379: Making Money on the Web

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Chris and Dave talk about interesting ways to make money on the web including Dave's drawing app idea, games like Downwell, the Tech Lead YouTube channel, and services like Coil and Brave.



Chris Coyier and Dave Rupert in silly sunglasses and a sign that says Shawp Tawlkk Shough DOT COM

Chris Coyier and Dave Rupert

This episode is with just Chris & Dave, ShopTalk Show's hosts. Chris is the co-founder of CodePen and creator of CSS-Tricks, and Dave is lead developer at Paravel.

Time Jump Links

  • 05:52 At what level is it worth it to do this?
  • 12:53 Sponsor: Phrase
  • 14:40 Make a whole bunch and see what sticks?
  • 22:15 Coil
  • 30:46 Sponsor: CloudBees Rollout
  • 32:20 Monetizing around the world
  • 34:18 The Tech Lead on YouTube
  • 39:12 Sponsor: DataDog
  • 40:08 Give a nerd an API, you'll get cool things
  • 45:02 Bitcoin
  • 53:42 Is this your first time listening to ShopTalk Show?


Dave Rupert: I'm like a crappy version of Reddit.

[Banjo music]

MANTRA: Just Build Websites!

Dave: Hey there, Shop-o-maniacs. You're listening to another episode of the ShopTalk Show, a podcast all about Web design, development, full-stack, half stack, left stack, right stack. I'm Dave Rupert and with me is Chris Coyier. Hey, Chris.

Chris Coyier: Hey! We had an idea right before the show. It's just Dave and I this week, so we're just going to chat with each other, and we're going to chat about making money on the Web. How do you do it?

I don't want to do the Read Me of the entire 50 billion ways you can make money on the Web because we know there are ways. Dave's got a way. One of them is to start a Web agency and do work for clients.

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: That stuff is pretty obvious. Sure, you can do that. You could go to work for a bank and work in their Web department. Sure, that's making money on the Web.

Let's scope it down a little bit, though, and we'll end up talking perhaps a little bit about advertising and other ways of monetizing work. In that way, maybe some Web standards kind of stuff, but also just that feel, that solo entrepreneur feel. Dave has got a little lead-in for it, I think.

Dave: Well, yeah. We were talking before the show here, before all the listeners showed up. I made a CodePen, Chris. [Laughter] I'll put a link in the show notes. It's a prototype of an app I've been thinking about forever. Are you familiar with Inktober, the concept of Inktober?

Chris: Mm-hmm. Draw every day.

Dave: Yeah, and you get a theme for every day, like it's a single word.

Chris: That's funny. We kind of do that at CodePen challenges and there's Hacktober. There are a million things like this. Okay, so I'm picturing it. They send you a word. Dave, here's your word: flag.

Dave: Okay. Now I'm going to draw the best flag I can. Every year, Inktober rolls around and I'm like, "Ah, I should make an app that does this because I want this." It's like a drawing prompt and then I draw on an iPad or something. Five minutes, ten minutes on a couch. I get a word and I try to draw that word. I just want a prompt, right? I made a little app that does this for me. It's just like ten lines of JavaScript, HTML, and CSS. I couldn't make the CodePen, five CodePen challenge or whatever.

Chris: It's not very many lines of code is the idea, yeah?

Dave: Not very many lines of code right now. It works and I could put into a progressive Web app, right? If I put it into a progressive Web app, you're like, "Ooh, now I have access to possibly going on the Windows Store," and all the Windows devices have touch and all that stuff.

Chris: Hmm.

Dave: Drawing and stuff like that. I could maybe electron it and put it on the Mac store, although I think they just shut down electron apps or something entirely, but let's pretend I could make money on the Mac app store.

Chris: It's an app and technology has enabled you to make it a real, installable app on phones and something about that has tripped your entrepreneurial alarm.

Dave: Well, it's just kind of like, okay, I have something. I have a thing. I think we've been talking about it. It's leaked out in every episode, right? We've been talking, like, "I want a thing I can sell for $10," or whatever, right? Then people just pay me $10 and they get a thing, right?

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: Whether that's an online course or something. It's been in my mind. Every time we talk, I'm thinking about it. I was just like, "Ooh, maybe this is the thing I can sell for $5 or $10 on an app store and that's how you give me money." Every week, we sign off the show, like, "How do people give you money?" to the guests.

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: I'm like, "How do people give me money?"

Chris: Oh, I know. I even have ways and I constantly think about it.

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: It's nice to have a little thing of the way that you give this person money. It's just, buy the thing that they produce.

Dave: There are even other levels, right? I give people money on Patreon. I give open-source projects money on Patreon.

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: Or Open Collective is what I use there. It's like, is this a thing I could sell for $5? Then I'm like, okay, what does that mean if I sell 100 copies? I do all the work to get it on the Windows store, sign the app, and do all this. Then I'm on the Windows store and I sell it for $5. I sell 100 copies.

Chris: Okay. It's $500 minus whatever cut they have.

Dave: Nothing to spit at, right? That's money. Money is good. [Laughter] We always want money to go up, especially if I built it.

Chris: If you sold 100 of them a month, then you'd be talking probably more worth it territory. One of the things I think of is, you wrote this in 72 lines of JavaScript and a little bit of HTML. Because it was so easy, you're going to have competition. That's what I'm trying to say.

Dave: Right. Right, rip-off-able. [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah, but maybe people buy yours instead of somebody else's because they like it, or they're buying it just because of Dave or something.

Dave: Dave Rupert is a trusted brand in lifestyle. Dave Rupert LLC is the drawing lifestyle.

Chris: [Scoffs]

Dave: That's what people associate with Dave Rupert LLC.

Chris: Fine. Sure. There are all these questions that come up, like, "Why do this?" The one you seem to be driving at is, at what level is it worth it to do this?

Dave: Yeah, because hours in the day are limited, right?

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: You can maybe drink caffeine and squeeze a few extra hours of productivity out of the day. You know with family, kids, and--

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: A job, I've got one of those.

Chris: Let's say the work is nothing. Isn't that the deal? What if you get the amount of work it takes to get this thing on the store to an afternoon?

Dave: Right.

Chris: Doesn't that change the equation a lot?

Dave: It does, but then you get into customer support.

Chris: Hmm. Fair enough.

Dave: How many one-star reviews and all that. What do I do there? It's that thing, right? I wonder how far I should take this. What's the make or break point? How do I monetize? Maybe it's smarter to put it up for free and put ads on it.

Chris: Sure.

Dave: People hate ads but, man, ads are pretty popular on applications. You know what I mean? I do have some plank real estate. I love my real estate because it's a focused drawing app, just like IA Writer but for drawing.

Chris: Yeah. Mm-hmm.

Dave: I don't know. How do you do that?

Chris: Well, so that's the new question is, do you sell it and then make it ad-free? Do you have a premium version of it of some sort? Do you put ads on it and remove the ads? Maybe just not even have a paid version of it. It's just an ads-only operation. That's probably impossible to answer because the ads aren't going to pay nothing unless you've got 100 times the amount of traffic and people using the site as their would-be pro, right? I don't know what the numbers are exactly-exactly, but I've been in Web advertising long enough to know that if eight people a month download your app, and even if they're super active users of it, that's going to amount of pennies.

Dave: Right. Right. You need to scale, right?

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: That's why people do it free is so they can get a scale.

Chris: Scale. Right.

Dave: But it is--

Chris: I would think, free, you've got to go big. You've got make an awesome app then. Not to say you couldn't. You could, but if you're going to play the free game with the big numbers, a canvas drawing app isn't going to do it.

Dave: Yeah, I don't think so. Yeah, so I guess it is cool, to me. I like it. Maybe I will do this just out of stupidity, brute force, or something just because I like it. I want it to exist or whatever. I don't know. Maybe this isn't something that goes to the Internet or this isn't my $10 idea. This isn't the product I sell. That's sort of where I'm leaning because I'm just like, it could get me money and I do like money but I don't know that it's going to get me--whatever--buy a boat money. You know? [Laughter] That's where I'm at.

Chris: There are lots of people thinking this way. Your hesitation is probably hurting you a little bit. It's because you've got a wife and kids and you've got to think about this crap, so that's fine. For you who is sitting there hesitating, there are a bunch of young buckaroos that are being like, "I'm going to not only make this one, but I'm going to add five more features that yours doesn't have, and that's just what I'm going to do on Monday. Then on Tuesday, I'm going to make a little rip off jumper game and try that. On Wednesday, I'm going to make some voice recorder app and ship that one."

Dave: Right.

Chris: Now they've got ten there and now you're really learning something. Which one has the most downloads? Which one has got the most traction? Which one do I have the most fun working on?

Dave: That's the thing that is a possibility too. I didn't want to get too far ahead of myself. There's a video game; not to crossover to my video game podcast too much, Chris, but there's a game for iOS and Nintendo called Downwell. Have you heard of it or seen it?

Chris: No. First time I'm hearing it.

Dave: It's basically a game where a guy jumps into a well.


Dave: He floats down. It's one mechanic. There's one button. There's a left/right button and then an action button. You have these gun boots that shoot bullets down, kill enemies, and cause you to jump and stuff like that. Anyway, it's cool. It's addictive. It's pretty fun.

The person who developed it, and there's a video game documentary called "Branching Paths." It's on Steam. It's about Japanese game dev. There's a guy named "Moppin" and it is for Nintendo now.

Chris: Did it strike a nerve? Did it sell a zillion copies?

Dave: It sold a zillion, dude. It is mega-popular. The kid was in college when he made it, but the story of how he got to it is he made 100 games in a year, in two years, or something like that. He just was like, "I'm going to make a game a week for the next 100 weeks," or something like that. This game that was a success, an overnight success, was actually the product of two years of making--

Chris: Yeah. It never is. Sure.

Dave: --just releasing games or playtesting games and doing different things. I guess the question about monetization is, maybe I shouldn't stop it here at, like, how am I going to make money? Maybe you just actually put it up there and get it out there.

Chris: Then do it again and then do it again and then do it again.

Dave: Do it 100 times, right? Then, if you're crying about the number of support tickets or whatever, [laughter] you can either hire somebody or just shut it down.

Chris: Of course, that's the way to do it. Then if you have some example that isn't somebody's 100th game, even that is just like, "Whatever." There are a billion zillion games out there. One person hit it? You can think of 30 examples like this. Still, the numbers are against you, in a way.

People have been making fun of this forever. The pet rock. Look at that guy that made the pet rock.

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: Made a million dollars. Oh, what a stupid idea. [Grumbling] You know what I mean.

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: Yeah, the pet rock made it, but the 50 other ideas that were just as stupid didn't.

Dave: Yeah. The pet cube or the pet-- [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: Which was superior in quality but cost a lot more to manufacture.

Chris: Yeah, it's not going to work, just like the Jump to Conclusions Mat.

Dave: Mm-hmm.

Chris: You jump to conclusions.

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: Like on "Office Space".

Dave: "Office Space".

[Banjo music]

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[Banjo music]

Chris: Anyway, I just think it is fascinating. It's like, should you use your precious few hours of the day to work on this particular idea? It sounds like we're homing in on the idea of, like, "Sure. I guess," but maybe don't spend every waking moment on it. Maybe treat it more like the first in your series. A hundred is probably out of reach, but ten maybe isn't.

Dave: Yeah. Yeah, I mean I don't know. Ten apps and maybe one is a success, right? Maybe that's ten toy apps. I'll call them toys, but maybe ten toy ideas and then you finally push through and you have one, right? Maybe that's it. Maybe some of my ideas are actually video games. Who knows? I don't know. Maybe it is worth it.

Chris: Even you have dabbled. I make a decent chunk of my income as a human being on advertising. That's kind of--

Dave: I make $20 a month on my blog.

Chris: Yeah, but you were compelled to do it, so at least you know what that world is like a little bit.

Dave: Yeah, well, and I joke about that. Maybe I don't need to run ads at all. The value to advertisement is probably pretty low. I did notice when I put ads on my blog, I was like, okay, it flipped the "it's worth it to blog" switch in my brain.

Chris: Interesting. Okay.

Dave: It's like a couple of six-packs a month or something. Again, not buy a boat money, but it is like, "Hey. Okay, this is something that just triggers, like, yeah, you're not doing it for nothing. It is worth something." I don't know. That's where it is for me. You have a whole business on ads, obviously, but at a much, much, much larger scale.

Chris: Yeah, it's more than $20 a month and it's kind of like career level, but it's also not big operation level either. It's kind of right in the middle of that. I don't know if I've prepared enough interesting things to say about all that, but that would be kind of an interesting show or series to do is all about Web advertising and the deep world there because, boy, it is fascinating.

Dave: There are new things happening. Was it the last show you were talking about Coil?

Chris: Oh, did I mention that on this show?

Dave: I think you mentioned it in the last show, yeah.

Chris: Oh, yeah. Whatever. Bruce Lawson reached out about this idea. Anyway, Coil is kind of an interesting player. I think it's kind of evolving. It's right at an interesting moment. I think they have big announcements to making and crap. I've been kind of following it, not because I think it's this immediate, interesting, huge player in changing the face of monetization on the Web incredibly quickly, but I think it's a pretty good stab at changing the face of Web monetization over a decade kind of thing.

This stuff changes and morphs. It just does. There was a heyday of banner advertising that's now over. Now we live in a weird area of social media influencers. Who knows if that will end, but it will probably change and morph. Sponsored native content is such a big deal now that I don't know if we're past the heyday of it, but it's certainly had a heyday. Maybe we're in it right now. I don't know, but the way that free publications make money changes.

Dave: Well, this Coil, we should maybe get somebody on here from there. That would be kind of cool. I haven't signed up for it. Maybe I'll do that today. You have a browser extension. Brave's bitcoin thing does this too, right?

Chris: Yeah, we can cover the whole spectrum of it--

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: --but we can do Coil first. Right. Yeah, you have to have a browser extension, which is temporary. That's what Coil is fighting for is for you to not have a browser extension.

Dave: Mm-hmm.

Chris: Let's say you do, for now, and you go to, which is a service where you give them $5 a month.

Dave: I filled up my piggy jar.

Chris: Pick up your piggy jar. It's micropayments. Everybody has heard of this. This has been tried a million times. It feels like it to me. You go to a website and they get a penny from you. The beauty of that is that they're being monetized by 10,000 people instead of 2 people.

Dave: I think that's cool because somebody could detect, like, "Oh, does this person have navigator.monetization?" Oh, I'll just turn off all the ads if they have the monetization thing on.

Chris: That's the feel, right? All the browser extension is doing is mocking out those APIs on websites so that you can use those.

Dave: I like that. You think about -- I don't know. Right now, I pay about $20 a month in Patreon or something like that at different levels for different people.

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: That's fine. I want to support people, but there's also the New York Times or Vox or whatever. I want to support them too. I want to support the people I follow there and their content.

Chris: Sure. I'm not sure if they have any of those big players on yet or whatever, but I get it. You want to support. You want to sprinkle your dollars out through the places that you visit. The beauty is that you don't even think about it. Your money just sprinkles out as you browse the Web.

Dave: Right.

Chris: You don't have to make any choices. You don't have to fill out any forms. You don't have to do nothing. Your money just sprinkles away from you naturally based on your browser patterns.

Dave: Right. Then the content creator, let's say Jabril. Do you know Jabril? He's a programmer. He's been on Coding Train and stuff like that. I support him.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Dave: Rather than the content creator having to be like, "Oh, subscribe to my Patreon. Give me the money. Give me the money," he passively would earn income. But then me too. I don't have to go commit to giving Jabril $3 a month or whatever for the rest of my life. I could do that as well, but I don't have to do that. I guess I'm saying I could passively give him money rather than, "Oh, okay. I'm going to sign up to support you like a content missionary for the rest of your life," or whatever. [Laughter] I don't know. I guess I like the passive nature.

Chris: Right.

Dave: You think about xkcd.

Chris: Right.

Dave: If I could have just given him a penny or two pennies or if everyone from Reddit or Digg gave him two pennies every time they went to his comic, he would be -- well, he probably is rich, but he would be very rich [laughter] just from people going to his silly Webcomic.

Chris: There's so much to think about here. Yeah, I'm sure he's doing fine because he's got books and goes on book tour and probably dabbles in all kinds of things.

Dave: I think he's been on the Today Show. [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah, probably doing just fine there. To kind of complete the picture of that, the passiveness of it is such a big part of it and the anonymousness of it. It's kind of like you come to my site and there's a metatag in the head. The metatag is like a string of gibberish that I don't even understand the tech of it but points to an online wallet. There are multiple of these online banks that work in that way. All they need is this identifier and you can open a connection to them and deposit money into them just through a number. How that works, I don't know, but it's fancy. I'm sure lots of people get it. It's fairly easy to pay money.

I have this installed on CSS-Tricks. You come to it, and you have an active Coil subscription. Magic in the background happens and there's a connection made between your Coil account that has some bucks in it and my online bank account. The longer you sit there on CSS-Tricks, it just streams little pennies into my account from your Coil account.

The beauty of it is, they're fighting for, you shouldn't have to have a Coil account. It should just be a metatag that's standardized on the Web, just a Web standard. Any bank, any online thing that wants to be a provider of bank accounts, and not just Coil either. It should be anybody that you could sign up for that does the money sprinkling for you.

They're trying to, as they say, bootstrap an ecosystem around all this stuff. I think that it's right. It's a cool way to do it that might just actually work, especially if it's an actual Web standard. That's the clutch moment if this actually becomes standardized, which it looks very much like it will be. You don't have to install anything. That's a big deal.

To get enough people in the world just on Coil to make it a big deal is like, meh, maybe they'll get there but chances are they'll just be some startup that just lives and dies like all startups do. To have an ecosystem around it all where multiple startups are living and dying around in this world, all based around this Web standard, that seems like a big deal and a much bigger deal for publishers and having publishers be much more likely to integrate Web payments type stuff on their site because they don't have to do it six ways for six different startups. You just do it the one way.

You brought up the Brave thing. That's interesting. They have their own thing. The Brave browser has their own cryptocurrency or whatever, like BAT, Basic Attention Token, or something it's called. When you're using the Brave browser, if you opt in to this thing, it's the same kind of thing, micropayments for the site that you visit, and you do it that way.

I had to opt into that and do all the special stuff to get that going, too. I did it just because I thought, hey, I'm dabbling in all this stuff. Wouldn't it be interesting to learn about how that works too? It's similar, but different. Google has Google Publishers, some other technology that's similar, but I don't totally understand it because I tried to get invited and didn't, so I don't know exactly how that one works.

All three are very different from each other, which is kind of fine when you're fleshing this stuff out, but it's better when things are standardized, as we know, as Web standards people. Things become a much bigger deal once they're standardized. I totally buy into that.

Dave: I don't want one company to own monetization on the Web. As a, whatever, Web purist, I don't want that.

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: I like the idea of this open standard.

Chris: There are payment APIs already, right? This is notably different from those. What are those called?

Dave: Web payment API, Web payments API.

Chris: Yeah, Web payments API, which is, you want to check out on a website. You might be interested in this in your PWA. If you want to take a credit card for some advanced feature, you can call these APIs. What you get out of them is your browser has access to its saved credit cards and the checkout process is handled for you. It's a little set of APIs around that, so you don't have to build a whole checkout flow, but you get a bunch of UI and UX around it.

Dave: It's pretty awesome. I've put it in a CodePen before just to show it off to people.

Chris: It is awesome. It's awesome.

Dave: It just spits out. Edge will be like, "Hey, do you want to put your Microsoft Wallet into this CodePen?" [Laughter]

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: You're like, "Okay," because I'm not smart but I did it. [Laughter]

Chris: Right. Microsoft, that's proprietary for Microsoft, but they're just hooking into those APIs and Google can do it in a different way.

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: Apple can integrate Apple Pay into it, so it really has bootstrapped an ecosystem of online payments. Now, you need a little bit more browser support. I think you'll see it more and more because now we can write code that's like, if the browser that I'm in supports the Web payments API, do that because it's a way more comfortable checkout flow.

Dave: Yeah. Just try it, yeah.

Chris: Yeah, just try it.

Dave: Just try it and then I can skip this whole screen of the checkout flow if they said, "Yeah," you know.

Chris: Yeah. Yeah, guaranteed your abandonment rate and all that stuff is going to go way down because it's just going to be this saved credit card and way easier, more comfortable, more trusted looking checkout flow.

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: This is not that, though. That is asking the user, "Hey, would you like to pay me money?" and then approval and all that stuff. This is totally invisible, passive Web monetization. You don't see anything at all. It just works and you've opted into it as a user through some service or something. It's not like you don't know what's going on.

Notably, I don't know anything about you either. There's no GDPR concerns or anything like that. I know literally nothing about you. There is a little bit of, I can ask how much money have you given me because I can program interesting things like, if you have dialed up the notch high enough such that you've given me $10, well then, programmatically, I'll unlock something for you, which is interesting.

Dave: Ooh! Do you want to give me premium content?

Chris: It's not just yes or no. Yeah, yeah, so they have this whole thing, which this is their marketing spiel--and they're not sponsoring this show. I just think it's interesting--where they call it 100 plus 20, which is, don't take anything away from users. Give them 100% of what you're offering them but give them some bonus stuff too. If you support me at this particular level, it unlocks some extra kind of bonus thing. You're not trying to punish people. You're just trying to give them a little extra incentive. That's the 20% extra kind of thing.

I haven't done this on CSS-Tricks. I haven't even removed the ads for people that do this because I think this technology is so new that it's hard to do it. Notably, what I found was that in order to figure out 100% successfully if a person is Web monetizing you, giving you some money at all, just yes or no, takes a couple of seconds. One of the ways that you could code that is, wait a couple of seconds to find out that answer definitively yes or no, then request ads. Well, I'll tell you what. That's going to affect the impressions and your advertising situation. If every single page-load of your site waits three seconds before it even decides whether it's going to make a request for ads or not, that's no good.

But there are other ways to program that. You could just request the ads anyway no matter what and then only show them after you've got the answer, yes or no, or not. Or you could just show them immediately and then hide them if you get a yes answer. There are all kinds of different ways to program it. I just wasn't totally comfortable with figuring that all out yet, so I haven't done anything.

I was toying around with ideas, like, what else could I do? Well, I could offer high res downloads of the Screencasts that I produce. I always have a really high res version of it that I just have sitting around, but it costs me money. I can't just throw those on S3 and give you a download link to it. Back when I did that, it cost me $300 a month in bandwidth charges for that because the files are so big; it caused a lot of bandwidth.

Well, what if you pay me at some certain level? I'll unlock that link. I can do that because I have these APIs. You don't have to tell me about yourself. You don't have to have a checkout flow. There's nothing. It just will automatically unlock if you are at a particular level that you control. That was a lot, but cool, right? Kind of.

Dave: No, this is cool.

[Banjo music]

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[Banjo music]

Dave: I signed up. When I went to CSS-Tricks, my little icon turned green.

Chris: Yeah. Thanks.

Dave: It was like I'm giving you money.

Chris: I mean it's been like a month now and I've made $20 total from the thing. When we were talking about all this, we're not talking about people changing their careers overnight. This is early days for this stuff. This is thinking about the technology of it all, and they know that. I think it's probably a little early, but they have some plans for how they can continue to bootstrap this ecosystem by incentivizing people's ideas.

Dave: Well, what would be interesting is if you could track this. Fire off to your GA how many Coil users you have or something. Is that against the spirit of it?

Chris: I don't know. It's a good question.

Dave: That might not work, just in general, because they probably blocked GA on your site anyway. [Laughter] You could be like, "Okay, I have ten Coil users and I made $20. That's great," right, for Chris Coyier?

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: If you made $2 a user somehow, that's amazing. Maybe as it becomes more ubiquitous, that number might go down per user, but that's something to think about.

Chris: The anonymous stuff has more implications. This $20 USD to me in Bend, Oregon, is a different number in different countries all around the world. There are some countries where that's worth even less to them than it is to me, but a lot more countries where it's worth a lot more.

Dave: Mm-hmm.

Chris: That $20 is good cash, right? There is no differentiation. There's not like, "Ooh, this Web browser came from Thailand, so we're not going to monetize that person or that user." It's totally open.

Dave: Or, "Oh, this is a AAA website or a luxury brand, so they get more," you know.

Chris: Yeah. Total level playing field with that stuff.

Dave: "This is a packed keyword, oh, they get less." I don't know.

Chris: [Snickers]

Dave: I saw something. I was watching -- oh, yeah. Okay. [Laughter] I think I remember what it was. It was the Tech Lead. Have you seen this on YouTube? It's like this guy who was a tech lead at Facebook and got fired and divorced, unfortunately, but he's just making YouTubes. [Laughter] Anyway, it's weird.

Chris: I'm seeing it. You know about everything. I feel like every week you surprise me with all the interesting stuff you know about the Internet.

Dave: I'm like a crappy version of Reddit.

Chris: [Loud laughter]

Dave: [Laughter] Anyway, he was just talking about running ads and is it worth it. He's more like, "No," was sort of his response, I believe. He was just saying, if you're doing personal finance, if you want to run ads for that, the ads cost more but you also get paid more if you run a personal finance blog because that keyword is packed.

Man, this is great because this takes out the whole entire--I don't know--keyword stuffing arbitrage sort of stuff out of it. A click is worth a click.

Chris: I've got to subscribe to this guy. He looks mad in kind of a funny way.

Dave: Yeah. Well, it's a lot of action. My friends Dahn and Zach and I were kind of like, is this a setup? Is this sort of a gimmick? But I think it's real, actually. I don't know. Reach out if you all know him personally.

Chris: It's like 200,000 views per video, which he does every other day. My God.

Dave: Well, he broke it down. Back to monetizing on the Web. In a recent video, he breaks it down. He just was like, "I make $18,000 a month doing YouTube," or something. "Every video that gets over 1,000 views gets $3,000. Maybe it's like $1,000 per 100,000 views or so.

Chris: How much is it? One more time.

Dave: A thousand dollars per 100,000 views.

Chris: Okay, so $10,000 for a million?

Dave: Yeah, $10,000 for a million. He was like, "I'm making $18,000." He was like, "Oh, it's a pretty good salary for a junior developer." I just was like, "Who? What now?" [Laughter]

The context is, he worked at Facebook and the value. Again, money is super relative to where you are.

Chris: Yeah, it's $216,000 a year. A pretty good salary, I'd say. It's more than I make.

Dave: Yeah, but it just sounded like an unfathomable amount of money for YouTube. [Laughter] I just was like -- you know?

Chris: It does. You know why that's really extra super good money is because it's almost definitely not the only thing he does. If it is the only thing he does, it's stupid. This is just one channel. If you have 500,000 followers on YouTube, you should be selling some other kind of thing, sell a book, sell something, get yourself on Instagram, Twitter, and all those and have big channels there too.

This is just your ads there, but that probably discounts product placement for the stuff that are in the videos. Get a blog for sure. The $18,000 a month is just one channel then, which makes the whole pie probably worth a lot more. I'm sure it's a million dollar a year business, overall.

Dave: Potentially, yeah. He's calling it--whatever--retiring in his 30s or something like that.

Chris: Well, good.

Dave: Forced retirement in his 30s.

Chris: Is that what you do? Hey, by the way, your Coil account, you can attach to your YouTube channel and your Twitch too. Because it's a plugin, they can inject that metatag and whatnot into that. It's like I attached it to my YouTube channel. I don't know how much I get. Like I said, I've made $20 total on the thing, so not anything to show off here, but I think that's interesting.

Dave: Not to bust you, but could I put it in a CodePen, like in a metatag or whatever? Could I monetize my CodePen?

Chris: You could if you deployed a project because then it's the only metatag there, but I think you can because, in pens in CodePen, we have that "Stuff for " section and there's no way we're going to strip out this tag. I don't think we have any code for that. Even if we did, I would fix it so that it didn't do that because this is perfectly fine for me. Yeah, you could put it in a CodePen.

Dave: Maybe there's something there. Again, it's like I'm making the CodePen and I want to get likes, so that's why I did all that SVG animation, like, "Hey," and it wasn't for nothing. I made a buck. That's great! [Laughter] I'll do it again.

[Banjo music]

Chris Enns: This episode is sponsored by Datadog, a scalable, full-stack monitoring platform. You can get a user's eye view of your front-end services with Datadog Synthetics. Datadog automatically tests your application endpoints with simulated traffic from global locations, allowing your teams to proactively identify and improve issues before they affect your customers. Plus, you can build multistep browser tests simply by interacting with your application. Datadog will record your actions and automatically execute the tests and intelligently adapt to changes in your UI along the way.

You can build your first test today with a free trial of Datadog Synthetics and receive a complimentary T-shirt by visiting Our thanks to Datadog Synthetics for sponsoring this episode of ShopTalk Show.

[Banjo music]

Chris: Another part of this is that, okay, we're talking about technology and just APIs, just JavaScript, yes or no, and being able to link into it. They have a bunch of interesting code you can look at about how you measure it and things over time. It's all anonymous, but it doesn't mean you don't have interesting programmatic access to what's happening.

I think what they're excited about, what frankly I am too is that when you give a whole slew of nerds an API like that, you get interesting solutions and ideas. We're way at the early days of what people are going to do with this that's fascinating like unlocking a recipe. Meh. Having a link to a high-quality download video, these are just day one, simple ideas.

When this thing is years down the road, it's become a Web standard, it's shipping in lots of browsers, and there are lots of services that people sign up for and like because they've innovated interesting ways to pay subscribers, you just start to see a lot more interesting crap happening at the Web. It's not either/or. That's why I'm intrigued now because I can get my foot in the door with these ideas now and not turn off all of the other ways of monetizing. You don't have to turn off your ads if you don't want to. You don't have to turn off your subscription products if you don't want to. They can live alongside of it as this grows.

Dave: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

Chris: I feel very sales pitchy on it now, so I feel like I better shut up about it, but that's just the Coil thing. I'm sure that people that are really stoked about Brave and Basic Attention Tokens and stuff are probably kind of secretly hoping that that's the thing that wins or whatever.

Dave: I think what we're seeing, not to get too pundit-y here, but what we're seeing in the industry at large is ads are a major source of slowing down websites and privacy invasion, like getting tracked all over the fricken Internet. I don't care what the fricken reply all says. They're listening to me with my microphone.

Chris: [Laughter]

Dave: That's happening and, for sure, 100% quote me on it. I think the Web, in particular, app stores and those companies, they kind of have monetization somewhat figured out. Apple kind of controls, gates the privacy to some degree, right? They can block you, kick you off the app store, and demonetize you entirely if you did a bad.

The Web doesn't quite have that. We can't just kick the New York Times off because they did a bad or whatever. I feel like the Web, in particular, is begging for a new way to make money. I think we're just in a state where so many people are installing blockers because they don't want ads and they don't want anything. They don't want ads and they want their privacy. That's totally respectable. If you're going to make that step, you need to have a kickback. I don't know. Pay it forward.

Technically, you can steal content for free, I guess, if you want. It would be cool -- I don't know. Maybe that's where it's a problem is it would be really cool if you gave some money, wouldn't it? Maybe that's not enough to sell people on it. I don't know.

Chris: Well, I'm excited about it. I'm excited about it.

Dave: This is cool. I'm signed up. I'm going to try to put it on my blog. But then it was like, "Oh, you need a Ripl account for your bitcoins or something else. [Laughter] Oh, no!

Chris: Yep. Honestly, that's one of the weirdest parts. Coil was easy to sign up for and the bank thingy that they work with right now is actually called Stronghold.

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: That was actually a little harder to sign up for. I had to approve some weird trackers to get their JavaScript to run to even sign up. I was like, "Hmm, that's weird," but I did it. I'm sure it's a perfectly legit company. I don't think they're shady or anything. It was a pretty nice little app.

It was funny. Then I did the Brave one and they only work with some other bank, so I have some other online bank account kind of thing. There are some cognitive costs to all this that's like, "Oh, gosh. Now I have five different apps I'm using for all this stuff. Who knows if I'll even remember them?" It's not like, the first of every month, I'm going to eagerly go check my Stronghold account and make sure that I transfer the money out of it. But at least it's USD, which is also a big deal that the Brave thing only works in that cryptocurrency, which means that you're paid in that cryptocurrency and it's on you to get it out of that cryptocurrency if you care to.

Dave: Yeah. Yeah, well, see -- yeah. You want some macabre thinking here?

Chris: Yeah. Are you into crypto, by the way? I don't have a read on you on the crypto thing.

Dave: I'm not. My friend Joe McCann is very much. I follow his trading tips, but I don't actually trade at all. I don't want to. I don't know.

Chris: The only time I'm jealous of it is when I know somebody who is rich because of it and then I don't care, but that's only because of just genuine human jealousy.

Dave: Right. Genuine human jealously/not sure I want to fund a black market, but whatever. Hey. Here we go. [Laughter] Sent hate mail to your own email account.

I'm not super into it, but there is a value. Maybe it's not fully realized yet, but there does seem to be some kind of value there.

When I think even like bitcoin or whatever, if I got a bunch of bitcoins and let's say I die, this is something I think about. It's just like, what does my wife do? How does my wife get the bitcoin? That's another asset you have to manage. Maybe I, through a spirit medium, transfer my One Password password to my wife or something like that. I don't know. That seems like a pretty intense thing. She can't go into a Wells Fargo and just yell at them, give a death certificate, or whatever. It's different. I don't know. I think about that sort of stuff.

Back to having a family. If you're just a young, single person, yeah, it probably makes sense to just whatever. You had extra money. You put it into imaginary money. When you're married with kids, you're like, "Uh, probably not just going to buy imaginary money. I'll buy diapers instead."

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: That's sort of where I'm at.

Chris: I have kind of a thing that at least we're technological people in that even if we've missed the first way, maybe we're going to miss the second wave, we're not going to be the last people on earth to get on board with this. There are definitely people that will be behind us if the wave really does get bigger that it can't be ignored.

Dave: Yeah, totally. My things are probably purely ethical at this point.

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: I think a lot of people in black markets have got a lot of money, and I don't think that's super great. Then I also think--

Chris: Yeah. I read some article; "You want to not have your wife take half of your money when you get divorced? Oh, great, I like where this is going. Yeah, just put it in bitcoin. Then they can't touch it."

Dave: Oh, yuck. Yucko! See, that's gross, right?

Chris: It is gross. Yes, it's gross.

Dave: It seems like there's a criminal element to it. Again, don't bet your finances on Dave Rupert.

Chris: There are so many things, isn't there? It's like the power. There's the power usage thing. The thing that always gets me the most is, you know when you just don't like a politician or something because you just don't like the way they talk? You're just like, "I just don't like your vibe." You know? Even if you're not philosophically opposed to what they're saying, you're just like, um, almost every time I hear anybody talk about crypto, I'm just like, "I just don't like what you're saying. You're not being very clear. It sounds very muddy and gross to me." Send me all the hate mail you want about that, but I've never overheard a crypto conversation that was like, "Yeah, that's interesting. I enjoyed listening to that." [Cynical laugh]

Dave: [Laughter] Good point. Everyone has good points.


Dave: No, I do think about it. It seems valuable. It seems like a nerdy asset, but it does seem like a collectible, not really an actionable thing. I think the real money is in the day trading, catching the winds of the market. I think that's where people get rich.

Chris: Sure.

Dave: They buy something cheap and sell it high. What better place to do that than a really volatile market?


Dave: Guess who likes that?

Chris: Fair enough.

Dave: Day traders. Again, ShopTalk disclaimer, right? Don't manage your finances based on things we say here on the show. If you're happy, I don't want to--what is it--yuck your yum. I don't want to yuck your yum. I want you to be happy with your pile of bitcoins.

Any other thoughts on monetizing?

Chris: No, we can probably leave it there. That was good. Maybe we can end with just a couple of hot links if you've got any.

Dave: Yeah, well, I can post a link to this little prototype. I'll put that in the show notes. You'll have to go to the website, which we are working on the website. We've just had a little call about it.

Chris: Yeah. Believe it or not, we're going to actually do that.

Dave: Yeah, we never do big old feedback things here, but if you have feedback about the website or whatever, please send it to us, or how you use the website. It's a useful part of the show, obviously. We're a Web show, but if you have tactical feedback, we'd love to hear it.

Chris: You know what was an interesting thought from that was that, because we talked about it recently, who wants to start a podcast on episode 382 or something?

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: This happened to me the other day because I was like, you know that podcast, My Brother, My Brother and Me, or something? Have you listened?

Dave: Oh, MBMBaM? Yeah, I listen to MBMBaM.

Chris: You do?

Dave: [Laughter] I'm an MBMBaM bino. Yeah.

Chris: It seems like it would appeal to me, right? It's some nerds talking about stuff. Something about it seems like I would like it.

Dave: You would like it. You would like it.

Chris: I popped in, and they're on episode 476 or something. There was so much going on, it felt like, unspoken that I was just like, "I can't. This isn't -- I need an intro episode or intro series or something.

Dave: Ah.

Chris: It didn't catch me. I tried to listen to a whole one and the guys had just come back from some event they were at. They were talking about the awkward social situations at the event that they were at. I was like, "I don't even know what event you're talking about. I kind of don't care what's happening right now."

Dave: Well, they were at Comicon. Yeah, they met a lot of famous people.


Dave: But no, I think you have to -- with that podcast, in particular, I think you have to -- I would actually recommend listening to the Adventure Zone, which is their other podcast where the three brothers play Dungeons and Dragons with their dad. [Laughter] It's so great and there are two major arches, so the balance arch and then the amnesty arch. I would go all the way to episode one and start there.

Chris: Okay. Okay.

Dave: Work your way forward, but it's those brothers being funny but in the context of D&D, so you have a starting point, I guess, there. Then you can jump into MBMBaM.

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: It's all--

Chris: Look at how very successful their website it and it's awful.

Dave: Well, it was brought to you by Squarespace.


Dave: No, you mean the Maximum Fun podcast,

Chris: Oh, yeah. I guess that is what I'm talking about.

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: It just looks like a WordPress theme from 2004.

Dave: Yeah. It's maybe a legacy feel to it.

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: I don't think it's even responsive. Yeah. Nope, so it's Blogger. It's on Blogger.

Chris: The 1.1 font-size Verdana. The Verdana at a fairly small size looks good. That's what really gives it that classic feeling.

Dave: Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, but it's fun. It's a good show. I would do the Adventure Zone. Yeah, you're right. It's back to our show. [Laughter] It's weird to jump into a podcast at episode 400, which we're kind of cruising to 400. If you really value the episode numbers, let us know. We'll probably keep episode numbers around in some format.

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: If you'd rather like better titles that are more about, like--

Chris: We know from our survey.

Dave: Maybe we drop out episode numbers.

Chris: Maybe.

Dave: Maybe we just focus on whatever. Anyway, podcast apps can do that now. When we started, Apple iTunes didn't have episode numbers and now it does.

Chris: What does it feel like? Is there anybody listening out there where this is the first episode they listened to? I'm talking to you because there's probably one of you.

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: If that's you, then tell us that you're the one person that that's who that is. What was your experience like? Is it too weird? Is it too cliquey, like me and Dave know each other too well and it's not as welcoming to new listeners like you or was it fine? I'd love to know the answer to that.

Dave: That would be great.

Chris: What could we do to fix that if it's not particularly welcoming?

Dave: Right. Do you need to know? Do I need a better intro, like, "I'm Dave Rupert. I work at Paravel? We're a three-person shop based in Knoxville"?

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: Does that help? Maybe. What helps? I don't know. Yeah, we love tips or whatever. [Laughter] If you are a new listener in the last five shows--

Chris: Well, what we do know is from people when we say, "When did you start?"

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: When we asked, "When did you start listening?" most people, I don't know if they were appeasing us or what, but saying how long ago they started listening, like, "Oh, episode 30 or 110." Nobody was like, "312." I feel like most of our listeners are long-timers.

Dave: Right. Some were, but yeah. I would love, even if you stopped, why did you stop and then you came back? I'd love to know those stories too, just in podcasting in general, because I know I do that to shows. I'll stop listening because I listen to a lot of audiobooks now. Then I'll pick it back up way later and I'll have 300 episodes.

I would love to know. Oh, you took a 100-episode gap? That's great. Why did you do that? Was it us or was it you? [Laughter] Hey, this is awkward. Was it us or was it you? I'd just love to know how we could make this show better. New listeners, people who dropped off, old listeners, it's all good; just let us know. Hit us up on the Twitter or whatever. Maybe we can shoot out a survey or something. We're always open.

Chris: Okay. Now, how much time do we have? Probably none, huh? Yeah, let's go with none.

Dave: Yeah.

Chris: We'll do hotlinks. We don't even do hotlinks. That's not even a segment that we do. We just thought we would do that this week if we had some.

Dave: Hotlinks.

Chris: I always have hotlinks. I'm full of hotlinks. I've got a whole Notion that I just keep of just the hottest of the hotlinks.

Dave: Really?

Chris: Oh, yeah.

Dave: Oh, maybe we need a hotlinks episode after this.

Chris: Do you use the Web Clipper? I think that's a nice little browser extension they have. If you're just on a page, you just--

Dave: No, I don't.

Chris: You just click it and it just pops it onto a nice little table for you in Notion. It's like a read later, but it also grabs the entire article and puts it into Notion too.

Dave: Ooh!

Chris: So, it's kind of like in there and searchable if you want to. I don't use that feature very much. Mostly, to me, I just want to know.

Dave: It's probably better than my growing list of, like, 40 bookmarks that I've dropped into Notion.

Chris: Yeah. I even put an extra column on it called used or not because mostly mine is like, I might tweet this or I might link to it on CSS-Tricks. That's what it really is for me.

Dave: Yeah. Mine are all cool, but kind of too long to read in one sitting.

Chris: Mm-hmm.

Dave: I'm like, uh, well, I'll come back later on this, and I never come back. You know?

Chris: I know. Isn't that terrible?

Dave: Oh, well.

Chris: I've got to double down on this Instagram thing. No more of this journalism stuff if it can't fit into a 600x600 square.

Dave: All right. We'll do stories only. That's it. Does that appeal to you, Shop-o-maniacs, just stories only?

Chris: Yeah.

Dave: We'll just do little, like, "Yo, what up?"

Chris: We heard the format is too long, so we're going down to six seconds.

Dave: Yeah. Look at this code. Done. Next.


Dave: There you go. Ah, man. We unlocked it. We unlocked the secret of monetization in this episode. Chris, I guess I'll wrap it up.

Thank you, dear listener, Shop-o-maniac, for downloading this in your podcatcher of choice. Be sure to star, heart, favorite it up. That's how people find out about the show and, consequently, how we make money, I guess. You can follow us, @ShopTalkShow, on Twitter for tons of tweets a month. If you hate your job, head over to and get a brand new one because people want to hire people like you. Chris, do you got anything else you'd like to say?