One of the first questions people ask when they see Artist Cafe Utica is, “Do you make money doing this?”
Tiny niche sites do not have the ability to pull in the often astonishing amount of advertising revenue brought it by the internet’s most famous bloggers and vloggers. Sites with large potential audiences can earn ad revenue directly from their site or channel. Small niche sites typically do not draw in enough traffic.
A site or channel’s potential audience is measured by taking ten per cent of the target population. That’s the number of people you can reasonably expect to follow you. You then take ten per cent of that to get the number you can reasonably expect to actually interact with you, that is, read your articles, watch your videos, and make purchases from your site. Using statistics on the percentage of artists in the United States and the population of Utica, I estimate that my potential audience is around 1,500 people. This means 150 people following me and 15 people reading each article would be a great success. While I am fine with those numbers, advertisers are not. Programs like Google Adsense and sites like YouTube monetize people producing content aimed at an entire generation of Americans, or other groups with numbers in the millions like “Stay at home parents,” or “everyone in the United States who likes to save money.”
Sites with much smaller target populations may not draw the direct advertising dollars, but there are ways to monetize tiny channels and pages.
Online portfolio/product or service sales space
The writing, music, or other artwork on a small channel or site serves as a portfolio for potential customers or clients. Pieces or services are also typically for sale.
The articles under “Articles for Artists” serve a dual purpose. They are free articles for my readers, but they also serve as samples of the kind of writing I can do for potential clients. . A reader decides they want an article for their newspaper, blog, or other website, or that they want something they can submit to newspapers or blogs as a press release. I write the article to their specifications, under the terms detailed on the site. Once the project is finished, the client pays my fee.
Site visitors can also purchase one of my novels through Artist Cafe Utica.
A small page or channel’s content is sponsored in the exact same way a big channel or site’s content is sponsored. Someone pays to have the site owner insert some type of product or business promotion into the post.
The main difference between sponsorships on tiny niche sites and those for ones with much larger audiences is the income potential. YouTube stars like Ryland Adams and David Dobrik design content for entire generations of Americans. Their subscriber counts are in the millions, and their work often becomes “trending,” which means their viewer counts far surpass the expected one per cent of that for each video. But even if they only get ten per cent of their four to eighteen million subscribers watching a video, the content is seen by an enormous audience. This means it is worth the investment for a major corporation to pay them tens of thousands of dollars simply to mention their company in a single video.
A site the size of Artist Cafe Utica can do the same thing, on a much smaller scale. My fee to mention your business, service, product, or organization of your choice in a single article is $20.
Niche YouTube channels and websites also have the option to seek sponsorship for the project as a whole. Sites like Patreon and GoFundMe allow an artist’s supporters to pay them a certain amount of money either one time or on a monthly basis, as a way to pay the artist for any free content they might offer, show support for their career, and basically “tip” them for producing their art.
Artist Cafe Utica has space reserved on Patreon so that nobody else can raise money under the site’s name, but there are currently no ways to become a patron of, or sponsor the site as a whole. Should you create your own niche site and decide to add a site sponsorship or patronage income stream, both Patreon and GoFundMe are free and easy to set up to receive payments.
Income generating research/experiments
Most of the more common social experiments cost money. If you want to write a review of Burger King’s new menu item, you’re going to have to go to Burger King and buy it. If you want to do a haul video featuring items from a local store, you have to spend some money there first.
Other experiments, or research for articles or videos, can actually make money. YouTuber Ryan Trahan has successfully increased his cash in “Turn $.01 into $1,000” experiments. Trahan generously donated the profits from his latest version of this experiment to a fan. Others have conducted similar experiments, and both used the process as content for their channel and kept any cash they generated.
Last year, I took jobs at a national chain restaurant and a chain retail store in the area as research for a special, multi-article project in the “What really happens when…” series on Artist Cafe Utica. The focus was of course going to be on what really happens when you…work at this place and that place as an artist in 2019. That project was never completed, because I failed in my experiment. But I got to keep the paychecks I earned.
Tiny niche sites and channels may not generate millions, but they can grow into great resources for your career, your finances, and the people your content aims to serve.