Digital Projects Income Report, December 2015 & January 2016

In an effort to help historians who wish to practice history online, here are my digital project income reports for December 2015 and January 2016. My apologies for being a bit late.

Earnings Report Color

December 2015 & January 2016 Income Reports

In December and January, I attempted to earn income from my digital projects in two ways: Amazon affiliate income and crowdfunding donations.

Amazon Affiliate Income

Affiliate income from linked books on this blog, the Ben Franklin’s World website, and within the Ben Franklin’s World apps increased in December.

In November 2015, affiliate income from Amazon totaled $6.26.

Total Amazon Affiliate Income for December 2015: $31.86


Affiliate income decreased in January 2016.

In December 2015, affiliate income from Amazon totaled $31.86.

Total Amazon Affiliate Income for January 2016: $16.08



The Ben Franklin’s World Movement crowdfunding campaign continues.

I increased in-show mention of the campaign in December 2015 and January 2016. I also moved most of the mentions of the campaign to the pre-roll spot—the place in the show that occurs before the main content, which in the case of Ben Franklin’s World is the interview.


Crowdfunding Stats: December 1, 2015-January 31, 2016


New One-Time Donations: 1 New Monthly Recurring Donations: 2 New Annual Recurring Donations: 2 Total Number of New Donors: 5

Total Number of Campaign Donors: 46


Funds Raised to Date

Total Amount Donated: $2775 Total pledged for recurring monthly contributions: $140 Total pledged for recurring annual contributions (monthly contributions excluded): $500




I still have a lot of work to do with this campaign. There are more ways I could increase its visibility, I just want for time to do it. However, I am still pleased with how the campaign has progressed.

The $140 that comes in each month covers the final engineering costs of one episode. Three months ago, I paid for the engineering costs for all episodes.


I have two big projects that I intend to work on part-time: a media kit and a swag store.

Media kits outline program information for potential sponsors. They include details about the program, the demographics of its audience, and ad packages potential sponsors/advertisers can purchase. I intend to experiment with seeking sponsors among publishers and other groups, organizations, and companies who have products, events, and sites that would interest my audience.

Believe it or not, there might be demand for a Ben Franklin's World Swag Store.

Prior to placing an order for t-shirts to fulfill crowdfunding pledges, I posted two possible designs on both Twitter and Facebook. Much to my surprise, listeners started requesting the ability to buy t-shirts outside of the crowdfunding campaign and to purchase additional forms of Ben Franklin’s World merchandise. It seems as though people want to help the show by purchasing items that will both yield a small profit and advertise the podcast.


Ben Franklin's World Income Report, November 2015

November 2015 marked the first month I attempted to earn money from and for Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast About Early American History. Going forward, I intend to report the monies I earn from my digital projects. Each report will begin with a summary of what I did to make money during the past month.

I hope the information in these reports will help other historians figure out how to earn money by practicing history online.

Earnings Report Color

November 2015 Earnings Report

I attempted to earn money in two ways: Amazon affiliate income and crowdfunding.


Amazon Affiliate Income

I signed up to be an Amazon Affiliate when I started my blog Uncommonplace Book. I added Ben Franklin’s World to my affiliate account when the show launched.

Every link to a book on the Ben Franklin’s World website is an Amazon affiliate link, as are the items displayed in the “Ben Franklin’s World Bookstore." When someone clicks on a link and purchases the book, or anything else during the same visit to Amazon, I earn a small percentage of the sale.

Prior to November, the link for the podcast bookstore lived at the top, right corner of the website. In early November, I created an image link and placed it on the right sidebar to increase awareness and visibility.

In late October/early November, I increased my use and placement of Amazon affiliate links by adding them to episode descriptions. These descriptions appear on podcast apps such as Overcast, PocketCasts, and the Ben Franklin’s World apps. The links do not appear in iTunes or the Apple Podcasts app.

Total Amazon Affiliate Income for November 2015: $6.26


The Ben Franklin’s World Movement crowdfunding campaign launched on October 27, 2015.

Admittedly, I have not done a lot to promote it.

Since the start of the campaign, I have made an announcement in each episode from Episode 53 on, posted a description of the campaign with a link to the information page on the BFWorld Facebook page, my personal Facebook page, and in the Poor Richard’s Club listener community on Facebook, and I have scheduled two or three tweets to go out each day to ask listeners for support.

I am devising a plan to better promote the campaign. This plan will include more active promotion and ways I can encourage listeners to opt-in to one of the monthly recurring donation plans.

Between October 27 and November 30, listeners donated $1555 to the campaign, which received a nice bump thanks to Ann Little’s blog post on Historiann.


Crowdfunding Stats for October 27-November 30, 2015:


One-Time Donations: 19 Monthly Recurring Donations: 13 Annual Recurring Donations: 1 Total Donors: 33


Funds Raised

Total Amount Donated: $1555 Total pledged for recurring monthly contributions: $100 Total pledged for recurring annual contributions (monthly contributions included): $1325



I have a lot of work to do, but I am pleased with this start.

The income generated in November will cover the bill from my audio engineer for 3 months. It will also buy me some time while I create a media kit and a comprehensive promotion plan for 2016.


How Do We Fund Digital History Communications Projects? Or, Ben Franklin's World Starts Crowdfunding

MonetizeHow do we fund digital history communications projects? This question has occupied my mind for quite some time.

Many historians appreciate how Ben Franklin’s World provides history lovers with access to the world of scholarly history. They see the value in generating and stimulating interest in professional historians’ work. However, few have ideas about how to fund and institutionalize projects like Ben Franklin’s World.

Digital history communication is seen as necessary, but non-traditional scholarship. Presently, there is no place for it within either academic or public history institutions.

Those of us who work in digital history communication and communications perform work that everyone wants done, but no one wants to pay for. This has to change.

Engaging the public will be what rescues history and other humanities fields from their present period of crisis.

So how do we raise funds to do our work until we have the proof institutions need to support our scholarship?

In this post, you will discover the four traditional methods for monetizing a digital communications project. I will also reveal why I have chosen to begin funding Ben Franklin’s World with crowdfunding.


4 Methods of Monetizing a Digital Media Project

There are four, proven methods for monetizing digital communications projects.

1. Pre-sell ad space: You approach potential advertisers and pre-sell ad space on your project.

This method works well if you have an established reputation for producing high-quality media.

2. Advertisements: You sell space on your program to people who want to sell something to your audience.

In general, advertisers purchase ad space on audio and video podcasts using the CPM (Cost Per Mille/Thousand) model. For every one thousand downloads or views your podcast garners an advertiser will pay you $2-$50 per thousand.

The amount an advertiser pays depends upon whether their ad will be native (read by the host) and where it will be placed. There are three options for ad placement: Pre-roll: before the main program content; Mid-roll: in the middle of the program; Post-roll: at the end of the program.

Unless you have a program that generates millions of downloads or views, you can’t make a living or support a project using this model. This is why some podcasters supplement the CPM model by including clickable advertisements on their websites. This strategy works well if you have a high-traffic website.

Other podcasters avoid the CPM model and craft their own advertisement deals. They create a media kit that lists their digital assets (podcast, social media followers, e-mail list subscribers, website traffic, poll data showing the demographics of their audience and how engaged it is) and present custom packages to potential advertisers. The presented packages have a set cost and advertisers often have several options to choose from as each package comes with different levels of ad placement, guaranteed social shares/promotion, affiliate opportunities and commissions.

3. Products and Services: Program hosts create products and services that audience members can purchase.

The most successful digital media producers offer products and services to their audience. Products and services include one-on-one or group consulting, webinars, eCourses, eBooks, private mastermind groups, affiliate products, and access to bonus or old content.

WTF host Marc Maron offers his latest 50 episodes for free and charges $3.99 per month for access to his older episodes.

4. Crowdfunding: Ask your audience for support.

Depositphotos_60823999_sYou set up a campaign and ask your audience to fund your work in exchange for continued high-quality content, swag, promises of no ads, bonus features, and access to you.

Sites like Patreon and Podbean offer content producers the infrastructure they need to ask audience members for regular, monthly contributions. Think Kickstarter but without a campaign time limit.

These sites make money by charging transaction fees and by taking a cut of what you make. For example, Patreon takes 5 percent of what you raise plus you pay another 4-6 percent in credit card transaction fees or a fee for payment transfers if a supporter opts to pay you via bank account transfer.

After considering these four options, I have decided to begin funding Ben Franklin’s World with crowdfunding.


Why Crowdfunding? Why Now?

Some people have a car payment, I have a podcast payment.

Producing and promoting a high-quality digital history communications project costs money.

When I started Ben Franklin’s World I made a promise to my partner Tim (the benefactor of my digital history projects), that if I succeeded in creating a successful platform, I would find a way to make it self-supporting.

Ben Franklin’s World has been successful and now it’s time to honor my promise.

My first option for monetizing Ben Franklin’s World has always been to ask my audience for support. They are the people who benefit most from my efforts, which means they also appreciate the value of my work.

I have launched the Ben Franklin’s World crowdfunding campaign, which I call the Ben Franklin’s World Movement. Ben Franklin’s World is part of the movement to help bring history back to the forefront of the public mind. The campaign asks my audience to participate in this movement in both financial and non-financial ways.


The How-To of the Ben Franklin’s World Movement Campaign

My campaign includes a video, non-financial support requests, and packages that ask for monthly, annual, or name-your-own financial support.

I am hosting the campaign on the Ben Franklin’s World website using a customizable LeadPages LeadPage; LeadPages is marketing software I purchased so I could offer a text-to-opt-in option for my listeners (text BFWORLD to 33444 to receive the show notes for each podcast episode in your inbox).[1]

LeadPages connects with PayPal, which will process funders' payments. I created custom PayPal buttons for each sponsorship package linked in my LeadPage. These buttons will place the correct amounts in my funders’ carts.

I am keeping track of donors by using MailChimp’s integration with PayPal. MailChimp will automatically log each new donor on a separate email list and send them a thank you note.

I chose to bypass sites like Patreon because I wanted to host the campaign on my website and I did not want to pay the 5 percent monthly and additional transaction fees.

As Patreon and like sites process payments through PayPal, my campaign strategy cuts out the middleman. Without the “middleman,” I maximize the amount I receive from my listeners’ donations. This is important to me as I have plans to expand the educational resources offered by Ben Franklin’s World and I ideas for other digital history communications projects.

Patreon Funds Counter

Circumventing sites like Patreon has two drawbacks: First, sites like Patreon make it easy to set-up a campaign.

My desire to save 5 percent per month, plus additional transaction fees, required me to invest time into thinking about how I could recreate their campaign system with services I already pay for.

Second, my bypass means my campaign lacks a few crowdfunding specific options, like a total amount raised widget.

As I want to be transparent about the monies I raise, I will start issuing monthly earnings reports in November. I will place these reports on the BFWorld website and I may also send these reports to my funders via e-mail.



Will crowdfunding fully fund my digital history project?

I don’t know. I am hopeful it will cover my production costs.

I look forward to posting more about how the campaign works as a funding model for digital history projects when I have data to report.

[1] Please note that the LeadPages link is an affiliate link. I purchased the LeadPages template I am using for my campaign. LeadPages offers many free templates. I had to purchase a template that included the video, package, and button options I wanted because I adapted the software to fit an unintended purpose.