article via social media.
The blogger might receive additional traffic, but the money goes to the social media giants, who had no hand in making the content. In the v4v model, a brand that finds organic content could fund that piece of content with satoshis and encourage readers to check it out and amplify it to their network.
The creator then gets a portion of the fee through reads and shares, and everyone benefits.
Pay per direct lead
As a content creator, you don’t want to rely on social media and search engines to send you traffic, that is taking third-party risk to distribute your content, and you would prefer to have direct communication with your readers. This can be through email, text message or in-app push notifications, or in this case, in-wallet notifications.
Bloggers could set a fee for users to:
- Sign up for their mailing list
- Sign up for their text reminders
- Subscribe to push notifications in their preferred value for value app
- Add a Lightning Address and receive paid reminders of the latest content
Why value for value would improve blog content
I am not saying every blog MUST adopt value for value or only use value for value; you’re free to do as you please. Monetise through a combination of traditional options, and as you grow, you’ll find a balance that works for you.
But what I am interested in is firstly eliminating all the rent-seeking practices that bloggers are currently stuck with as well as the content compromising monetisation methods. When you reduce the space between the reader and the creator and have a pay-to-consume model, you not only reduce cost and complexity, but you increase signal.
Readers benefit by paying cheaper fees for the content they want to read, and they waste nothing by only paying for content they consume and engage which aligns monetisation with positive user behaviour
As for creators, they get more of the funds as there are fewer middlemen, and they can create content without fear of having funds stuck, seized or withheld due to the message they are putting out. You get real-time feedback on what content resonates with users and can discern between what may get views versus what gets you paid. In today’s blogger model, it pays to be sensationalist, as it gets more views, and views can be turned into cash.
However, when you pay for consumer content, you don’t want to deal with vapid engagement hacking content, you pay only when you found it helpful, and a v4v model could reduce the need for fake news, poor research and clickbait content.
Bullish on blogging
As is the case with podcasting, bloggers on various platforms have open RSS feeds that can be fed into a uniform website or app that aggregators content, this could be a blog feed reader, or bitcoin wallets could allow users to pull in blog feeds into their wallet as a feed. This gives these stand online apps a massive library of growing content to bootstrap with, and it gives wallet providers a reason to add a new feature that will increase usage of the app as well as transactions via the wallet, so it benefits all involved.
If you’re a desktop user or someone who simply can’t deal with apps, a browser extension could pick up value for value mark blogs for you and prompt you when you hit one.
I am bullish on the idea of value for value blogging or, as I like to call it, bloggrattitude.
Give us your two sats worth
What do you think of value for value blogging? Do you think it’s something that has potential? Where do you think the concept falls flat? Let us know in the comments down below.