Paid content strategies

From: Andy Bourland <>
Date: Tue 04 Dec 2001 08:57:21 -0500


> >Now lets say you charge a modest $50 a year subscription fee,
> >and only 1% of your 1 million annual unique users think it's
> >worth it, you'll get $500,000 a year. These numbers, of
> >course, are illustrative, but make the point.


> A word of caution to content providers. In the world of
> online subscriptions, a $50.00 annual subscription fee
> is not "modest" when compared to what fifty bucks gets
> you in the way of paper publications that interest you.

> If you can honestly say that your publication stacks
> up against your paid competition, set your price in
> relation to known factors to increase your paid
> subscription signup rate. Don't just pick a number out
> of the air, or because "it sounds good."

I hope you don't mind my changing the name of the thread
folks, but we're arriving at a topic that I've been
paying close attention to for the past year. Perhaps my
friend and colleague, Anne Holland will weigh in on this
as well, as she is the Queen of All Paid Content.

This is still very much an evolving situation, so I'll
put some thoughts out there for now, but may change them
as the industry continues to develop in terms of paid

1) If you are attempting to offer for a fee that which
is available for free from one or more sites online,
you're going to have a rough time getting people
to pony up. I haven't seen a success story with that
scenario yet.

2) If you are attempting to offer for a fee that which
many people could get in print for a similar cost,
you're up for some tough sailing as well.

3) The free stuff's purpose is to whet your appetite
for the good stuff you can only get by paying..

The only paid models I'm seeing right now that are
successfully attracting subscriber fees are those with
content so unique, you can't find them anywhere else...

Case in point, charges $75.00 a month
for their raw data on layoffs, closings, etc. I'm not
aware of a free source of that quantity or quality of
data. If you are in the kind of profession that HAS to
have that information, it's about the only game in town.

Wall Street Journal.... There's only one.

ConsumerReports.... They've got a monopoly and should
actually be doing better than they are.

Hoovers... Again, a monopoly that should be doing better. <Ms Holland's pub> offers great
content for free <though I think ol Anne is slipping
more of the good stuff "behind the green door" that
you have to pay to get to>, but the real focus is on
having you buy her reports and ebooks at $100 - $250
a pop.

Marcia Yudkin has some free content she puts out
there, but the real focus is on selling her books
and reports.

There are plenty of other examples, but I'm finding
that "free" is becoming more of an appetizer for the
REALLY GOOD STUFF behind the green door.

If your free stuff is TOO good, they pig out on the
appetizers and don't bother with dinner.

Bars give you salty food to snack on -- which keeps
you thirsty for the drinks you gotta pay for. They
don't give you big glasses of water -- which quench
your thirst and prevent you from ordering more.

It's the same principle that applies as we shift
gears in how we serve up "free" content to our

Food for thought...

Any other paid content models I'm missing? There's
got to be a bunch...


Andrew R. Bourland
... Stay tuned!

Received on Tue Dec 04 2001 - 07:57:21 CST


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