pulp and pith … current affairs blog

Posts Tagged ‘convergence

If you charge people to read your blog or use your website, you are automatically alienating two groups of users: new readers and casual readers. Why would you want to do that? Only those who have visited your site before and think it’s worth paying for on a regular basis will ever shell out.

Since most people make money from their websites by increasing traffic, as this increases the revenue generated from advertising, doing something that will decrease traffic is shooting yourself in the foot. Eventually your readership would stop growing. It might remain constant for a while, but in the end it would fall due to natural wastage and the fact that fewer sites would be able to discuss, refer to and link to your content – Billy No Mates is invisible on the internet.

Most internet users are loyal to between 10 or 20 websites. They maybe have 40 to 50 more that they enjoy, but read infrequently. People would probably be willing to pay to read their favourites if they couldn’t find an alternative, but they would not pay for the rest.

If your content is largely pretty unique, such as the location-specific stuff produced by the local media, then you could probably get away with charging for it, because you have an audience that cannot go elsewhere to get what they want. But with crowd-sourced information websites on the up, how long is that going to last?

If you are the Sunday Times, for example, you might think you have enough clout to make people pay for what you offer (eh, Mr Murdoch?). The truth is, unless you bag an exclusive or a juicy scoop, readers could find similar information for free elsewhere.

Whether you have unique content or not, and whether you are a big brand name or not, putting up a paywall excludes passing trade and stops you from attracting new users. These guys make up a hefty chunk of any website’s readership, plus they have the potential to become more frequent (valuable) users. If they have their own blog or website, they could even choose to link to your site, which could drive new traffic towards you.

In effect, paywalls are like corsets – in your mind’s eye they look pretty darn sexy, but when you’re three hours into a posh do and you’ve got one on, it’s a different story.

We’ve got to come up with a way to make it convenient and viable for a casual or first-time website user to pay for content…

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