How Do I Make Money with Twitter? – Past, Present & Future

A couple weeks ago while speaking on a panel at Guy Kawasaki’s revenue Bootcamp (video coming soon), the moderator asked me, “If you were running Twitter, how would you monetize it?” I said I thought sponsored tweets was the answer and I also disclosed that I have been doing sponsored tweets for the last year. I have been paid $200-500 per tweet and have had some pretty large big brand advertisers like Blockbuster, Seaworld, and even one of the large search engines (which I cant disclose per terms) paid me $280 per tweet for up to 4 tweets a day spaced out every 4 hours ($1120.00/day). They also paid many other Twitter users, but I think I am the only one to actually admit I got paid =P.

Anyway, right after that panel (and still going on) I had a surge in followers… which is probably exactly the opposite of what people expected to happen. A lot of that was due to Guy Kawasaki and lots of other very highly influential people linking to me and continuing the discussion after that event.

I have also been contacted by MANY web celebrities and agents who represent celebrities on how they can monetize Twitter accounts. It’s been pretty fun. I was able to get one celebrity $2500 for her 1 tweet. I mostly just tried to make connections. While it’s fun (and good for my ego) talking with some of my childhood idols like Snoop Dogg, MC Hammer, and a ton of other stars about monetizing their Twitter accounts, there is really no money in it for me for the time invested… unfortunately, being connected to A-list Hollywood celebs doesn’t pay my bills (see Kato Kalin), so instead I hook them up with big brand advertisers directly and just tell them they owe me ;).

Last week I did a post on how I was making money arbitraging Twitter traffic by buying traffic from revtwit’s Twitter advertising network and sending it to Izea’s Social Spark Twitter advertising opportunities. The post really showed the current dislocation on Twitter in buying and selling traffic. Since then I have heard from many people who have been making a LOT of money arbitraging Twitter traffic. Not necessarily exactly how I was (which you need per mission from Izea for), but in other unique ways.

As I stated in my article, IMO nobody is doing the advertise network properly…. And I can’t because I sold an advertising network 2 years ago and still have another year on my non-compete for running an advertising network (or I would be all over it).

The other day I saw an article on Techcrunch about full disclosure on Twitter, which was specifically aimed at Izea’s new Twitter advertising network.

Being I am on the board of advisers for Izea, I knew this was in the works but I had no idea that it was so far along. It is currently only open for publishers so I made an account and logged in. Pretty slick interface — I put in my account info and it made suggestions on how much I could charge per click or per tweet. The cost price seemed a little low, but you have to remember Izea is running the whole show with publishers and advertisers so there is no 3rd party taking a cut or scrubbing down leads, so the CPC works out, if not puts you ahead. As above, I said I had gotten all various price ranges per tweet, but for playing with this I went with 250 dollars to see if I would get any bites.

Within a few hours I got a notification that an advertiser had made me an offer. Interesting. I was not expecting this so soon, seeing as how the platform just launched and I did not think they were accepting Twitter advertisers yet.

Anyway, I logged in and low and behold I had an offer from Kmart willing to pay me over $250.00 per tweet. Sweeeeet.

sponsored tweets

So I allowed the offer to tweet. When you set up your account you can opt to accept only offers which you can edit, offers that the advertiser specifies what you will tweet, or both. Being the sellout I am, I opted for both. As you can see, this Kmart ad had their specific text specified and I was not able to edit it. But that’s ok — I accepted it and it was “scheduled.” About 20 mins later this tweet showed up on my account:

As you can see above, the client says “Sponsored Tweet”. This is because Izea has worked with Twitter and got the green light for their advertising network.

( you can get in early with Izea twitter network by signing up here)

We have come a long way with Twitter advertising in the last 4 months:

  • Past – Under the table deals with brands where I was paid to tweet about their products. Oftentimes this was done with a contract of non-disclosure.
  • Present – Using 3rd party networks leveraging my relationships with brands and advertisers to arbitrage Twitter traffic.
  • Future – Full service trusted advertising networks like Izea who already have tons of advertisers and tens of thousands of publishers now running every aspect of it.

Izea is going to run a lot of these 3rd party networks out of business because they already have HUGE big brand companies ready to go. These companies are huge names like Blockbuster, Disney, Kmart, Sears, Blufrog, and the list goes on and on. But they are not alone, and it will be interesting to see if other advertising networks who have these big brands on board will jump into the Twitter space.

Lots of people have asked me if I think advertising will ruin Twitter. Not at all. Free content can only scale so far. Just like newspapers, television, and blogs, Twitter will be monetized and people will have free will to continue to follow who they want.

As I said many times in this post, I have been doing paid tweets for a long time and honestly it’s only inspired more conversation. Even if you follow my Izea automated $250 tweet, you will see that people actually engaged around it and not 1 person bitched that it was a paid tweet. But again, that is your free will to follow and unfollow who you choose.