In this episode of the Digital Publishing Podcast (which you can find a full transcript of below), I talk about how and why I use two RSS reader accounts and go over six interesting money-making sites and projects that I bet you haven’t heard of before.
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.
Six Unconventional Money-Making Sites and Projects [DPP047]
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.
And just so you guys know, there is a small chance that I’ll be traveling next week and won’t be able to put out a new episode. If that’s the case, I’ll say so on my Twitter account, which you’ll be redirected to if you go to twitter.digitalpublishingpodcast.com.
On Having Two RSS Reader Accounts
Last week I talked about how I’ve been using my new phone to do more things that I used to do on my laptop, and one of those things is checking RSS feeds. For a long time now, I’ve had a Google Reader and now Feedly account with around 30 feeds in its. That number fluctuates, of course, depending on what I’m in the mood to read, but usually it’s around 30. These are the blogs and websites that I don’t want to miss anything from. Together, they produce a manageable amount of new content for me to sift through every day.
When I got my larger-screened phone, I started checking my feeds more and more often because the phone was easier to use. I’d do it in the bathroom and while sitting down to eat or during commercial breaks if I was watching TV. Obviously, the more often I checked, the fewer new things there were for me to read or look at each time. I wanted more stuff to read, but I didn’t want to feel like I had to read it. If I had more time and wanted to read some more stuff, I wanted to have a second well of content to draw from.
That’s when I started looking into having multiple Feedly accounts. For those who don’t know, Feedly is an RSS reader, and is probably the most popular one now that Google Reader is dead. Ideally, I’d be able to open up the Feedly app on my phone, look at the 30 regular feeds that I don’t want to miss anything from, and then switch over to another Feedly account in the same app that has all the other feeds I want to look at if I have extra time. Well, it turns out that no, it’s not possible to do this. Feedly currently doesn’t support multiple accounts. Bummer.
So then I thought, well, I’ll just make a new Feedly account using a different email address, and I’ll log in and out between the two accounts. I did that for a day and it was annoying. Then I got a better idea. I went into the app store and found another RSS reader app—one that wasn’t the official Feedly app but that was still compatible with Feedly. I was doing all of this on my Android phone, and the app is gReader. It’s free and is fantastic. I actually like it better than the Feedly app, which itself is pretty darn good. Once I downloaded the gReader app, I logged in to my second Feedly account and got it all set up. Now I use the official Feedly app to look at those 30 feeds that I don’t want to miss, and if I’m looking for other things to read, I open up the gReader app. This system works great. It’s free, I don’t have to keep logging in and out of accounts, and I can only access that second account and its associated feeds if I actively choose to, so I’m not overwhelmed by a deluge of content unless I want to be.
This system works great on my phone, and I’ve also implemented it on my laptop. Chrome is my browser of choice, and I use the Feedly web app in Chrome to check those 30 main feeds. I also have Firefox installed on my computer, and I have the Feedly web app bookmarked there. But in Firefox I’m logged in to that second Feedly account, the one with the extra feeds. So again, it’s easily accessible, but not so easy as to overwhelm me when I just want to quickly check for new things.
And that’s how I use two feed reader accounts. I’ve been using this system for a couple weeks now, and I love it. It works great.
This same general idea could definitely be applied to things other than RSS feeds. Maybe you subscribe to 10 podcasts and usually that’s enough for you, but occasionally you take road trips or go on long flights and all of a sudden need to fill up 10 more hours of empty audio. You could download a separate podcasting app to your phone and subscribe to a few more podcasts that you normally don’t have time for but that still make for good listens if you do have the time. Or if you want to occasionally see more tweets in your Twitter stream, create a list there on Twitter made up of people you don’t normally want to see updates from but are willing to take a look at if you’re looking for more tweets to read.
And speaking of podcasting apps, for you iOS users out there, I’ve been seeing some people on Twitter talk about a new podcasting client app called Castro. It’s supposed to be really good and it looks fantastic. It’s $2.99, and you can check out some screenshots and see how it works at castro.fm. I haven’t used it because now I’m listening to podcasts on my Android phone, but it looks like it’s worth trying for you iPhone users out there.
Six Unconventional Money-Making Sites and Projects
I occasionally come across businesses, websites, or projects that strike me as being particularly interesting, either in how they make money or because of the niches that they’re in. Here I’m going to talk about four of those sites, plus two interesting ebook-based projects. As I’m talking about these, think about whether something similar in your niche would be viable or a good idea.
The first one is CleverHiker.com. The premise of the site is simple. An experienced hiker guy has made high-quality videos about things relating to hiking. The videos are high quality both in terms of production value and content. And then people pay a flat fee for access to the videos. This isn’t remarkable so much as an idea in general, but the fact is that it’s in an unsexy niche. It’s a hobby niche. It’s not internet marketing or entrepreneurship or the kind of thing you’d normally expect and too often hear of using this kind of model. If someone can make it work for hiking, who’s to say that it couldn’t work for rock climbing or model airplane building or soap making or dog training?
The second site is BaconMethod.com. I’m a huge fan of the 5by5 network of podcasts, and I subscribe to a bunch of them. The network is run by Dan Benjamin, and BaconMethod.com is one of his fun side projects. He talks about bacon a lot and he created the site to show people an easy way to make perfect bacon. For a long time, only the recipe or process for actually making the bacon was on the site, but then last month a few more pages were added. One is a Tools page where Dan lists some things he recommends, things like a good pan to cook the bacon in, an oven thermometer to calibrate your oven with, and stuff like that. Each one of these things has an affiliate link to that product on Amazon. And then there’s a Shop page where you can buy Bacon Method merchandise—currently t-shirts, mugs, and magnets. Apparently people are buying them because I heard Dan mention on a recent episode of one of his podcasts that they’re almost sold out of shirts.
This probably isn’t the kind of site that you could make a living from, but it’s a simple, easy to set up, and easy to run site that will undoubtedly make some extra money. Go check the site out at BaconMethod.com and see if there’s anything like that that you could do for your niche. I think it would work for any niche that involves some sort of DIY aspect or very specific method of doing something that people often have trouble with. If you’ve listened to the podcast for a while, you know that I’m an avid rock climber and that I often use rock climbing as a niche in my examples, so my immediate thought was how would I make a site like the Bacon Method for rock climbing. The first thing that comes to mind is a mini site on how to make your own climbing holds for artificial climbing walls. There are already a bunch of resources out there on how to do this, but they’re complicated and give you almost too much information. I could get makeyourownclimbingholds.com, and I’d say OK, you need these three things to make the mold for the hold, this is the kind of epoxy you want for the holds themselves, and the holds need to dry and cure for 24 hours before you can use them. Very simple.
The third site I wanted to talk about is DomesticBeast.com. The tagline of this site is “Hand-selected, unique dog products.” On their about page, they say, “We’re designers. And we’re dog owners. … We love our dogs and we’re obsessed with finding well-designed dog products that fit our style and fit into our homes.” So basically, the site sells good-looking and well-made dog products. It’s an e-commerce site or online store or whatever you want to call it. There have got to be thousands of stores online that sell dog-related products, but this one stands out and is apparently doing well because it curates the best of them.
Domestic Beast is a full-on independent store, but you could do something similar by curating the best products in your niche and having affiliate links or just regular links to the products you recommend.
Site number four is SimpleYear.co. It’s a yearlong course on simplicity by a bunch of well-known simplicity and minimalism bloggers. There is a different topic and subject of focus each month. In order, the topics are clutter, busyness, travel, kitchen, digital, work, money, stay simple, challenge, food, relationships, and holidays. A different blogger teaches each topic, and for each month there are things like videos, articles, and webinars about each topic. The course costs $149, and that’s presumably divided somewhat equally among the contributing bloggers.
I like this model. All of these bloggers will be promoting the course, so the potential reach will be huge, far more than what any one person would be able to reach on his or her own. And as a consumer, I like the idea of having a bunch of content to look forward to for a whole year.
This model could be adjusted depending on your niche and how you’d want to run the course. It could be a week long instead of a year long, and you’d have seven different people talk about one thing every day. Or you could adjust it for any other period of time and with any number of authors.
And then the final two things I want to talk about quickly are related to ebooks. The first is an ebook I saw for sale on Amazon the other day. It’s called Minecraft: Final Play, and it’s a novel based on the popular video game Minecraft. Fan fiction has been around for ages, of course, but it’s interesting to see it applied to something like a children’s video game. But if there’s an audience for it, why not? And that got me thinking… If there are novels about Minecraft, what else could there be novels about?
The final example of an interesting digital publishing endeavor is TropicalSnorkeling.com. This is a website dedicated to snorkeling, obviously. They have tons of pages filled with snorkeling tips and information on gear, plus pages dedicated to snorkeling in various areas around the world. A lot of the pages about gear have Amazon affiliate links, so the site owners make some money that way. But it seems like they mostly make money through the ebooks they’ve created. They’ve published four snorkeling guidebooks for the Hawaiian islands and two for the Caribbean islands Bonaire and Curacao. Each ebook is about $20. It’s a husband and wife couple that created and run the site, and apparently it’s their main source of income, which is so cool. It’s a micro publishing empire that’s based entirely on snorkeling. Again, I’ll ask the question of if they can do it for snorkeling, why wouldn’t you be able to do it for whatever you’re interested in?
Pick(s) of the week
And 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. Today I’ve got two picks. In an early episode of the podcast I talked about a tool that I used for daily journaling. It’s called iDoneThis, and every day it sends you an email asking you what you got done that day. You reply to the email, and iDoneThis keeps track of them all. I used the service to write a daily journal for something like 600 days, but I recently switched over to a new service (that’s also free) that I like even better. It’s called Oh Life, and it’s at OhLife.com. It works exactly the same as iDoneThis, but when you go back later to look at your entries, the formatting is better and cleaner than with iDoneThis, and I like the exported version that Oh Life creates better than the iDoneThis version. That’s the main reason that I made the switch. Go check it out at OhLife.com.
My second pick is FactBrowser.com. It bills itself as “The Research Discovery Engine.” In other words, it’s a search engine for finding research, and it’s especially useful if you want to find stats and numbers for a blog post, book, or infographic. It doesn’t cover every topic out there—I didn’t find anything when I searched for rock climbing, for example—and it may not have the absolute latest research, but it’s still a good tool to know about and to have in your arsenal. It’s FactBrowser.com.
And that’s all for episode 47 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.