What is User Generated Content (UGC)

User generated content 

Put simply, all the photos, videos, articles and comments that we upload to the web; is user generated content. 
Facebook and many commercial websites, will display what they consider appropriate advertising for you. 
The adverts are chosen based on your online activity, and the kind of content you like and share, and the comments you create. 

Bloggers have known this for a long time and they made money from this simple fact. They would create some content and place it on their blogs. 
Advertisers would pay for advert space on these blog pages. Simple.

But things are changing fast. The old regime is crumbling. New ways for writers to get paid have emerged and now bloggers are turning away from the giant ezines and setting up their own websites that they can control totally. 

It's a real revolution as writers do not have to rely on ad revenue supported platforms anymore because the public can support the writers they like with a donation directly into their Paypal account. 

This may cause a whole restructuring of the way business is done on the web. 
People are fed up with the insanity of having their private lives exposed to the snooping cookies of the search engines. 

This may well signal the next evolution of the web. Where content creators can make a living without giving up every scrap of the personal details.

The Temple of Jupiter, Baalbek Lebanon

Images are important to grab people's attention and draw them in to make a purchase. You can buy this image and have it printed on just about anything. Like this iPhone case. I had to spend a lot of time ad money to go and photograph this image. It is my property so what if I want to sell it? I'm not a communist.

Blogging and Vlogging (video blogs) is changing. The public are becoming suspicious and aware of these adverts following them around from website to website. 
Some are questioning their sanity as they try to figure out what is happening to them.

They report feeling paranoid by 'those ads' that seem to follow them everywhere. 
They were probably unaware that websites plant small programs (cookies) in their browsers. So wherever they go the ads just keep following them. 

The public are becoming a little more tech savvy thanks in part by European laws that forced companies to make web users acknowledge that the website they were on, was in fact tracking their behaviors. 

By accepting the cookies policy you have agreed that they can follow you. 

Accordingly your online activity is highly valued by advertisers. It may give an indication of your interests and appropriate ads will be feed to your browser.  

This has been the basic business model of most commercial websites since the development of the web, even before the rise of the search engines like Google, Yahoo and Bing. 

When you search for something. The search engines hopefully find what you are looking for, and present you with the content you wanted, and a selection of related adverts. 
As search has improved, so has the accuracy of targeting advertising to specific users. 

This method of targeting has ethical, social and political ramifications. The process is fully automated. It will deliver to you exactly what you are searching for, if you interact with it long enough.

You could end up being targeted for every conceivable Star Wars product ever created. 
Alternatively you could quite easily be radicalized into a myriad of weird and wonderful belief systems. 

Depending on your level of self awareness, your choices may well determine your future.   

Back to the mundane

So where to place your content?

Always check out new social website Start-ups. There are new social websites springing up daily and disappearing just as quickly.  

It is always worth checking out the new website start-ups, just in case they have thought up a new money making idea.

It is also advisable to spread your content around on several websites or buy your own website. Instead of placing your photos on Facebook. Put them on a website that pays you or sell's your photos for you, like. Redbubble

This way they are protected from being copied without your permission.

It is also a good idea to throw a bucket of water over your head when you become to comfortable on one website. Things always seem to fall foul of the Google monster.

Blogging itself is changing and continues to evolve. There are many ways to be socially engaged online, and get paid via advertising for your user generated content. 

Another website that paid for your content has already gone bust.  
It was a new social network called tsu.co. (pronounced sue) You have to have an invite code to join. (see video)

As with the other websites above, they paid you for every view and share that you make. 

Tsu.co is different in the way that they generate income. They did not rely on outside web traffic, but generated internal traffic from the interactions of the members. 

Tsu has grew very fast. It was ranked among the top websites.

It's was like a hybrid cross between Facebook and Twitter, except you got paid! via cheque. 

Earnings on tsu depended on levels of activity but posts can also generate cumulative earnings over time and if they are shared on Twitter etc.
A lot of time interacting on the website is not required.

User Generated Content (UGC)

So how does UGC work? As mentioned above, people search for all kinds of information. Your content; articles, videos or photo posts, can help them find what they are searching for, in an interesting and rewarding way. 

Users can make a income by supplying the answers to their queries. This is not a new idea. 

Where users supply these answers is optional, on your own website or someone else's like Bubblews, Blogger or on one of the 1,000's of other content sites.

None of these ideas are get rich quick schemes. These all work to a point. Some better than others. Having tested them all personally. 

Content is created by humans. It helps if it is interesting, entertaining and factually correct. 

Computers are very useful but they cannot create content, at least not like humans...yet!

This is one area where people are still superior to machines. People are searching for answers to all kinds of questions. From 'the meaning of life' to 'how to make pancakes'.

Someone has to produce this content. Once users have created the content then it can generate a passive income over time. 

Think about the following questions.
  • How much did you make on Facebook in the last year? 
  • How many photos and videos did you upload?
  • How many comments did you make? 
  • How many times did you like and share things?
Most users don't do 'content', because they think it's difficult or boring.They do not realize that they are doing it already. 

In fact, you are probably already doing what you need to do everyday, on social networks like Facebook and Twitter. 

You are giving your content away for free and Facebook, Twitter and every other social network  is making a fortune from it.

My name is Michael Mulcahy. I am an IT Teacher and Lecturer in the Social Sciences.

I am conducting participant observation research, into online activity/working via social networks. 

Starting in 2010. I joined some writing, video and photography websites. 

The research centered on the time, effort and engagement required to make income from the web, without actually directly selling anything.

Going Mobile  

It seemed like everyone was online, permanently.  I wanted to know what people were doing all day, every day. This trend has accelerated with the rapid move to mobile devices which account for over 50% of web traffic as of 2014.

Few sociologists if any, are actively investigating this fascinating cultural and seismic shift in human interactions via new technology. It is still a relatively new field of research.

The interesting aspect of this work for me, has been to witness that so many people seem totally unaware of what is actually happening in their daily engagement online. They have little if any idea that their activity and data is so valuable. 

They seem to have little or no understanding of their activity. Other than the superficial. They see the social networks as places where they can share things without actually thinking about what they are sharing. Or who with.   

While it is evident that it is possible to earn an income in a variety of web based ways. Many people are ignorant to ignore this simple fact, even though they are probably already doing most of this stuff anyway. They are just not getting paid for it. 

For example. How many videos have been uploaded to Facebook and other social websites for free when they could quite easily have been uploaded to YouTube and made the owner some money
. It's not difficult. 

Secondly, it's quite simple to find out what people are searching for by using any number of keyword search tools, and create content to satisfy those queries. Maybe it is because it is so obvious, that many people have missed the point.

To track and analyse content searches use Webmaster Tools. It's free.

The web is a great way to try out new ideas. People on the web are more than willing to give you their opinion. Although this type of work will not replace any real job any time soon. Income streams are biased in favor of the owners of search.

Types of income related activities on the web, fall into many areas. Here are three simple ways with zero entry costs. 

Write a Blog. Sharing Videos. Image Sharing.

All UGC methods of earning rely in some way or another on sales of products, page views or both. 

You do not have to sell anything at all. That is handled by Google ads, and a whole bunch of other advertisers trying to get on 'your' web pages. Especially if your work becomes popular. 

Your content's subject matter is entirely up to you. For example: If you have a popular koi fish article online, they will be fighting for space on your webpages. The video below of Koi feeding is a good example of the kinds of content that has a ready and waiting audience.

Advertisers have moved lock, stock and barrel onto the online market. 
The content of each of the above three formats are as varied, as the number of people that produce the content. 

Computer Skills

Computer skills are obviously helpful. For example:- Many users  spend a lot of time online already, but have rarely thought about what they are actually doing. 
For many it is just a distraction from the everyday humdrum job. Often they are playing games.

Many successful online enterprises focus on specific areas of interest.  For example. Budding writers, artists and people working in the crafts are very popular.

'What it is like to be a teacher, lawyer or a mother of 15 kids'

There are people that may be considering one of these as a 
 career choice or a life experience. They can learn from the insiders view of that job or vocation.

It is advisable to sign up for an Adsense account if you intend to write online. Google's adsense can contribute to the earnings potential of good web content. There are also many other advertisers out there that you can approach directly.

There is no secret formula. Just good old fashioned, hard work and effort. Directed in a focused and precise way. 

Finally and stating the obvious. There is a lot more research needed into this whole area of the web. It is still in it's formative years.

10 years ago there was no Google or Facebook. What will the next 10 years bring?

They are literally millions of legitimate looking scams on the web.  If someone tries to 'sell you' the insiders tips to the web. Ignore them. 

There are no insider tips, just create the kind of user generated content that people are searching for and it will be rewarded. 

Solve their problems or answer their query, and you are on the right road to successful content creation. 

©mamulcahy 2010 - 2016