If I told you I had over 17 million article views, over 13,000 followers, and over 450 articles written on Quora over the years you might think that I’ve probably made a bunch of money or something from that effort, right? Well, you’d be wrong.
Quora monetization for authors is bad. But, before I dig too deep on that topic, I have to share a few things…
Disclaimer: I think Quora is great. I clearly enjoy answering questions over there. This is not a “hit piece” on Quora. It’s me simply sharing the experience I’ve had with their new monetization platform.
Okay, story time…
Quite a few years ago I wrote a book that nobody wanted to buy. I was really disappointed in myself for putting all that work into a self published kindle book and releasing it into the world to exactly zero acclaim.
I wanted to get better at writing, so I started answering questions on Quora as a form of writing practice. In a way, Quora questions are like my writing prompts. I would answer questions every now and then, just to practice my writing.
Then a funny thing happened…
I ended up writing about programming (because that’s what I know), and some of the articles started to blow up. Instead of tens of views, it was tens of thousands of views. I felt like I was on to something, so I kept writing.
For a period of time I was answering questions nearly every day. Over time I built up a bit of a following. I was the most viewed writer in many areas for a while, and an article ended up in Apple News and Forbes.
So far my work was viewed over 17 million times on Quora. That’s pretty cool. But I never got paid to do any of this.
Quora Monetization Through The Years
You see, for the longest time Quora had no monetization for contributors at all. They would let people post questions and answers 100% for free, and then take all the advertising revenue for themselves. It’s a great model if you are Quora.
And then they started a partner program for content creators. But, their idea was to incentivize the asking of questions, not creating of answers. They chose to monetize the easy part of the game.
What a bad idea. First, the incentives were in the wrong place - people created junk questions in hopes of getting paid. Second, it forced Quora to deduplicate questions - which led to tons of collapsed questions and answers to those questions that made a bit less sense over time.
I think that original partner program still exists, but I don’t think anyone ever made much money with it (compared to what I’ve seen on Medium, YouTube, etc.)
Will Quora+ Solve Monetization?
Recently, there is a new Quora creator monetization program called Quora+. I was invited to join, so I figured, why not?
At first the program looked like a complete dud, but I was only adding it to new articles. The result was I think at first it only made a penny, but there was almost no views going to those new articles.
I had way more views going to older articles, so why not try those? In an effort get some better data, I decided to run a test. I would turn on monetization for all of my articles on Quora.
The results were astounding! At first I thought the system was broken. After a week or something I had made like $0.10. Not even a dollar!
I thought I’d give it more time and so I left the monetization turned on and pretty much forgot about it. It’s been at least a few months and something like 500,000 or more views. And the grand total earned so far is…
With inflation, I think that still buys me a combo meal at McDonald’s, but not much else.
What Is The Best Use Of Your Time?
To be clear, I’m not ungrateful. I’m just astounded at the low amount of money this brings in. For example, a monetized channel on YouTube can earn say $5 per 1,000 views (this varies wildly by video topic/niche). So, 500,000 views on YouTube would be worth like $2,500 maybe.
$8.47 vs. $2,500… That’s like two different planets in terms of financial outcome!
And yes, I’m comparing apples to oranges a bit. They are two very different platforms, but as a popular and reasonably successful Quora author, I would have expected the built in monetization to pay better.
At this point I don’t believe keeping Quora+ monetization turned on makes any sense whatsoever. I’d rather make $0 and have it easy for my content to be found than get paid an extra $1-5 per month to be behind a paywall.
Moreover, I when I was building the Code Career Genius YouTube channel (for all you existing readers and fans), it got built up to get monetized and was making like $50-100 per month with around 100 videos. If I created 450 videos on there, I probably would be getting hundreds of thousands of monthly views and possibly thousands of dollars worth of ad revenue there.
Or, if I had put 450 articles on Medium, the author monetization over there is now good enough that the same effort would be worth hundreds or possibly thousands of dollars there too.
Maybe, if I had just became a freelance writer, something in those 450 articles could be published on the regular for thousands of dollars income as a freelance writer.
Instead, on Quora… it’s worth eight dollars. Is that the best use of my time?
Demonetizing My Quora
The point is not to complain. It’s to demonstrate to you a simple principle - not all efforts pay equally. Writing on Quora doesn’t pay very well and it won’t anytime soon. That’s fine, it’s still fun to do. But for any other people out there answering questions in hopes of Quora+ paying their bills, I just don’t see that happening anytime soon.
Now, it is possible things turn around. Maybe at some point Quora becomes THE place to write and get paid on the internet. Right now I just don’t see it as a viable way to monetize content in a financially meaningful way.
So, my strategy is going to be to demonetize all my content. It’s just not worth losing traffic behind a paywall if I’m not getting paid.
And in the bigger picture - I’m planning on making as much of my content as freely available as possible. Some of it might get republished here from time to time. Others might turn into YouTube videos or whatever else. I don’t have it all figured out yet.
One thing I’ve learned over the years is to test my assumptions and adjust as I get better data. I’ve got enough data to see that there isn’t much value in monetizing Quora directly yet. Maybe someday that will be worth another test.
I believe Quora is still valuable regardless of direct monetization. But for those of you who were curious about what kind of money larger Quora writers are making, now you know.
Apparently I’d be better off working at McDonald’s or Starbucks for minimum wage.
They pay better. :-)