How To Sell Feed Placement Like Techmeme

Today Gabe Rivera debuted his paid-placement business model for his site “Techmeme”:http://techmeme.com. He’s selling sponsors a position in his sidebar that they can update at will via an RSS feed.

He’s also suggested that this would be an easy thing for bloggers to do, perhaps with a simple WordPress or MT plugin.

The purpose of this post is to explain how you can do the same thing in WordPress with existing plugins.

Prerequisites:

  • A blog running WordPress.
  • The “K2 Theme”:http://getk2.com. K2 comes with a little RSS feed aggregator and an easy way to manage the content in your sidebar. There are “other options too”:http://codex.wordpress.org/Plugins/Syndication, but I’ve never used them and suspect you have to do some hand tweaking to your blog template.
  • RSS feeds from people willing to pay for placement on your blog. This is the tricky part. I don’t actually have anyone willing to pay me, so I’m going to pick “PetProject”:http://petprojectblog.com to use for my feed.
  • A way to take the money from your sponsors. PayPal would work. So would a check in the mail. Whatever you do, make sure you understand the tax implications of making money off your blog.

Ok, so assuming you’ve got the prerequisites out of the way, here are the steps to follow:

  • Go to the WordPress Dashboard for your blog, click the Presentation tab.
  • Make sure K2 is selected as your active theme and click the K2 Sidebar Modules sub-tab.
  • Add a new sidebar module. Choose the RSS module from the list on the left of the screen give it a name like “From our Sponsors,” and click the Add button
  • Configure the module. Click on the name of the module in the list of active modules on the left of the page. Choose checkboxes for pages you want to display it on. Enter the feed URL (ie “http://petprojectblog.com/feed”:http://petprojectblog.com/feed), a URL for the sponsors logo, and how many items you want to display at a time (set it to 1 if you want to emulate TechMeme).
  • Save the changes.
  • Check your site. To see how it looks, tweak the placement of the module in your sidebar.
  • Repeat for each
  • Profit.

A few things you might notice. First off, when you start using K2 sidebar modules, it completely takes over your sidebars. Whatever appeared there by default in K2, or whatever theme you were using before will be gone. K2 has modules to replace those default functions, but you’ll have to spend 15 minutes adding modules back, and fine tuning what page types they appear on.

Second, the RSS sidebar module in K2 only displays the titles from feeds. Techmeme’s sponsors get to display more than just titles.

I’ll have to take a look at some of the other WordPress RSS plugins to see if they have a better feature-set. Key features:

  • Ability to support multiple feeds and guarantee the placement of each (the K2 module supports this)
  • Ability to display HTML from the feed, rather than just the title.
  • Ability to limit the amount of content displayed, preferrably by the line.

I’ve been critical of those “hyping this as the invention of a new form of advertising”:http://geekfun.com/2006/09/25/michael-arrington-invents-a-new-kind-of-hype/, but I think it’s a good idea. I have my frustrations with “Techmeme”:http://geekfun.com/2005/10/20/i-want-my-own-personal-news-editor/, but I think it’s a cool site that ads value, and I don’t see why Gabe shouldn’t make some money off it.

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