Saturday, October 11, 2008

I've just added a virtual 'tip jar' -- and advertising

Now that my USA Today buyout checks are nearly kaput, yours truly wants to generate some income. So, you'll notice some additions today that are designed to assure this blog's continued publication. My goal is to generate about $24,000 a year, starting with two sources:

I've started publishing Google-provided text and image ads. I do not choose which advertisements appear. As with all AdSense ads, Google only pays when someone clicks on the ad. (Google watches for click fraud, so please only click when you're really shopping.)

Candidly, I don't expect to earn much through ads. My blog has good traffic. But AdSense rates are absurdly low -- as little as a penny per click. I would need 2.4 million such clicks to generate $24,000 a year. That's why I hope you'll consider . . .

Voluntary subscriptions
I'm asking you to pay $5 on a quarterly basis through PayPal, the leading online payment service. Please see the new "Donate'' tool in the green sidebar, right, where I'm also keeping a running total of what you've paid so far. (I chose $5 based on your responses to my recent survey. But any amount -- $1, $3, $10 -- will be much appreciated!)

The good news: PayPal is secure, easy to use, and established; it is owned by auction giant eBay, and has been in business 10 years. The less-good news: PayPal tells me who sends money. As always, I will safeguard your anonymity. But I know some folks may feel uncomfortable sending money under these circumstances. I'm still looking for other payment services, and welcome suggestions. For now, however, PayPal is my best option.

Gannett Blog is a growing source of exclusive news and networking for more than 10,000 employees and other readers. I believe its value will grow as Gannett restructures more in the months ahead. I hope you agree -- and that you will continue to support my efforts.

I'm very interested in your feedback. Please post replies in the comments section, below. To e-mail confidentially, write gannettblog[at]gmail[dot-com]; see Tipsters Anonymous Policy in the green sidebar, upper right.


  1. I'd rather not try to make money off this blog. But reality is setting in. Generating income from advertising alone will not work. As popular as Gannett Blog has become, there's just not enough traffic here to rely on ads alone. That's why I'm also offering the option of voluntary subscriptions.

    What do you think of my idea?

  2. I would gladly donate to help keep this blog afloat, but it will be a cold day in hell when I use Paypal. Why? Go to

  3. For more traffic cover more than just Gannett. Fading to Black and Newspaper Deathwatch provide almost daily news that could be discussed here.

    Try adding a separate daily forum for non-Gannett newspaper news. Then add more specific open posts depending on developments.

    McClatchy seems a good candidate for a permanent addition. They've missed two interest payments but their creditors still allow McClatchy to pay stock dividends.

    The L.A. Times could also use an anonymous outlet since TellZell has gone quiet.

    Or you may want to create separate blogs. The entire newspaper business is in serious trouble but there's almost no discussion online, except for here.

  4. I concur with what (I think) the above poster is saying. The industry probably needs a non-Gannett-specific version of this site. Maybe one on that scale could be profitable for its owner.

    I don't mean for this to sound unfriendly towards Jim, but there's an irony in his need and difficulty with monetizing the eyeballs here. Because that's the same trouble Gannett itself has (on a larger scale, of course). It goes around, it comes around?

  5. If you did not have the money why on gods good earth did you spend several months in Spain?

    That said I will do what I can to support the web site.

  6. @7:12 p.m.: You are correct on the later point. From the New York Times on down, no news site that I know of has found a way to make real money through advertising or any other means.

    As to a non-Gannett-specific industry site, isn't that what Jim Romenesko does with his blog on Poynter?

  7. @7:15 p.m.: A very fair question. Spain was planned and paid for long, long ago. I am now in a new world.

  8. I'll be happy to make donations once I fine work again myself.

    Till then, I can spend time clicking on the ads that interest me.

  9. I'm the 7:00pm post about covering more than Gannett. Call me Kzandra.

    7:12pm wrote, "The industry probably needs a non-Gannett-specific version of this site."

    Yes. Thank you for saying it better than I did.

    Aside from Ads and subscription there are other means. Some blogs, Instapundit among them, make money from purchases made from Amazon. The buyer need only go to Amazon from a link off of the site.

    Others set up an Amazon gift list as well. Not as lucrative but perhaps more personally rewarding.

    Jim Hopkins wrote, "As to a non-Gannett-specific industry site, isn't that what Jim Romenesko does with his blog on Poynter?"

    No. I wouldn't even call that a blog.

    No commenters to speak of, so no discussion. No posts based off of comments.

  10. Keep it Gannett only. Others will chime in like they have been.

    Now, let's face it---fed up people facing job loss and reporting job mistreatment seem to gravitate here. If that's the audience, why not go for advertising from A. Labor attorneys, and B. post-Cobra health insurance companies? Maybe that's tacky. Never mind.

  11. 8:20 p.m.: Exactly; you now see the dilemma presented by likely advertisers. The demographics of this blog -- people threatened with job loss -- aren't exactly a marketer's dream.

  12. Jim Hopkins wrote, "Exactly; you now see the dilemma presented by likely advertisers. The demographics of this blog -- people threatened with job loss -- aren't exactly a marketer's dream." et alii.

    Every situation is an opportunity for someone.

  13. you know how hard it is to make money on the web. welcome to the digital world of poverty. print makes so much more money

  14. Jim, I understand your reasons for needing to make some money here, and I do feel your pain now that you are without a paycheck, but I can't help feeling that turning this into a paid site will diminish the appeal of Gannett Blog for many people. We come here for info, sure, but I like the rebel spirit of the site just as it is. I also value having my identity protected. And even though I think you're a pretty trustworthy dude, one more piece of info floating around in cyberspace with my name attached to it might not serve me well. I suspect others feel this way too. I'd rather you cut back on the time invested here and keep it free site.

  15. Interesting....for months you have had all the answers for gannett the gravy train has ended as the gannett "goodbye checks" have new digital ad plan does not cover expenses?...lets beg for $5 bucks every few months?...where's the tin cup...maybe include a few pencils in it....wonder why usa today had difficulty selling enough ads to cover you $140k salary and bennies for producing weak content that few people wanted..

    ,,,na na na na hey hey hey goodbye...


  17. Could you get a parttime job that would pay you $24,000/year (e.g., a PT freelance editing/copy-editing gig at $35/hr for 15 hours/week and 48 weeks a year)? That would still give you time to work on the blog.

  18. @11:05 am: That's definitely something I'm considering. Ideally, though, my next line of work will involve contract employment, online, so I can work in different locations around the planet.

  19. After all the hard work Jim has done to bring us all together and keep us informed, we should hardly be carping on his taking a much, much-needed vacation after so many years in Gannett sweatshops. We shouldn't be lecturing him about his failure to monetize the blog either. He should have spent all his time in Ibiza soaking up rays and liquor and generally purging his system of a life's worth of Gannett toxins. Instead, what does he do? He worked his ass off on the blog for you and me. Please set your petty criticisms aside and pitch in. If you know any deep-pocketed types who might want to invest in the blog and help it make money, that would be helpful. If you've got some free time yourself and could help Jim with the blog, that would help. Jim should get a G-Ded president's ring for what he's accomplished in the last year. There's still a lot of work to do because this company isn't getting any smarter. $5 per quarter is peanuts, and I haven't had a problem with PayPal in eight years as an accountholder.

  20. Sell Gannett-related t-shirts on Cafe Press:

    I could think up a bunch of snarky ones, but I'm sure you could too.

  21. 11:40 you better start putting your name on every post. Anonymous no more once we go paypal and everything else.

  22. I donated $20. I feel good about it.

    Thanks for all your hard work!

  23. Thank you, 6:04 pm, for helping support this blog's future!

  24. Jim,
    For those that do not want to use paypal, why not get a PO Box and they can send cash.

  25. I really like the comment Jim about you going off on vacation for months and that it was already paid for. Now you're asking for donations. Which is fine except if you knew your last check was coming, and things happen in life, one would think you should have saved that money if you didn't have a plan when you came home. With the economy the way it is and all these bailouts coming for people who couldn't even bother to check their finances before they signed onto can I feel sorry about that? It's really the same kind of idea. But you saw this coming. That week when the checks would stop coming. And yet you still chose to go to Spain.

    Donations are fine and alot of sites have them but why should I donate? Are you asking the 6 grand to pay for the blog upkeep or just for you to do this as your day job? Because upkeep is one thing. Me paying your way is quite another.

    I think the blog is great. But there's a line. If this is Gannett blog keep it to Gannett. Keep your personal life out of it. Start that elsewhere. If people know you or like what you have to say they'll follow. Ask for donations there.

    I work my ass off everyday. I work in one of those so called sweatshops. I need a vacation. Once you put your personal life up on the web it's going to be free reign...especially when you're asking for money/support after the fact.

    Life changes. When you see things coming and you don't help yourself when you can. What can I say to that?

  26. 9:34 PM
    You're asking Jim to keep his personal life out of this blog, but yet you're harping on his personal finances! That just doesn't make sense.


Jim says: "Proceed with caution; this is a free-for-all comment zone. I try to correct or clarify incorrect information. But I can't catch everything. Please keep your posts focused on Gannett and media-related subjects. Note that I occasionally review comments in advance, to reject inappropriate ones. And I ignore hostile posters, and recommend you do, too."

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