Charging for online content

7 comments

More and more websites are shifting to a pay for access model with different degrees of success. Is this the end of free content? From the article:

charging for content is a very tricky issue even if the content is of high value, but it can be done. A growing number of websites, and even some blogs, are experimenting with ways to earn more money from their content and yet still have an appeal for the extremely fickle Internet public. It will be interesting to see how this plays out, but one thing is certain: the more websites try and shut their doors to non-paying users the more competitors will pop up trying to find a viable model to give their content away for free.

The question I have for Threadwatch is this: what subscription models do you use either as a subscriber or as a content owner? What have you found that is valuable and that works?

Comments

I'd pay $10 a year

There are a number of websites I'd pay $10 a year to access if they started charging. But a lot of websites (Threadwatch itself or even digg or SlashDot) I would never really know enough about them to be willing to subscribe if they weren't free to begin with. The problem with charging online is there is no "retail" version of websites, no place you can go pick up a copy of the site and browse through it before you commit to buy. Its a tricky handicap and shows why the solutions are getting equally tricky.

I think SearchEngineWatch

I think SearchEngineWatch does a good job with the paid vs free. Most everything is free so they still get all the links and authority, but occassionally Danny offers up extended versions of articles or premium content.

Old Content

Something that might work is allowing free access to content that is past a certain timeframe old... and charging for on-demand access to new content. A unique model indeed, but one that just may well work depending on your users and margin you need.

Something that might work is

Something that might work is allowing free access to content that is past a certain timeframe old... and charging for on-demand access to new content.

agreed, and i think we'll start to see more of that in the future. ultimately, i think the only viable paid content models are (1) those that offer personalized content (2) and those that offer time-sensitive content. for most everything else, i think it is inevitable that the price moves to zero.

>free access to content that

>free access to content that is past a certain timeframe old

I've seen a couple of instances of the reverse idea, the new content is free for a day or even a week then rolled over into a paid-access archive. This approach has some advantages in that it allows for broader discussion and the resulting link-building for hot topics. It also tends to build daily traffic by taking advantage of those who, for whatever reason, cannot or will not pay for content so they routinely visit for the free read.

One diabolical model I've seen in tech "support" sites; the question is public but the answer is behind the membership toll-booth.

One diabolical

One diabolical model I've seen in tech "support" sites; the question is public but the answer is behind the membership toll-booth.

I thought that about experts-exchange site, until I realised you can scroll down to the bottom of the page (past the sign up/view solution button) and see the answers.

testing

We are testing this model - offering premium news articles behind a subscription log in.

We also offer an incentive in that the web site is then also shown without adverts. We plan to deploy an ad-blocker detector soon and bounce those readers to a "pay or enable ads" page.

I expect to start putting a lot more news articles behind the subscription login though - mainly as they cost a lot to buy in and some suppliers of news content are too expensive to give away for free. Conversly - the revenue then enables me to buy in more news - making the subscription more appealing.

I expect that all the in-house written news will always be free and some of the 3rd party stuff that looks like it could be "blog friendly" and pull in a lot of links/traffic from the blogs - but frankly the business model no longer supports completly free content.

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