📢 Community Q&A - How should we monetize Hashnode/Devblog?

First of all thanks for being a Hashnode member. You motivate us to work harder everyday and therefore a big shout out to all of you. 🙌

We've been running Hashnode for more than 4 years now, but the love and traction we are seeing right now is better than anything we have seen before. Ultimately, a business has to make money and we think this is the right time to start thinking about it.

We have a bunch of ideas, but we need your help. I'll outline a few of the potential monetization options -- please go through them and write down your ideas/suggestions/feedback in the comments below. We would like to involve the whole community in figuring out a suitable business model for Hashnode.

Here is what we have in mind so far:

💡[Devblog] Buy us coffee

We charge ~ $2/month (buy us a coffee) for a premium account. It'll give you certain privileges such as:

  • Ability to create multiple team publications
  • Ability to integrate Adsense (we can discuss this further)
  • Private blog posts (for your eyes only)
  • More customizations with custom CSS & JS
  • More integrations (e.g. ability to add Mixpanel and similar options)
  • Deep Analytics
  • Static Pages, Custom 404 pages and so on
  • Early access to new features
  • Pro account badge
  • ... and so on

There will always be free accounts. Pro account will be a way for us to raise money directly from our users by providing premium features. If this makes sense, we can discuss further and decide final list of premium features to offer.

💡[Hashnode] Marketplace

Marketplace is another monetization option. We'll build something like Upwork inside Hashnode and help developers monetize their skills. For every transaction, we will charge a small fee. There is a lot of scope for improvements here and we believe we can create a better dev-centric marketplace inside Hashnode.

💡[Hashnode] Recruitment

With Devblog, we are onboarding smart developers into the platform everyday. We can build a hiring platform in Hashnode to match developers with tech companies and charge the companies a fee for every successful hire. Hiring is still very difficult and tricky -- this has the potential to go big and if done right we can build a very successful business.

💡[Devblog] Training and Courses

We already have authors who are using Devblog to publish articles on various tools and technologies. We can enable authors to release paid courses and tutorials and help them make money -- these courses can be both video and text based. Like the marketplace, we can charge a fee every time we help an author make a sale.

💡[Devblog] Revenue Sharing via ethical ads

Hashnode is turning into a network of independent dev bloggers. Although our promise is to keep Hashnode ad-free, we can consider inserting "ethical ads" into the blog posts and share the revenue with authors. I don't want to go down this route, but we would like to know what all of you think. If you feel comfortable with this idea, please provide your feedback and suggestions. If the majority of the community doesn't agree with this, we'll not pursue the idea. But if this gets traction, we are happy to discuss more and figure out a way to make this happen. But be assured that we'll never insert ads into your blogs without your consent.


We are still brainstorming and discussing these options internally. If you have any feedback or ideas for improvement please add a comment. If you have a different idea, we are more than happy to hear it out. Do post it even if it sounds silly! 😉

Hipkiss's photo

💡[Devblog] Buy us coffee

money.jpg

I'd be more than happy to pay a couple dollars a month. I believe a lot of developers who have been with hashnode for a while will be happy to do this. This should be an option anyway I think. Providing premium features is always a good idea because we don't want to have a barrier to entry for anyone but we also need to make sure hashnode is still around. Personally I think this is the best option, but recruitment would probably be the most profitable.

💡[Hashnode] Marketplace

This is a good idea. Anything like that or fiverr.com would be cool to see. Especially considering it would be focused for devs. Would that mean that groups or companies could also offer services on the marketplace - I imagine it would just be individual devs for now. If this option is chosen then definitely go down the route of transaction fee.

💡[Hashnode] Recruitment

I like this. Hashnode could charge a flat 5% of the salary (+ $50 per advert?) and make enough money and also undercut every recruiter out there. I know hashnode charge $300 now? for posting a job advert. And because Hashnode is specialised for developers I like how targeted this is - it helps everyone involved. So this should definitely be done.

💡[Devblog] Training and Courses

For me this would be a no - just because I don't believe in paying for training or courses unless they are highly specialised and proprietary, e.g. how to setup a cisco contact centre with a hybrid cloud model and remote agents.
However, I can see the appeal and I know some would use it - just not sure how many. But it also does something weird to talking about ideas; I don't wish to be locked out of discussing points in an article or something just because it's behind a pay wall.

💡[Devblog] Revenue Sharing via ethical ads

No. As a general rule I'm really against the idea of any ads. I believe this will detract from the community and the experience that hashnode are building. Inserting any kind of ads would damage the flow and look of the blog posts regardless of how ads may be inserted.
Additionally - were devs - who doesn't have ads blocked or turned off in their browsers lol. Finally, I wouldn't consider it a viable business model option from a value perspective - yes revenue can be made from it but not much.

Other ideas

  1. Partnerships with software companies working off a commission based sales model.
  2. Host events/conferences or allow users to come to you to create an event within a city somewhere and charge for setup/door fee.
  3. Sell merch - tshirts, hoodies, stickers (devs love stickers)
  4. Hashnode could offer courses on how can i haz gud dev blog and the like.

Overall thoughts

I'm glad Hashnode is sorting out monetization. I want Hashnode to grow and continue to be around. Overall, Hashnode have many options to monetise the site and the end result will probably be an amalgamation of some or maybe even all of the above (apart from ads :P). I hope my thoughts help with choosing a direction. :)

Show +1 replies
Sandeep Panda's photo

Co-Founder, Hashnode

Thanks!

We are probably going to introduce "Premium Accounts" first because this is the most straightforward and easiest option. How much would you like to pay for the above premium features? We are thinking of creating multiple plans such as Casual, Pro and Enterprise and the price will vary from $2 to $10. We will of course develop more clarity once we survey and understand our users better.

We need multiple channels of monetization so that we can make enough money to sustain ourselves. So, marketplace and recruitment are two other big opportunities that we can tap into.

I know hashnode charge $300 now?

No, we never charged money for posting jobs. We just said the price to post an ad will be $300 after the trial run. 😉 However, we have turned it off temporarily because we want to do a better job with recruitment and make it a potential business model. :)

Hipkiss's photo

Co-Founder, Founder, Entrepreneur & Problem Solver

Ah, I see what you did there - sneaky! haha. I look forward to seeing how this grows. Let me know if you wanna pick my thoughts anymore - happy to help. :)

Tapas Adhikary's photo

Sandeep Panda,

Thanks for putting out all the points for discussion.

  • Buying HashNode a cofee? Why Not? It is cool that, HashNode doesn't have plans for any paywall and $2 is perfectly fine for a Premium service.
  • Recruitment is tricky and a platform to support Recruitment could be more trickier if not done right and not supported enough by the community around. I like the courage in thinking on this line. Appreciate!
  • Training and Courses: This is the most loved one for me. I would be all happy if HashNode provides this platform. Here also we can have a free vs premium concept so that, it is not fully discouraged thinking it is paid.
  • Ads? Nope!

All the best to you folks, doing great job!

Show +2 replies
Tapas Adhikary's photo

☝ UI/UX Enthusiast | 💻 Work @MicroFocus | ✍️ Blogger | 👨‍🏫 Mentor | 🎤 Speaker | 🍟 Foodie

Sandeep Panda,

I like the courses over Coursera, mostly video courses. To me those are more lively, light-wight and less committed than Udemy. Most of the courses that I have purchased are between $8 to $12. In Udemy I went for only one paid course which was so awesome(Andrew NG's ML course) that I paid $50. That's max and very rare. Anything more than $10 to $12, I would question myself.

Per year I spend around $50. I also had a subscription from egghead.io for $49 and that year I didn't buy anything else.

One of the cons of this approach is the "paywall". If every other article is premium and locked, it'll definitely upset a lot of users.

Question is, once we start that, can we stop us from getting into this loop? I think, difficult and people will have similar respect they have for Medium today!

Joseph S Stevens's photo

10 years of Software Development, Husband, Father and Functional Programming enthusiast.

I can honestly see a lot of benefits to making the platform costs a couple of bucks a month, better support, more of a true filter. I like the idea. You've got my vote.

Marco Alka's photo

Hi,

thank you for the invitation. In general, I agree with Hipkiss. The ideas are great, however knowledge should be free and ads are a no-go (because everyone here uses an adblocker anyway and you as the team promised us a 99% ad-free experience in the past).

What other alternatives are there? Here's some wild brainstorming:

  • Premium accounts on Hashnode
    • Pro: People can unlock "fancy features" and support Hashndoe if they want
    • Pro: Model successfully used by other platforms as well
    • Contra: Fancy features might be distracting
    • Contra: Might not be enough incentive to spend money on
  • HaaP (Hashnode as a Platform). This is a feature I also mentioned in my interview: Provide Hashnode for other subjects than code development and host it for a fee per usage, or get payed for providing an on-premise server container. Might need adapters to other software, though (for example LDAP)
    • Needs good marketing
    • Needs good support
    • Needs bridges to other software
  • Provide statistics and insights for money: how many people viewed posts in a certain node, how many posts were created, which new tags are hyping, etc.
  • Micro-Transactions for features, for example "Feature this question for $10"
  • Bounty-Programs for questions, which give a percentage to Hashnode
  • Hashnode Mentoring Platform. I am a mentor on another platform, on which mentees pay money for mentors, but the platform keeps a certain percentage. Hashnode already has a platform with a user-base (mentor-candidates and mentee-candidates included), so this might take off quickly. Mentors might provide subscriptions or single-sessions
Hipkiss's photo

Co-Founder, Founder, Entrepreneur & Problem Solver

Thanks for the mention :).
Love the last two ideas! I like the HaaP too. Thanks for the link to your profile too, guna have to have a look at that site!

Md Zaid Imam's photo

My opinion-

[Devblog] Buy us coffee - Flat charge and worth paying for any user ✅

[Hashnode] Recruitment - Yes valid, and this can be done with share based model with organizations✅

[Hashnode] Marketplace - Two way process we need to do good amount of validation before we jump✅

[Devblog] Training and Courses - Worth making but Hashnode team has to makesure they have good content because if content comes to concern it directly impacts the platform not the individuals. This again involves validation ✅

[Devblog] Revenue Sharing via ethical ads-A big no for this, because I feel this idea will kill our current or upcoming user base. ❌

I have placed points in an order of acceptance by user.

Asaolu Elijah's photo

I'll go with the Buying hashnode a coffee idea, paying $2/month for all those goodies listed and also getting a premium badge shouldn't be a big deal 😊.

Show +1 replies
Erin Mathew's photo

Tech Talent Sourcer and Newbie Programmer

What about Hashnode Merchandise? Everyone loves t-shirts and then you also get free advertising for the platform when Devs wear them. They would have to be clever though, like programmer humor that makes other devs be like "where did you get that??? I want one" I agree with other commenters that Pro accounts could be used as well. I would pay a few bucks a month for premium features.

Pankaj's photo

Node JS | React JS | Vue JS | Laravel

I like this idea. They should consider it.

Steven Ventimiglia's photo

I think for $24/yr, it's worth supporting the community you've created. The only suggestion I'd like to give is for the blogs to reflect the user more; allowing us to post personal tips/rants/etc. without the requirement of it being a public post on Hashnode.

Blogs are personal. A company can use it for branding, but in most cases, it's just seen as an ad in this case. However, when someone contributes to a community, a blog can be the center point of who they are and what they're capable of doing... without pulling punches. Although community posts are fairly indicative of that, the blogs should act as the door to a much more concentrated and direct personality - and the curator of that blog should never feel as if they're being hindered in sharing more than what would be a typical story or question.

I would recommend taking the "Story" model and expanding it, by offering something with a much more personal touch, with permission to manage comments, etc.

I originally played with it when you first launched the blog for us to test, and I'll be examining the entire system - from top to bottom - within the next couple of weeks. Any feedback I can give at that point, I'll share with you as well.

Yashu Mittal's photo

Hey,

HashNode team must have put a lot of thought and effect in brainstorming all those monetization options.

But I want to share my feed on the above ones.

  • Drinking coffee to healthy, so 👍🏻 for that, but don't charge on creating a publication. Why? Because many people prefer to create different publications for different topics and write in those respectively.
  • Creating a recruitment platform is tricky in itself and building third-party integration will steer you away from the main focus of HashNode.
  • Uploading training and courses seem like a good plan, but before diving in paid courses maybe allow users to first upload short videos for example 15 min and see how users use the platform for the same.
  • Allow users to create meetups and organize events.

Assuming you will be using Stripe for accepting payments, can also make possible that it accepts Indian cards too.

Rest, you guys are doing an awesome job!

wachira_dev's photo

Although our promise is to keep Hashnode ad-free, we can consider inserting "ethical ads" into the blog posts and share the revenue with authors.

If you are going to use a platform like codefund or similar to them I have no problem with inserting ads into blog posts. Their ads are developer-focused and they kinda look nice.

Screenshot 2019-07-17 at 10.55.08 AM.png

Sandeep Panda's photo

Co-Founder, Hashnode

Thanks for the suggestion! :)

Thamaraiselvam's photo

Finally, I know how Hashnode is going to make money :p

Sandeep Panda All ideas are good except the last one "Revenue Sharing via ethical ads" Even its opt-in feature, I feel a bit odd about it.

Making money from blogs by putting ads or popups is not our business model. We are committed to offering a paywall-less and ad-free experience to publishers and we are going to stick to it

Best of luck Hashnode Team.

Raven Douglas's photo

I'm definitely leaning into the "Buy us a coffee" and "Training and Courses." The other options feel like you're stepping into saturated markets, and I'd rather see this platform keep a focus on content... not hiring, payments, jobs, etc.

Of course, this is just my opinion.

Joseph S Stevens's photo

I like the idea of ethical ads, or the bloggers can sort of "approve" the advertisements. That sort of thing.

Caleb H.'s photo

Honestly, I think all of them (except the last one) are a good idea, and maybe you don't have to choose. Maybe just do all of them (except the ads)!

Sandeep Panda's photo

Co-Founder, Hashnode

Thanks Caleb! :)

Yashu Mittal's photo

When these paid features will be released?

Hong Jiang's photo

I think the simple way is the best way. Just charge a small fee for advanced functions.

Hemil Ruparel's photo

Buying you a coffee is the better option i think. Though I wont be able to pay as of now (I am a teen. I can't earn). But $2 is reasonable enough to pay when I earn.

Marketplace - I think more people would buy themes and stuff for their blog more than recruitment. Though it makes sense that hashnode is developer centric and recruiting developers on this platform makes sense. I think themes will get you more, quick bucks than recruitment and will be easier to implement.

Training and courses - I would suggest to make use of platforms like lbry and reuse their network to host the courses. It will be easier.

Ads and tracking network is a bad idea.

I think you should charge for premium services.

Deepal Jayasekara's photo

I believe everything else other than ads would work. My favorite choices are $2 premium and the Marketplace.

Michaela Greiler's photo

I think that Marketplace, Recruiting and Training are all a very natural fit for Hashnode. I also believe one of those will have the most potential for Hashnode monetization. Whether it works or not comes from the execution. It really depends on which form it is connected to Hashnode and how the platforms would work. One of those done right is probably also better than several done half-baked. Personally, Training and Courses would be great for me.

I'd not be happy with ads. The paid feature for devblog might also be interesting for Hashnode. And I like the merchandise idea. This seems like a why not.

Bayu Angora's photo

Premium accout with special badge is a good choice.

Serdar Sanri's photo

tl;dr: if you don't have time to read it is a long post...

Sandeep Panda Thanks for invitation for this post. I was hoping that you won't ask me and I kept ignoring this one but here we are :) I want to point out two perspective and I hope I won't get roasted here.

Perspective 1, my personal feelings and opinion. I am not against anything on your list above and I do believe at some point if a project's expenses are overcoming income then someway it should be monetized and 2 bucks with those benefits above is nothing and nobody should complain about it.

Perspective 2, reality and my observations. Monetizing a project is really delicate subject. As human beings we don't like to pay for the things we used to have for free. This scares people. Yes even 50c is too much for someone. That's mostly ignorance or not really thinking the requirement behind it. Simply, now I need to pay, forget it thought process. Sometimes even discussing it can cause same effect.

Quick example. Early js days. jQuery is barely known, or maybe it wasn't even out yet. one big library out there was YUI provided by Yahoo. I think script.aculo.us was out, maybe not long time ago I can't really remember. Anyway, someone I know from newsgroups ( for millenials old email style forum/chat thingy ) Jack Slocum, came up with this idea that something look like YUI but much simpler, full javascipt that will allow you to create desktop application like web apps. He called it ExtJS ( Extended Javascript) in few months it was all over. Everybody in industry was aware and talking about it. So many huge companies like IBM, Compaq, Adobe you name it immediately implemented. At the time I was working in a company as IBM solution partner and we have used in so many enterprise level applications like Toyota, Phillip Morris SA, DYO, DrOetker ... and of course he got hired by some big development company, given a team just to focus on ExtJs. I forgot to mention, also it was open source. So now it wasn't just him but also any programmer working with it was also contributing into ExtJS. beta, v1, v2... crazy.

Then it happened... ExtJS acquired by another company. And Jack now was not in charge. They said. we spend this much money on this, and it is pretty popular, we need our investment to make money. Let's put licensing. First it started with minimal amounts, then by the time Sencha released the ExtJS we fall in love at first sight was already dead. People were so frustrated in extJS forums. They all left, all big contributors like Animal, Sanjiv and others. They were frustrated because they build major applications with it thinking this is an opensource project, it will grow and will get even better but now I have to pay 3000 per seat. Of course this timeline also collapses with jQuery and Bootstrap's peak as well. another open source, free product.

So I think, and this is my personal opinion, from all those discussions from extJS forum, Jack's biggest mistake was taking something free, open-source from people's hands thinking they will always stick to it. He should have release Sencha as a separate, better commercial project and not touch extJs. maybe here and there some updates etc to keep people happy. Since it was open source it was already growing by itself and he didn't even need to anything about it.

wow, too much to read :) anyway long story short, Hashnode is a great community awesome product, but I would suggest to be careful what are you asking for. like I said for some people paying 1cent to something they used to get free makes a lot of difference in their minds. Good luck

if anyone interested to know more about ExtJS and what happened you can read more in detail in this medium post hackernoon.com/the-rise-and-fall-of-ext-js-..

and here is some of comments people left in his personal blog where he is making peace with himself

Jack, I don’t know you or Sanjiv in any way but for this exchange, and I can tell you (and Sanjiv who a really hope is reading this) that we have very serious project underway using GWT and Ext. We started using gwt-ext. We are now DUMPING GWT-EXT and forever avoiding anything ever touched by Sanjiv. Thanks.

another user

Ugh, you should not have done this ‘he said, I said’ rant, this reflects very badly on the project, regardless of the facts. Changing the license is kind of sneaky even if the reasons are good. I don’t care why you did it, only that you did it. Since you can’t beat free, you will lose users over this, but they are not paying customers anyway. However, by blogging in this way, you could also lose the paying customers.

and another one

Well, this is sad for everyone especially for the customers. We’re going to loose. Basically everyone is a bit right but not all right. Jack just buggered up Ext GWT 1.0 since it hasn’t established itself yet. I feel for Darrell since the day before it was released on the extjs website he said it will be released as LGPL (mygwt.net/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1207&hi..). You made him look like a fool. It is a real shame. So much potential. In the end, extjs will do ok since it has a number of customers using the library and is a good library. Not sure if you will attract new customers this way though. I was about to be a customer but luckily I only invested 3 weeks into your product. It is also a shame that you and Sjivan are conversing on this level since both of you would benefit tremendously of having a good relationship. We understand both of your viewpoints but really Jack what did you expect when you changed the licensing that way without telling anyone including Darrell and he started to work at your company! The link above proved he didn’t know (on April 21st for Christ sake) I don’t like the personal attack and there shouldn’t be. I do think it is the result of frustration, surprise and everyone’s unwillingness to compromise. #