Leverageing My Content

I first heard the phrase from a friend who went to work for a hot new company during the tech boom. Well, uh, OK. But in spite of its dorky sound, it has real meaning for someone like me.

I’m all over the place. Can’t help it. Always have been. Everything in this world is just so daggone interesting. Especially now. I think I appreciate the computer more than younger people because of where I come from. It’s such a breath-taking span from hot lead type to InDesign, from bulky dictionaries to Google, from rotary phones to the iPhone 5. (Part of my excuse for being so eclectic.)

Back to leveraging: I’d like to sell more books, I’d like to get us more income so we can get out of the 40-year-old scrambling for $$ to pay the printers. I had an idea: to take targeted sections of this blog and turn them into eBooks. Say homesteading. For people interested in homesteading, but not necessarily in Muddy Waters or skateboarding.

You homesteaders and gardeners out there: would you pay $2.99 or $3.99 for an ebook based on a selection from my homesteading posts?  Go down on the far right column and under “Topics,” click on “homesteading.”

I don’t know about a print book. It could be done but might cost too much.

I’ve put up over 3500 posts now. Does it make sense to separate this mass into subjects and reach “targeted” audiences?

About Lloyd Kahn

Lloyd Kahn started building his own home in the early '60s and went on to publish books showing homeowners how they could build their own homes with their own hands. He got his start in publishing by working as the shelter editor of the Whole Earth Catalog with Stewart Brand in the late '60s. He has since authored six highly-graphic books on homemade building, all of which are interrelated. The books, "The Shelter Library Of Building Books," include Shelter, Shelter II (1978), Home Work (2004), Builders of the Pacific Coast (2008), Tiny Homes (2012), and Tiny Homes on the Move (2014). Lloyd operates from Northern California studio built of recycled lumber, set in the midst of a vegetable garden, and hooked into the world via five Mac computers. You can check out videos (one with over 450,000 views) on Lloyd by doing a search on YouTube:

27 Responses to Leverageing My Content

  1. hi Lloyd, just to let you know, i tried clicking on the Homesteading, and the darn thing jst kept jumping back to the beginning. it might well been my laptop, as i've had some gremlins of late, not sure..just to let you know in case it is something to check.

    i am a bad one to comment on downloading an ebook, as i have never down that, or even the kindle sort of thing. i still just prefer an actual book, which i realize is costly.

    suggestion i have, and i wonder if any others might ave similar interst..

    a)i have seen the odd pic of yours which i thought would make a nice 8X10 matted print, or even a larger poster…wonder if that would possibly be a sales item..of course by the time one adds in postage/handling..is it practical?
    b)i have much enjoyed your blog, i wonder if you could charge to do blogging workshops? maybe everywhere you travel for the book promontion/book business/publishing contacts, could they set up a workshop where you charge for your "self" etc?

    c)somewhere i seem to recal that if one can get one's books designated for school or college/univerity classes…sure adds to sales…Any of your readers have this type of contacts?

  2. I believe in this model…sort of a 'Freemium' setup. The info is there for free for those who want to sort through it. It can be nicely collated for a few bucks for those who would print it out or read it on an eReader. You could even do a small run of special editions – I am thinking with a letterpress cover and signed by the author – for the true believers. You could try one theme once and see if it is worth your time. I personally have purchased low cost ebooks from beloved bloggers that were just a tidy collection of previous posts or with just a bit of extension, a little more in depth, than presented in the blog. I would buy yours! I say go for it or go surfing!

  3. I agree with trashdigger, the fun is getting to see what you are interested in that day. I did by both shelter and shelter two, I think I got a first edition of shelter. My shelter two book was given to a friend and he is building a yurt on some land up in Oregon. I turned my friend onto your blog and now she looks on a daily basis. Whats not to like about seeing K Hepburn on a skate! Your friend Fred

  4. HI Lloyd, I have been trying to figure out how to make some money off my blog also so I will be interested in what you do. Currently I have no advertising which I like but I am working on doing an in depth series on dry stack stone work and I would like to make it free but like you I also want to monetize (big word) it. Hmmmm.
    I have thought about doing a pay what one thinks it is worth. When I was young I lived very simply on limited money. Buying a book was a big deal for me. I hate to say it Shelter was out of my range although I would devour it every time I saw a copy. I will watch what you come up with with interest.

  5. I would Lloyd. Another idea would be to charge a per view subscription. Say, you get the first 3 views free, and then you pay $3.99 a month to view the content for the next 30 days. Kind of like renting an e-book or getting a magazine subscription. Your content is great and motivating. I can't wait to pay off my stu loan and car debt, by my 20 acres, and live completely free! Thanks for doing all that you do 🙂

  6. Lloyd – you are the true value – your viewpoints, your experience and the physical you – the energy, the inspiration. I would totally pay to hear you speak, if I ever got the chance or buy a DVD of a film length extended video of your tours – but a book with pictures? – I already have most of your books.
    I say you should charge to speak (if you don't already) and I would prefer seeing a video, walking us through good design and interesting viewpoints. There are so many pictures of homesteads, of tiny houses but no 'elder' to give us the wisdom to tie it all together and give us the perspective of decades of interest in the topic.

  7. A compilation would be great, but I would be really interested in a little more exclusive content/pics on the homestead front. I've always been curious on how you built your latest house (especially dig the kitchen from the pics I've seen)I know you've mentioned doing presentations on the "half-acre homestead" maybe use some material from that? Either way you could count me in, especially for three bucks.


  8. to daltxguy ,
    i too would pay, locally, to attend a "Lloyd" show..Yes, I would pay to hear him speak.

    the problem, i think, is most of us readers of his blog, are spread accross the world. to get enough of us in one local, might be tough.

    having said that, are there any readers of this blog, who are in position to hire folks (Lloyd) for community events?

    i am not familiar with these things, but there must be all sorts of "get togethers" / "community events" which actually do hire folks like Lloyd?

    Boy Scout Get Togethers
    Travel Tourism
    High School Classes
    Country Fairs

  9. I would definitely pay to hear you speak. And if I were actually to embark on a project I think I would be willing to pay $3 for an ebook of the blog posts on that specific topic, especially since getting blog posts to format correctly on an e-reader is still a non-trivial task.

  10. So hard to figure out how to monetize Web stuff. You could pilot your concept by trying out a few booklets. The video idea is good too—charge $5.99 to access a collection of walk-throughs of tiny houses.

    Alas, folks who look for info on the Web are not necessarily big content buyers.
    You'd probably do best to offer some consulting time or how-to plans.
    You might also focus on selling more at your appearances and consider conducting a Tiny House conference.

  11. I see t-shirts and skateboard gear, with various photos and quotes from you as a way to bring in some cash. I'd definitely buy something like that for gifts and depending on the quote, for myself.
    I'd pay for certain ebook compilations, but as someone said above, making it yours personally would be the draw as most of us own your books (and lots of others) on the subject of homesteading!

  12. I think your conversion rate (people that buy) if you just charge a fee for the ebooks would be low. I think you would make more money if you went ahead with the ebook idea and just worked in advertising that was targeted to the subject into the ebook. I know everyone hates to see adds, but like a free magazine it might work. And you're already giving the blog content away. So if you are going to take the time to go back and edit and stylize an ebook–I wouldn't mind seeing content related adds in there. Using Google Adsense, you would make some moola on every click thru.

  13. Hi Lloyd, I have a real interest in your homesteading topics. I've read through the "homesteading" tag selections, but of course, being blog posts, they are really just snapshot moments of a particular day, whereas I'd love to buy something from you on this topic that teaches me something.

    I'm with the commenter above who suggested an ebook of your "Modern 1/2 acre homestead" presentation. I've watched the youtube video tour of your homestead many times to learn from your set-up. There are so many voices online from folks like me doing this for the first time, but so FEW really wise voices from people like you who've been doing this for decades. I'd love the opportunity to hear what you've learned over the years about this kind of homesteading that's not about totally opting out, and not being totally self-sufficient. That's an ebook or Youtube lecture or online course that I would pay more than $3 for!

    And, as another poster mentioned, I'm in Canada, and unlikely to have the chance to hear you speak in person. Though I'm on Vancouver Island, and I hear you do stop in to this neck of the woods from time to time…. 🙂

  14. Please don't. We all need to make a living and most of us are uncomfortably close to the edge and could use a boost. You have inspired so many people and I for one am thankful for what you have put out into the world. In the minds of some you are a role model. The world doesn't need another capitalist role model. As far as I can see you do a lot of good works. The man of integrity and inspiration will have enough.
    You asked…….

  15. E-books are probably a good idea in general, but I do believe a more effective strategy would be to expand shelf presence. Shelter publications is fairly well distributed, from what I've seen, but could see more exposure with unexpected distributors.

    The delight of Shelter books are their tactility, and so I think they should be discovered in tactile ways.

    My friends at Blue Rock Station have fabricated their own little sales shelf from salvaged wood, and begun to sell booklets at their local Mennonite grocer. Selling in unexpected places might be a worthy trick…

  16. Wonder if you have ever considered, that your many fans/followers/blog readers, might enjoy (read that purchase), a book about the stories of your life, possibly similar to stories, of what you told of your friend Dick Zanuck. From the bits I have read, it all seems pretty interesting to me.

    Possibly that, and excerpts from some of the huge number of articles on you, to illustrate “As Others See Me”…

    I suppose these things (your life bits) have come to seem mundane to you, but to some of us they are intriguing, fascinating, informative and fun. Sometimes when I read a bit about you, it brings to mind the antics, and trials, of the series M.A.S.H….Except, you seem to have a whole lot of their “bits” wrapped up in your life/work. Bet I would buy THAT book.

  17. Hi Lloyd,
    I'd like to say that I would IMMEDIATELY smack down some dough if you were to put together different posts on certain topics. I don't do ebooks, but as a pdf file that I could print out, or then again, I could just order it as print on demand book. Your blog is amazing, and it's great you offer it for free, but if it were collated, and organized in some sort of way, that would be a big value to me. You and I met at the Bolinas library a few years ago, and you could just email me if you wanted an introduction to someone who is a friend who helps people put these kind of things together. I'm andy [at] theopening [dot] org. I like paper books, and I could imagine you figuring out a way to make us, the readers, pay for the upfront costs. The only thing that I would see is a problem from your end is the collating and any editing, or tweaking. In my experience that takes a lot of time. I've made some money myself, but not a ton, doing speaking gigs about A Different Kind of Luxury. But I think that would be separate from creating collated content. I think people would be glad to have it all put together for a small fee, and to support the author. I've found the ease of paypal has made people much more likely to just click and donate / purchase something that has a low cost.

  18. No, I don't think I'd pay for a repackaged bunch of posts. I might pay for expanded work on certain topics, something with enough information to become useful. I would probably pay a small fee to hear you speak, especially for more developed presentations (more detailed information) on certain topics.

    Without a doubt, I would pay for memoire-type stuff, as a performance or in book format. You've been everywhere, heard a lot of good stuff, met some really fascinating people. You said it yourself: you find the world completely interesting and when you get going so do we.

  19. Sara, yes, you summed it up so well…..

    "you find the world completely interesting and when you get going so do we. "


  20. Great idea LLoyd.Maybe on a subscription basis,where every quarter or twice a year sent out an e_phamplet or book on the topic.That way we as subscribers would get something fresh and new allowing you to create an income stream,

  21. Lloyd will be giving talks, THE HALF ACRE HOMESTEAD, Saturday May 18 and Sunday May 19, Maker Stage, 2-3pm at the Bay Area Maker Faire http://www.makerfaire.com

    This will cover all the tools we've settled on after decades of building. Tools for building, raising food – country, suburban or urban. Builders' tools, kitchen setup, raised garden beds, bantam chickens, foraging, etc.n

  22. ah…would love to attend..sadly, am way far off…


    in addition to the suggestion of (in future) charging for talks like this, mayhaps could they be recorded/sold from his site?

  23. Hi Lloyd, I think a lot of people are in the mindset that they won't pay for content on the internet that can be found on other sites for free. There are tons of sites that provide information on those topics without charge, and even if your content is superior and easily organized in one place, most people will default to what is free.
    That being said, I do think that people are willing to pay for special content if it is unique, authoritative, and can't be found elsewhere. In your case, I wonder if that could take the form of practical tutorials- surely you have years of technical advice for the beginning builder. At least, that's something I would pay for, and be willing to pay more like $10 for. That's something where there is information available online, but I think people would pay for it since you are a bit of an authority on the subject.
    And, here's an out of the box suggestion, but what about drawing up a few architectural plans for small houses and selling them? It would be more work, but you could also charge more money.

Leave a Reply