KaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays

A featured case study – By Joel Comm’sKaChing: How to Run an Online Business that Pays and Pays

Origami Blog helps designer Cindy Ng promote her book and her designs, turning her passion into her profession.

So far, we’ve seen how it’s possible to turn a passion into a profitable online business venture. And we’ve also seen just what can happen when you put your business knowledge on the Web and use the tools available to monetize it: you can end up running a successful, specialized publishing company.

But what happens if your passion is your profession?

First, you’ve already hit the jackpot. There aren’t many people who are lucky enough to make a living doing the things they love to do. If you’re one of them, then you’re in select company — and the Web can help you to squeeze even more revenue out of your pastime.

One of that company is Cindy Ng. A graduate of Business Economics, Cindy’s real enthusiasm is for paper-folding. She designs origami kits and has crafted an origami-inspired jewelry range which is sold in a number of museums, including SF MOMA, The Art Institute of Chicago, The Smithsonian, and London’s Victoria and Albert Museum. She’s also the author of Girligami, a series of origami models designed to appeal to women.

Cindy’s website Origami Blog (www.origamiblog.com) is just one of her sites but it acts as a main entry point, attracting people interested in the topic then sending them out to other sites where they can buy her products. There’s no third-party advertising on the site. That’s a missed opportunity. Blended into the content, there’s no reason that AdSense units, for example, would put off readers or look out of place. But instead, Cindy places links at the top of the page to her “shop”, Origami Bijou (www.origamibijou.com); her book, Girligami (www.girligami.com); her online store at Etsy, a craft site, where people can buy her origami kits; and she also links to her social media pages on Facebook and Twitter, which helps her to build a community around her interest and her designs.

This is a different way of monetizing information compared to the examples we’ve seen before. Cindy’s goal isn’t to earn income from views of the content she posts but to position herself as an expert on origami and to earn direct income by selling products. It’s a method of using specialized content — in this case, content that’s both a hobby and a profession — to build an audience and guide that audience to places where they can make purchases.

Cindy Ng is a technology, business, and design hybrid. She currently writes for Varonis' Inside Out Security blog, covering data security and privacy.