It has never been easier to document your life and create an archive of all your creative work. Thanks to the emergence of sophisticated software designed for writers, journalists, and historians, you can now start a blog, curate a digital archive, and even publish a book all from the convenience of your smartphone.
While the publishing world may be dramatically changing, the ways in which readers consume content is not. People still want to read books, view exhibitions, and watch documentaries, and they are doing so on their phones or tablets. As a result, book publishers have had to adapt to these changing times, and today we’re going to take a look at some of the ways writers might now find financial success.
Creating a Blog
If you’ve been paying attention to the media, you’ll know that blogs are something akin to digital grass roots. Bloggers across the globe create vibrant communities of interest, providing a space for people with shared passions and interests to come together and share their stories.
The rise of the voice-controlled assistant and the prevalence of the’self-care’ economy has led to a massive increase in the number of people blogging for fun. According to HubSpot Blogger, between 2011 and 2018, the number of blogsged rose by 73%, and now stands at 54.9 million. For context, that’s nearly twice the number of blogs posted in 2017 alone (27.4 million blogs were published in 2017).
Why blog? Well, first off, the barrier to entry is nearly zero. You can literally start a blog in minutes with a free platform like Blogger or WordPress. The second reason is that with a blog, you are effectively creating your own mini-media platform. Your posts will appear on your website, and you can use various online media properties (like Google+, Facebook, and Twitter) to promote your blog and its content.
This being said, not all blogs are made equal. There are three essential criteria you should follow if you want to succeed as a blogger:
- Be genuine
- Be useful
- Be unique
If you can meet these three criteria, you will create a successful blog. If your blog can get enough attention, you can even use it as a springboard to bigger and better things.
Curate a Digital Archive
Blogs are great, but they are ultimately fleeting. Once your posts go online, they are there for everyone to see and discover. To maintain a presence online, you have to keep posting regularly, which is great if you want to continue blogging. If, however, you want to preserve the content you’ve published for future reference, you can’t just rely on the ephemerality of blogs. You need to do something more permanent.
One way to do this is to curate a digital archive. An archive, in this case, is a collection of textual, photographic, or media content that you have saved over time. You can use various software, platforms, and services to collect and store your content (WordPress has built-in tools to facilitate this process).
You can take this a step further and even make money from your archive. Many companies, including Ancestry.com, Creative Commons, and IDP publish historical archives for profit. You can buy pre-built archives from companies like Google or Microsoft, or you can start from scratch and opt to profit from your archive instead. Keep in mind that the more you store, the more you pay for storage. You can find cheaper storage options if you’re looking for a very small archive, but the trade-off is you will be limited in what you can store.
The point is that whether you are looking to create a blog, curate an archive, or publish a book, writing and documenting your life can now be a profitable endeavor.
Publish a Book
Publishing a book is another fantastic option for writers who want to make money using technology. While blogs and archives are great short-term money-making ventures, books offer a potentially profitable long-term revenue stream. Thanks to the rise of e-books and the pandemic, the traditional models for book publishing have changed (much like newspapers and radio).
To create a successful book, you need to follow some tried and tested formulas. First off, make sure that you have a significant audience. If you don’t yet have a following, build one. Identify key topics or themes that your audience is interested in, and you will be able to create a genre of literature that they can get invested in. If you can make a significant chunk of your audience invest emotionally in your work (i.e., they feel like you’ve captured their story), you will be able to create a profitable book. This formula is a bit like the one used by YouTube creators to begin with, before they received sizable amounts of backlash for preying on users’ emotions.
Last but not least, make sure that your book is legally clear to publish. Many self-published authors have found themselves in hot water because they did not properly vet the claims of their books. Publishing a book without sufficient editorial oversight can lead to massive legal troubles. Make sure that you have an experienced lawyer review your contract before you sign it.
The publishing world is changing, and while traditional models are being disrupted, newer ones are emerging that could make money hand over fist. With the right team and some expertise, writing and documenting your life could potentially become a lucrative endeavor. What form might you choose to publish your work?