Authorkmykula

Free Content and Email Marketing

Gaining access to free content is easier than ever before because of the proliferation of online media. From DIY YouTube videos to a multitude of blogs, the content available is unprecedented. Advice and help that people needed to pay for before is now readily available for free online for anyone with an internet connection. The internet has also changed the way authors interact and create books. With the creation of Creative Commons licenses, being able to freely share content with everyone is also much easier now. With the advent of creative commons licensing authors have the ability to share their work online for free. While this sounds ideal for the reader, it begs the question how can authors make a living out of free content? There are several different business models authors can choose, but I’m going to focus on the power of advertising, specifically that’s enabled by email marketing. Email marketing consists of the accumulation of a list of emails of people have have agreed to receive regular updates from a particular website (Thompson, 2011). Although email marketing is a specific action, I’m going to be using it as more of an umbrella term that is going to encompass several other actions as well that let authors make money. This will include premium content, affiliate marketing, and selling ad space. Because all of these actions are ultimately driven by email marketing, I am going to be discussing it specifically.

Email marketing consists of building a list of subscribers that willingly want to receive updates about the author’s content (Thompson, 2011). Through the email the author can send out regular updates about their book, or any other relevant information. It is also a direct link, a way to speak directly to each individual reader through the email inbox (Jarrett, 2013). To begin email marketing Frances Caballo offers a list of steps for authors to take: 1) sing up for an email application, 2) offer a hook for people to sign up, 3) send content readers will appreciate on a regular basis (2015). Email applications, such as AWeber, make it easier for authors to create opt-in email services and continually stay in touch with their subscribers (AWeber, n.d.). This makes it easier to manage the emails, and the application allows authors to more easily understand and navigate who is interested in their work. The hook for an author would be the rest of the book or chapter. On their website the author would provide a chapter or two that anyone can read. However, if the reader is interested and wants to gain access to the whole of the book, they need to subscribe to the email. For this kind of system to work, I believe that the author cannot release the whole book at once to the readers. Instead, a system where either a chapter or a certain section of the book will be released to the audience every week or within some other consistent time frame would work better. By getting regular updates, readers receive content they are interested in without losing interest in the work and then unsubscribing. In a way, this already happens on websites like fanfiction.net, where the authors of fan based work update their stories by chapter and those interested get an email notification that the story has been updated. It can take years before a story is completed, but if the updates are regular, the readers stay loyal. And loyalty is crucial for this system to work, because the larger the audience and the email list, the more money the author can then make (Thompson, 2011).

Once the author has an email list, several things can happen. First, because those subscribed to the email notification are a loyal fan base, the author can attempt to sell their other products to people who are most likely to be interested. This could mean a print book, special art, an event, or exclusive content that no one without paying will be able to receive. However, these products have to be relevant, something that readers will appreciate, because otherwise it might lead to them unsubscribing (Johnston, 2013). Another thing that can be done with an email list is to rent it out. An author can give out their list to “companies looking to promote their products to [the author’s] audience,” (Johnston, 2013, para. 10). The same concern as with promoting the author’s own products can arise; the companies must be in some way related, tailored that the readers will enjoy the product rather than become dissatisfied and unsubscribe. Affiliate marketing, which is similar to renting out your list, and works pretty well to generate money. It is an often used technique by bloggers and works best when it is paired up with email marketing (Thompson, 2011). What it comes down to is making commission from promoting other products (Dunlop, n.d.). This can be done on the website, but would work better with email as it gives direct access to people. Once again, caution is needed, because too many sales pitches can drive people away. Finally, selling ad space on the author’s website can also drive revenue (Dunlop, n.d.). Having an email list will force interested readers to come back to the website again and again, which will increase exposure to the website and to the ads that are found on that website. It is possible to make a lot of money from email marketing, specifically because other forms of revenue and marketing can then be utilized by the author.

Such a system has a lot of potential. First of all most websites – including blogs – operate in such a way, or at least make money using this system (Dunlop, n.d.). Despite the rise of other social media platforms, email is still an extremely powerful tool as it is “considered the most important business tool” by many people (Caballo, 2015, para. 7). Authors frequently use their websites, blogs, and emails to engage with their readers, it therefore makes sense that it is possible to profit from the tools that are already being used. Based on the system I outlined, it would essentially make authors into bloggers. However, this would change the publishing landscape as this system is really only viable for online self-publishing. In fact, it could even be argued that publishing houses would no longer have a role to play at all, as the authors themselves will have to deal with all of the aspects usually done by a publisher, such as marketing, editing, designing, distributing, promoting, etc. In other words, most aspects of publishing would be done online and only by one person, instead of a team of professionals. More than that though, one of the risks of this sort of publishing is gaining a large enough audience base. I already mentioned that the larger the audience, the more money the author is likely to make, but generating the necessary traffic is difficult and would require a lot of exposure. If more and more authors move onto the online world and begin publishing the way I have described, it will be harder and harder for authors to make their work stand out. This would also cause problems for the reader. People already are overwhelmed by too much information, and have to sort it from what is useful and what isn’t. The same problem would occur if every author had their own website creating their own books; finding one that an individual would really like would be difficult. So on the one hand, the reader will have access to a lot of free content, but they would also have a harder time finding good content. Nevertheless, it is a possible direction for some authors to move into.

 

Bibliography

About AWeber. (n.d.). AWeber. Retrieved from http://www.aweber.com/about.htm

Caballo, F. (2015, February 10). Email Marketing For Authors – A Powerful Tool. Magnolia Media Network. Retrieved from http://www.magnoliamedianetwork.com/email-marketing-for-authors/

Dunlop, M. (n.d.). 14 Ways To Actually Make Money From a Website! Income Diary. Retrieved from http://www.incomediary.com/ways-to-make-money-from-website

Jarrett, J. (2013, January 13). 29 Ways to Make Money Online for Free Ebook. Retrieved from http://www.slideshare.net/jingerjarrett/29-ways-to-make-money-online-for-free-ebook

Johnston, M. (2013, April 30). How to Monetize, Rent, or Sell Email Addresses (Legally). Monetize Pros. Retrieved from http://monetizepros.com/email-monetization/five-ways-to-make-money-off-email-addresses/ 

Thompson, M. (2011, March 30). How Bloggers Who Provide Free Content Make Money. Search Engine Journal. Retrieved from http://www.searchenginejournal.com/how-bloggers-who-provide-free-content-make-money/28815/

Technological Changes in Travel and Publishing

The publishing industry has undergone multiple dramatic changes in the last couple of decades. Technological changes have affected every aspect of publishing; from the writing process, to the way publishing houses are structured, to the way actual books are produced, marketed and sold. The Internet has been a large contributor to some of these changes, so much so that some are questioning the future of the book (Morrison, 2011). The changes created by new technologies are not limited to the publishing industry. In fact, most industries have in some way been impacted by the changing technological world, both in good and bad ways. One such industry has been the travel and tourism industry. Practically every aspect of traveling has adapted to a new technological environment, including the meaning of travel itself. In this paper I want to compare the changes that have occurred in the travel industry to those of the publishing industry. There are many similarities between the two, but in particular I want to focus on how technological advancements have increased the accessibility and the availability of books and travel as well as how the Internet has changed the the role of the consumer.

The 20th century has been marked by machinery that makes things easier to produce, faster to make, and more efficient to use. In the publishing world, printing presses are continuously improving so that a larger volume of books can be printed at a lower cost. The number of books in the world has dramatically increased due to new methods used for printing, such as photocomposition and offset printing, creating massive amounts of books at a price that is more accessible to readers (Tucker & Unwin & Unwin, n.d.). More currently the Internet has been able to not only decrease the costs of books themselves. All of this makes books more widely available to people who at one point were unable to afford books.

When it comes to traveling, many of the same innovative principles that led to more people traveling apply. First, there are the many varied forms of transportation now available to people. Cars are becoming faster all the time and there are high speed trains in certain parts of the world, reducing the time it takes to travel. Trains and steam powered ships were an especially important development in tourism at the end of the 19th century, enabling more comfortable travel for a longer distance (Walton, 2015). Most importantly in this case are the changes brought about by air travel. At one point it was impossible for most people to take a vacation on the other side of the world because of the heavy costs involved, both monetary and in terms of time. Only the wealthy could truly afford such journeys. However, through the use of more advanced material such as carbon fiber, airplanes have become much lighter, using less fuel and able to carry a much larger number of passengers (Seven ways technology…, 2015). Consequently, traveling around the world has become more affordable to the average person. Of course, travel prices are constantly on the rise, for both publishing and even more so for travel (McGee, 2013), but in general terms comparing to prices of a century ago, they are both more widely available and accessible due to technological developments.

The role of the aforementioned average person has also changed. This change is due in large part to the opportunities now available through the Internet. When it comes to both publishing and travel, consumers now have more autonomy and power. One of the ways this can be seen is through cell phones. Many people in North America no longer have to rely on maps and routes created by different travel corporations. Using apps like Google Maps, or Yelp, individuals can make instant decisions about where to go in a new city or what to do/eat/drink/try (McGee, 2013). Individuals have more deciding power. Similarly, in publishing, with a phone reading has become a different experience. There are more options now for how people read, what they read, and when they read. Buying books online is much easier than it used to be, which means readers are not restricted to going to a physical bookstore to procure a book.

More important is the way online websites have allowed people to become more engaged and less reliant on the industry corporations to provide what they need. By this, I mean using different social media to discuss, comment, and review both books and travel experiences. For example, Goodreads is a website that allows users to find new books based on others’ recommendations and reviews (About Goodreads, n.d.). Social media has enabled readers to become more engaged with the writing process either through following an author on social media platforms or by engaging in the writing process itself. Such was the case with Business Model Generation (http://businessmodelgeneration.com/book).

In the travel world, there are also plenty of websites – Yelp, TripAdvisor – that provide consumer generated content on everything related to travel, including accommodations, attractions, shopping, nightlife, etc. (Gretzel & Xiang, 2010). Gretzel and Xiang conducted a study that shows that people are turning more and more towards social media for answers to travel questions (2010). Trip planning happens through Google searches and travel websites. From personal experience, I know people who pick hikes based on other people’s Instagram photos. It becomes a more personalized experience with people sharing and creating that tends to somewhat ignore traditional travel marketing. Social media, in this case, creates a more collaborative environment for people to share their travel experiences with others without having to rely on the actual industry to provide all of the necessary information.

Finally the role of the consumer has changed by becoming more independent. Travelers are able to plan most of their trips online without having to go through an intermediary, such as a travel agency. There are websites, like Expedia.ca, that are dedicated to providing customers with multiple options for booking flights, hotels, car rentals, etc. (McGee, 2013). This has dramatically changed the role of the travel agency. Although travel agents are less numerous now than they have been before, they are still a large part of the travel industry (Cook, 2015). Nevertheless, travelers can book flights online without having to rely on others to do it for them. This is reminiscent of self-publishing, where the author no longer has to go to a publishing house in order to make their work available to others. Writers no longer have to depend on publishing houses becoming interested in their work, instead they rely more on themselves and use the Internet to their advantage.

Publishing and travel have, in a small way, influenced each other. As steam powered passenger trains started traveling longer distances, cheaper books were produced for people to pass the time while on board (Tucker et al., n.d.). This historical fact shows how interconnected the changes in industries can be due to technological advancements. Besides this particular influence, both the travel and the publishing industries have undergone very similar technological changes in the past century. Both industries have advanced to accommodate a large number of people through more efficient machinery. And thanks to the Internet both have had to adapt to a reader/traveler that is more engaged and self-reliant than ever before.

Reference List

About Goodreads. (n.d.). Goodreads. Retrieved from https://www.goodreads.com/about/us

Cook, M. (2015). Travel agents: We’re still flying high: A decade after ‘devastating’ change, industry survives. Arkansas Business, 32(9). Retrieved from https://global-factiva-com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/ga/default.aspx

Gretzel, U. & Xiang, Z. (2010). Role of social media in online travel information search. Tourism Management, 31(2), 179-188. doi:10.1016/j.tourman.2009.02.016

McGee, B. (2013, April 24). 10 biggest changes in travel in the past 10 years. USA Today. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/story/travel/columnist/mcgee/2013/04/24/10-biggest-changes-in-travel-in-the-past-10-years/2107309/

Morrison, E. (2011, August 22). Are books dead, and can authors survive? The Guardian. Retrieved from http://www.theguardian.com/books/2011/aug/22/are-books-dead-ewan-morrison

Seven ways technology is changing the travel industry. (2015, January 27). Retrieved from https://medium.com/@WTTC/seven-ways-technology-is-changing-the-travel-industry-85cff79c1ece

Tucker, D. H. & Unwin, G. & Unwin, P. S. (n.d.). History of publishing. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://academic.eb.com.proxy.lib.sfu.ca/EBchecked/topic/482597/history-of-publishing/

Walton, J. K. (2015). Tourism. Encyclopaedia Britannica. Retrieved from http://www.britannica.com/topic/tourism

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