Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

How Much for a How-to Lesson? Demand Media Gets Into Paid Content by Buying Creativebug.

Demand Media Creative BugThe Internet is swimming in how-to-guides and videos, and a lot of them are produced by Demand Media. You can see all of those for free.

But if you want to take a lesson on crocheting, or felting, or bookbinding on Creativebug, a year-old crafts site, you’re going to have to pay: Usually $10 a pop, or $17 a month.

And starting today, Demand Media is going to be making those guides, too.

Demand made its initial money and reputation off of Google ads and low-cost content, but here it is going in a very different direction. It has bought an ad-free site that specializes in high-end how-to, designed to appeal to hardcore fans instead of casual Web browsers. There may be some crossover between the two groups, though: Demand says 20 percent of its page views are “craft-related.”

Demand won’t release a sale price for Creativebug, created by Jeanne Lewis, a former Time Inc. art director. My guess is that it’s something in the low double-digit millions. I also don’t think it’s a full-fledged business shift for Demand, which generated $227 million in net ad revenue last year.

But selling content in addition to giving it away is an increasingly popular Web move these days. And in addition to a new revenue stream, Creativebug also helps Demand as it tries to ditch its reputation as a low-cost content mill.

Meanwhile, Creativebug’s business plan isn’t completely foreign to Demand. The crafting site doesn’t pay its contributors upfront. Instead it convinces craft gurus like Kaffe Fassett to make videos primarily as promotional pitches for their other ventures, like books and appearances. It will share sales revenue with its instructors, though.

I’ve got no idea what Fassett is talking about here, but those are some cool-looking quilts:

Rosy Quilt Design with Kaffe Fassett from Creativebug on Vimeo.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work