4 Unusual Ways of Monetizing Your Creative Content

Matthew Hughes 02-09-2014

Are you a creative person? Perhaps you’re a fiction author, or an investigative journalist. Perhaps you like to write songs and perform them online. Perhaps you’re an artist taking breathtaking photographs, or creating amazing graphics that you then share on your Tumblr. Thanks to the Internet, it has never been easier to share your creative oeuvres with the world.


Monetization has always been tricky though. We’ve discussed how to monetize blogs 5 Interactive Ways To Monetize Your Blog & Increase Traffic Read More in the past 4 Ways to Make Your Blog Pay Real Money Writing a popular blog, getting famous, and then living off the Internet from a desert island beach are faily common dreams for many aspiring bloggers. With the advent of content management systems such as Wordpress... Read More (we even wrote a manual on it Monetization Manual: Your No-Nonsense Guide To Making Money Blogging Residual income streams from a website have motivated bloggers for years. I will share with you the knowledge and experience I've gained from years of making money blogging. Read More ). But what if you’re not just a blogger? What if you’re a programmer, or a videographer, or a musician?

If so, this article is for you. Here are 4 of the best ways to monetize content you’ve probably never thought of.


So, you’ve been doing your thing for a while now. You’ve built a following on Twitter and Facebook. You might have even done a successful Reddit AMA The Best Reddit AMAs Of All Time [Weird & Wonderful Web] Under the IAmA subreddit, you'll find informal interviews with all sorts of interesting people. These are some of the best AMAs online. Read More . You’re now recognized for being the best at what you do.

How do you turn that into hard cash? One thing you might want to consider is Patreon. This site has borrowed the tiered-perks, crowd-funding model of Kickstarter, and mixed it with recurring, monthly payments. Kind of like Kickstarter by subscription.



One musician who has effectively used Patreon Support Your Favorite Online Artists And Get Exclusive Rewards On Patreon Patreon is a new initiative from musician and video-maker Jack Conte, that tries to solve the age-old problem both artist and fans face every day. For artists, it's the need to stay afloat while still... Read More to fund her work is American indie-folk singer Kina Grannis. Almost 300 of her devoted fans contribute financially to the production of her YouTube videos. Each clip she publishes pulls in $1,672 per clip. Not bad. Not bad at all.

But what’s in it for the fans? Well, it depends on how much they are willing to contribute. The highest tier gets free concert tickets whenever Kina rocks up in town, in addition to the same stuff the lower and middle tiers get. This includes free music, and monthly Q&A meets with Kina on Google Hangouts.

The beauty of Patreon is it allows creative individuals to leverage the enthusiasm of their fans, whilst simultaneously rewarding fans for their loyalty.

Patreon is available internationally. Opening an account is free, although they do take 4% from all transactions as a commission. This covers the cost of processing credit cards (which is expensive indeed), as well as the costs associated with operating the site.



Beacon can best be described as two separate properties. The first is a beautiful content management and publishing platform that rivals the likes of WordPress and Tumblr in their ease of use. It allows journalists and writers to publish stunning, engaging content, without breaking a bead of sweat.

Another — more interesting — facet of Beacon is how it allows readers to support content creators with monthly financial gifts, much like Patreon does.


However, unlike Patreon, if you fund one writer, you don’t just get a single perk. You get access to all the works produced by writers working on the Beacon network.


There’s a diverse range of journalists and storytellers taking advantage of Beacon, from cutting edge science writers, to stories of people hitchhiking their way from California to Africa.

Beacon empowers users to fund research into stories they care about. One author I fund personally is Lyra McKee. This Northern Irish investigative journalist is currently researching the decades old murder of a Unionist politician during the turbulent period of The Troubles.


Over 150 supporters have contributed almost $9000 to her research, which has funded six, richly detailed posts about this real-life murder mystery.


And much like Patreon and Kickstarter, there’s also the option to offer tiered rewards. If you contribute more, you might get more.

Beacon is currently invitation only. Prospective writers can submit applications to become an author, although there’s no guarantee they’ll be accepted. Beacon gives 70% of all subscription dues to the author, and keep 30% for themselves. They have a minimum pledge, which is $5 per month.

Put Up A Paywall

Paywalls. They’re not for the little guys, right? They’re for the big players. Paywall Trend On The Internet [INFOGRAPHIC] Being a former newspaper journalist, I can sympathise to a very large extent with the plight of print media. With the relentless onslaught of the Internet, and peoples expectations that "information should be free", print... Read More The massive media houses, like The London Times and The Telegraph. They’re the ones who have the audience, the money, and the technical infrastructure to actually implement one and make a profit.


Well, that’s not exactly true.

It’s not just mainstream media outlets who operate paywalls. The likes of Conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan (we’ve written about him before Banners Begone: How Readers Supported These Three Websites How to survive in a post-banner-advert world? Here’s how two popular websites have managed it. Read More ), to German cycling e-zine Farrhad Journal both restrict some content to paying customers.

Paywalls allow you to control who gets access to your content, and to actually give your content a tangible dollar value for consumers.

But how do you actually implement one? Well, that’s easy. TinyPass is a service that allows you to add a customizable paywall to your website with just a few lines of JavaScript What is JavaScript and How Does It Work? [Technology Explained] Read More . You can control everything, from how many free articles someone can read, to how much people pay for access. Setting up a paywall has never been this simple.


TinyPass also handles the tricky process of taking payments. Their services aren’t free, however. They insist on a commission from each sale, with the fee for payments over $2 being a somewhat painful 18%. That’s not quite as much as Patreon charges, but many magnitudes above what BeaconReader takes.

Take Tips

There’s still a place for advertising on the Internet, but this model is under serious threat. This is partly due to the spread of AdBlocking software, and people trying to stiff content creators by avoiding banner adverts entirely.

Many content producers have taken to accepting tips in order to supplement the income from their online properties. Tipping is pretty hot right now and there are two horses in this race worth mentioning.

The first is Flattr, which was created by Peter Sunde — one of the three founders of The Pirate Bay. We’ve talked about extensively about this service before. Their product works a bit like this. Users sign up and establish a recurring payment which tops up an account with cash. This is then later used to ‘tip’ content creators.

Site operators then put a ‘flattr’ button on their website. Whenever a user presses that button, they indicate that they wish for a portion of their funds to go to them. At the end of the month, the money in the user’s account is divided equally between the sites who have been tipped.

Flattr takes a cut of any money donated, but rival TipTheWeb does not. Instead, they fund their operations through tips themselves. There’s no monthly subscription to pay, and users are free to choose how much they wish to tip, from $0.05 to as much as $100.


TipTheWeb also allows you to support not only blogs, but also open source software on Github, presentations on SlideShare and videos on YouTube and Vimeo.

Another service is Gittip. Despite the name, it has got nothing to do with code-hosting service Github What Is Git & Why You Should Use Version Control If You’re a Developer As web developers, a lot of the time we tend to work on local development sites then just upload everything when we’re done. This is fine when it’s just you and the changes are small,... Read More  or the Git version control system, and nothing to do with software development.


Rather, it’s a slightly bizarre hybrid between Patreon and Flattr. You sign in with Twitter, and you select who you wish to ‘tip’. That person is then sent an unconditional cash payment from you each week. The person receiving the cash doesn’t have to be a software developer. Anyone can get paid with Gittip.

You can sign in with your Twitter, BitBucket and Github account. Beneficiaries can get paid via direct bank transfer in the US, and they accept International users, although this is handled manually through the banking system.

And if neither of these take your fancy, there’s still Dogecoin Dogecoin: How A Meme Became the 3rd Largest Digital Coin Read More .

As a revenue source, tipping is still incredibly speculative. It hasn’t been proven as a reliable model for monetization like advertising. With that said, when used in addition to traditional revenue models such as advertising, it becomes an appealing additional source of funding. .

Show Me The Money

There’s still a place for advertising. People can still make money from their digital properties by throwing up some AdSense adverts. But if that doesn’t appeal to you, there are other options.

Are you a creative? Have you found any unusual ways of monetizing content? Let me know. Comments are below.

Related topics: Make Money Online, Online Advertising.

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  1. Dawn
    October 31, 2016 at 3:39 pm

    Thanks for listing all these good suggestions! I actually use a bit of Adsense for my own content but have been eyeing Patreon for a while now. Kickstarter has been gaining a lot of attention over the past several years I've noticed, but I feel like that's still a little too BIG-PLAYER for me right now lol (^^)

  2. Fathallah N
    September 28, 2014 at 3:45 pm

    One of the more “creative” ways, I came across was using sponsored CAPTCHA’s hhhhhhh this is morooocco

    • Mark O'Neill
      October 1, 2014 at 3:31 pm

      Spammer, troller, whatever. Delete.

  3. Paper Bag Writer
    September 21, 2014 at 3:06 am

    I notice Amazon's self-publishing program isn't listed here. Probably because it has a reputation for publishing a glut of amateurish Nanowrimo drafts with bad clip art covers -- and Fifty Shades of Gray. The reputation of the site does matter when you're building a career, and Amazon keeps shooting itself in the foot, occupying a dual identity as self-serving corporate shill and cultural philistine opening the floodgates to functional illiterates. I'm a writer myself who knows that my "brand" would inevitably be scarred by association with the Amazon name, and I'm on the side of the traditional vanguard (Hachette) and its proven track record, rather than the cubic-zirconia-in-the-rough fan fictioners. I think somehow the internet model will work better for journalists and bloggers than fiction writers. There's just something about the form that strongly resists being reduced to mere ones and zeroes. Discerning readers believe that the slush pile should stay that way, but Bezos is more than happy ($$$) to act as wish-granting genie for the unpolished Mary Sues.

  4. Dann A
    September 8, 2014 at 9:50 am

    I've been interested in getting into freelance journalism, and I think these could be good platforms where I could start posting work. I'll have to do a bit more research, but this has given me some great ideas! Thanks for rounding them up—cool article, Matt.

    • Matthew H
      September 19, 2014 at 12:40 pm

      Nice! :) Check out Beacon Reader! You might find it useful!

  5. Mike P
    September 7, 2014 at 2:53 pm

    I love the Patreon platform for creators, that was awesome and I chose to join it. Hopefully it can help me to do much more with my creativity. Thanks Mathew for this awesome article. I also applied for Flattr, just waiting for contact or message from their team. Got my fingers crossed :)

    • Matthew H
      September 19, 2014 at 12:36 pm

      Awesome. I'm glad you got something out of the piece man. :)

  6. Saikat B
    September 4, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    One of the more "creative" ways, I came across was using sponsored CAPTCHA's. Saw it first on

    • Matthew H
      September 19, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      Aye, I saw that. That's pretty cool.

  7. andycrofts
    September 4, 2014 at 7:36 am paywall?
    Just delete any cookie starting "tele". when you get the "Exceeded 10 free..." message.
    Job done.

    • Matthew H
      September 19, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      I just open an Incognito tab. Or try to avoid reading the Telegraph anyway. ;)

  8. mandoran
    September 3, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    How is TinyPass' 'painful 18% more than Patreon's 4%?

    • Matthew H
      September 19, 2014 at 12:35 pm

      Just what they've decided to charge, I guess.