Monetization & Advertising

Week 9: 

This week we had another amazing and energetic guest lecturer in PUB 101; Trevor Battye. Trevor spoke to the class about advertising and monetization both as general principles and in practice. Trevor’s motto is “if you can money from it, why aren’t you!” 

First Thoughts: 

I absolutely loved Trevor’s lecture and energetic personality! He was extremely engaging with the class, down to earth and above all passionate about making money. I am now considering taking some upper-division Publication classes just to hear more about his perspective and how I can translate it into my own work. I found it really interesting to hear about Trevor’s various entrepreneurial endeavours such as his candle business. It’s fascinating that even at such a young age he had the knowledge and skills to run a business (which was still in demand many years later). Overall I was a huge fan of Trevor and would love to continue learning from him. I mean who doesn’t want to be making money!

Monetizing and Advertising on My Website:

Trevor brought up a lot of interesting points regarding monetization and advertising which really started to change my perspective. 

When first deciding on the audience for my website I made the choice to market myself as a design student looking for a potential job rather than a freelance designer (check out my post Simplicity is Key and Niching Down for Audiences). The reason behind this was so that I could focus on building my reputation and audience as a designer in the industry. I still stand by this choice, as Trevor had mentioned that making money from content creation does require a lot of work, and it is usually best to build your audience before asking them to pay. Since my portfolio is mainly for recruiters it makes sense to focus on my design work rather than my stats. 

However, Trevor opened my eyes to the possibilities of other monetization techniques that are not corporate heavy. Instead, they have a personal connection to support me, Alyssa Lalani, in my journey to becoming a designer. Two examples really stuck with me from his lecture: 

  1. The internal advertising in the newspaper 
  2. Trevor’s own journey supporting others

From this, I learned that there might be a way to leverage my small audience (of mostly family and friends) who want to support me or just appreciate my work. I have seen the various artist on Instagram using platforms such as Buy Me a Coffee or Ko-Fi that allow followers to essentially make a one-time ‘tip’ to their favourite creators. After making the list of people who would loan me $5 it got me thinking that I might be able to use my personal connections to fuel my creative practice. Interested people would have an option to support me, but it would not be mandatory to view my content. Patreon is another popular growing site that has a focus on monthly subscribed content for creators. This option is used a lot by more popular creators with larger audiences but requires a lot more attention as creators have to make content specifically for their subscribers. I think these options provide a lot of hidden potentials that are very different from the more obvious forms of advertising and monetization that people are used to. I don’t want my website to become house a bunch of foot fungus advertising, but it would be nice to make some side money doing something I love. 

Collaborations: 

Another path that really intrigued me was through collaborations. I have been looking for a way to expand my design portfolio beyond just classwork, and passion projects for the past several months. I want to be able to gain experience as a designer and put my studies into real-world practice. Trevor reviewed my website in class and recommended collaborating which I think is a perfect opportunity. While it would be ideal to get paid for my work, I am willing to start out for free just to learn the ropes and gain some practice. Collaborating with other designers, other students, and even small businesses to work on side projects doing something that I love. I mean it seems like a win, win situations. 

What’s Holding Me Back:

However, in my head, there’s always a little voice going “what about this? and don’t forget about that…” I actually was searching for design collaborations at the beginning of the semester, but I ended up accepting a part-time temp job instead. I am worried that taking on too many side projects will take too much time away from my school work, as I am continuing to take full course loads with lots of design projects already. Burn out is real, and it is not fun. I think collaborating in my off time, outside of the school semester might be ideal as I usually have tons of free time that are mostly spent watching Netflix.

If I am being completely honest I think my insecurities are holding me back. I am insecure about creating self-serving monetization, as it stills feels disingenuous to be asking people for money. My own mindset is limiting me from asking for help and contributions. I don’t want to seem like I am capitalizing on relationships, or only in it for the money. I truly love design, it is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Another insecurity is that I can’t believe that my content would be worth paying for. I still view myself as a beginner and I know I have a lot to learn from the industry, so why would someone want to pay me? I have had grand visions about even creating a small online shop to sell my designs and/or design services but who is really going to buy anything? I have no audience and my work is not comparable to others in the industry.

Taking Baby Steps: 

Going forward I want to make more of a commitment to expanding my portfolio and looking for more design opportunities. I am never going to grow as a designer if I don’t take chances. While the next few weeks are going to be consumed with finishing final projects and essays for university, I am pledging to take on at least one external side project in December. My hope is that taking baby steps will slowly make external side projects a hobby in my life so that I can grow my talent and audience with the ultimate goal of setting up a platform such as Buy Me a Coffee so that I can continue to get support. I think it is important to have content of value to people for asking them to support me, and I want to take the time to establish this before monetary gain is considered. 

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