Notelr: The Monetization-Focused Blogging Platform

As a writer who works solely online, the success of the blog as a publishing platform for the written word has been a good thing. I can’t truthfully say that the continued, never-ending growth of blogging is a positive, however. The breathtaking volume of text being published every second makes life difficult for readers, who constantly find themselves having to catch up, and it devalues the work of high quality writers.

It’s little wonder, then, that writers have flocked to networks in search of hits, or the bucks they produce. Controversial the Bleacher Report may be, but it has given a select group of writers the opportunity to be rewarded for their popularity. Equally, some have gone looking for readers on content aggregators such as Medium, with the idea being that articles within the network are far more discoverable than a blog post, on its own, would be.

But what if writers were able to combine the visitor numbers of a network with the revenue options of a personal blog? This tantalizing prospect is roughly what new invite beta service, Notelr, looks capable of providing. An impossible dream? Let’s find out…

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The Network

The first thing to get straight is that Notelr is not actually marketing itself as a blogging platform. The focus here is on social interaction and long form updates, rather than journalistic article writing, even though all the necessary tools are at hand for the latter to thrive.

Each user on Notelr has their own Notebook (a blog-like profile), which is, unsurprisingly, filled with Notes (the user’s posts). The look here is geared towards imagery, mirroring the Masonry-themed look of Pinterest, with captions, rather than excerpts, getting most of the limelight.

There's good reason for the Pinterest mimicry here – Notelr is both very social and very visual.

There’s good reason for the Pinterest mimicry here – Notelr is both very social and very visual.

As you might expect of a network, you can follow other Notelr users to receive their posts in your feed, and there’s also a featured section for discovery. A further layer of social discovery is added by hashtags, and you can also @-mention other users.

Composition

When you decide to create a new Note, you’re presented with a pleasantly simple, yet feature rich, environment. By default, new posts contain a title, some tags, and a caption image to accompany your wise words. There’s plenty more you can add, though, using the array of widgets at the bottom of the composition page.

Composition is a simple process, but posts are hugely customizable thanks to Notelr's widgets

Composition is a simple process, but posts are hugely customizable thanks to Notelr’s widgets

Images can be uploaded from your computer, or retrieved from Facebook, Instagram, or Flickr, and videos hosted elsewhere can also be included in Notes. Numbered lists are on offer, as are embedded Google Maps, star ratings, and a variety of contact links.

Noetlr offers to retrieve images from Facebook, Instagram and Flickr

Noetlr offers to retrieve images from Facebook, Instagram and Flickr

These widgets can be placed anywhere within a Note page, which is, itself, split in two, with the larger content column on the left, and a sidebar on the right.

Overall, this is a workspace that provides a good mix of multimedia publishing, customization and ease of use.

Reader Experience

Considering the time investment you make in the creation of a post, the platform on which it is published really needs to work for the reader as much as it does for you, the writer.

Notelr’s reader experience is, by and large, a good one. Each note is topped and tailed by social options — Notelr’s internal network, as well as mainstream external services — but the content feels uncluttered. This is, in part, thanks to a good choice of font, but it can also be attributed to the significant spacing which content is given.

The presentation is social, classy and clean.

The presentation is social, classy and clean.

As with Medium, at the bottom of each post, the reader is offered a selection of related articles; more often than not, some of these are the creations of other users. From the writer’s perspective, this lack of author exclusivity on post pages is as irritating here as it is on Ev’s baby.

However, Notelr’s presentation is mostly pretty impressive. It’s never going to rival the cutting-edge minimalism of Svbtle, but it’s classy and very readable.

Monetization

Reading through Notelr’s feature list, it’s notable quite how many words are dedicated to monetization. To such a degree, in fact, that when you actually reach the features in question, you might be somewhat disappointed. This isn’t because they are in any way dysfunctional; they’re just not terribly out of the ordinary.

The product widgets will be very effective for some bloggers.

The product widgets will be very effective for some bloggers.

Essentially, your toolkit consists of ebay and Amazon widgets, each providing up to three products with affiliate links. Obviously, this kind of monetization will appeal to folks like book reviewers, food bloggers and craft writers, but for the rest of us, Notelr’s ban on advertizing — they don’t even run their own ads — may make monetization difficult.

Summing Up

Notelr is a very hard platform to judge, for a number of reasons. It is evidently very competent for network-style blogging, yet it wants to be a social network. It would like to offer writers value for the content, but the tools it provides are only of use, in this regard, to a limited segment of the online publishing community.

As a general purpose publishing platform, Notelr isn’t breaking any new ground, but it is competent and pleasant to use, while also providing the advantages that any reasonably successful blogging network can offer.

For a blogger whose content suits the social, visual style of Notelr, both increased readership and genuine income generation seem to be likely eventualities once Notelr starts to gain popularity – something I’m sure this neat little startup will find in the near future.


Summary

A simple blogging platform designed first-and-foremost to help budding online writers make money from their work.

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