Success in online content monetization is a long, hard struggle. It is known. And the net is dark and full of obstacles on your way to monetizing online content creation and curation.
So brace yourself for some interesting lessons from the great noble houses of your favorite HBO hit – Game of Thrones (AKA the Death and Boobies show). With NO spoilers (we swear upon the Old Gods and the New!) and a lot of GoT nerdiness.
The Strategy to The Iron Throne
In many ways, the online publishing arena is similar to the complex web of power struggles between the Great Houses of Westeros. Everyone wants more influence, more people and more money (or tits and wine, if you’re Tyrion). But there’s just not enough of those to go around. Even in GoT.
Ironically, the noble houses of Westeros all desire a seat on what looks like the most uncomfortable, not to mention heavy, chair even built – the Iron Throne. In our world, the goal is a little less overwhelming. Or perhaps more. Depends how you look at it and how many dragons you have in your lap when you do.
As an online publisher or blogger, you have to craft your own throne, in your own kingdom – your niche of choice. And you probably don’t want to use the swords of your vanquished enemies.
Just looking at that throne makes our backs hurt. In building your own personal throne you want to use the right combination of skill, optimization and creativity. Not only in your content, but also in the ways you monetize and promote it. It is known.
We know that each content niche is unique and different in their own special way, just as every GoT house is different. So how would each Great House of The Seven Kingdoms approach online content monetization? And to which noble house of Westeros would you belong?
House Lannister – Hear Me Roar! – Buzz & Viral Content
The Lannister house is the wealthiest and fairest, literally sitting on the gold in their mines. Or so they’d like us to think, anyway.
As publishers, their passion for perfection and beauty is likely to draw them toward visual content that catches the eye and light content that goes viral fast.
Although pretty and attractive, the goal of the Lannister type publishers is to make money fast and often settle for lesser quality content in favor of more traffic. Some of which they will buy.
One of the main advantages a Lannister type publisher might have is a nice pile of money to quickly and effectively establish their publication. And then provide it with a steady stream of traffic with little efforts. Money helps make more money. It is known.
But there’s also a downside. The Lannisters are constantly managing their risk. Where they are over-exposed in one area they try to compensate by gaining strength in another.
What you can learn from this is that you must constantly manage your investment in traffic acquisition before you might find your monetization gold mines have run out.
House Stark – Winter is Coming – News, Guides & Reviews
The biggest and strongest house in the North is one for tradition. The Starks worship the old Gods and put honor before profit or even life. Their traditionalism doesn’t win them many fans in King’s Landing, but it’s the main reason for the support the Starks get from the smaller houses of the North.
In the publishing world, the Starks are the old-school journalists, still fighting for the honor and integrity of the profession in the changing media landscape. Their niches of choice will often be news, reviews, how-to guides and tutorials.
Their advantage is their experience and long tradition of content creation. They’ve survived many harsh winters in Westeros. It makes them respectable and looked up to, but can also be very damaging.
You don’t need to see a lot of the show to realize that the Starks’ traditionalism and refusal to partake in the intrigues and backstabbing games of the court didn’t do them much good. Sometimes, being too honest and traditional can cost you your head.
As publishers of informative and honest content, Stark publishers may shy away from monetization techniques like content marketing to preserve their prestige. The most conservative ones still avoid new monetization techniques like RTB marketplaces or video and depend heavily on direct sales.
If you feel you’re one of these, you might want to consider putting your tradition aside a little in favor of survival because, after all, winter is coming, and what it does you should be prepared.
House Tyrell – Growing Strong – Social Media & Original Content
As wealthy as the Lannisters, the Tyrells rule the Reach – the most populated area of Westeros. And they are all about the growth. But as their rose sigil implies – they have their thorns. Another thing the Tyrells are well known for are their luxurious and extravagant events in honor of the Seven Gods.
If the Tyrells were to establish a content publishing business, there’s no doubt their power would lie in social media and a large and loyal audience of followers. In addition, by offering hearty meals of quality content and entertainment to the people, the Tyrells are bound to gain more and more followers. And organic growth through viral distribution.
The Tyrells are like subreddit moderators, they put a lot of importance in ceremony, courteous speech and manners, but in reality, they tend to be very ambitions and are more than likely to stab an enemy in the back than face them in battle.
To a publisher, this kind of approach can be harmful if their dishonesty is discovered by the loyal followers. For example, if the loyal reader audience discovers that the content served to them as original was actually leftovers picked up from lesser publishers or worse…sponsored content.
House Targaryen – Fire and Blood – Thought Leadership
Once, they were the rulers of the Seven Kingdoms and the legends claim they have dragons’ blood in their veins. But it was their hubris that brought them down. And their dragons went extinct.
The Targaryen are an “all or nothing” kind of family. It’s either epic, or a massive failure. There are those who say the gods toss a coin every time a Targaryen is born — one side of the coin is greatness, and the other madness.
As publishers, Targaryens would consider themselves leaders and influencers so they’d likely set up their own blog and publish thought leadership pieces worthy of the Gods of copywriting themselves.
But like any Greek tragedy there’s no greater sin than vanity and if you want to create thought leadership in the hopes of monetizing your content through courses, conferences, or content upgrades you need to produce some truly excellent, thought out, data-driven, and well targeted content.
That’s why they could easily become the victims of their own hubris like relying too much on “doing whatever works” or not bothering to fully understand the needs and wants of their readers.
This will usually lead to creating incestuous content creations that can either be hits in their niches, or damage their efforts. Your people will abandon you if you fail too much, no matter how big a promise you make or long your name is, Khaleesi.
The Dragons may look like awesome pets to have, but they can only get you so far. Don’t be an overconfident Targaryen. You don’t really want to step into the fire and discovered you didn’t inherit the fire-proof gene.
House Greyjoy – We Do Not Sow – Content Curation
Far from the intrigues of King’s Landing, live the Greyjoys. Blunt, harsh and weathered by the storms of the Iron Isles, Greyjoys prefer to rob and take than pay for what they want.
These ruthless pirates are not beyond stealing content shamelessly. Or in better cases – just curate content and live off that alone.
While Greyjoy type publishers might profit from this for a while, eventually this approach will come back to bite them somewhere sensitive. The Greyjoys lost an heir, but it’s easy to take from someone who takes things by force. You feel little guilt. So get ready to have your content stolen right back by your competitors.
If you suspect you know a publisher like that, be sure to tell them that sowing really isn’t that bad. Grow your own, man!
A Song of Ads and Traffic
As long as there’s digital advertising, the struggle will continue. And much like the nobles of Westeros, you’ll need to be lucky and creative.
We didn’t cover all the houses in the GoT epos, but we’re going to let you muse in the comments about how the Martells would focus on a niche, and the Boltons… well they’re just nasty bastards!
So which noble house are you? Let us know in the comments below
- Side note: Doing research for this post was fun but I totally spoilered myself for your benefit.