Out of the blatantly commercial

Now that I’m back in the non-profit world of libraries and academia my efforts are no longer slanted towards that simple question of survival, “How do I make money?” A salary is a remarkable thing (as is a job with benefits). And that frees up my thinking and efforts.

For eight years I lived in Argentina and for the first several years of that period I kept a blog about Buenos Aires, which mostly delved into the cultural heritage of that city. The aims of that blog were never commercial. However, I did repurpose the content for a couple of very money-making purposes because, quite frankly, I needed to pursue every form of income I could manage. Around 2006 – 2008 the blog was quite popular and received a large number of incoming link and corresponding traffic.

A few of the ways I repurposed selected content:

  • A free 57-page PDF book of selected postings
  • A highly visual ebook 4 Perfect Days in Buenos Aires. (I actually did make a fairly significant amount from this ebook but decided to make it freely available when I no longer had time to revise the contents.)
  • An iPhone app Buenos Aires in 4 Days. I charged for this app, initially. First, $2.99, then I dropped it to $1.99. Then to $0.99. Then, also, I no longer had time to update the app I made it free. The app remains surprisingly popular for such a niche product with total downloads over 8,000.

Of course, in the end, I never did make much from these efforts and ended up opening these initiatives and making the products free to all.

With almost 500 blog postings about Buenos Aires I have quite a set of content, only parts of which have found their way into other products. In fact, my Buenos Aires blog has over 125,000 words. That’s the equivalent of a lengthy, though unedited book. In book form the blog would be over 400 pages (not counting images)!

I’ve often thought of closing out the blog but I’m not quite done with what I have to say about Buenos Aires. Besides, though I may no longer live there, I will go back for a visit every year. With my renewed focus on the ways that digital content is represented on the Web and in apps I will be using my Buenos Aires blog as a testbed for exploring topics in the digital humanities.

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