We're running some experiments

As the economy ebbs and flows, so does the advertising industry. Since Instructables' only current sources of revenue are contextual and brand advertising, our future has a few more question marks than it did a few months ago. We're currently engaged in a number of experiments to see how some of our ideas around alternative revenue sources pan out. For example, we're currently asking non-logged in users to create an account to access all of the large images in an Instructable. Whether we decide to make any of these changes permanent depends on how they perform, feedback from the community, and if and when brand advertising picks back up.

Advertising underwrites the creation, hosting, and distribution of a tremendous amount of awesome content. Keeping that content flowing when advertising has a down turn requires some creative thinking, and often requires business models that are not free. While we have no plans to charge our community to submit or get access to the Instructables content (because really, it's your content in the first place), we are experimenting and thinking about premium models around how that content is displayed and other features you may find valuable.

If you see something out of the ordinary, please give us the benefit of the doubt while we experiment to find ways to ensure we're around for a long time to come.

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I think this is foolish idea. This function makes understanding the instructions very difficult; as a result I have a feeling many people are going to stop visiting this site.
BeanGolem8 years ago
Would it help if we actually clicked on the ads once in a while, instead of just dismissing them automatically as evil advertising? The trouble is that with contextual ads, you're getting ads for the things that you're trying to find on Instructables. They are not compatible. The whole point is that we would rather do something ourselves than just buy it. Would there be a way to have Instructables make money IRL, instead of only through the site? Perhaps they could offer more extensive fee-based classes or workshops.
I must say, there isn't much I would "pay" for at Instructables (I'm a rather cheap person, sad to say). That said, I would happily pay for certain "premium member privileges". In particular, allowing premium members to directly implement the image macro and other formatting options (LaTeX text formatting anyone?) Also, BeanGolem's idea about offering classes/workshops is a good one (I think), and making the store more like makezine.com's Maker Shed would also be a plus. (I'd rather patronize Instructables than many other places, but Instructables currently only sells clothing and accessories, unless I'm mistaken. Do you guys even sell your own "Best of Instructables" book in the store?) Perhaps place a link to your store up top along with the Explore, Community, Answers, etc. buttons? The only link I see is at the bottom of every page, and many users may not get all the way down there...
Instructables road show!! The show and tell sessions were very popular (in their day. Will there be more?) At the Maker Faire, the computer recyclers had a room full of parts with tools. It was incredible to see so many people intently and enthusiastically, spontaneously making stuff! I say mini robots, necklaces motorized flashing thingies. How about a similar thing at places like the Exploratorium, The Tech Museum and places like it? Show people how to make stuff in 3D, not just once a year at the Maker Faire. Quarterly Instructable Faires, linked by satellite, show and tell Instructathons, contests, marketplace etc. Ok, I'm getting carried away, but you get the idea. I'm going to go out and take pictures of dead weeds made that way by my last 'ible.
I'm concerned about the restriction on image viewing too. We use our instructables to complement our printed plans in our kits. I feel that this restriction will discourage a percentage of people from purchasing kits. (Most seem to check out the instructable before purchasing.) What I like is the concept of a "Premium" paid membership. What if users can pay an annual membership fee to remove the PDF/image restriction on "their" instructables? That is, I pay to remove restrictions on my content for all viewers. Someone who has a free account saves money, but lives with the restrictions for unregistered users. Would something to the tune of $60/yr work? (I'd pay it in a heartbeat.) Cafepress, Flickr, etc. have similar models. I paid for them all because I wanted a "nicer" experience for all visitors that were browsing my content on those sites. Just a thought. Jeff
ewilhelm (author)  laboratory4248 years ago
That's a really interesting idea. Thanks for sharing it. How many other users do you estimate are in your position? I am specifically interested in the desire to "open" their content to non-logged in users. Under such as system we would probably also offer "all steps" as part of the package. For the time being, you can hack the PDF part by downloading a PDF of your Instructable and uploading it to your library. The PDF won't have the latest comments, but I suspect more people downloading a PDF are more interested in a printable form of the project rather than the comments.
I would say that any user who has produced 2 or more instructables rated at 3+ has something to gain by opening up their content to the general public. The fact they've produced more than one instructable tells me they are determined to be a contributor. The rating of 3+ suggests they are making quality content. These users can generate opportunities with their creative work. Opportunities such as being linked by Make, Wired, Boing Boing, Digg, etc. This buzz may lead to 15 minutes of fame, licensing/writing/speaking opportunities, employment, or a spot on Oprah (who knows). Making their content more accessible by the general public will increase the likelihood that this buzz will flow smoothly. In turn, it can create future opportunities for them and increase traffic to instructables. The $60 (or so) is a great investment. Offering "all steps" as part of the package would be perfect. You could also offer another tier of premium membership for people who want to sell kits (or include it in "the package" for simplicity). For each instructable have a field the user can enter a URL to the parts kit store, page, etc. If this field is filled out, a bright badge will display at the top of the instructable that says "Parts Kit Available" (or something similar). Clicking the badge takes the user to the specified URL. It would be nice if the badge image would show up layered on top of the thumbnail for the instructable too. This way browsing/searching will communicate that this instructable has a kit with it. Much better than throwing a link in the body of the instructable. Jeff
It is sort of annoying to "suddenly" be unable to see the larger photos without being logged in. I feel a little better knowing the reasoning behind it.

Regarding income:

How about a shareware model, where people (who are logged in, of course! ;-), can hit a button and make micro-payments in increments suggested by Instructables Robots, and the authors. Maybe it's a 60/40 split author/Instructables. Whatever is fair, and is simple enough that the delivery does not cost more than it generates.

"Instructables Marketplace" (CC lic. on that for now..." could do a couple of things (others prolly have more ideas), offer shareware instructibles, and premium instructables and products.

Say the lucky laser cutter winner has a nifty duct tape wallet he can crank out and sell for a few bucks. They post it on the 'ibles store by checking the box when first publishing, and a "Buy Now" button turns up on each step of the 'ible.

Products with no instructable, and non-shareware 'ibles (requirements TBD) are in the store. Those who don't have time or inclination to make their own darn duct tape wallet can buy the wallet and have it shipped to their sister's kid in another place (extra charge for a card and gift wrapping?). Instructables and the author/wallet maker split the profits, something along the lines of ebay, without the auction, or the listing fees.

...Come to think of it, maybe there -is- a listing fee on products above $150 or something reasonable.

I'd be interested in selling my yet to be written worm-bin maintenance manual on Instructables. What better place than on the very same pages that made the bin famous in the first place.

I think it would also garner some great publicity. "Teen Knex hacker pays his way through college with Instructable!" It'll take a lot of marshmallow guns to get 'em through MIT, but you get the idea. The iPhone App Store could also be a model. I've heard of several developers who quit their jobs because they are making so much money from one application they can afford to. Wouldn't it be great if Instructables and it's members could pull off something similar?

Sheesh, maybe I should be putting this idea in the laser cutter contest. I think it's worthy, don't you? :-D
Here's a thought. With the author's permission, make an Instructables store (I know there is a store already, but hear me out). The instructables on this site are fantastic, but some people either don't have the time or the means to build them (example, something you need a laser cuter for, or a very complicated-yet-awesome Instructable). I know I have looked at more than a few Instructables and thought man, if only I could make that! You could set up a store online or, even better, a physical walk in store, and sell pre-build Instructables or kits. You could offer a Lazer Engraving service: pay this much and we will engrave anything for you. There could even be free build stations around the store, and possibly a cooking section where one could buy some of these amazing foods and learn how to cook them. I would gladly allow my trip mines to be sold as kits or a completed product.
Yes! We could have stores where ibles gets a percentage. We could also have a way of renting out services (cnc cutting, etc) in the community. If i have a cnc and you need a part I could mill it for you and ibles would get a percent.
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