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Free or Paid Content?

Here’s one debate I’ve been trying to explain to several top notch bloggers for some time now. While the going trend in the blogosphere has been to go free and ride on the advertising wagon, some still believe that the subscription model is doable.

There are two sides of the coin here:

  • As readers, we surely want content to be free, do doubt about that. Yet, in return we see the sites and blogs offering free content dumping as much advertising as they can in return. And yes, advertising has been a proven business model for decades — that’s why we get free TV today, albeit the length of commercials are sometimes longer than the programming itself. On the web, ads are all over that some people have gone used to it and have become ad blind while others even install ad blockers on their browsers. The issue on ad blockers killing the online ad model is still another topic altogether.
  • As content providers, we are also looking for ways to generate revenue from the effort and valuable content we deliver. Even those who provide ad-free blogs/websites will surely feel the weight of the cost of operation at one point or another. The ad model is good since it enables the providers to serve their content for free and allow third-party to pay for it. But sometimes advertising can be a double-edged sword too — it affects editorials, site usability, and sometimes content quality.

So, here’s a hypothetical scenario to my fellow bloggers out there — If you were to drop all the ads on your blog, deliver your RSS to full feeds and still continue your blogging rhythm, how much would you charge for monthly subscription fees?

Your answers will reflect how much you value your content and the effort you put in them. So, a Php1.00 monthly subscription might be perceived as short, low quality and infrequently updated content. The higher you go, the more value you see on your content. This will also change the writing habits of bloggers and will motivate them to stick to their niche, focus on quality content development, and take care of their readership.

As for me, I think I’d go for a Php20 monthly subscription. How about you?

Update: Here’s an interesting article from the NY Times – Pay Me for my Content.

Abe is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of YugaTech. You Can follow him on Twitter @abeolandres.

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25 Responses

  1. Joseph says:

    P 2 perhaps? He he, I don’t blog that much eh. But if everybody’s got to pay subscription, we might as well get the information from other blogs.

  2. ernesto says:

    Me too, why not another extra income for bloggers like me but my rate is Php100

  3. Shannon says:

    hmmm…. This is a very interesting topic. If i have this kind of blog as yuga have, well, ill have to make it 10 to 15.

  4. marhgil says:

    dapat dollars ang usapan. international eh. hehe. $1 per month. sounds cheap, pero 40 pesos na pala. :)

  5. Kuya Kevin says:

    I’m having a hard time getting my blog added to your links. It doesn’t recognize the link to your blog, no matter where I post it :( I keep getting an error message that the link could not be found.

  6. Nick Nichols says:

    Well I haven’t read the NYT article yet. But I’d like to take issue with your statement “Your answers will reflect how much you value your content and the effort you put in them.”

    Hoy!. I already have no ads and deliver full RSS feeds. And I still maintain my blogging rhythm – without a subscription fee too. AND I value my content and effort extremely highly. I’ll bring home over P2.5 million this year with lots of leads for next year. I couldn’t do it without my blog.

    There’s another way to view the value of blogging that you overlooked in this post, but you’ve often referred to it in previous posts. I just wanted to bring it back up. Some of us make money BECAUSE of our blogs, not FROM them.

    And i haven’t even gotten to the positive psychological and learning aspects of blogging. That has a value to me too.

  7. wites says:

    go grab yourself a copy of “teaching sells” and it will tell you why you need to go for paid content.

    here’s an excerpt

    If you’re blogging or otherwise creating content online in the hopes of making
    money, there’s a good chance you’re following a fairly complicated and timeconsuming
    strategy. You’ve got to publish every day and attract lots of links, so that
    after a year or so, the Google Gods will bless you with plenty of long-tail search
    results that will bring you traffic.

    Once that happens, you’ll have to keep blogging for another year, and hope to build
    page views, so that you can make money from AdSense or some other form of
    advertising. The money is pretty meager, but if you work hard, maybe one day it will
    add up to enough—if you just keep at it and never ever quit producing more and
    more free content.

  8. yuga says:

    Hi Nick. Yes, I purposely excluded that part because it is hard to give a fair value to indirect benefits/income from blogging. Besides, having ads or not on a blog may not directly affect those benefits. That’s why I wanted to limit the discussion to the direct benefits.

  9. Nick Nichols says:

    Subscription content model may get a new boost with the Kindle – which is, in some ways, a subscription aggregation service. It’ll be interesting to watch how that turns out.

  10. yuga says:

    Yup, the subscription model for Kindle is reasonable since the EVDO network will be totally free. In essence you’re paying for the wireless on-demand delivery of the content.

  11. Jon says:

    I can’t think of any blogs right now that will make me subscribe even for a $1 a month. I am not saying it will not work but I’m skeptical. From the top of my head, here are the reasons:

    1. Most blogs don’t offer unique content.

    2. The content of subscription based blogs will be blogged by other for free on their blogs.

    3. Some blogs are basically personal opinion on issues. I don’t even read Opinion section on spreadsheets. Paying them for their opinion is unlikely.

  12. yuga says:

    How about blogs on tutorials, original recipes, guides, how-to’s, reviews. Or how about video blogs or podcasts? Or blogs by scientists, mathematicians? Or in finance, banking, stocks?

  13. BrianB says:

    Serious blogs or blogs by experts may earn money through subscription. VBlogs will earn if the chick gets naked.

  14. Mindanao Bob says:

    Hi Abe, I have considered going to a subscription model several times over the last year, and it is something I still might do. Better yet, I may stay with the ad supported model on some of my site, and switch to a subscription based system on other sites. I think I’d be aiming at a fee higher than P20, though. Maybe a minimum of $2 per month or so. On top of this, another thing to consider is a hybrid site where some content is free (perhaps with ads), while other parts of the site, or full content is subscription based. Hey, look at some of the commercial newspaper sites and such… they are offering subscription services along with Ads on the same pages! Now, that is going too far, IMHO.

    One important point to consider, though, is that a lot of big sites are just now starting to abandon the subscription model. The Wall Street Journal is one that is likely headed that direction.

  15. Kuya Kevin says:

    Thanks for adding me up in the blog list!

    I agree with Jon and the others: I would not count on people paying to subscribe to a blog. I read several blogs and websites, but wouldn’t pay for any of them. Advertising is one way to go. The only other way is to use your website/blog for some other form of business (promote a product that you make, etc).

  16. elmer says:

    Im trying to unlock my iphone this week and as usual googled it and it came a bunch of results.. bunch of free how to’s and others that you have to pay for as low as $5. Well, of course i choose those free how to’s not because im cheap (ok..im really cheap) but with free how to’s (mostly forums) you have lots of interaction and feedback from others and learn the process by yourself.

    IMO would definitely pay for contents if there’s nothing like it in the internet or if i extremely need it..say yesterday, but if i could goog it then i’ll stick with free.

    BTW, i successfully unlocked my iphone (gettin’ ready for my RP vacation enero next year..i hope this baby works with smart/globe??) in less than 30mins. If you need the steps-by-steps on how to’s just email me for $2 :-)

  17. jhay says:

    The only reason I put up ads on my site is to help me get through college. Otherwise, I’d drop them all and just marvel at the beauty and elegance of the theme I’ve decided to use.

    In this world of information technology, information is a commodity.

  18. KK aka Tina says:

    For me from a reader’s standpoint, I’ll only whip out my credit card/ debit card/paypal to subscribe if the content is realy REALLY worth it.

    Paid content like porn sites, make money from the content because people are simply addicted.

  19. AnnaE says:

    I would charge zero pesos, because my goal is to have as many visitors as possible. They can start spending after they’ve been to my site, not before. But that’s just me. (-:

  20. CrunchSite says:

    Offer free online content, then publish a book and sell it.

  21. minor says:

    pugad baboy blog hey! im willing to pay for that

  22. jozzua says:

    Offer some part of the blog for free but provide a subscription option for the more valuable text, and materials.

    I’m actually planning on doing that for one of my sites.

  23. Venice says:

    “As content providers, we are also looking for ways to generate revenue from the effort and valuable content we deliver”

    That is the fine line that no one likes to walk.

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