Category Archives: Financial

Has Content Monetization Gone Too Far?

Thady Senior is curious about my thoughts on monetization. Buckle up, buttercups. We may be here a while!

Do you think monetization of content has gone too far? It used to be that everything could be watched for free and advertising revenue covered it. Now it is the case that internet streaming services (Patreon, Netflix, etc.) and satellite / TV services are chargeable. Do you think YouTube will integrate a pay-for-content facility?

First, YouTube already has a PPV option. It’s rarely used because it’s rather inflexible for both would-be supporters and existing producers.

Second, I don’t think monetization can ever truly go “too far.” If someone’s getting a piece of content for free, they have to support (or, in some cases, “suffer through”) whatever needs to happen to make that free transaction worth doing for all parties involved.

“Too far” for one person is not “too far” for another.

I’ve gone into this topic in depth at various points in the past, but advertising has never been a stable form of support for valuable content – and you’re blind to assume otherwise.

Take, for example, the cancellation of one of your favorite TV shows. Why? Because a network decided that few people wanted to see it. Is that content still valuable to you? Hell yes. But you don’t matter. Seriously, you don’t matter in the game of advertising.

Sure, in aggregate, you matter – but I’m not talking about an aggregation of appreciation. I’m referring to your independent appreciation for one piece of content or another.

Why do you care how many other people like something? If you like it, that’s all that matters. You should want to give anything and everything to ensure that it would continue to be done. Right? If not, then you don’t value what you say you value.

Independent content producers will eventually realize that the better number is probably a smaller number. I’d rather have 800 people telling me that I’m worth $5 a month to them than 350,000 people who don’t care whether I live or die (and they treat the content produced in a similar fashion).

What do all of YOU think? Has content monetisation gone too far?

Has Content Monetization Gone Too Far?

How Do You Feel About a $15.00 Minimum Wage?

Patron Christopher Micallef is curious about a proposed huge hike in minimum wage. You, too, can become a Patron and receive priority answers to your questions!

How do you feel about the $15 minimum wage? Do price floors make you sad too?

I spoke about this briefly in a TLDR episode.

I feel that you should get paid a fair wage for fair work, but I’m also very well aware of costs that employers often assume on behalf of their employees.

Who wouldn’t want to be paid more for the work they’re doing?

But that’s not the problem.

Who is going to pay for those employees to get paid more? How are costs going to be offset now that they’ve increased across the board? What potential new hire isn’t going to get the opportunity to work? There aren’t definitive answers to these questions, either.

It’s like people who watch a “free video” on YouTube and assume that it came to them for free simply because they didn’t pay anything to see it.

A $15/hr minimum wage is outstanding for those who deserve it, but it also increases the chances of an employer burning through more revenue due to making a really bad hire (which happens all the time, trust me).

Despite what either side would have you believe, it’s not a black and white issue – and I do believe that, ultimately, employers will suffer more than those who are being employed. Think about it this way: as an employee, your only responsibility is to yourself. As an employer, you have to balance several “special interest groups” and the business-at-large.

There’s a metric buttload of hidden costs for any business, and most employees do not ever find themselves in the position to have to be concerned with them. Hell, most customers don’t know, either (and aren’t necessarily in the position to be aware of hidden costs at all).

When change happens, shit changes across the board. Period.

How Do You Feel About a 15 Minimum Wage?

How Can a Teen Make Money Without Getting a Job?

Trueb asked an interesting question:

I am looking for a way to raise money without getting a job. My parents do not want me to get a job because they think it would distract me from school, even if I get a summer job. I mainly want to save up money for a car. I know how to use photoshop for basic photo editing as well as some video editing. I couldn’t really find anything when I Google searched it and read articles. It mainly consisted of car washing or other things that I do not think would work.

First of all, it’s going to be difficult for you to make money if your parents won’t allow you to get a job of some type. Have you tried to compromise with them? Perhaps a part-time Summer gig to start off with, to see how you handle things? Lay out your plan to them. Show them how you feel you can handle things and see what they have to say. Failing that, I’m hesitant to point you to links to help. If your parents don’t want you to work, then my telling you where to find work online would be going directly against their wishes.

With that said, ask your Mom and Dad if it would be okay for you to do a project or two at a time, using the skills you mentioned. If they’re cool with it, try using a service like Fivrr. You won’t get rich quick, but it’s a great way to get yourself “out there,” create a client/fan base and get more experience, as well. You can also ask around your own social community – you never know who might need the help of someone who is good with Photoshop!

Another thing to think about: owning a car is expensive. Sure, it costs money to buy the darn thing to start with. You’re trying to cover that. But you have to remember that you’ll have to pay for maintenance, gasoline, insurance and registration. Those things can cost quite a bit of moolah – so how would you plan to pay for all of it? I’m not trying to discourage you – I think it’s great you’re willing to work hard for what you want. I just want to make sure you’re fully prepared!

What about everyone else out there? What do you recommend?

How Can a Teen Make Money Without Getting a Job?

What Would You Do if You Went Bankrupt?

Milun Kukalj from YouTube asked:

I wonder… what if you two went bankrupt and lost everything – what would you do?? I know it’s strange, but just think about it, what if you would lost everything like loads of families do?

It’s a scary thought, isn’t it? This is happening to more and more people – hardworking people who bust their asses to keep things together. Life happens – and suddenly, they’re bankrupt. I pray this never happens to Diana and myself, but if it does I won’t let it stop me. I won’t let it get me down and defeat me.

I would use my existing skillset to immediately start rebuilding.

And, of course, we’d find out who our TRUE friends are. Would that be you?

What would all of YOU do if – God forbid – this were to happen to you?

What Would You Do if You Went Bankrupt?

Why is Education so Expensive?

When I was going to college, everything cost what felt like an arm and a leg. Textbooks were one of the larger burdons students didn’t always see coming as the semester grew closer. In some cases, these books made up a larger amount of your initial investment than housing (for the first month of the semester). Things haven’t really changed since then, except that tuition fees, books, and housing all come with a higher price tag.

According to College Board, books can make up over $1,000 of your yearly college investment. Tuition at two-year public schools clock in at around $2,400 per year with private four-year institutions charging tuition and fees scaling up to over $25,000 in one year alone. This means that if you don’t have an impressive scholarship or some other form of serious financial backing, you’re likely to get stuck with an oppressive amount of debt from student loans.

If you decide to take on student loans, you’re likely going to have to pay them off over the course of your career. Some students opt to join military or volunteer organizations that promise to assist with paying off student loans in exchange for service. If you decide to dive in to your career of choice, you may find the financial advantage of the diploma won’t come in handy until years down the line when you’ve eliminated the debt caused by getting the degree in the first place.

Education is an absolute must for any society to further itself technologically or academically. For too many students the focus of the best years of their lives is spent wondering how they’re going to pay for their education, and not how they’re going to benefit from it in the long-term. As much of an importance as we place on education as a society, we seem to do little to prevent it from being out of reach for so many of our young citizens.

We have the technology, and many schools are beginning to offer online courses that reduce the overhead of the campus and allow good professors the ability to teach important lessons to a larger audience in a way we never could when I attended, or anyone from generations prior. Instead of reducing the costs for their students as a result, universities seem to be pressing even harder and asking for more from a student body that rarely has anything left to give.

Here is some response to this post by the community on Google+:

Craig Clawson – My brother had to purchase a virology textbook that cost $978 dollars. that is just greed, pure and simple.

Erin Fox – It’s expensive because it’s meant to be exclusive. As my Philosophy professor said, “We can’t educate everybody. Who would clean toilets?”

Shane Corning – I began at a University after High School. Scholarship, the whole nine. Guess what? They didn’t have any practical classes, and some of the Profs were barely qualified to teach a H.S. class. So I went to Community College and actually learned skills I could use in jobs.

How to Make Money with Your Voice Online

Do you have a decent microphone and a unique voice? Have you considered possibly giving voiceover work a try? There are many ways to make money with your voice online, and most of them don’t even require you to leave your home at all.

First, this isn’t a good idea for everyone. It is harder than it looks to master the vocal tone required to grab the interest of the audience and accomplish whatever it is your voice is needed to accomplish. Voiceover actors rarely make big bucks (though they certainly can) doing contract work here and there. If you’re dedicated, and your voice has a quality that casting agents are looking for – you may be able to make money on the side as a voiceover actor (or actress).

You also need to invest in some decent recording equipment. A standard USB microphone might not be enough to capture the rich tones and create a true representation of your natural voice. The WAV files you send in need to be as clear as possible of any background noise or distortion cheaper setups can create. A prosumer or professional-grade condenser microphone, USB or FireWire interface, and sometimes a mixer should be considered to allow you to capture rich, vibrant sounds.

Alright, so you’ve got your equipment in place and you’re ready to start getting jobs? Well, you could find a talent manager and pay them to manage your career (maybe getting you a job, or maybe not). You could also start working now and build up your resume through a few methods online.

oDesk is a service offered online to help people find freelance workers in a hurry to fill certain business needs. Companies or individuals needing help with a website, businesses looking for extra members of a remote development team, data entry services, content-driven sites, and agencies looking for voice talent regularly use oDesk to find the right person for the job, quickly. You can post your resume, portfolio, and link to some samples of your voice as you apply for various positions posted on the site. Once hired, your time and/or fees are all paid through oDesk which, in turn, pays you. This service is a quick way to find work, but it does have its downsides. For one, you aren’t likely to find long-term jobs here. This is primarily a site that helps companies find people to work on specific tasks for short periods of time. If you happen across the right employer, you may have further opportunities, but that isn’t the norm.

Another way to find voiceover work online is through a more traditional online classified system such as Craigslist. This can be a great way to find local employers and increase your chances of finding long-term employment. Radio stations, advertising agencies, and other media-related companies are often looking for voiceover talent.

Do you know of a podcast or show that could use some voiceover work for a frequent segment? Voiceover actors and jingle writers often submit free content to high-profile podcasts on the off chance that they might start using the contributed work. This is one way to build your portfolio without having to go through the frustrating process of tireless interviews and low-profile jobs. This shouldn’t be a primary strategy, but it could help you on your way to something great. Believe it or not, some of the best-known podcasts on the web are using jingles and voiceovers they picked up from emerging artists using this very strategy. Who knows, they may pay you to for more content down the line themselves.

Will an Internet Sales Tax Hurt Online Retailers?

The so-called “Amazon” Tax has become a huge national story as the online retail giant sent out messages to their affiliates in California announcing the end of the affiliate program there. Even though this new law has “Amazon” as a nickname, any online merchant with an affiliate program falls under its jurisdiction.

It was their affiliate program that gave California’s law jurisdiction over Amazon as they consider it a “presence” of the retailer in that state. Amazon, and online retail in general, has gained in popularity in part to the savings that come with not having to pay sales taxes on items purchased from retailers based in different states.

In 1992, the Supreme Court decided that in order for sales taxes to be collected, a retailer has to have physical presence within the state. This presence could include any business offices, warehouses, or physical stores within the borders of that state.

The new rules set in California redefines presence to include affiliates that make money by referring their audience to online retailers, including Amazon. In order to maintain a policy of providing products tax-free to their customers, they are forced to end affiliate programs in states adopting this new policy.

So, the argument might not be whether or not these taxes will hurt online retail. The fact is, local small business owners that make profits from referring people to online stores are being critically wounded by this policy. The point can and has been made that by imposing stronger taxes, the state is actually doing more harm than good to the local economy unless online retailers continue their affiliate programs and implement sales tax.

It should be noted here than many state and local governments do charge taxes for online purchases. Because they can’t tax the retailer directly, this tax is imposed directly to their customers in the form of a “use” tax. It’s the responsibility of the citizen in this case to report and track their online spending and pay the necessary dues as a result. This is an entirely different matter altogether, though it does play an important role in the overall discussion.

I asked the community how a sales tax on their online purchases would impact the frequency of their online shopping. Here are some of their responses:

Steve Woods – It’s a difficult decision for me. I buy online often for convenience and price, and do think an additional sales tax of 8-9% will still offset the price of gas and time in a store. But I have also had to consider the lack of profit to a local business in my city.

That said, many of the “local businesses” I shop from are chain stores with profits leading out of state anyway. My community and state benefit from the sales taxes only.

Having a local sales tax added to online purchases will offset some of the losses by bringing at least some sort of revenue back to my city and/or state to upkeep the roads and bridges. Even if this means the same price in or out of a brick and mortar shop, I’ve still gained the time and expense of gas.

Local merchants that create something unique have already begun the rapid shift to online sales, creating Etsy accounts and online shopping carts. If they’re making something desirable, the profits should come back to my area anyway, as potentially people from all over the world buy their goods.

Leon Carpenter – Gas costs more than taxes for most purchases — especially when Prime allows me to have free shipping. So, yes, I would pay sales tax. The only time online sales tax would give me pause is for large purchases such as TV’s etc.

Debbie Wolfe – Like several others here, I shop online for convenience & selection, somewhat for price, but not at all to avoid taxes. When I lived in California, I would also pay use tax on my online purchases.

Joe Hackman – It wouldn’t change my online purchase habits much, it’s really only a factor today on high ticket items where the tax is a significant amount.

Jen Reeves – It’s about convenience and discounts for me, not taxes.

Shane Brady – Personally, for a lot of things, the shopping experience is better online, where I can research, compare, get feedback. I still buy stuff online from companies who charge me sales tax because the whole process is nicer.

Stephen Shankland – Yes. I shop online mostly because I don’t have to drive some place, especially some place that’s closed in the middle of the night when I have time to shop.

Are Extended Warranties Worth Your Time?

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It seems no matter what retail store you go to, each one has their own extended warranty plan for your devices. In some cases, the extended warranty can cost almost as much as the actual item, which can really hit you hard in the pocketbook. One of you out there in the community asked recently if I believe in warranties. Well yes, I believe they exist. But I’m not so sure that they’re worth grabbing in addition to the thing you’re buying.

Sometimes, extended warranties can be a waste of money. You need to read the fine print, and even ask other people what their experiences have been like. Most of these big stores make their money with the person behind the register – trying to upsell the extension to you. The largest problem will be figuring out if there is even any value to you at all.

How many different places do you shop? I’m sure you don’t buy everything at the same place. This can make it even more difficult to keep track of various purchases and warranties. Will you even remember you added the extra coverage if something should happen to your item? Does it even cover “normal” issues, or will it only kick in for some strange occurrence that most people will never even hear of? This is why you have to do a bit of research, and figure out if the extra cash outlay is worth it.

When you buy any time of consumer electronics, you’re looking for the best price and deal. Giving in and buying an extended warranty you’ll either forget about or never use ends up costing you more than the original price would have.

Most of us throw away broken devices anyway. Is it really worth it to have to dig up the warranty, find someone who can repair the item or even beg the store to take it back? How much is your time worth? I know that mine is usually worth more than any warranty.

What do you do? Do you always buy extended warranties?

How to Buy a Home Using Technology

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Can new media help the real estate industry? Years ago, you used to be able to place an ad in the paper and receive almost guaranteed results. At the time, that’s where people’s eyes were. Now, potential home buyers are spending their time on social networks like Facebook and Twitter instead of reading the local newspaper. It’s for this reason that companies like Century 21 have expanded their public reach in to the realm of new media.

Just like many of you out there, I happen to own a house. While visiting BlogWorld, I noticed a booth from a real estate company. That shocked me, since this venue is not normally a place you’d see this type of business having a booth at.

Century 21 is still a real estate company, yes. That hasn’t changed. What has changed is the way they talk to consumers. By visiting conferences such as BlogWorld, Century 21 and other businesses are able to connect with people face-to-face in a relaxed atmosphere in ways they couldn’t otherwise.

This is a much different type of scale for the companies. Part of the effort is to let people know of all of the social media properties out there, so that they can get involved with the brand.

When I bought my first house back in the late 90s, it was so difficult to find information online. Blogging as it is now didn’t really exist. Forget “social media” as you use it today. None of that was around. I wanted to do things though when researching that the Internet simply wasn’t ready to do.

The second time I bought a home a few years ago, I was able to learn everything I could possibly want – and then some – just by logging in to my computer. I found blogs and podcasts and tools and ways to connect with my realtor, my company and my own mind.

I’ve always trusted technology to help me make decisions. Talking with Matt from Century 21 helped me realize exactly how much more my beloved tech is being ingrained into every aspect of our lives.

This video was filmed during a live broadcast from the BlogWorld & New Media EXPO 2011 in New York.