How Will I Make Money from Seoulistic.com?

I get this question a lot. People always seem to wonder how people make money from websites. Most people just assume it’s advertising. But in reality, advertising (google adsense) may be one of the hardest ways to make money. You’ve got to have A LOT of traffic to actually make a living off of a website that way. (You only get a couple of cents per click!) It’s good if you want to make a couple of extra bucks here or there, but unless you have 100,000+ visitors, it’s not really an option to turn it into a business.

There are a number of ways that I’m planning on monetizing the site, but the main option for me at the moment is to make digital products. This will initially come in the form of e-books. And eventually, I’d like to package them into a smartphone app (with in-app upgrades). I’d also like to expand to Korean language products. This is actually a lot of hard work, and it takes quite a bit of time to create professional quality products. But I also believe the reward is the greatest (no shipping/printing/production costs). I want to make it affordable enough so that everyone can make use of these guides. I believe in making it as cheap as possible, as long as I am fairly rewarded :)

My target audience is people visiting Korea or living in Korea. Here are a few e-books that I’m planning on writing:

- Insiders Guide to Myeongdong / Itaewon / Hongdae / etc.
- Ultimate Guide to Living in Korea (for newcomers)
- Cultural Guide for Exchange Students in Korea

Would you buy these for $5 a pop? If not, how much would you pay? What other kinds of e-books would you consider buying?

I spilled my guts on this one folks (as always :P). If you have any suggestions, help a brother out! :)

17 thoughts on “How Will I Make Money from Seoulistic.com?

  1. Cindy Zimmer says:

    If I was planning on moving to Korea for the first time, I’d buy them and $5 seems reasonable (depending on the size). Another e-book idea I’d be interested in would be an off-the-beaten-track guide to Seoul, fun places to eat, drink, shop, visit that are outside the norm (i.e. not in Gangnam, Hongdae, Itaewon or Myeongdong).

    • Thanks for your thoughts. I was thinking an “underground” hongdae, myeongdong, etc. What the local people do, where the secret alleys are, the popular restaurants that aren’t in travel books. What do you think about that?

      • Cindy Zimmer says:

        If it was interesting & useful information I couldn’t find in other places/books, then yes… I would be interested in buying it. I know when I explored those areas with Korean friends I would often find cool places to eat, drink or shop so it would be handy to have a guide that showcases the “underground” or non-touristy places. As an expat, those are more fun!

  2. Master Keith,
    I did a fast search on Amazon, and there are very few e-books that fit the genre that you are developing. Most similar e-books on Amazon (Kindle) range from $3 to $12.
    In my opinion, if your books are well researched and well written, $5 each would be well worth the information contained therein, and might be a little low, depending on the length of the books.
    I hope to travel to South Korea within the next year, and would certainly love to have the benefit of your accumulated knowledge at my fingertips. They would pay for themselves the first time I didn’t mistakenly take a taxi to the wrong place. 8^D

    The Texassean

      • From a writer’s perspective (I dabble), the number of pages isn’t the correct measure of quality, but rather a streamlined block of information that is complete. If the subject is well covered, multi-faceted, and most important, easy to navigate and quickly retrieve the desired information (well written), it is worth the price of admission, (or in your case, download.) But to answer your question more directly, $5 for 20 to 30 pages would be something I would be willing to gamble on. I phrase it that way to make a point; any investment in reading material is a gamble, as the purchaser won’t be able to ascertain the value until after the purchase. $5 is probably a good number, as it represents a price in the mind of the potential customer (at least in mine) that is no big loss if the information proves to be usable, and a bargain if the information is beneficial. I am looking forward to making a purchase of your materials. You write well, and so i am confident of the quality that is to come.

  3. The Myeongdong one seems too niche. But agree with above poster: most travelers will probably want to know “underground” things to do in Korea. There was this underground tour I did in England, and it got pretty big, pretty quick, so i think there’s definitely a market for that.

    What about writing reviews for restaurants, bars, etc. that you like and making them pay you? And email list is a must, I’m sure you’re getting on that.

    • Mo, myeongdong is pretty mainstream for Korea tourists. Probably the highest concentration. What do you mean by too niche?

      Was the underground tour in places that aren’t in travel books? or was it popular areas, but underground/local bars/restaurants in those popular areas.

      Thanks for your thoughts!

  4. Also a small thing, but I think you should have a subscribe button in addition to or to replace the RSS. A lottttt of old people have no idea what RSS is. I’m assuming a lot of people who like your site are confused as to how to subscribe.

  5. Master Keith,
    I have another suggestion for your project.
    I have an app on my iPhone called Dongsa, which is a Korean verb conjugator. It is an open-source project by Dan Bravender, and the iPhone version is by Max Christian. What is unique is that once you type in a Korean verb stem, and it shows the different conjugations, there is a tab on the bottom of the screen called Beer Fund. (really)
    If you select this tab, it brings up a screen by which you can (via In App Purchase for $0.99) purchase a beer for either Dan or Max, if you have found their app to be useful. Perhaps you should check out this app, and consider incorporating this concept into your e-book/app project.
    http://Dongsa dot net /

  6. Jadujen says:

    I think doing an insider’s/underground guide to places like Hongdae, Myeongdong, Gangnam, etc. is a great idea! I think people would definitely buy it for $5- I would. It’d be good to get the info from someone who knows the ins & outs….and also (just as important), you seem like you’d communicate it in a relatable & interesting way, so it wouldn’t have a stuffy/dry/boring tone. I think that aspect of tone is important in attracting people to your e-book. ;)

  7. Joel Seah says:

    I would definitely buy the insiders guide and a guide for exchange students. I think the insiders’ guide would especially be good for people like me who would rather travel on their own to local hangouts instead of going through tour groups. By the way, I really like your website!

  8. mamalazarus says:

    I’d buy one BUT I’d want to feel like it was content that I couldn’t find easily on the web for free. I’ve been really annoyed lately by buying a few e-books only to find that it was rehashed content from the author’s existing blogs and youtube videos.There’s a lot of free, light content all over the web on Korea now, and I don’t want to pay for a remix of that. If you can find something to put in an e-book that isn’t already all over 99 blogs and message boards, I’d buy TWO. :-) Good luck, been listening to you since your koreanclass101 days.

  9. Delia Apodaca says:

    $5 would be worth investing in learning about Korea. I am in early stages of learning Hangul. Great work! :)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>