Have you ever thought about offering a paid version of your website or blog? Ever wondered what the advantages or challenges might be? If so, then you may find this brief post interesting!
I asked a question on Twitter yesterday. I wanted to know if people had paid to access a blog or site, for so-called ‘premium content’.
Resoundingly, the answer was “No!”
Typically, people said that there was so much free content out there, that there was no need for them to pay for it.
The assumption, was that the paid content would be of no more value than the free content. This, of course, may well be true. It’s hard to tell, when sites that offer paid content don’t usually let you see the good stuff until you have paid. It’s quite a leap of faith to pay someone, without knowing exactly what you are going to get for your hard earned money! Those that do give a limited peek at the premium content, still give us no idea as to the consistency of the quality of that information.
In addition, that paid content business model has another issue associated with it, which I think is worth considering. If the paid stuff is so-called “premium content” then it suggests that the non-paid content is at best average and at worst, worthless (by default, as they gave it away rather than putting it in the paid area of the site.)
An alternative income for new bloggers?
There is another income model for bloggers and content providers who offer consistently high quality content, which is based on a donation or tip option.
For example, I pay for the brilliant twit.tv and I do so voluntarily. Leo Laporte creates hours and hours of video and audio content every day, and I get so much value and enjoyment from it that I actually WANT to repay Leo in some way. In other words, the value of his work is such, that people like myself feel it’s only right to show our appreciation, with a donation.
The difference with the donation model, is that people get to experience the quality first. There’s no barrier to entry – it’s open to all.
I get comments on the blog and emails all the time, from people that say a version of “I can’t thank you enough!” I believe that a percentage of these people would actually want to use a donate button, if I had one here.
I’m very reliably informed that even the most popular business blogs / sites with paid areas make surprisingly little – Even though they are often fronted by well-known business blogging personalities.
In my experience, people are generally a lot more generous and giving than is commonly believed. If you are seeking to make an income from a business to business site (like this one), and your site offers great content on a consistent basis, I would definitely go with a donation-based system rather than a pay to enter option. If the content’s genuinely good enough and you have a business audience, I believe people would pay.
It also means that those people who NEED the help but can’t afford it are not excluded. For me, that’s EXTREMELY important!
Would they pay enough for you to be able to rely on it as a single, full-time income? I doubt it – but it may be a useful additional income stream. In my opinion, it depends on the number of readers you have, the subject of your blog, it’s value to your readers (and just as importantly), your reader’s relationship with you.
If I used the donate model here? I would also list my donors; so that the thousands of people who get the content for free each day can see who’s paying for the servers I use etc. This would also give the donors a tangible reward, as their links drove traffic to their sites from an intelligent, business audience. I would also allow people to donate any amount – many donation buttons have set amounts.