Ideas for a literary nonprofit looking to build earned income online
March 29, 2010 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Help writers use the internet! Polling the hivemind for interesting business models to generate earned income for writers and literary arts nonprofits.

As I wrote here, I run a nonprofit called The Asian American Writers' Workshop, the preeminent organization in the country in support of Asian American literature. We're dramatically redesigning our website from a professional but “flat” informational brochure, into a bloggy destination for anyone interested in Asian and Asian American letters. We hope the website will showcase our strengths and longstanding history as cultural content producers and literary event curators, establishing a vital online community hub for literary and Asian American content. We envision the new site to be quirky, warm, modern, playful, irreverent, sticky, and entertaining—an intellectual center disguised as a blog. Readers should come for fun, not because they think it’s an academic archive or literary journal. You can get a feel from our literary festival site, which was a stylish albeit still flat test run for this.

I was wondering if anyone had advice for ways arts organizations and nonprofits have used new media to generate earned income online. Specifically, we are thinking about things like:

-- Selling podcasts, ebooks, or video online.
-- A Google Checkout store where we could sell books and merchandise.
-- Improved online donation and event ticketing.
-- Creating a literary themed iPod application.

You get the idea. I'm wondering if anyone has any ideas of models they thought were particularly innovative or profitable--for example, like Kickstarter or the many exciting though not literary iPod apps like Shazam. I'm wary about selling content online, since there's so much of it around for free. I'm also curious about how we would administer small payments (e.g., how successful would it actually be to charge under $1 for various types of content, like the itunes store). Obviously, I'm not looking for general web design recommendations, but business models that have helped writers or small arts groups

Alternately, do you have any recommended reading or ideas that you've been kicking around that might be good for a literary arts nonprofit? Or ideas in other contexts that I might be able to riff off of and use (e.g., what if we tried to create an etsy for poets...?).
posted by johnasdf to Computers & Internet (2 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Metafilter's own Charlie Stross recently wrote about this in his blog in an entry titled The Monetization Paradox. He gets a lot of commenters there. You might want to check it out.
posted by adamrice at 9:19 AM on March 29, 2010

[link removed - please put it in your profile, thanks.]
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 10:16 AM on March 29, 2010

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