It’s impossible to read about blogging without hearing talk about “monetization” – making money off the attention your blog gets. This isn’t a problem for most writers, since nobody reads their blog. I’m no blog celebrity, but at this point, I’ve had 4 or 5 articles that were read by several thousand people, so I can’t really say that nobody reads me. I already have a goal to use this blog to write my thoughts and experiences and meet new interesting people, so now I’m tempted to try to make some hosting money, book money, or gadget money while I’m at it. However, I don’t want this to end up looking up like a Nascar uniform, so I have been on the lookout for tasteful ways to monetize.
Fortunately, I’m not the only one to go through this process. Two prominent tech bloggers, Jeff “Coding Horror” Atwood and Reg “Raganwald” Braithwaite have already crossed this bridge. They use Amazon Associate links whenever they mention a book, and I like the idea so much I’ve used it since the beginning. I often recommended books anyway, and there’s no difference for the user between a regular Amazon link and an Associates link. It’s unobtrusive, easy, and useful, so it has been a no-brainer from the start. We’re nerds, we read books, it just works.
I’ve recently come across another way to monetize that supports my goals and intentions for this blog. One of the new batch of YCombinator startups, SnapTalent, is a tech job advertising network that only advertises on hand-picked sites that great developers are likely to read. I think this is a great approach. Screening ensures that the ads only appear on websites that active, passionate developers are reading, and those passionate developers are a lot more valuable than a typical clock-punching, Monster-surfing developer.
What I like about it is that it creates a market for small, smart companies to advertise on that’s actually worth their while, and it makes it easier for smart, passionate developers to find them. Big job sites like Monster and Dice have lots of jobs, but it’s a grimly representative sample of all the bad jobs out there. It would be a waste for a bright startup to advertise there because they would get a grimly representative sample of all the bad job applicants. Therefore, the best companies don’t advertise on these sites and the average gets dragged down even farther.
The alternative is for great companies and great developers to find each other through traditional networking and discovery. This works well and produces the best results, but it is limited by the size of the social networks you belong to. For instance, I don’t really know anyone in Silicon Valley, and I only know of a few small companies in Silicon Valley, so I would be at a big disadvantage if I wanted to move there for a job. Conversely, if there’s a Silicon Valley company that could really use my blend of coding, writing, personal communication, and big-picture problem solving, they wouldn’t find me because I’m in Chicago. Or for that matter, since Chicago doesn’t have a strong network of startups and tech companies, a company in Chicago might not be able to find me either. This is one of the reasons that Silicon Valley is such a big startup hub – its network of people in the startup world is big enough to actually be a useful asset, and it becomes more useful as it grows.
My hope is that SnapTalent will provide a third option. I hope the companies that advertise there have enough success that it becomes a go-to site for companies looking for great developers. I hope that enough great tech writers put the SnapTalent widget on their site that more companies advertise there (right now they’re mostly companies associated with YCombinator, which are all great companies, but only a small subset of what’s out there). Once they do, I think the ads will be seen as a useful way for smart, passionate developers to get acquainted with smart companies in a way that scales beyond the typical “Who you know” network. And even if you don’t work for or apply to these companies, just knowing who they are and what they’re products are is a good enough service worth clicking on the ads for (more people in this world need to know about AnyBots. They just do.).
So, if you have a tech blog of your own and you’ve been complimented on it, join me and SnapTalent in building up the passionate developer community by linking passionate developers to smart companies.