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Charging for Bonus Podcast Episodes, A Successful Donation Model, and More [DPP048]

January 9, 2014

In this episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast (which you can find a full transcript of below), I talk about the concept of charging for bonus podcast episodes and a successful donation model that I recently stumbled across.

You can also listen to the episode online by clicking the play button on the player below this. (If you don’t see the player, click here.) It’s about 20 minutes long.


Charging for Bonus Podcast Episodes, A Successful Donation Model, and More [DPP048]

Hey everyone, I’m Tristan Higbee, recording today again in Bangkok, Thailand, and this podcast is all about the things I see and would like to see in the world of digital publishing, including blogging, ebook and video creation, podcasting, and other things relating to internet business and online marketing. You can find a full transcript of each episode of this show at DigitalPublishingPodcast.com. I’d really appreciate it if you rated this show in iTunes. Just go to itunes.digitalpublishingpodcast.com and then click the blue “View in iTunes” button in the sidebar to rate and review the podcast in iTunes.

I do have a bit of a cold this week, so sorry if my voice sounds weird.

So the last episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast went out nearly a month ago. Sorry for the long break between that one and this one. I was doing some traveling that first week. The second week was Christmas. And last week was New Year’s, and I didn’t feel like podcasting. But that’s all behind us now, and let’s get into today’s four topics. They are 1) paying for bonus podcast episodes, 2) a successful donation model, 3) more thoughts on blogging from a phone, and 4) a good writing goal for 2014 (and how to easily meet it).

Let’s start with the first one…

1. Paying for bonus podcast episodes

The Trail ShowI recently came across a really great podcast about long-distance hiking. It’s called The Trail Show. There are four hosts, each of which has hiked over 10,000 miles, so they’re definitely experienced hikers.

Most hiking and outdoorsy podcasts and blogs talk a lot about gear, which can pretty boring unless you’re in the market for the particular sleeping bag or compass that’s being talked about. But the hosts on this podcast very rarely talk about gear, which is nice. The production quality of the show is pretty high, and the hosts are all fun to listen to. The result of all of this is that it’s a good podcast overall and is unique in the hiking and outdoor space. The show has been around since June 2012, and they do one show a month. The show seems to be doing well. At the start of every episode, they talk about the thousands and thousands of downloads they’ve gotten over the last month from dozens of countries.

There’s one interesting thing that this show does that not too many other podcasts do, and that is sell bonus episodes. There have been 19 regular episodes so far and 3 bonus episodes. Whenever a new bonus episode is available, they announce on the show that you can download it at cdbaby.com/artist/thetrailshow. And if you go there, you’ll see the three bonus episodes. Each one is a bit more focused and topical than the regular show. The first one is about gear, the second is about trail etiquette, and the third is about how to fund trail trips that can take up months at a time. The first bonus episode is $1.99 and the other two are 99 cents, so they’re definitely affordable.

I doubt these guys make a ton of money on these bonus episodes, but I’ll bet they make something, and that’s better than nothing. I know I’ll probably end up buying them once I’ve listened to all of the regular episodes. I knew before I found this podcast that there were podcasts out there that charge for additional episodes, but this was the first one I’d actually come across in practice. It’s a neat idea, and I can imagine it providing a good-sized chunk of cash if your audience is big enough and you have enough bonus episodes. It’s not something I ever plan on doing for the Digital Publishing Podcast, but if you’ve got a podcast and want to sell some episodes, cdbaby.com sounds like it might be a good option. You could also sell the MP3 files through a service like Gumroad or e-Junkie.

2. A successful donation model

fkb.meYou may or may not know that I run a free Kindle book website called fkb.me. Mostly the site makes money through the Amazon affiliate links. I used to have a donation button there, but I only got a couple donations over the few months that it was an option. Then last week I had an idea, and that was to instead of having a donate button on the site, have a link to an Amazon wish list where I keep track of the ebooks I want to read. So people could buy me an ebook as a gift instead of donating.

Like I said, in the few months that I had the donate button on the site, I got two donations. In the last week that I’ve had the link to my wish list there, I’ve had three people buy me Kindle books. The dollar amount of the donations is still higher than the sticker price of the three Kindle books, but again, it’s only been a week. I’m really happy with that kind of a result, and now I have three great new books to read.

I’ve been thinking about why people are more inclined to gift an ebook rather than donate money, and I think that there are a few reasons. The first is that you can spend less but still give back. People might not feel that donating $2 via PayPal will do any good, so they won’t do it, but they might not be able to afford donating a more substantial amount like $30. What they can do, though, is buy me a $0.99 or $2 ebook that I have on my wish list. They spend barely any money at all, but they know that they’re giving me something I want. In other words, it doesn’t cost people much to say thank you.

The second reason I think that this kind of thing works is that it’s a good fit for the blog and its audience. Fkb.me is all about free Kindle books, and I have only Kindle books on my wish list. I don’t have gardening tools or Bluetooth speakers or a MacBook Pro or anything like that. It’s just Kindle books. Because my audience is full of readers, they can go through my list of books and identify with the things on there that they’d want to read, and that might make them more likely to buy it for me.

And finally, it’s just more satisfying to give a thing rather than money. I think that the giver gets more out of it.

Now, I’m not saying that linking to your own Amazon wish list and putting a link to it on your blog will guarantee that people will buy you stuff. I actually have seen people with $2,000 MacBook Pros on their wish lists, and I think it’s safe to assume that no one is going to buy that for you. But if you have a blog or podcast or YouTube channel or some other kind of digital publishing platform on which you offer free content, put together a wish list on Amazon and link to it and see what happens. If your content is about gardening, don’t put electronics on your list. Make the items in there relevant to your audience.

If you have reasonably priced items on your wish list, and if your audience is interested in the same kinds of things that are on your list, I think you can expect that some people will gift you some of those items if they value what you do. And it’s a lot of fun to get the email from Amazon saying, “You’ve got a gift from Steve” or whoever. I obviously want to read everything on my wish list, but which ones I read next are in part dictated by whatever people feel like buying for me, and that’s a different and fun way to read.

3. More thoughts on blogging with a phone

It’s been about two months now since my two-week-long trek in the Everest region. During that time, I blogged almost every day from my iPhone. I talked on the podcast a couple times before the trek about how I planned to blog, but I don’t think I’ve talked about it yet since I’ve been back.

Let me just say first off that blogging on a phone sucks. Writing a post or two on a phone isn’t too bad, but I ended up writing nearly twenty thousand words on the thing, and it was bad. I dreaded doing it every night. My fingers cramped up. The fact that it was usually freezing when I was trying to type with my ungloved fingers didn’t help, but it was bad even when my hands were warm.

Postach.ioSecond, all mobile blogging software sucks. I tried a bunch of different WordPress blogging apps but didn’t like any of them for one reason or another, and I ended up blogging using Postach.io, which is a blogging service that runs on Evernote. Overall, it worked well. It was better than the WordPress apps would have been, but there were still problems. One of my earlier posts was deleted when I uploaded a new post a day or two later. Uploading images didn’t work well because at about 2 MB for each image, they just took too long to upload. Sometimes they wouldn’t upload at all. It’s amazing that there is any internet available en route to Everest base camp, but I guess it’s not surprising that it’s not very fast or reliable. What I eventually ended up doing was using Evernote and Postach.io to upload the text of each day’s blog entry and then upload all of my images to Instagram. And then I’d say in each blog post to go to my Instagram account to see the photos. The Instagram app apparently converts the 2MB image into a much smaller size when it’s uploaded, usually somewhere in the 150 to 200 kB range. At least that’s the size of the photos as taken on my iPhone 4. By uploading the photos to Instagram, I was able to upload more photos faster and more reliably than I could have otherwise. It wasn’t a perfect solution, but it worked.

I do plan on doing more phone writing and blogging in the future, but I’m shopping around now for a little Bluetooth keyboard that I can pair up with my phone. Also, since my Nepal trek, I’ve switched from an iPhone to a Galaxy Note 2, which has a removable battery. I used one of those external phone battery pack things to charge up my phone, and it worked well, but I think I also want to have a spare battery just in case.

4. A good writing goal for 2014 (and how to easily meet it)

One of my main goals for 2014 is to write something publishable every day. I don’t necessary have to publish it if I don’t want to, but it has to be good enough that I could publish it on a blog or in an ebook and not be embarrassed. The main idea behind the goal is to increase the total volume of stuff I produce this year. I’m recording this on January 8, and I’ve done it every day so far. It’s actually easier than I thought it would be, and that’s because I’ve come to realize that I have ways to get good blog or ebook content that I haven’t thought about too much before. And I’m talking about blogs and ebooks here because that’s most of what I do, but it would also apply to podcasting or video creation or any other type of content you produce.

The first way is through email. I have ongoing email conversations with a few good friends. We write to each other about once a week and our emails tend to be pretty long and thoughtful. With one friend I talk a lot about internet business stuff. With another I talk mostly about traveling. I’ve realized that I could take some of these emails I write back and publish them. For example, one friend recently emailed me and asked me about the prices of things in Thailand. I sent him this big, long email about housing, food, and transportation costs. That would be a great blog post for my personal blog, because I bet it’s something a lot of my friends wonder about. While I was writing it for my friend, I thought about how I needed to make it good enough to be publishable, so my friend got an email that was better than it otherwise would have been.

You know how back in the day, people would write letters to each other and after those people died, other people would compile those letters and make a book out of them? That’s how I think of email these days. I think of every email I send not just as a way to get or give information as quickly as possible, but as a way to create something good and publishable, whether I decide to publish it publicly or not.

The second way I’ve gotten publishable content is on Facebook. Someone sent me a message and asked me why I’m in Bangkok when there are, in his view, much better places in Thailand. I wrote back and told him all about why I loved Bangkok so much, and that message back to him is another potential blog post.

I have another friend who I always exchange links to rock climbing videos with. I occasionally run rock climbing blogs, so I could take those videos and compile them into a blog post titled 10 Climbing Videos to Keep You Psyched During the Cold Winter. Or I could ask myself what it is that I like about these videos, and then write a blog post about what makes a good climbing video.

One benefit I expect to come out of writing something publishable every day is that it’ll help me write more ebooks this year. I’ve found that the best way for me to write ebooks quickly is to break up the chapters into a series of topical bullet points, and then write out as much as I can for each bullet point. It’s essentially like writing a bunch of blog posts and then combining them together to form the final ebook. This 2014 goal of mine will work perfectly with this method of writing ebooks. I can write one chunk a day and eventually, I’ll inevitably have a completed ebook. It’ll be interesting to see how many ebooks I write this year.

Again, I don’t expect that everything I write every day is something I’ll publish, but I’ve already found that the act of just sitting down and hammering out the words to the point that I’m happy with them or proud of them has loosened up my writing muscles that didn’t get as much use in 2013 as I wanted them to. I think that this is a great goal for any writer to have, and I’ll let you know how I’m progressing with the goal as the year goes on.

Pick of the week

CamelCamelCamelAnd that now brings us to my pick of the week. This is where I pick one useful thing to share, and it can be an app, a website, a podcast, or anything else I find valuable. My pick of the week this week is a website called CamelCamelCamel. It’s a price tracker for products on Amazon.com. Prices on Amazon can fluctuate from week to week and even day to day. So if you want to buy a new DVD player, for example, go find the one you want on Amazon and then find it on CamelCamelCamel. The page will show you a graph of that item’s price. It’ll also show you the highest the price has ever been and the lowest it’s ever been. So if the DVD player is normally at $75 but now it’s at $65, you know you should probably buy it soon. You can also set up price alerts via email or Twitter, so you’ll be notified when something you want gets cheaper.

It’s a great service and it’s free to use. The one downside is that the site doesn’t track Kindle ebook prices because Amazon doesn’t allow it. You can check it out at camelcamelcamel.com.

And I actually have a quick bonus tip. It involves downloading an Instagram photo from the web onto your computer. You can view any public Instagram user’s photos by going to instagram.com/their_user_name. So for me, it’s instagram.com/thigbee. When you do that, you see a grid of thumbnails. When you click on one, the full-size version of that image pops up. Normally, if you want to save an image online, you right-click and download it. But there is no Save Image As option when you right-click on the Instagram photo. What you can do, though, is right-click and then select the View Source or View Page Source option, and this will open up a text document of all the code used on that page. Search on the page for “.jpg” and the first result will be the URL of your full-sized image. Copy the URL, paste it into your browser, and then you’ll be able to right-click on it and save it. It sounds kind of complicated, but it only takes about 10 or 15 seconds. If you want to download all of your Instagram files, there’s a free web service called Downgram that looks good, though I haven’t tried it.

Final words

And that’s all for episode 48 of the Digital Publishing Podcast. Be sure to check out digitalpublishingpodcast.com for complete transcriptions and other blog posts there at the blog.

Please don’t hesitate to email me any questions you might have regarding digital publishing. I love talking about this stuff, and I’d love to help you out. You can follow me on Twitter by going to twitter.digitalpublishingpodcast.com. That will redirect you to my Twitter account, since my name is a bit tricky to spell. If you do follow me there, be sure to say hi. And again and as always, I’d really appreciate it if you went into iTunes and rated and reviewed this podcast, and thanks for listening.

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