Time To Rethink Selling Content?
I think it is important to be willing to think a little differently. And not do exactly the same thing as everybody else.
And when it comes to online business, so much of the emphasis these days seems to be on online courses and/or membership sites.
And it used to be that online courses were… interesting.
I remember when I first got involved in all this stuff, we’d see big product launch events for courses that sold for close to $2K.
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I even bought a few. 😜
But, things have changed, haven’t they?
Unless you’ve got the power of a massive personal brand, you’re just not going to do that anymore. Plus, you’ve got sites like Skillshare selling mass access to tons of online courses for a low fee. Streaming services selling all the content you’d ever want.
And lest we forget Youtube, where you can find people discussing almost anything you please for free. Of course, it isn’t very structured so that’s why there is still value to paying for structured courses for stuff you’re serious about.
But, as we’ve talked about before, the monetary value of content has most definitely been approaching zero.
We’re all choking on content, frankly. There’s just so much of it that we have to throw up filters.
So, where does that leave us today?
How can we adapt?
Do we even need to adapt?
One possibility is to go with a paid newsletter. Some have called it a “microcontinuity” program. The idea is that your customers pay some low rate (usually less than $10/month). You don’t have any of the usual mechanics of a full membership site, but you send out a fully developed, interesting, useful, curated…. newsletter. If you want, you could have a membership site that does nothing but store the archives.
Lately, you’ve been seeing people set up shop on Substack and do that. You’re seeing decentralized, focused communities sprout up and, in some cases, people pay for the content. And at those low rates, it is low enough not to raise much of an eyebrow.
If you wanted to upset your market a bit, you could take that same “micro” nature and couple it with a full-blown membership site. Basically, over-deliver inside of a membership yet keep your pricing down in “impulse buy” territory.
I’ve recently watched Justin Brooke, from Adkills.com, do exactly that by relaunching his AdSkills site where you can now join for less than $10/month. Quite interesting.
Here’s another idea…
Do a membership site, but… make it free. Use it to build up an email list and engaged community. Then…
You make your money on the backend.
Either through smaller coaching programs or even by way of “done for you” services.
This could work for a number of niches out there. Show people how to do things for free, but many won’t want to or are still confused. So, you make your money by doing it for them. For a fee.
You could also combine these two approaches. Have a paid membership site, but purposely keep the fees low for it in order to maximize your numbers and make it accessible. Then, you make your real revenue on the backend.
None of this is novel or new. It’s just some more creative (potentially strategic) approaches to things rather than just outright trying to generate all your revenue by selling content.
As time goes on, I feel as if it is getting harder and harder to sell content. Things have evolved. Still very doable, but it takes really bringing your “A Game” to do it.
Now, this also begs the question…
Do we need to do anything about this?
Should we just throw up our hands and say that selling online courses and selling training is a ship that’s already sailed and we move onto other things?
Nah, not really. The online education industry is only growing. It isn’t going to slow anytime soon.
But, I think we need to realize and acknowledge that the monetary value of content alone is approaching zero.
What people are REALLY buying when they buy online courses today isn’t the content, anyway. They’re buying the experience, the community, the structure, the direct personal help.
We need to recognize the trends out there.
And not get stuck in our ways in how we generate revenue with an online business.
This is one of the major reasons you’re seeing the Blog Marketing Academy get more into services, BTW. And you may see some other changes down the road, too. 🤫
For this week’s Tech Talk, let’s talk about the tech stack you could use if you wanted to set up a microcontinuity program such as the one above.
You’re planning to do a curated, paid newsletter. Once per week. You wanted to be able to archive those issues on your site behind a login. You would want to charge people monthly or annually to be on your member list and be able to browse your archives. And, just for good measure, you want to have community functionality so people can interact, ask questions, etc.
So, what kind of tech stack could you use to get this done?
Well, first of all, I would definitely use WordPress. Just more control and options that way.
I would personally use FluentCRM for the email list. This keeps your list under your own control, gives you a ton of cool automation options, plus remains very economical.
I would set up a custom post type on WordPress to store your archives. This way it stays separate from your main blog.
There are a number of options for billing, but I think WooCommerce would be a good, flexible option. You could also use Easy Digital Downloads. If you already have an account with something like ThriveCart, then you could certainly use that.
As for permissions, I personally prefer WP Fusion. I think the direct, in-house integration with FluentCRM would give you the most powerful membership stack you could ever want and quite economically. But, you could also easily get away with something like Wishlist Member. Wishlist Member and FluentCRM work together quite nicely.
That’s about it! People pay. They automatically get an account and get put onto your members list. If they cancel, they are automatically removed. Easy peasy.
And if you want that community, I think BuddyBoss as your platform and theme is your best option. But, if you don’t need the community, any theme would work.
But, here’s what you’ll have…
You’ll have a full platform with all the functionality. It would be expandable to anything you want it to do in the future, too. You could even set up your backend sales on the same platform. You would OWN the whole platform. You would not need any third-party services. It would all be in-house.
If you would like my help setting this up for you, just get in touch. No need to go out and buy licenses to stuff separately. We could work out a package option to build your site for you with everything. Let’s talk!