A couple days ago, I talked about how blogging is broken. I also openly speculated about the benefits of moving a blog over to a paid model.
I must have really touched a nerve because the commentary POURED in on that post, both here on the blog as well as on Twitter and Facebook. Interestingly, hardly anybody seemed to disagree with me either.
Today, though, I wanted to post a quick followup to clarify some stuff. I don’t want people to read my post and then simply knee-jerk into a paid model for their blog. The truth is that most bloggers wouldn’t succeed on a paid model.
Importance of Value Proposition
If you’re going to switch to a paid model, you’ve got to bring the value. It doesn’t matter if you charge as little as a dollar per month… the mental difference between “free” and a mere dollar is much larger than the real-world difference. The moment you ask for any money, your audience is going to immediately evaluate the proposed VALUE of your offer.
You’ve got to deliver far more value in a paid situation than you would with a free, public blog. You’ve got to focus on solving problems for your audience and giving them information which translates into a real-world benefit to them. You cannot post opinions and engage in speculation. You’ve got to deliver.
Actually, put more accurately, you’ve got to OVER-DELIVER. Because, ultimately, your business won’t survive unless you are producing more value to your customers than you’re charging them.
So, you’d need to ask yourself – can you bring it?
You Still Need Traction
Something has to promote you and get your name out there, right? You can’t just go “off the grid”, put everything behind a paywall, then expect people to pay attention.
So, you still need a public presence. Which is why you’ll still need an open, free blog. Or at least a big honker email list.
All the people who have decided in recent months to stop blogging and go private with their content had already built up a large, loyal following before making that move.
Perhaps blogging is now a “gateway drug” to bigger and better things, who the hell knows. 🙂
Can Your Niche Support It?
Many choices for blogging niches simply can’t sustain a solid paid model for your core content. This doesn’t mean you can’t set up a membership site (obviously), however taking your blog behind a paywall is an entirely different matter.
For example, my other blog is a large tech blog. The tech niche is, essentially, news. What isn’t news in that niche is how-to, and there is literally NOTHING that I could show people how to do that hasn’t been covered elsewhere a million times. The level of saturation in the niche is high. Not only that, but we’re all talking about external things which are defined by outside companies (i.e. Apple). In other words, the tech niche is like a pile of vultures all eating the same corpse.
Trying to take a site like PCMech into a paid model would be suicide. It doesn’t mean I can’t have a membership site, however. And I do, and it works fine.
Coming full circle to the idea of value proposition, you’d need to evaluate your niche and your place in that niche, and determine whether there is a unique enough reason for somebody to want to pay to access YOU.
So, Here’s How I’d Do It…
So, I didn’t want anybody to read Monday’s post and assume I was advocating throwing a big paywall over DavidRisley.com and charging to get in. Not gonna happen. 🙂
Here’s what could happen, however…
You may or may not know about my Inner Circle program. I set up the Inner Circle several months ago. My concerns laid out on Monday were the EXACT reasons why I created the Inner Circle. Inner Circle members get a closer level of access to me, they get to ask me questions, and they get exclusive content that the public on this blog will not have access to.
The Inner Circle program would essentially see a “blog” on the inside, where I will post more often and more in-depth. This would be in addition to other things I do to add value, such as live workshops, live Q&A sessions. Pretty soon, I plan to add call-in days to the mix so people can call my desk at certain specified times and talk to me. I’m also throwing ideas around about an exclusive newsletter, only for Inner Circle. I just need to work out the logistics on it first.
If somebody enrolls in the Inner Circle, then I know they have “skin in the game”. Their level of dedication is higher. The simple fact that they pulled out their wallet means they are a cut above. And I want to work with them.
So, what would happen to the public, free blog? Well, it’d stay in place. However, post frequency would probably decrease. The structure of the blog would change somewhat as well in order to highlight some of my best stuff in the archives (I have over 900 posts on this site). And you’d see more overt mentions about what you’re missing out on inside the Inner Circle.
Now, a little “hint hint”… this is how I’d do it… and this is how I’m GOING to do it. The Inner Circle already exists. I plan to make many of the changes I just mentioned. It just makes sense.
How does this translate, then?
- Don’t kill off your whole blog or put it behind a paywall unless you’re OK with losing the promotional power of it.
- You can still do the payment model by adding a private section to your existing blog, while keeping the free side open.
- Use the free side to build the relationship and “tease” the member content, but ultimately you’re trying to convert them into a member.
Some might be thinking – that’s nothing new. Sounds like a fairly typical membership site.
In many ways, it is. But, for the reasons I spelled out on Monday, I think you’re going to be seeing it more and more. It is a sound business model if you’ve got your value proposition in place, and know you can deliver.
I know I can deliver. For me, it is now about delivering to people who are actually going to use what I tell them. Because, I want you guys to make some money, not just find me interesting for the 5 minutes you read my post. 🙂