Archive for the ‘Swig Basics’ Category

When are Tweets Worth Paying for? And how much money would YOU make?

February 28, 2009

Dawn’s Plan is about making money from your social media activity, whether or not you have a blog.  And with some of this money, you could pay for content to enhance your own offerings (like running a comic strip on your feed) or just for your own enjoyment (like downloading songs or utility apps).

So nobody would have to put in money via a credit card or Paypal or whatever.   The system itself would allow you to earn money and spend money for digital content.  It would be its own economy.  The “digital economy” that people have long anticipated but that has never materialized in any meaningful way, except for Apple and a few others.

Most people would make money via advertising.  That is, they would choose ads that they would like to run on appropriate pages they create.   And as their friends, family and followers engage with the ads, they would earn money.

And then some people would also make more money via other digital content they create, like for cartoons, apps, songs, poems, stories and so on.

But what about somebody like Karl Rove, who is now on Twitter?  Somehow I can’t picture him picking out ads to run next to his tweets.  And maybe you wouldn’t want to do that either.

If songs and apps are worth paying for (and iTunes prove they are), then under what conditions would somebody’s stream (like a FriendFeed or Twitter feed) be worth paying for?

Personally, I’d be willing to pay up to $.25 cents a month for the following feeds (again, out of the money I’m earning via the system, so it’s not coming out of my job’s pocket).

1.      Someone who collects the best information there is about X subject on an ongoing basis.

2.      An interesting inside look into a job or position I’m interested in.  So if my goal in life is to become a cameraman in Hollywood, then I would pay a cameraman in Hollywood to tweet what he does during the day.

3.      Instructional knowledge, like a blacksmith who can tweet (along with photos and maybe videos) how he makes knives.

4.      Vicarious support for something I’m going through, like a woman could chronicle her weight loss progress and feed me tips and motivation.

5.      The “first look” at art and entertainment by some favorite creators – like cartoonists, photographers, animators, etc. – with personal commentary, behind the scenes photos, etc.

6.      Collections for charity – like celebrities Twittering their lives and giving the proceeds to save dolphins, or whatever.


If you had 5,000 followers and earned 80% of the $.25 each month, that’s $12,000 a year in earnings.  Not bad.

How would that compare to making money off of advertising?  Again, let’s say you have 5,000 followers. If you put out 3 posts a day (long, short, whatever) with three very targeted “offers and invitations” attached, and the average “engagement rate” to each one pays you $.05 (a conservative estimate) , and 2% of your readers engages with just one of the ads per post (since these ads would be relevant to their lives and most likely entertaining) , that would earn you $5,475 in one year.

Of course, when it comes to advertising, the things you write about and the people you attract would impact your earnings.  Some people won’t pay attention to that and just naturally talk to their friends, family and co-workers, come what may.  Others will see this as a business opportunity and put more thought into it.

The one thing that everybody will have to stick to if they want to be successful, is to only promote the products and services that they actually use and are willing to legitimately endorse.  We each have an average of 150 brands we are loyal to that satisfy 80% of our daily needs.  So most of the ads would be offers and invitations regarding these, as well as our favorite places to dine locally, etc.

So is this crass commercialism that will destroy our enjoyment of social media?  Yeah, some people will think so, but I don’t.  I believe most people will see this as a service.  The truth of the matter is, if our purchasing is guided by people we trust , then we won’t waste so much of our money.   And if we are in control of ad distribution, then advertisers will have to be more accountable to their customers.  Money won’t be enough to distribute ads.  Companies will also need goodwill.  And good ads!  No more sitting through poor, irritating commercials.

Besides, each person can override the “display the highest paying ad” system (similar to AdSense) and decide to distribute an ad no matter what the owner can afford.  This ensures that small companies will have as much access to the market as giant corporations.  Very cool.

My plan gives control of advertising to users, and also lets users own and control their social graph and be compensated for its use.  If that’s “commercial,” then good.  For two hundred thousand years social networks were also economic networks, and they should rightfully be so again.  If everybody participates on an equal playing field, then there is nothing crass about it. 

Personally, I think Facebook and others who throw ads in our faces that are irrelevant and intrusive (and on our own pages that we’ve created!) so that they can become billionaires is what’s crass.

We need a true, functioning digital economy so that people around the globe can earn money with little environmental impact, even those in poor countries with few natural resources.  My plan allows the world to “drill, drill, drill” human talent, an infinite resource.  It also ensures we can regrow the economy from the bottom up by injecting trust and confidence back into consumerism. 

Would you rather work in a factory or create your own works?  Would you rather buy something that will sit on a table collecting dust until its sent to a landfill someday, or would you rather buy something that entertains, enlightens and/instructs?

During this recession that could potentially move into a prolonged depression, do you want to help the individuals and companies you care about survive?

If you think keeping the status quo is worth destroying all these benefits, then I hope you’ll make your case in the comments.


Offered: Online Payment Plan for Print

February 25, 2009

Michael Learmonth has written an article for AdAge called Wanted: Online Payment Plan for Print, subtitled: As Everyone Weighs in on How to Save the Business, the Question Is Whether Consumers Will Cough up for Content They Can Get for Free.

I’ve spent years monitoring this problem and just about as long incubating on it, and while my plan – that is “Dawn’s Plan” – may not be perfect, I believe it is the best hope for saving journalism.

The key to solving the “how to pay for journalism in a digital age” dilemma is to understand the Square Triangle and adapt it to the Web, as I’ve introduced here.

Journalism has been supported by advertising for at least a few hundred years and there is no need to deviate from that success now.  The key is to implement an advertising system that actually works.  As Mr. Learmonth reports, banner ads certainly are not it.  CPM is a total waste, and CPC generates massive fraud.

Here is an outline of how my plan works to monetize journalism via effective advertising:

1) First, we create a substitute for email (I call it Swig) that is based on the same technologies as Twitter and Friendfeed.  The space is divided as we naturally divide and manage our offline space: Intimate, Private, Social and Public.  Newspaper and magazine stories will be part of the public feeds, as will advertising. 

2) Users of Swig will be able to “thin slice” themselves into their roles and interests or “hats.”  So you will participate in social and public discussions (and even some private conversations) based on whichever one of your hats you choose to currently wear.  Not only does this allow members to easily find information they will be interested in (and allows the system to aggregate all the best information related to that hat), but it also creates space for very targeted ads.  An elegant low-tech user-empowered alternative to all the nefarious data mining that currently drives ads.

3) Key to making this work is to acknowledge that the above ad inventory (i.e., the space for ads that is generated when you converse online) rightfully belongs to the person writing the content.  Users will therefore get to choose which ads are allowed on their pages, if any; in other words, you will promote only those goods and services you wish to support and only where you want them to be.  As your social graph (i.e., your friends, family and followers) engages with these ads (which can be different types of multimedia, depending on the ad’s goal), then you will earn money.

4) Now this is where journalism comes in.  Professional media will get “first engagement rights.”  Remember, you make money when your friends, co-workers, etc. engage with the ads you have chosen for your pages.  But how are you exposed to the ads in the first place?  The ads will be fed to you attached to news articles related to the hat you are wearing as you surf information.  When you yourself engage with these ads, you don’t make the generated money, the media outlet does.  Not only that, but if you choose to “swig” one of these ads [that is, take it and put it on your appropriate page(s)], then when your social graph in turn engages with these ads, the media outlet will continue to earn a cut.  And as your friends swig ad copies off of yours to expose to their own social graphs, you and the media outlet will both take a cut of generated income.  So newspapers and magazines will be paid by readers’ attentions who aren’t necessarily their own readers! 

5) This system requires that newspapers and magazines break up their feeds into the same hats that Swig users create.  Sports Nut, Movie Buff, Dog Lover, Political Junkie, Business Owner, Catholic, Biker,….  The reality is, professional journalists and everyday folks write about the same things.  Media hats and user hats will not be in conflict but will naturally conflate.

6) Okay, so where do the ads that are on your news article feeds come from?  From the existing ad departments of newspapers and magazines.  These departments are underutilized assets that should be leveraged.  Facebook is hiring tons of ad people.  That’s crazy, to my mind.  They should stick to technology instead of trying to reinvent the wheel and their own corporate culture.  There are already boots on the ground in every community in almost every country around the world.  This system makes local advertising as feasible and effective as national advertising, which will put billions of dollars into the hands of newspapers, magazines and Swig users.  For the first time, demand generation advertising will work online.  (Search is about demand fulfillment and does nothing to create demand.)  Creating brand awareness and increasing consumer demand worldwide will help save the global economy as well as journalism.

Will this work?  One indication that it will is the fact that there are over 200 million abandoned blogs on the Web.  That’s a lot of people wanting to “join the conversation” but who found it too demanding, too troll-filled, or too lonely with nobody commenting back.  Why be stuck to a rigid format that demands you focus on one or two subjects if your desire is to build up a big enough audience to earn money?  Why can’t you earn money from one post here about this subject, or another post there about that subject?

What Dawn’s Plan essentially does is make individual users the center of their own online universe.  Information will orbit you, rather than you having to go to multiple websites.  And your every contribution, no matter how much you participate, can be potentially monetized.

Newspapers and magazines need to be able to orbit users where we are and where we’re talking, instead of having only destination sites.  If they thin slice their feeds the way Swig users will thin slice themselves, then the attached advertising will be targeted and appreciated as a service rather than an irrelevant affront. 

This system elevates readers as co-publishers who have a financial stake, too.  If newspapers and magazines are willing to allow that, then they can continue to make money in this digital age.  Yes, they will have to share it, but they will still get a lion’s share. 

If newspapers refuse to do this, it’s doubtful that they will survive.  Without effective online advertising, it’s very unlikely that existing newspapers will make it.   And until and unless consumers themselves get control of ad distribution, online advertising will remain broken.

Of course, some users will make a lot of money and others will make little, but having advertising recommendation-based means everybody should have a lot more confidence in their spending (which will again help the economy!).  Furthermore, you will undoubtedly be exposed to special offers and invitations, so even if you don’t earn a lot of money, you can potential save a lot of money.

With some of the earnings, users will be able to buy digital content from artists, photographers, app developers, musicians and so on, which will make their pages more alluring and help them make more money off advertising.  It’s the same way newspaper syndication works, just on a micro level.

The Square Triangle will succeed if only it’s implemented.  And it won’t be that difficult to execute.  There is no required technology that doesn’t exist right now.  It’s simply a matter of partnering technology with anthropology and merging all stake holders in a symbiotic fashion.

If you want more details, look here.  You can also read my other posts, as they are all pretty much related to my plan in one way or another.

Thank you, Steve!

December 30, 2008


Steve Spalding of How to Split an Atom was kind enough to include me in his “Lessons from Entrepreneurs” series.  I hope you’ll take the time to read it, as it gives a really practical peak into what it is I’m working to create.

And be sure to keep reading Steve’s blog if you want great startup tips and news without all the arrogance of most tech bloggers! 🙂

Yep, is a Mess

December 30, 2008



A month ago, I thought I’d get some videos up at in order to help explain what Swig is.  But I’ve wound up having to take a few of the videos down, including the initial three minute introduction that was most important.  An investor is too concerned that I’m “giving too much away.”

That, plus the fact that my web guy never actually finished putting the site together in the first place, and basically, is pretty much a disaster at this point.  J

I think I’ll just take that site down, maybe point people to this blog from there.  Once I have all the capital in hand and can get the development up and running, then we’ll have the real site there just three or four months later.  Perhaps that’s a tall order given the current economic conditions, but I still have faith in my vision and my business plan.  We’ll see what happens.

You can’t be afraid to crack some eggs if you want to make an omelet.  I’ll be a crazed perfectionist come launch time, but right now, other things are more vital than colors and fonts.

Sorry for the inconvenience.  I’ll get the site taken care of soon.  Please just start coming directly to this blog.  I’ll share all I can here.  Thanks for being patient.

Dawn’s Plan: A Success Story

December 4, 2008


A few years back, I was editing several cartoonists who were creating comic strips for my own online syndicate called Full Tilt Features, as well as for any other places they wished to put them.  IOW, I never asked for exclusive rights, and many of the cartoonists had their own websites, sold the gags to magazines, submitted the strips for newspaper syndication, and so on.

We had a private forum where we could exchange information, support each other, and just socialize.  One of my cartoonists was a newly retired art teacher named Joe Schmidt.  You might call Joe a character himself.  He loves to talk, and I could always count on Joe for long, joke-laden notes to liven up the forum.

In reading Joe’s posts, it became apparent to me that next to cartooning, RVing was Joe’s passion.  So I suggested that he create a comic strip about RVing.  He did.  Now that comic strip runs regularly in an RV magazine.  He’s also been able to spin it off into other paid workAnd the big news is that he was given this month’s cover!:



Doesn’t it look great?  Covers don’t happen very often for cartoonists anymore, so it’s a big deal in cartoon circles when somebody lands one.

I’m proud of Joe’s accomplishment, and am gratified by my own tiny contribution to it.

My point of all this is to remind you that success is a lot more likely to come when you incorporate your passions into whatever it is you’re doing.  “Where your heart is, there shall your treasure be.”

This is an important tenet behind my plan to help the economy.  Which do you think would provide more economic growth and more stability over time: great numbers of people working jobs they don’t like, or the same number of people earning a living doing what they love to do?

I would rather be served a peanut butter sandwich by a person who is passionate about peanut butter than an entire steak dinner by somebody who doesn’t like to cook.

As his editor, I can tell you that Joe increased the quality of his strip substantially when he made the change to an RVing theme.  Now, that strip is providing for his material good and also providing pleasure to an audience.

That’s what Swig is all about.  Remember!  SW: Share the Wealth.  IG: Increase the Good.  😉

First Post! Introduction to Swig: the Social Market

December 1, 2008


After about 15 years of widespread usage, it’s easy to think that the Internet is largely developed and set in its ways, especially by you who are under age 30.  That’s why today, the Monday after the United States celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday passed down from our founding families, I think it’s worth pointing out that we, the World Wide Web community, are in fact a pilgrim people.  The vast majority of the Internet’s unparalleled commercial power and potential is left unexplored and uncultivated. 

If ever there were a need for each one of us to start tilling the Internet’s fertile commercial soil, that need is now, as our old stomping grounds are crumbing to dust beneath our feet. 

My plan is to provide you the technical tools and cultural environment you need to do just that.  We’re going to put anthropology hand-in-hand with technology so that, for the first time, everybody will be welcome to the Internet’s table of plenty come next harvest.  No matter what your talents are.  No matter if you aren’t a geek.  Even if you don’t live in a developed nation.

While we are thankful to technologists for bringing us to this vast largely-unsettled place called the Internet, technology should not – must not! – be made its permanent master.  We are all stewards of the Internet.  And we pilgrims still have a long way to go.  So let’s link hands socially but also economically, remembering that no social network is a true social network unless it includes opportunity to produce economic good for its members, as it’s been for 200,000 years.

I hope you’ll watch this introductory video to my plan, my business plan for a company called Swig that is a private sector, Internet-based, “bottom up” solution to many of the challenges we’re facing.  More detailed videos can be found on my website at


Welcome!  I hope you’ll work with me to get Swig going, or at least stick around to monitor our progress.  Should be interesting to see if we survive our first harsh winter.  😉 Thanks for being here.