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I came across a web site that had tried to be a magazine and was clearly having trouble. I think all attempts to simply transfer the magazine format to a web site haven't worked as expected.
Here's an example. Note the short articles on the front page, indicating that they haven't figured out how to make money.
I think the solution will require a mental twist, an insight we haven't seen before. Tip jars and advertising are just a variation of what was done in print magazines (subscription fees and advertising).
Apparently Google is working on a system whereby advertisers only get paid for an actual purchase. I would buy advertising like that (if it wasn't too hard, and if the publisher asked for a reasonable percentage of the sales price), because it's basically no risk; if something doesn't sell then I haven't risked advertising dollars on it. Can't get much better than that, and if Google does this I suspect it will produce a rush of new advertisers into the market. In fact, I'll bet it would reverse the normal order of things -- you'd have more of a marketplace, where, instead of publishers vying for advertiser dollars, advertisers would also be vying for publisher space, because there would be far too many ads for the amount of space available.
A friend of mine, William Gates (of Kansas, not Redmond) created a print magazine called Midnight Engineering way back when, that served its niche so well that he had no advertising staff. The advertisers contacted him and just bought space; he never had to solicit. Because of this and other areas that he had streamlined, he could publish the magazine all by himself. Bloggers are in basically the same boat, except that they have neither the time nor the energy that William had to invent a whole new way of doing things. Bloggers want to be able to say "here is some ad space -- take care of it for me in an optimal way."
Well, not really. What they really want to be able to say is: "pay me for the time and effort I put in on writing."
|Bruce Eckel (www.BruceEckel.com) provides development assistance in Python with user interfaces in Flex. He is the author of Thinking in Java (Prentice-Hall, 1998, 2nd Edition, 2000, 3rd Edition, 2003, 4th Edition, 2005), the Hands-On Java Seminar CD ROM (available on the Web site), Thinking in C++ (PH 1995; 2nd edition 2000, Volume 2 with Chuck Allison, 2003), C++ Inside & Out (Osborne/McGraw-Hill 1993), among others. He's given hundreds of presentations throughout the world, published over 150 articles in numerous magazines, was a founding member of the ANSI/ISO C++ committee and speaks regularly at conferences.|