Online Publishing Business Models: How Free And Paid Approaches Do Complement Each Other
In the near future, the value of your free online content is going to be challenged over and over again. And to the few scrapers that now copy and re-syndicate your content as if it was theirs, you will need to add remixers, automated scripts and content assemblers which will re-package your original content to re-publish in more ways than you can imagine now.
Photo credit: Pedro Nogueira
This is why, if you want to make your path to online publishing durable, you already need to start looking beyond the obvious monetization (AdSense) and marketing strategies (hype, long-one-page-format, all over the new social media).
The good stuff is elsewhere.
In this much in-flux and risky future scenario, how should an online publisher move?
Is it better to go for light, short bits of free content or for long, in-depth premium paid solutions?
The best way to think about this is to picture a world in which there is no Google AdWords/ AdSense and where online advertising as a venue for monetizing content is prohibited.
When you start to play with serious restraints as this one, you can be sure that some of your alternative ideas may bear real market value. It is there, where most are not looking, that the real marketing and economic value of online publishers can be best realized.
"Most people with significant social and/or economic influence have (an equivalent of) attention deficit disorder, caused by an interruption-driven life cluttered with too much content and too little time."
(Source:Aaron Wall - WebPro News)
One such key point, is that, generally, web readers do really prefer that you give them only the essence, the relevant bits. Not the full enchilada every single time. Meaning:
"Summaries that let us dive deeper if we want to.
Little chunks of information that change how we perceive the world around us."
It is not that people are not or never interested in going deeper into a subject. Quite the contrary, but the point here is that situation (the going deeper one) is a rarer, ending point of a longer, intellectual process in which we generally first like to pick up tiny bits of info on a topic and add them up to our existing knowledge on the subject. It is only one day, when may be pressed by a new project or by the desire to create something of our own, that one really goes to the bottom of things and says: "Now I want to know everything about this. Give me the bible on it.".
Again, this is a rare, ending step of a long research and preparation time in which one has been collecting rather smaller and easy to digest bits of information.
No-one attacks a new topic by going directly for depth. Even for areas in which I may have a high interest or affinity, I will tend to look for the essence right away and only later, and not always, for more in-depth information.
"Rarely is something that is fully polished, comprehensive, and dated what we need.
More likely it is easier to learn by stepping into a process and learning one piece at a time, starting with your interests, then expanding as we run into additional problems."
(Source: Aaron Wall - WebPro News)
I couldn't agree more. It is really like this.
Providing first, the free info bits, as long as they are free and truly useful is a good strategy.
Have a more consistent, meaningful focus is another one. Latest, coolest, newest, are not valuable enough information factors to hold a competitive edge in getting some attention as we move forward in time.
Provide more easy-to-digest summaries, info-pills and synthetic information bits as your main dish, while packaging your in-depth, high-value insights and analysis skills into paid for "services".
This is the sustainable future road for online independent publishers.
And here below, Aaron Wall synthesizes here perfectly, the gist of what you need to picture your readers will want to buy from you.
It is not your content as such, beware. It is a much more subtle and precious set of things people want to buy from you, but unless you can see this very picture it may remain very hard for you to build a sustainable content publishing business online.
Read it slowly.
"When breaking news from a friend (or a friend of a friend) is freely available in real-time and virtually everything is a commodity, people [will] buy:
- the buying experience and sense of connection the buyer has with the artist, including
- any sense of community or empathy offered
- recommendations from friends or other trusted sources
- the story behind the product or service
- your experience and expertise
- the trust and goodwill you built up through sharing information, personal interaction, and the above points."
I don't know how much you can read through Aaron's words, but to me they speak oceans of truth, as I have ALREADY EXPERIENCED what he synthesized here above so well, and I see with joy that those already doing this are reaping great rewards from their efforts.
The future for professional online publishers is to look and question seriously their present business models and to evaluate with attention where, beyond looks and splashy chart numbers the sustainable online publishing rubber will meet its best asphalt.
What do you think?
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