Top 3 Tips for Monetizing Content (and a New Platform from SubHub)

Just in time for New Year’s resolutions, U.K.-based publishing platform SubHub has released SubHub Lite, a content management system built on Drupal 7 for publishers who want to turn their websites into a business. Â  While the platform is in Beta testing, the first 2,000 users will get the service free for life. mbStartups asked co-founder Evan Rudowski how indie publishers can benefit from the new publishing platform and got some great tips for monetizing content.

Founded in 2005, SubHub gives non-technical customers the tools for building websites and publishing content online. “WordPress is fantastic,” Rudowski said, “but if you don’t have any tech skills, the plug-ins are a little much for ordinary people.” Â  SubHub’s interface is mostly click and drag and the new solution, SubHub Lite, in addition to greater design flexibility, will also have applications for social media, advertising, subscription payments, e-commerce and community forums.

Rudowski, originally a New Yorker, moved to the UK from Silicon Valley, where he worked at Excite.com during the “Internet 1.0 era,” he said, until he got an offer to work at a new branch in London. “They never sent me a return ticket,” he joked, so Rudowski stayed in Europe even after he left the company and started SubHub. But Rudowski said that 70% of his customers are based in the U.S. “Americans are culturally more entrepreneurial,” he explained, and affordable self-publishing tools seem to jibe well with “the American dream that anybody can start their own business.” Here’s how to make it happen:

1. Find a Niche

“It works best if you have a passion,” Rudowski said, like John Gallagher, L.Ac., CCH, a licensed acupuncturist who specializes in herbal medicine. Gallagher has made a business out of his site with a combination of paid and free herb-related content from articles and online courses to board games and home remedy kits. “The more targeted” your site is, said Rudowski, “the better it will do. Instead of ‘fly flishing,’ try ‘fly fishing in the Great Lakes.'”

2. Be Generous

Like a hot dog vendor at a public park, there are opportunities for publishers to make money on a site even when the main attraction is free. “You have to give a lot away to build an audience,” Rudowski said, and “not all content is suited for subscription.” E-commerce, advertising and events are good ways to convert casual readers into paying customers.

3. Adjust your Expectations

Occasionally an entrepreneur like Mark Zuckerberg will stumble on a billion dollar idea, but Rudowski said a good outcome for most individual publishers is a solid six-figure income from a very targeted, well-maintained website that uses good SEO techniques and has multiple revenue streams. “You don’t need to make millions of dollars to be successful,” he added.