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Journalism organizations battle Big Tech for survival

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Journalism organizations battle Big Tech for survival

What a tangled web we weave.

That’s likely been a thought that’s reverberated many times through the halls of power in Ottawa this summer. In June, the federal government passed the Online News Act that would compel tech companies to negotiate with news organizations for financial remuneration for news content shared on their platforms.

Meta and Google have not taken kindly to having their exorbitant profits be put in the crosshairs by the Trudeau government. Since the bill’s passing, this so-called “digital duopoly” has responded by ratcheting up their corporate communications threat-o-meters to DEFCON 1 levels, saying that they will soon prevent Canadians from accessing news content on their platforms.

There’s a chilling and dystopian irony to this whole standoff. For years, the corporate communicators at these major tech companies have spouted lofty rhetoric about the critical role their platforms play in promoting democracy and supporting journalism by building an informed and engaged public.

And yet, seemingly overnight, these tech companies have decided to quickly pivot and set fire to this long-held corporate talking point when confronted by the threat of having to engage in a fair negotiation with news organizations and a smidge of democratic oversight.

Would tech players actually follow through on their threats to limit an entire nation’s access to information simply to get their way? To appropriate the thoughts of Prime Minister Trudeau the First, the answer appears to be: “Just watch us.”

Publishers, for their part, are not taking this lightly, either. Nor should they. A coalition of news organizations formally called on Canada’s Competition Bureau to investigate Meta’s allegedly “anti-competitive conduct” by blocking access to news on its platforms and for its unwillingness to negotiate.

While this process likely won’t help break any impasse in this stare-down, the filing emphasizes two important realities.

First, the status quo has become untenable and the rules of the game need to change if Canadians want to have long-term access to accurate and quality information to help them make important decisions about how they live their lives.

While this high-stakes chess match between the feds, #Meta and #Google continues to unfold over the coming weeks, writes @Brent_T_Jolly, a parallel societal discussion will likely help to determine the success or failure of #BillC18 #cdnpoli

Second, Canadians are going to have to act, sooner or later, to break their dependency on social media and begin the painstaking process of redrawing the fractured boundaries of our public sphere.

After a decade and a half of hemorrhaging cash, many news organizations in Canada today are operating on the precipice of collapse. During that time, hundreds of news outlets have shuttered and thousands of journalists have been furloughed.

While it has become a fact that many large news organizations around the world have been slow to adapt to a burgeoning digital world, it also underscores the complicated and uneven relationship that has existed between tech platforms and journalism for quite some time, too.

Let’s follow the money.

Once upon a time, money from advertising was used by news organizations to bankroll their editorial operations. Whether it was your local member of Parliament advertising their latest community barbecue or the flower shop down the street letting you know that your favourite white roses are on sale this week, spreading the word has become synonymous with posting, sharing and engaging with content on tech platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

In Canada, it is now estimated that anywhere between 70 to 80 per cent of advertising dollars have been hoovered up by tech companies. News organizations, which previously invested those dollars to cover the costs of reporter salaries and costly public-interest investigations, have been left to pick up the scraps.

Right now you might be thinking: “Sure, that’s all true, but it’s not 1996 anymore, either. The world has changed.” And to that observation, you certainly have a point.

Since those early days of the internet, tech companies emerged as advertising and content-curating behemoths on the premise that they could provide advertisers or news organizations with an exponentially larger audience for materials published on their platforms.

The benefit for news organizations in this equation was based on the theory that social platforms would help direct more traffic to publisher’s websites, which would help offset the loss of revenue from more traditional sources of advertising.

To the untrained eye or ear, it’s a sales pitch not without merit. To that end, it shouldn’t come as a giant surprise that it’s an argument tech platforms, and critics of the Online News Act, have repeatedly cited as a backstop to democratic oversight.

The problems with this argument only grow by the day. As those in the journalism industry have learned all too well, time has proven that the pitch from tech platforms has turned Canada’s information marketplace into a tangled mess, largely because it was premised on the fraught and much-maligned notion of trickle-down economics.

Perhaps more important, however, is understanding this standoff is based on more than correcting for past mistakes by getting Google and Meta to pay news organizations for links and posts. Without question, it’s an important factor in shaping the future of Canada’s journalistic and information ecosystem — but it’s also just the tip of the proverbial iceberg.

Around the world, these foreign and unaccountable social media companies have been discreetly scooping up humanity’s collective knowledge; every news story, video, social media post, song, drawing or research paper in the public domain to train their artificial intelligence (AI) models in return for a yet-untold financial benefit.

Now, this isn’t to say the Online News Act is a perfectly crafted piece of legislation. As many observers have noted, there are still important details to be worked out to ensure this legislation is implemented fairly, equitably and transparently.

But what Big Tech’s Canadian case study shows the world pretty clearly right now is that they are proving unwilling to comply with the laws of our land and, even worse, limit the nation’s access to information rather than put future revenue opportunities under threat.

At this point, Canadians would benefit from reflecting on two questions. First, why should tech platforms be exempt from paying for content that feeds their algorithms and helps their bottom line? It’s no state secret that radio stations pay to play songs. Broadcast news organizations buy video to use in newscasts and newspapers pay writers for their words and photographers for their photos.

Second, why do we allow these platforms to play such an outsized role in our social lives? You don’t have to look very far to read some of the voluminous ink that has been spilled decrying the changes implemented by Elon Musk to X, the platform formally known as Twitter. And that’s not to mention the examples of unchecked extremism, veiled or overt threats, mindless epithets, and other ad-hominem attacks that belie the toxicity that metastasizes on these platforms.

While tech platforms have become ubiquitous parts of our daily lives, their convenience and dopamine-induced stupor must be balanced against the negative impact they’ve had in controlling the ebbs and flows of information that have slowly eroded the connective tissues that bind many of our communities together.

In the early 1960s, famed American essayist Arthur Miller stated, “A good newspaper, I suppose, is a nation talking to itself.” While the world has certainly changed leaps and bounds since then, his overarching message, that quality journalism is a key ingredient to help make democracy work, still holds true.

While this high-stakes game of chess continues to unfold over the coming weeks, a parallel societal discussion will likely help to determine the success or failure of this legislative and regulatory exercise. We all must better scrutinize the power platforms play in our society and how they shape our decisions. We must also determine how they should be held accountable for their actions when utopian promises go awry.

Without a doubt, it’s a complicated clash of ideas that, if heeded, will likely mean changing many of our daily habits, behaviours and routines. At the same time, given the fractures clearly displayed in our social discourse, it’s an exercise that should have sparked our imaginations, and those of our legislators, long before now.

Brent Jolly is the president of the Canadian Association of Journalists.



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12 Proven Methods to Make Money Blogging in 2024

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Make money blogging

 

Make money bloggingThis is a contributed article.

The world of blogging continues to thrive in 2024, offering a compelling avenue for creative minds to share their knowledge, build an audience, and even turn their passion into profit. Whether you’re a seasoned blogger or just starting, there are numerous effective strategies to monetize your blog and achieve financial success. Here, we delve into 12 proven methods to make money blogging in 2024:

1. Embrace Niche Expertise:

Standing out in the vast blogosphere requires focus. Carving a niche allows you to cater to a specific audience with targeted content. This not only builds a loyal following but also positions you as an authority in your chosen field. Whether it’s gardening techniques, travel hacking tips, or the intricacies of cryptocurrency, delve deep into a subject you’re passionate and knowledgeable about. Targeted audiences are more receptive to monetization efforts, making them ideal for success.

2. Content is King (and Queen):

High-quality content remains the cornerstone of any successful blog. In 2024, readers crave informative, engaging, and well-written content that solves their problems, answers their questions, or entertains them. Invest time in crafting valuable blog posts, articles, or videos that resonate with your target audience.

  • Focus on evergreen content: Create content that remains relevant for a long time, attracting consistent traffic and boosting your earning potential.
  • Incorporate multimedia: Spice up your content with captivating images, infographics, or even videos to enhance reader engagement and improve SEO.
  • Maintain consistency: Develop a regular publishing schedule to build anticipation and keep your audience coming back for more.

3. The Power of SEO:

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) ensures your blog ranks high in search engine results for relevant keywords. This increases organic traffic, the lifeblood of any monetization strategy.

  • Keyword research: Use keyword research tools to identify terms your target audience searches for. Strategically incorporate these keywords into your content naturally.
  • Technical SEO: Optimize your blog’s loading speed, mobile responsiveness, and overall technical aspects to improve search engine ranking.
  • Backlink building: Encourage other websites to link back to your content, boosting your blog’s authority in the eyes of search engines.

4. Monetization Magic: Affiliate Marketing

Affiliate marketing allows you to earn commissions by promoting other companies’ products or services. When a reader clicks on your affiliate link and makes a purchase, you get a commission.

  • Choose relevant affiliates: Promote products or services that align with your niche and resonate with your audience.
  • Transparency is key: Disclose your affiliate relationships clearly to your readers and build trust.
  • Integrate strategically: Don’t just bombard readers with links. Weave affiliate promotions naturally into your content, highlighting the value proposition.

5. Display Advertising: A Classic Approach

Display advertising involves placing banner ads, text ads, or other visual elements on your blog. When a reader clicks on an ad, you earn revenue.

  • Choose reputable ad networks: Partner with established ad networks that offer competitive rates and relevant ads for your audience.
  • Strategic ad placement: Place ads thoughtfully, avoiding an overwhelming experience for readers.
  • Track your performance: Monitor ad clicks and conversions to measure the effectiveness of your ad placements and optimize for better results.

6. Offer Premium Content:

Providing exclusive, in-depth content behind a paywall can generate additional income. This could be premium blog posts, ebooks, online courses, or webinars.

  • Deliver exceptional value: Ensure your premium content offers significant value that justifies the price tag.
  • Multiple pricing options: Consider offering tiered subscription plans to cater to different audience needs and budgets.
  • Promote effectively: Highlight the benefits of your premium content and encourage readers to subscribe.

7. Coaching and Consulting:

Leverage your expertise by offering coaching or consulting services related to your niche. Readers who find your content valuable may be interested in personalized guidance.

  • Position yourself as an expert: Showcase your qualifications, experience, and client testimonials to build trust and establish your credibility.
  • Offer free consultations: Provide a limited free consultation to potential clients, allowing them to experience your expertise firsthand.
  • Develop clear packages: Outline different coaching or consulting packages with varying time commitments and pricing structures.

8. The Power of Community: Online Events and Webinars

Host online events or webinars related to your niche. These events offer valuable content while also providing an opportunity to promote other monetization avenues.

  • Interactive and engaging: Structure your online events to be interactive with polls, Q&A sessions, or live chats. Click here to learn more about image marketing with Q&A sessions and live chats.

9. Embrace the Power of Email Marketing:

Building an email list allows you to foster stronger relationships with your audience and promote your content and offerings directly.

  • Offer valuable incentives: Encourage readers to subscribe by offering exclusive content, discounts, or early access to new products.
  • Segmentation is key: Segment your email list based on reader interests to send targeted campaigns that resonate more effectively.
  • Regular communication: Maintain consistent communication with your subscribers through engaging newsletters or updates.

10. Sell Your Own Products:

Take your expertise to the next level by creating and selling your own products. This could be physical merchandise, digital downloads, or even printables related to your niche.

  • Identify audience needs: Develop products that address the specific needs and desires of your target audience.
  • High-quality offerings: Invest in creating high-quality products that offer exceptional value and user experience.
  • Utilize multiple platforms: Sell your products through your blog, online marketplaces, or even social media platforms.

11. Sponsorships and Brand Collaborations:

Partner with brands or businesses relevant to your niche for sponsored content or collaborations. This can be a lucrative way to leverage your audience and generate income.

  • Maintain editorial control: While working with sponsors, ensure you retain editorial control to maintain your blog’s authenticity and audience trust.
  • Disclosures are essential: Clearly disclose sponsored content to readers, upholding transparency and ethical practices.
  • Align with your niche: Partner with brands that complement your content and resonate with your audience.

12. Freelancing and Paid Writing Opportunities:

Your blog can serve as a springboard for freelance writing opportunities. Showcase your writing skills and expertise through your blog content, attracting potential clients.

  • Target relevant publications: Identify online publications, websites, or magazines related to your niche and pitch your writing services.
  • High-quality samples: Include high-quality blog posts from your site as writing samples when pitching to potential clients.
  • Develop strong writing skills: Continuously hone your writing skills and stay updated on current trends in your niche to deliver exceptional work.

Conclusion:

Building a successful blog that generates income requires dedication, strategic planning, and high-quality content. In today’s digital age, there are numerous opportunities to make money online through blogging. By utilizing a combination of methods such as affiliate marketing, sponsored content, and selling digital products or services, you can leverage your blog’s potential and achieve financial success.

Remember, consistency in posting, engaging with your audience, and staying adaptable to trends are key to thriving in the ever-evolving blogosphere. Embrace new strategies, refine your approaches, and always keep your readers at the forefront of your content creation journey. With dedication and the right approach, your blog has the potential to become a valuable source of income and a platform for sharing your knowledge and passion with the world, making money online while doing what you love.

Image Credit: DepositPhotos



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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

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Snapchat Explores New Messaging Retention Feature: A Game-Changer or Risky Move?

In a recent announcement, Snapchat revealed a groundbreaking update that challenges its traditional design ethos. The platform is experimenting with an option that allows users to defy the 24-hour auto-delete rule, a feature synonymous with Snapchat’s ephemeral messaging model.

The proposed change aims to introduce a “Never delete” option in messaging retention settings, aligning Snapchat more closely with conventional messaging apps. While this move may blur Snapchat’s distinctive selling point, Snap appears convinced of its necessity.

According to Snap, the decision stems from user feedback and a commitment to innovation based on user needs. The company aims to provide greater flexibility and control over conversations, catering to the preferences of its community.

Currently undergoing trials in select markets, the new feature empowers users to adjust retention settings on a conversation-by-conversation basis. Flexibility remains paramount, with participants able to modify settings within chats and receive in-chat notifications to ensure transparency.

Snapchat underscores that the default auto-delete feature will persist, reinforcing its design philosophy centered on ephemerality. However, with the app gaining traction as a primary messaging platform, the option offers users a means to preserve longer chat histories.

The update marks a pivotal moment for Snapchat, renowned for its disappearing message premise, especially popular among younger demographics. Retaining this focus has been pivotal to Snapchat’s identity, but the shift suggests a broader strategy aimed at diversifying its user base.

This strategy may appeal particularly to older demographics, potentially extending Snapchat’s relevance as users age. By emulating features of conventional messaging platforms, Snapchat seeks to enhance its appeal and broaden its reach.

Yet, the introduction of message retention poses questions about Snapchat’s uniqueness. While addressing user demands, the risk of diluting Snapchat’s distinctiveness looms large.

As Snapchat ventures into uncharted territory, the outcome of this experiment remains uncertain. Will message retention propel Snapchat to new heights, or will it compromise the platform’s uniqueness?

Only time will tell.

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

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Catering to specific audience boosts your business, says accountant turned coach

While it is tempting to try to appeal to a broad audience, the founder of alcohol-free coaching service Just the Tonic, Sandra Parker, believes the best thing you can do for your business is focus on your niche. Here’s how she did just that.

When running a business, reaching out to as many clients as possible can be tempting. But it also risks making your marketing “too generic,” warns Sandra Parker, the founder of Just The Tonic Coaching.

“From the very start of my business, I knew exactly who I could help and who I couldn’t,” Parker told My Biggest Lessons.

Parker struggled with alcohol dependence as a young professional. Today, her business targets high-achieving individuals who face challenges similar to those she had early in her career.

“I understand their frustrations, I understand their fears, and I understand their coping mechanisms and the stories they’re telling themselves,” Parker said. “Because of that, I’m able to market very effectively, to speak in a language that they understand, and am able to reach them.” 

“I believe that it’s really important that you know exactly who your customer or your client is, and you target them, and you resist the temptation to make your marketing too generic to try and reach everyone,” she explained.

“If you speak specifically to your target clients, you will reach them, and I believe that’s the way that you’re going to be more successful.

Watch the video for more of Sandra Parker’s biggest lessons.

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