One weeks ago, I launched advertising in Creativerly and shortly after sold my very first sponsor and classified spots. In this blog post, I want to give you more insights into my thought process and the reasoning why I decided to launch advertising in Creativerly.
When I launched Creativerly back in January 2019, I did not spend a second on monetisation strategies, because I simply wanted to focus on content. Creativerly was a side-project back then (it still kind of is, but passion project would be a more suitable term by now), and therefore, I had no intention to make money from it. While Creativerly grew to its first 100 subscribers, an avid reader introduced me to Buymeacoffee and mentioned I should set up a page there, so readers would be able to support my work and donate some money easily.
I was overwhelmed at that time, because I would never ever have thought about the fact that people would support my work by donating money without asking them to do so. Sidenote: if you like the work of any content creator, tell them, show your love and support, donate them money if you can, or simply share their work. Therefore, I decided to set up my Buymeacoffee page to give those readers, who want to show some support for my work, an easy option to do so. Accepting donations through Buymeacoffee was my first "income stream" for any of my side projects ever. And it worked. I placed a short text and a Buymeacoffee button at the end of every newsletter issue, some readers saw that, and decided to drop me a donation. I never forced my readers to donate me anything (especially because I operated Creativerly at that time without any recurring costs), the button to my Buymeacoffee page just sat silently at the end of my newsletter, free to discover for anyone who saw it.
Fast forward to the point where Creativerly reached 500 subscribers. Creativerly now has its own domain, a landing page, and there are several tools involved to write, create, and create content every single week. I had about $30 of yearly running costs, but I also made about $150 through Buymeacoffee donations and affiliate links combined. That was the very first money I have made online, through one of my side-projects and it also covered my running costs for several months. Seeing Creativerly's growth at this point, I thought about ways to improve the reading experience for my audience. One of the first things, that came to my mind was the fact of looking for a new ESP that would fit the style and general idea of Creativerly. I was using Substack at that moment, because I was done with heavily designed emails within Mailchimp or Mailerlite. Substack was a great platform to keep constantly growing, since all the newsletter issues were also available as blog posts online. Ultimately, I planned to turn Creativerly into a full-fledged publication with new content sections like a blog or an interview series. Substack was not capable of doing something like this. The one platform which was capable of doing this and was getting more and more popular for independent publishers was Ghost. A managed Ghost Pro plan cost back then $25 per month which I could not justify, because well Creativerly was not making enough money to cover those monthly running costs. Since Ghost is open-source there was a cheaper possibility to use Ghost as my preferred publishing tool. I decided to set it up using the DigitalOcean Droplet, which is available for as low as $5 per month. Long story short, I moved Creativerly to Ghost, and I was ready to turn my newsletter into a publication and introduce new content sections.
Fast forward to today, Creativerly has over 1250 subscribers and the blog and the interview series reach over 3000 page views every single month. The creation of a Creativerly issue involves quite a few hours every single week, several tools, and several services. I reached the point where I explored several monetisation strategies. The biggest drawback of Buymeacoffee and Affiliate links is the fact that they are not very sustainable. Sure, you could introduce memberships through Buymeacoffee (Ghost even has this feature natively built into their platform), but I want my content to be free as long as possible.
Therefore, there was only one monetisation strategy left, which would give me the possibility to continue to work on Creativerly, improve the content, and explore new possibilities, with a steady income flow. So, I decided to introduce advertising in Creativerly. I am aware that advertising kind of got a negative taste, as it often can be obtrusive, with no value for the reader and audience, which makes it straight useless. Based on this, my number one goal is to find advertising partners of tools, apps, services, resources, that fit the usual content I create, and therefore provide actual value to my readers.
I will never ever accept any advertising partners just for the sake of making money. That is also the reason, why I decided to keep the booking process manually, so I have the possibility to check if the advertising partner actually fits. Before getting in contact with me regarding the booking of an advertising spot, I encourage every advertiser to take a look at Creativerly’s archive and decide for themselves upfront if they fit within the content I create and share in Creativerly.
Sponsors and classified ads will be my main income for Creativerly. But that does not mean, that I will force to sell out all spots every single month, just for the sake of covering my costs and generating income. Creativerly is still a side-project, although it became much more than that to me personally. I am putting a lot of time, effort, work, and money into Creativerly, so I thought it would be the right time to monetise it.
I am on a mission to create an informational resource, medium, publication, community for creative minds looking for new tools and resources, insightful articles, and simply a place to discover something new every single week. If you want to join and support me on this mission, get in contact and let me know what you have planned and how we could possibly collaborate.
Thank you to all of you for your ongoing support and love, I truly appreciate every single one of you.