November 12, 2017

Thread Reader gets 15-80k sessions/day. How can I monetize it?

Hello, it's a pleasure to be here and to share my problems with you.

I'm Jerome maker of Thread Reader (

Thread Reader is a bot/website that helps people to unroll long Twitter threads to an easy to read/distraction free webpage.

It's three months old and has a good traction, that service is free and was needed by many people, myself included.

Today my question is, how can I start to monetize this service?

My goal here is not to become a millionaire, but more to pay for the server and effort I put inside.

So let me give you some numbers: a very bad day the website will get 15k sessions (30% returning users) not too bad for me, but the thing is, on a very good day it goes up to 70k sessions! (that is 500 people live at any second)

From my point of view today there is multiples way to monetize:

  • Advertising: but I'm against it in general plus on that particular website the content comes (kind of stolen let's be honest) from other people and I don't feel very comfortable to do that.

  • Crypto-mining: tried it (and I did things nicely) but now it is detected as malware by AV (it was not very lucrative too)

  • Donation: this is not too bad, I got about 400$ mostly Paypal and also 6$/mo with Patreon but it is not reliable.

  • Premium features: not sure I'll find something people will be willing to pay for.

In your experience, what monetization technique did you use (with success or not) and if you were me, what would you do? (abandoning the project is an acceptable answer)

Thank you for the help

  1. 12

    I know you said you were against advertising, which I'm 100% with you on. But how about simply promoting people's threads who are willing to pay for the visibility?

    It's a win-win. You get money, and people who want a more premium service from your product can get it.

    I'd imagine it as a kind of 'promoted threads' section that is prominently displayed on your site. Visually I'd just add a section, exactly like the ones you already have and call it 'Promoted Threads'. I'd also display it at the top, but keep it small as to not have it be too obtrusive.

    How you would monetize this is up to you, without thinking about it too deeply, I would imagine a auction/bidding system would find the real value of such promotion.

    1. 4

      Ho I like this idea so much, I'm glad I asked here you all have great ideas but this "sponsored" content could be something that make sense, I'll ask some feedback to my users first :)

      Thank you for your time

    2. 2

      Yeah, in general automated ads don't work too well. But most of my friends who do this kind of thing make good money off sponsored links, as in hundreds of thousands of dollars.

      You can do it like Pocket too... sometimes I'm browsing for good things to read. If someone is willing to pay to get people to read their content, I expect that it is at least good.

  2. 4

    Like the idea. Feedback on your name.

    The URL is hard. I have no idea how many t's to add. It also fails the bar test. If you told someone the name in a loud bar, they wouldn't be able to find it online.

    But looks like a cool product!

    1. 2

      I know that name is one of my biggest mistake, I though it was cool but in the end cool is not clear... I may change it to Thread Reader sometime (even the bot, people are often lost with the 3T+Threads, and they are right)

  3. 4

    You gotta get over that "making money is evil" mentality.

    You've built something people like, and your creation is reaching even more people than would have been reached if it stayed on its original platform.

    You're not stealing content, you're amplifying it. When someone steals something, someone gets hurt. What you are doing is adding value to content creators, you're helping their message spread to an even bigger audience.

    This is a common problem that good-hearted entrepreneurs have. They feel bad about asking for money in exchange for value. Do not make this mistake! You can do both (be a good person and make money)

    1. 2

      Hehe thank you for your comment, I don't have that "money = evil" thing but I do have the one about stealing content you're right.. I'll do my best, from all the good feedbacks/ideas you have here on the forum i'm sure i'll find a way :)

  4. 2

    Have you looked at your audience data any deeper? It may be that you have a value threshold that some people are willing to pay for. In other words, is there a cohort or group of users that analytics data reveals to be “power users”?

    You could charge for a Premium service, much like a paywall on HBR or premium news sites - five articles for free, pay for unlimited access. A histogram of page views by unique user count would help identify where to draw the line for this.

    1. 2

      Hello, thank you for your feedbacks,

      i'm not an expert in analytics but from what I see, there are about 30% returning users (I can see few of them in my tweeter bot feed too) and these people may be interested to pay, some already donated anyway.

      The most of my traffic comes from "buzz" like some very famous guy with many follower will use the service and tweet about his unrolled thread, not easy to monetize these person IMHO

  5. 2

    You've built a really nice audience size. I've managed sites of this size and you can introduce advertising in a way that's (very) good for you and not intrusive to your users, especially in a mobile environment.

    How are your users coming to your site?

    1. 2

      By nature it is social, something like 50% twitter 20% facebook and the rest is random, most of the users (70+%) is mobile

  6. 2
    • ability to book the first "related" position and promote a own story

    • single sponsor . we have good experience with having a single premium sponsor who gets a few highlighted positions on the site and pays a premium / year ( however might be tough to find one since the topics vary much)

    • affiliate links to selected books / products which match the story topic (either automatically detect the topic or manually select products for trending stories)

  7. 2

    That's awesome! Saw your project on twitter but didn't know it was that popular 😃

    Do you have a way of contacting users (eg emails)?

    This way you could promote threads or ask them for feedback

    1. 2

      I had a few good contact with some user also

      I have the email from the donation and your remark makes me think that I must use these and then I can contact user by twitter as they interact with the bot anyway :) Thank you for the highlight

  8. 2

    I stumbled upon this website a few times already, mostly through a HN link. I like the idea. But keep in mind, that Twitter could release the same functionality in no time.

    If I were you. I wouldn't abandon it per-se. Keep it working as long as users come to your site. jarrod's idea of promoting people's threads is pretty good.

    1. 2

      I agree so much with you on the fact that Twitter could do the same (and way better) in a tic. The funny thing for me is that they kind of did with medium (same founder) but yeah this service is quite precarious

  9. 2

    Have you talked to your users? Do you know how they use (or want to use it). This will take a lot of time, but I am sure this will give you great insights.

    If your homepage gets a lot of views, the idea of paying for exposure on there makes sense. Same for removing your brand for $X.

    If you can find some unobtrusive ad service, I really don't think that's the worst idea.

    But, congrats on these numbers already in 3 months time. Great work! 👏

  10. 2

    First of all: Wow! Good job on building this. I’ve used it a couple times in the past, so great to meet you :)

    This might be a terrible idea, but you could offer white-label embedding to news sites?

    I’d also love if I could see the tweets look more like tweets? By adding some more separation or something and decreasing the line length? Sort of goes against the grain of the project, but I feel like it’d make it feel more like a Tweet thread?

    1. 1

      Thank you for the support :)

      I already propose embed version and it did not get much usage yet...

      About the design remark I put it here do not hesitate to upvote/comment

  11. 1

    I don't understand why my comment was flagged. It was saying: "Would you consider putting a button saying "build a tool like this without code" with a link to". It's an actual offer that we are ready to discuss and it can be a nice, relevant and non-persuasive way to monetize the traffic.

  12. 1

    Didn't your website got mentionned on Hacker news about a rant on user interface getting slower? (your website was not directly mentionned, but the UI is familiar to me)

    In my opinion, I would go with some kind of advertising where you insert a new line at some point (at the 5th tweet for instance) to promote something, ideally close to what the tweet is talking about.

    This could be a promoted tweet from someone else (like @jarrod said) or some kind of ad network you would "manage" to display the best (integrated) ad for your site.

    Just an idea ... :)

  13. 1

    never heard of this, gonna try it out now

  14. -1

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