375,000 people visit this blog every month. Subscribe and see why.

X

Whoa!

Damn, this thing is huge!

Just try and make this go away. I dare you.

No, but seriously, you should consider subscribing. I send only the best stuff, and I won’t send your email to any spammers (pharmaceutical vendors, body part enhancers, etc), no matter how nicely they ask.

The Future of Blogs is Paid Access

Tweet

Update: Aaron Wall left an epic comment here which adds significantly to the discussion. Click here to see it (it’s #55).

Pay attention. This will be on the test.

I remember having a conversation with Chris, sitting in Café Méliès in Montreal one time, talking about business. We had an idea for a private forum. This was a few years ago, I think– maybe even before the book.

We would base is on Aaron Wall’s private SEO community, base it on our expertise in social media etc. We’d split whatever money we made, pay any blogger who wanted to be an affiliate. The idea was simple, but good and scalable. It would make a lot of money if we did it right. So we called Brian Clark– he was doing Teaching Sells at the time. He said, “Good stuff. I’m in.”

The joke is, Chris and I never did it… at least, not in that format. :)

Much later, Third Tribe would be released– pretty much the same thing we talked about. Good on Brian for actually having the initiative. :) Aaron Wall’s forum would increase in price, from $100 to $300 per month (still a good value IMHO) and continue to grow. Chris would launch Kitchen Table Companies and other private communities of the same type.

This is now old news. Or is it?

Except I’ve been talking to Mark O’Sullivan at the exceptional Vanilla Forums, who says that big web personalities are asking him about private forums for their sites. I’ve been interviewing Brett Rogers, who funds his documentaries partially by having people come along on his adventures. And I’ve just started working with Martin Berkhan, who can’t handle the flood of questions people ask him about his workout and nutrition methods because they seem to work so well.

What is there was a solution to this? I think there is. But let’s veer off for a second.

I think you can lead an exceptional life, market yourself correctly, and the life itself will help pay its own way.

Something big changed with the web. We could create personal brands, broadcast ourselves for free, and create a following. Except if we got popular, we started not being able to pay attention to everyone anymore. This is normal.

I’m thinking of Richard Nikoley. His (successful) experiment with not washing his hair for two years has led to articles in the Chicago Tribune and other places. He can’t handle the emails he gets anymore. Also Chris Guillebeau, who recently got 800 comments on a post he put out.

As Aaron Wall has said, popularity is an inequality between supply and demand. You solve it by raising price.

Books and conferences are price points– they are old methods that people are used to and don’t flinch at. I use both, and they work well. But there’s a problem with them.

Middlemen take over the old methods. They live as parasites off what you and I produce. Many of them do it without adding any value whatsoever.

There is something missing from Kevin Kelly’s 1000 True Fans method. It is fine for artists, for producers of actual artifacts, artists, etc. This is one reason Seth Godin’s Domino Project is so interesting. It cuts middlemen out. But it still requires the creation of an artifact… of a product.

What if YOU were the product?

I believe that what people want when they read your book, when they come to see you speak, or sing, or when they buy art from you– I believe that what they actually want is you.

This method has worked for authors before. Gary Vee and Tim Ferriss basically sold 1-on-1 time with them in exchange for bulk book purchases. This has the advantage of making them look big to a mainstream audience, but the end result is the same. People often want them, not the book. Same with all the people I mentioned who do amazing things.

Your audience wants to be a part of your life. Maybe, in some cases, you should let them.

Here is another assertion which I might be a bit shocking.

The future of the web personalities is the monetization of weak ties.

The web naturally creates an ecosystem of micro-stars, like television, but doesn’t necessarily have a way to turn this into a living. If you keep answering emails, forever, you become exhausted and your personal time is sucked out of your life.

The solution is paid access.

Of course, you don’t want to monetize your strong ties. That would be insane. The social norms space stays pure. You don’t pay your wife for the nice dinner she made.

But weak ties, by definition, take more than they give. They do not, as many people say, “pay in terms of attention,” except in huge masses which become unwieldy because of a new kind of demand– bug fixes, emails, etc.

Here is my theory. Once supply and demand of personal access are no longer equal, solving it through price not only helps you maintain a solid personal life but accelerates the process of popularity, by helping you free your time and do cooler shit.

A new stream of income means more freedom, which turns into a more interesting life, which turns into more popularity, which turns into more income, etc. A virtuous circle.

Of course, most of what you do is free and public. That’s one level of access. But I think that you should turn on different levels as well. Everyone in social media right now wants books and speaking gigs. You only get those at a certain level of popularity, but you could turn lesser levels on as well. Forum access, email access, Skype access– any of these could become an income stream for various types of web personalities.

But wait!, I hear you saying. Let’s say some of these weak ties become strong ties! What do we do then? Well, easy. Stop monetizing them. We could call this the dinner party rule– if you’d invite someone to dinner, then they should have free access to you. This impacts the bottom line, but that’s natural with friendships– wanted, even. Besides, friendship is more valuable than $47 a month or whatever.

Help me out here.

Look, this post has already gotten much longer than I thought it would. I could go on forever about this– it’s so logical to me that I could argue it until the cows come home. But I won’t.

Instead, I’ll ask you what you think, and to spread it if you think the idea is interesting or worth talking about. Tweet or subscribe below.

By the way, I don’t know if it’s something I personally want to do– although I’m pretty sure I could. Maybe you could too, once your audience reaches a certain mass. Wouldn’t that be easier than trying to get a frikkin book deal or becoming a social media expert? Besides, I suspect there’s only enough of those to go around.

* Filed by Julien at 11:09 am under business, community, experiments, social media, trends


Hi, I’m Julien Smith. I'm the founder and CEO of Breather.

Check out more of my blog, my free book or add me on twitter. Also, we're hiring. Check that out.

Subscribe via email:

71 Responses to “The Future of Blogs is Paid Access”

  1. Matt Says:

    Yea – this micro payment for “insider” access is starting to take off. Kitchen Table talks, Brogan’s blog topics, and recently Kevin Rose launching Foundation.

    Working on a few ideas myself – should be fun.

    I’d pay you…in Nesquik!

  2. Adam Says:

    Been thinking about this a lot, lately, actually. I actually wrote a letter to the blogosphere titled, “It’s not you, it’s me.”

    The blog format feels broken to me, or the pendulum has swung. I’m not sure, which it is. All I know is that it seems like I’m not the only one thinking about it. A lot of my favourite bloggers seem to be turning their best thoughts to private forums, or things like letter.ly.

    I think in the end, it’s good. It provides some scarcity. It helps the publisher to connect with his true fans. It helps the readers filter out some of the noise (if the best stuff is paid, it stands to reason that you won’t spend as much time reading all the free stuff out there – and you won’t subscribe to EVERYTHING paid).

    Still, there’s something that feels inherently un-web-y about paying for content. It feels like now I have to pay more to see my favourite bands play because they’ve gone mainstream and “sold out.” It feels undemocratic and wrong. Like we’re not cutting edge anymore.

    As you can tell by the above rambling, I don’t know where I’ve landed on this topic, and I think until I figure it out, my blog’ll stay dormant.

  3. Stu McLaren Says:

    Love the article Julien!

    One of the challenges we all face with the social media “stuff” is that there is only so much of “us” to go around.

    We can’t be online, 24/7 answering and responding to anyone who sends us a tweet or message (despite what Gary V used to say! LOL).

    As popularity grows, so too does the demand.

    And as you pointed out, the best way to balance that is with a pay wall.

    Not everyone will pay, but a percentage will.

    And because only a percentage of people will participate, it reduces the demand on time and you can have a greater impact on the lives of those who do participate.

    We have a unique perspective on this as we see so many of our customers building online communities and membership sites.

    The tiny niche markets never seize to amaze me but it just goes to prove that if you have an audience of people and you produce great content, there will always be a percentage that will see the value in what you are doing – and they’d be willing to pay for it.

    It’s better for them because they get higher quality service (because you have more time to help them).

    And…

    It’s better for you because it’s less stressful, more profitable and a lot more fun.

  4. Martyn Chamberlin... Says:

    I have to completely disagree with you Julien. :)

    If people want to make money online, trying to do so by making themselves is BAD advice.

    Sure, it’s been done time and time again.

    But percentage wise, it’s one in ten thousand.

    The model is unsustainable. Think about it. The whole world can’t make money just being themselves. They need to ship.

    If you want to build a tribe, you must have more than yourself. You’ve got to teach, build products, stand for something, write books, bust your ass.

    We’re headed for a social crash. Only those with stuff to sell will walk out alive.

  5. Hugh Macken Says:

    Julien,
    What this brings to mind for me is the issue of bit literacy and the problem of managing digital data and – as Mark Hurst suggests – letting the bits go.

    The problem has gotten much, much bigger thanks to the growing number of “inboxes” from twitter to linkedin to facebook among others.

    I just read a very revealing survey from Pierre Khawand (Pierre is not a client of mine) of People on The Go that involved 1000 business professionals and highlighted what has become, according to the results of the survey, a problem of epidemic proportions not just for super popular bloggers but also for every day desk-job workers working 9 – 5 jobs just trying to stay on top of the mounting # of inboxes from email to twitter to linkedin to foursquare to blogs… etc. etc. etc…

    The problem for these professionals is that they can’t put a price tag on access to them from their friends, family and co-workers. But they have to somehow figure out a way to prioritize their time spent on online communications.

    I suppose they just have to “let [some of] the bits go” and decide where to place their focus based on non-financial factors which will differ from one person to the next.

  6. Cristel Says:

    I’ve only recently started reading your blog, Julien, and I’m fascinated by your insights.
    However, this post prompted me to comment here for the first time.

    My gut reaction to this post was: GREEDY!

    Many relationship and productivity gurus advise learning to say ‘No’ more often. Your time is finite and, yes, valuable.
    But why monetize it?
    Perhaps your perspective is based on your businessman’s mentality, as blogging is your job. But as a woman, and one who is happily self-employed, I tend to believe that sharing knowledge should be a selfless act. We give of what we have because we can, and because kharma comes back around.
    By charging fees for your blog, you’re restricting access to a wide array of knowledge-seekers who perhaps just don’t have the spare cash to pay for your “wisdom”.
    Perhaps I’m being too idealistic. Your thoughts?

    • Julien Says:

      Hi Cristel, thanks for the comment.

      I think I need to explain myself better. The blog would remain free– it puts new people into the “funnel.” But personal access is what some people want, so that gets its own structure which is not free. Depending on what it is, it costs a certain amount. But the more you do for free, the more people come in, that’s obvious.. and it shouldn’t change for most people.

      It’s the structure of the higher levels of attention that need pruning. Do you see what I mean?

  7. Art De Vany Says:

    This is right. I have been charging for my subscription web site for years now. It not only frees you to do deeper stuff, it also keeps out bad actors.

  8. Richard Nikoley Says:

    Julien:

    Well thanks for inclusion in that. Indeed, at 185k visits and 304k page views in Jan, it becomes increasingly difficult not to let emails, tweets, FB interactions from your best fans to go unanswered.

    And as well, I have a “day job” in the form of a company I own and now run, again, after being away from it for years (yea, the economy). And I gong really love it, not by any stretch like I love the blogging and daily, hourly interaction with readers, especially in comments to my posts.

    Thing is, I could probably do an even better blog and do more for free even to reach wider if I could make more then the few hundreds I get from affiliate book sales. At the same time I have significant Fear & Loathing whenever I consider any sort of paid access. For the time being personal consultations seems like it could work, but the time leverage sucks.

    Lots to think about.

  9. tara - scoutie girl Says:

    I really appreciate your perspective here, Julien.

    It seems that “access” is the word for 2011. We all want it – we all want to be able to sell it.

    For me, I will continue to package access into more finite products like programs & courses because I have a hard time saying “no.” How do you regulate access to a special email address? Or meet needs in an ongoing forum? I have experimented with both and find myself lacking!

    I think that the larger lesson here is that teaching via ebooks is great but doesn’t have near the potential for value (for either the business owner or the consumer) that a higher-end course does. Same reason you pay more to attend a university course than to do a correspondence course with your local community college.

    As to @Cristel’s comment, selling access to teaching, information, and mentorship wasn’t greedy when it was being done in universities, trade publications, or executive coaching programs. Just because the internet has opened up new methods of access and interaction doesn’t mean those methods aren’t equally viable for use as a business tool.

    Thanks again for the post, Julien!

  10. Will Says:

    Yes this is referred to as ‘selling access’, due to the ease of copying digital content people want experiences. The products you sell or give away help make you a perceived authority in your field, such as a book. In person, these experiences are concerts and speaking events. On the web these are membership sites, forums, or live online events. For example as a guitar teacher, I can charge for a group lesson on Ustream, answer questions in my membership site/forum.

  11. Patrick Prothe Says:

    You raise some provocative points. Key to charging for access is that your ‘customers’ then get more value than the money they pay out of it. It’s about buying a service to solve a problem. For it to be sustainable, you’ve got to have a road map and path. Build a company around it. Some will be successful. But others not so much. Success comes from those passionate enough to execute day in day out.

    I also think that the more specialized the knowledge, the easier it is to charge for access. And in the case of some, it’s aggregating content you could collect on your own for free, but saving you significant time, trial and error. It’s about connecting the dots for people.

    Ultimately it’s about defining your vision for your business / offering and making choices along the way.

  12. Zach Cole Says:

    This post just got my head spinning in so many different directions, I don’t even know where to begin. I wholeheartedly agree that when people are buying someone’s book or attending one of their speaking gigs (or perhaps even commenting on their blog post…) part of what they actually want is engagement and a sense of connection to the individual’s life. Now the question becomes, can this be monetized? I say sure. And I also love the cyclical point you made. Great call.

  13. Chris George Says:

    So, there’s a cool program that was started, tiptheweb.org. It’s actually an *awesome* way to ‘tip’ or pay people for their content/knowledge.

    The one problem with it: people have to know about it and be encouraged to use it. And, the best part? They can pay what they can afford.

    I agree that people should be paid for their time, past a certain point. Relationships, vague or strongly formed, are exhausting and time-consuming. Time is, unfortunately, a limited resource. Therefore, it should be up to you how to spend it or be compensated for spending it with someone. This is the same in any service industry. Isn’t being a ‘microstar’ on the web, or anywhere, essentially providing a service when answering questions?

  14. Raj Ganpath Says:

    Hello Julien,
    Thank you for the post. But I should say I agree and disagree.

    I agree with the ‘you are the product’ part of your post. We live in an extremely connected world where it’s possible for one person to inspire thousand others (think: Art DeVany, Richard Nikoley and Tim Ferris). And this is particularly true when it comes to health and fitness because we all can look at someone and say ‘I have the same body comp as him. If he can do it I should be able to do it too!’

    That said, I’m not on board with charging for a blog. You talk about ‘funneling in’ new visitors. But what is a blog? Isn’t the blog itself a funnel?

    Martin has more people than he can handle today because he used his blog beautifully. He posted tonnes of posts that prove to a motivated (yet scientifically uninformed) enthusiast that Martin knows his science and he posted well timed client updates that make people go ‘Damn! I want this!’. Robb Wolf is another example for free information on the blog. So much information that I (and many others) bought his book and am/are attending his PS seminar purely out of gratitude!

    My blog is only 7 months old, but I have been moderately successful in using the blog as a funnel. A funnel for what is the question. What is the next step once you funnel people in? Isn’t that the more important piece? Shouldn’t that be the more sustainable entity?

    Your thoughts?

  15. John McLachlan Says:

    Julien, so much to go on in one post and I love the intelligent responses flowing in.

    We definitely DO come for the person (the artist) and so there is no reason this model that you describe couldn’t work but like everything, it won’t work for everybody.

    It makes total sense to me to market and sell what you can and get what you can for it (much like Telcos selling bandwidth :-). If people deem value from it, they’ll pay. The fact that there is so much growth (noise on the Web) means that for some people, even further down the food chain (like me), have a hard time dealing with how to dole out our time and focus. To make money would be a great thing and allow, as you say, a virtuous circle.

    The trick for many will be the value they can actually bring. I’ve been involved with a lot of membership organizations and looked at membership costs and benefits until the cows come home, and it can be challenging to price accordingly. People are wary of memberships (or subscriptions) for this to work in all situations OVER THE LONG HAUL. Having a plan on how to make it keep happening is the hardest part.

    Very cool thoughts.

  16. Elaine Says:

    I would pay you in quality hot chocolate (no Nesquick, Matt!).

    I love this train of thought, Julien, because even I, as a supremely unread blogger (thanks for reading, Dad!) have a hard time managing my regular job, side jobs, and blogging, tweeting, facebooking, stumblingupon, email, et al. Monetizing will whittle down the demand, for sure. As Godin said this week, trying to please everyone never works. John talks about the “long haul” above, but the game keeps changing, so long haul may be less long than you think. Doing what works for you now and listening to your audience is key.

  17. Catrina Says:

    I have to say that this couldn’t have come at a better time. I recently (4 days ago) launched my community website focused on career. My hope is to obviously gain traction and create some income through employment postings on the job board and advertising.
    Once I saw Chris launch his blog topic newsletter, it really got me thinking.
    For one thing, I think it depends on how established you are and what content you are providing/what your target audience is. For Chris and other’s like him, this isn’t a huge problem, as they appeal to so many people for different reasons. However with a site like mine, much of my audience is job seekers or those in career transition. So requiring that market to pay doesn’t seem like a possibility, and not something I’m willing to do.
    I do see the potential, even in difficult markets to create specific and unique content that requires someone to pay. It needs to be strategic and of real value.
    In all, I agree Adam up there at the top of these comments. When I first received the newsletter from Chris announcing his Blog Topics for $9.99/month, I was pretty turned off, and perhaps because it was Chris. Personally he stood for engagement, sharing, and learning through various online communication. So the fact that he was now charging for that same communication seemed out of character.
    Well, now I’m rambling. Good post, and thanks for sharing it!

  18. Whitney Says:

    Awesome post.

    Here’s the issue- who has a pass to the inner circle, the club, and who does not? The cover charge is for people wanting the personal touch and access that might not otherwise be available and like any cover charge, is a perfectly reasonable way to value time and access for the mass. The interesting thing is how one gains the “dinner with mom” status in the first place.
    As someone who considers several “weblebrities”among the personal friends I would/have gladly have over to the house, take out for dinner, etc. I find that even as a friend, I’m very careful about taking friend bandwidth from these folks except when I “need” something. Their time is clearly worth money, and I’m cautious about taking it unless I “need” it.

    Basically because people like Chris seem a bit too busy for the “Hey Dude, how’s it going?” kind of conversations we used to have all the time before the Brand set in, I often feel like the space between the weak-ties friends with a small F and strong ties, Friends with a capital F is the zone of confusion. It’s where we all live on a day to day basis- where our social life is, but how do you triage when to impose and when your “Get a load of this piece of craziness” message is just a nuisance bandwidth hog?

    However, I agree that the monetary and social value lies in the more personal touchpoints. I think we have to look at carving out our time and access a little more like bottles of wine- there are only so many on the shelf, and when it’s gone, it’s gone, and the rest of the time is reserved for being a regular person with friends and family, without any concerns that either our bandwidth or opportunities are going by the wayside during that period.

  19. Josh Muirhead Says:

    I’ll be honest, reading the title instantly turned me off – I thought,

    Man, is this guy going off point, or am I reading an old post?

    But, you got me thinking – In fact, you brought some very good ideas into light.

    I think it’s a fine line – Doctor’s don’t let you see them for free – Why? Well because you’re willing to pay. But their value has to be perceived higher than the local pharmacist, and online health guide.

    That’s the key – Most people (like 99%) won’t be able to pull this off. They won’t have a perceived value high enough to charge. That very small 1% (or less), will have to work for it – and gain some credible popularity (i.e. a book deal)

    I personally think it’s a great idea to have limited access – Yeh, if you really want to pick my brain, it’s going to cost you money.

    But I also think people are starting to focus to much on converting from “free” to “paid” and not enough on visibility, to credibility to profitability – Which should be the process their taking.

    Question to you – Why can Seth Godin start the Domino Project?

    Is it because it’s an amazing idea, that could change the book industry…or is it mostly because it’s Seth Godin?

  20. Julien Says:

    Josh, I think you nailed it right here.

  21. Kerry Rego Says:

    This was timely and exactly what I need to hear. I’m going to think in how I can apply this to my own business and time. Thanks.

  22. brettonthewater Says:

    great blog Julien, I think Adam Smith would like this blog too because it brings to light the power of market forces through supply and demand via access. For all the faults that people may put on the internet, I see the web as the ultimate driver of choice, and choice is a good thing.

    My goal in 2011 is to use the power of the web to my advantage (thanks in part to Trust Agents) along with tradition media (tv). If I am successful, which I have every intention of achieving, I will eventually face a similar challenge of being overwhelmed – a good challenge but something that will have to be dealt with accordingly.

    Looking forward, I will for sure come back to this blog as a valuable tool to help myself develop a game plan that I can implement to balance the access that the web creates and the overbearing nature that can ensue.

    Supply and demand via pay per view…. brilliant (within the right circumstances).

    Thanks for sharing.

    brett

  23. Robin Gerhart Says:

    I belong to Third Tribe and I agree with you, when too many things are free, people don’t always see the value. On the downside, those that are starting out can’t afford to pay for everything.

    Great Post Julien.

  24. Michele Welch Says:

    hmmm…Julien, I must say normally I get you, but this time I wonder if you have it backwards or maybe my thinking is backwards. LOL

    You noted how Garyvee and Tim Ferris “basically sold 1-on-1 time with them in exchange for bulk book purchases.” Is that not proof that it pays to monetize your strong ties? The loyal fans and people willing to invest that level of money into you?

    I get the Dinner rule. You don’t charge your friends and family, yet they are the ones most willing to invest in you. It’s the time suckers, the ones who won’t invest in you or your products, but just want your time, that wouldn’t pay for access in the first place.

    Seems like a bit of a pickle here…

    You don’t want to charge your “friends” yet your “acquaintances” have no desire to invest in you.

    I may well be missing the point… won’t be the first time. ;-) Sure got me thinking though!

  25. Joshua | The Minimalists Says:

    Julien,

    You are one of two or three bloggers that I would pay a recurring fee to access content. I pay $20 per month for Everett Bogue’s letter.ly content right now, but that’s it (although I should note that I know Ev personally; I pay for the content because it’s worth it).

    I’m considering the letter.ly platform for some of my fiction (i.e., short stories and drafts of my novel) but keeping my non-fiction essays on my site (blog) free to attract new readers.

    Thoughts?

    Joshua Millburn

  26. Julien Says:

    Hi Michele, just a short comment here.

    Your fans are not strong ties (socially). They are weak ties. Strong ties are your friends.

    Fans are people who want to BECOME strong ties, and as such, are quite likely to want to pay.

    I’m going to link up the word “weak ties” to an article to help clarify this.

    So about time-suckers. The pay wall gives an official reason to be like “fuck off,” and to give good treatment to people who see your time as valuable (ie, want to pay you).

    Does that make sense?

    Joshua, I think content in general is heading in this direction, it’s the easiest solution to supply and demand, plus it can make a crapload of cash very easily.

    So I think heading there earlier than later is better– right now, people are more willing than they will be when there are 100′s of them out there competing for your dollar.

  27. Michele Welch Says:

    “Fans are people who want to BECOME strong ties, and as such, are quite likely to want to pay.”

    Makes perfect sense now…thanks for the clarification Julien. ;-)

    Ciao!

  28. Phil Says:

    So brilliant. It makes total sense.

    “Your audience wants to be a part of your life.”

    Isn’t that what Reality TV, Tabloids, and Celebrity in general are all about? Most people want to live vicariously through more interesting people (especially the further down the scale towards “uninteresting” they are).

    There internet has opened the forum up to many more ‘mini-celebrities.’ This theme is pretty similar to Gary Vee’s book “Crush It” I think…

    Awesome post!

  29. @TheGirlPie Says:

    Julian, you’re onto something that’s been clear in my industry for some years:

    The internet is the “new” Television.

    There’s a wide & varied range;
    lots of free crap;
    some surprisingly good free content (and access); and wonderfully valuable gems for a fee in a ranges of prices…
    AND people who don’t grok the net (or TV) will always complain “5 million channels and nothing to watch!”

    There’s a “need and/or want” audience for every channel… until there’s not and the content drops off. I pay for PBS, I pay for some cable channels… and I’m consistent in my ‘net usage and what I’ll pay for. Murdoch’s “Daily”? No way. IMDBpro? Yup.

    In both the 3rd screen (‘net) and home screen (TV), some will pay for convenience or habit or preference (instant text updates, or newspaper delivery, or glossy hardcovers, etc.), and some will always search out the free version first. There’s a lot to learn about building your fan base, range of influence, credibility, profit margin, and freedom from the lessons in broadcast and cable TV. The big screen (features) is finally (with netflix, amazon for TiVo & VOD) making use of those lessons.

    BUT — I must quibble with your “dinner party rule” analogy. The key word there is “INVITE.” I disagree that “if you’d invite someone to dinner, then they should have free access to you.”
    NO — that INVITE is only for that night of the dinner party, for those hours.

    Just like there are more shades than “strong” or “weak” ties or friends, there are many reasons to invite someone to dinner — but that one/specific invite does not [can't!] grant them “free” (cost-free OR anytime) access to me. I don’t want my dinner guest showing up at my door the next dawn, and I can’t let my brain/heart/attention be on-call/on-demand on to every one of my friend’s (or client’s) demands, either. Family, yup; dinner party diners/”strong professional ties”, nope. Priority, sure; no cost — fine; but “free access” — that’s too wide a swath for this business owner.

    LOVE the post, many thanks for all the links, too. I’ve been moving my biz to this model for 2 years now and still haven’t made it official, but your post helps me define what the hell I’ve been doing/thinking to those outside the loop — HUGE help.

    Your pinkest weak tie,
    ~GirlPie

  30. Dr. Dean Brandon Says:

    Perhaps, some blogs can charge for admission, but as far as most medblogs, I can’t see but a few doing that. Most of our “revenue” comes from readers who decide to become paying patients in our real world offices after reading our profound or mundane medblogs… Thats’ our monetizatipn…. Some strong personalities or innovative bloggers may change this paradigm, but for now, most of us blog for “fun.”

  31. David Cain Says:

    I think you’re right on the money here Julien and I bet we’ll see this model begin to emerge naturally in the next few years.

    It’s funny, because as I was writing this comment, I was interrupted by my Facebook going “ding” because I’d left it open and a fan was wanting to chat. I felt guilty about ignoring it and I ended up having a seven-minute chat that really just went nowhere.

    It was a perfectly-timed lesson about weak ties and what they’ve come to cost me over the last few months.

    Just discovered your site an hour ago and I think it’s exceptional. Will be reading.

  32. MindStrategist™ Says:

    You have made very valid points, and once the deamnd-supply equation is in your favour, you can monetize the demand. It is important to keep the free access available too. Keep two levels of access. Chris Anderson’s book “FREE” is a great read on this. Fabulous post.

  33. Laurent Mauvais Says:

    I thinks that a personal blog is useful for growing your fan base. Giving access to inner circle for a fee is a good way to turn fans to ambassadors.

    But doing this only on the base of the exceptionality of your life and your thoughts is a very difficult challenge.

    You will need to “romantize” your life (ending living in a parallell world) and to live on the edge of a brain burn out.

    Why not developing yourself in freedom and write a book of your experience later? That the old model and it hasn’t proved wrong.

  34. Eric Rowe Says:

    Hmm….seems like a high risk – low reward strategy, so can’t see it ever being more the exception than the rule, much like 1000 true fans. The ideas sound great, but there is a reason everyone isn’t doing it.

    Seth Godin can start the Domino Project because he’s Seth Godin.

  35. Jim Says:

    Trends in social media and web marketing are causing me to rethink some of my long-held beliefs. Without trying to sound overly critical, I’m having trouble wrapping my head around the idea that there are self-proclaimed microstars whose time is SO valuable that I should pay for access so that they can have lives. Aren’t there better ways to protect your privacy? Is there really that much demand for web-based yet personal connections that people are willing to pay $10, $20, or more per month just to be near their online heroes? If so, maybe I need to start selling my time differently.

    With all due respect, there is some sort of punk arrogance permeating blogdom and webdom. I’m being told that I need to enhance my life and read a blog on how to have an extraordinary marriage. Since I have been happily and successfully married for almost 35 years, I wonder how much this five-year married couple can help me. Is experience no longer a great teacher? Should I be concerned that you don’t have any professional credentials?

    Some web consultants, many of whom seem to pop out of the woodwork after getting fired from their day jobs, carelessly throw around terms like “clients” and “friends” and “mid-six-figure income” and “monetize” while at the same time trying to convince me that they are so much in demand that they have to “carve out a little time” to write an self-serving blog article or produce a podcast that is intended solely for their personal benefit.

    It’s frighteningly easy to find out what how well these “microstars” are doing in real life. Real estate and personal property records are readily available online in almost every community. With just a few clicks, it’s pretty trivial to learn that Mr. Microstar is driving a 1999 Honda.

    Martyn Chamberlin (above) has it exactly right. I would add that the “industry”, if it has risen to that level, is eating itself by fostering the entitlement mentality. The all pervasive “Me! Me! Me!” message turns off a lot of very successful people. Maybe no one cares.

  36. Tim Says:

    Julien:

    I think you bring up some great thoughts…but I don’t think everyone can benefit from selling access to themselves as you described. I’ve seen this with one of my favorite bands, Queensryche. Several years ago, they made access to their message board/forum available to fan club members only. Let’s put it this way, I’ve loved those guys from the early days and loved to interact with other fans on their message board. However, once they started charging 20 or 30 dollars per year for access to their message board…I didn’t pay for access. I’m sorry, but this doesn’t make me any less passionate about the band. In a way, I kind of resented the fact that they wanted to monetize the message board. In some ways, as a result of their choice, I’ve drifted further from what their up to.

    Now don’t get me wrong, there may be plenty of fans that are willing to pay for access. Maybe the band is making some serious $$. But I don’t think just everyone can pull this off. Maybe a Chris Brogan can. Maybe some others. But I think you’ve got to be an elite talent to pull this off. Not to mention you risk alienating some of your more casual fans. This is just my opinion, but if you make the decision to sell access to your private blog – you risk losing people.

  37. Lisa Robbin Young Says:

    “A new stream of income means more freedom, which turns into a more interesting life, which turns into more popularity, which turns into more income, etc. A virtuous circle.”

    In order to get that additional stream of income you’ve got to be good at the first stream. I think that’s where people are missing the boat.

    Some new (and established) internet marketers, bloggers, and others are essentially wannabes: wanting to get to the paid model way too quickly. (i.e. “I’ve been blogging for 3 months, why am I not a bizillionaire? Told you this blogging thing was a scam!”)

    Yet there are others quietly cranking out awesome content on a regular basis that are either too afraid to step up to that new income stream, or just plain don’t know how to do it and/or market it to the tribe they’ve built. Sometimes it’s fear: they don’t think people will every pay them for what they’ve been blogging about anyway, and it’s just their “personal stuff” they’ve been posting, so who wants to pay for that kind of access?

    The reality is that even your free stuff can be re-purposed into a community driven platform – and augmented with additional content to create something more valuable that people are willing to pay for. Heck, at the very least, it means I don’t have to search your blog for all the cool stuff related to what I want to know from you. It’s all in one place, delivered to me in bite-sized chunks that I’m ready to handle.

    If I’m brand new to a blogger (this post was the first of yours I’ve ever read – referred by Sarah Robinson) I have no clue where to being “searching” and categories or tags don’t really give me the story. If I like your content (and I do), I MIGHT dig around in the old stuff. But usually, I’ll just subscribe and wait for the new stuff.

    Think of all the gems you’ve already posted that I’m missing – unless you link to them again in a future post.

    The life span of a blog post ain’t what it used to be. All around me there are folks whom I admire that are taking their old posts and creating e-books and real books and monetizing them.

    One of the easiest ways to do this is what I call the telesummit two-step. Kind of like closing comments on a blog, you could offer free access to your blog content for a finite period of time and after that, clients pay to access the older posts. People have been doing that with “telesummits” for years. Free replay of each of the calls for two days, then you pay for the complete audio/pdf collection. This just takes it to the everyday level of blogging.

    I’m in the process of designing and implementing term-based coaching/membership platforms for several clients that are looking to do just this – scale/leverage their knowledge to a more interested group of people willing to pay for more “face time” and interactivity with the man behind the curtain. Like you said, it cuts down on the man hours, and virtually guarantees you’re spending your valuable time with people that respect your time and want to spend more time with YOU.

    But you can’t do that if you’ve been at this for twelve seconds. You’ve got to build an authentic following. You’ve got to have the demand built up so people WANT to pay you for the access. You build that following through the free stuff.

    Love the post. I will be back.

  38. Kim Feraday Says:

    I couldn’t disagree more. I don’t want to be a part of your life and if I paid money to see you it wouldn’t be because you’re you it would be because you have some interesting ideas that are worth exploring.

    If you want to be the next Paris Holton more power to you. There are certainly alot of people that will pay for it. At least for a while. But if you’re not creating value this is one wallet you won’t be prying open.

  39. Naomi Says:

    I’m definitely a proponent of the dinner party rule but, yeah, where do you draw the line in the sand?

  40. jim genet Says:

    Intriguing concept and down the road away for me, but looking forward to it being on the table for consideration.
    BTW like your style.

  41. Adam Singer Says:

    Hmmmm – I think this is ONE potential future of blogs Julien but not necessarily all. Will think about how to continue this discussion.

  42. Melissa Johnston Says:

    Fascinating post. I definitely think you are on to something here. However, I agree with Hugh in that I feel the task of managing all the social media from email to tweets to blog comments and so on, has become a monumental task that even on a good day super human doesn’t manage well. I wondered just today how many of us are giving up down time or unplugging for fear of missing that all important tweet.

  43. Christian Says:

    Great post Julien. Enjoyed the creativity & universal thinking. Many of the great online personalities we know aren’t known by a funny name; but simply their own name. They’ve turned their life and name into the brand. It sells!

  44. Stephanie G Travis Says:

    “What if YOU were the product?” No. Wrong. Not a chance. I don’t know anyone who is personally a product. Even entertainers. It’s not them, it’s their acting/singing. Even prostitutes … it’s not the person you are paying for, it’s the acts performed by that person.

    I disagree that people who enjoy the art want access to the artist! Oh, there are some actors and singers I’d run away from if I they tried to talk to me. But I LOVE their art. Most of the time it ruins it when you meet the real person. Then you have to reconcile the art with the artist. Crap. Dilutes the art.

    What happened to creating a product? A service? An idea? Something of value to the payer? You think your life is so exciting that I am going to spend money and time to be in yours? My life is better than anyone’s and I think I’ve only been to 2 other countries – Canada and Bahamas. And I struggle to find time to hang with the awesome people already in my life.

    So you’re saying having access to you is valuable to me? If I am going to pay for a direct line to you, are we just going to chit chat or are you going to give me information you aren’t giving anyone else? Are you going to mentor me? Coach me? Or am I paying to just breathe the same air you are breathing?

    Not many bloggers will be able to pull the pay-to-have-personal-access-to-me thing off. I was recently reading a blog that blew me away – witty, intelligent, ballsy, funny, inspiring. Then I watched a video made by the blogger – ditzy, arrogant, insecure, way out of her league. Ruined the entire blog for me. Doubt I’ll read it again.

    I don’t want to get to know Tim Ferriss or Garyvee and would be offended if they think I would pay money to “get to know them.” Really? Seriously? I love their ideas and material, but them? They aren’t really anything special in the personality department.

    And do you think the kind of people who want to pay to be your friend are the kind of people you want to spend your time on/with? Don’t sell yourself short like that. Don’t just do it for the money. Choose a few winners and hang with them for the journey. Watch how your brilliance can change a life. You still have something to learn from others, too.

    And you are brilliant and smart. There are no worries you will make several million dollars. Just don’t get side-tracked by this idea with smacks of ego gone wild.

    And about not being able to handle all the emails and tweets: you don’t have to talk to everyone who talks to you. That’s another thing the web culture has taken on that’s a little wacked … maybe because of Garyvee. You can still create great content/product/service and charge for it, but you don’t have to respond to everyone who contacts you. That doesn’t make you mean or stuck up.

  45. Danny Brown Says:

    Two different markets. My blog readers are my blog readers – that advice is free.

    My clients are my clients. That advice is premium.

    Want to charge the people that gave you the opportunity to work with paying clients and get a book deal? Knock yourself out.

    I’ll stick with valuing them, as opposed to putting a value on them.

  46. Rufus Dogg Says:

    The thing about social networks is they are really not “social.” You have control of the off switch all the time. You can ignore comments, engage comments or simply not care and just write stuff as if the rest of the world is not watching. If it is good stuff and readers care, then they comment, or contact you and say, “tell me more, have some money.” Or…

    They comment with the express purpose of hooking into an audience that compels the likes of Danny Brown to comment and Chris Brogan to re-tweet you. (that, reader, was your cue to click on my name and read my blog…. what?!? you still here with Julien?? argghhh.. ok, fine)

    I know a lot of authors who write compelling stuff but are wallflowers or idiots or jerks in person. I also know a lot of artists I would hang in my home but never want actually IN my home or meet anywhere else. Many speakers who motivate so powerfully on stage are jerks in person or in on a one-on-one conversation. It is a rare gift of nature when the art that flows from the person also permeates that person. Those people already know what contact with them is worth. But the truth is many people produce art as a character of themselves…

    I’m with Danny on this: Don’t confuse your audience with your clients. Now, seriously, reader, click on my damn name above and read my stinking blog I work so hard at… too honest? Eh, I play a dog most of the time.. it’s hard to stay in character 24/7 :-)

  47. Sarah Wallace Says:

    I think those who are thinking of making their blog paid access should do it, let the chips fall as they may and we’ll all discuss it’s success or failure the end of 2011.

  48. Danny Brown Says:

    @Rufus. I’m clicking over to your blog today, because you asked nicely and made me chuckle. :)

  49. Linda Jackson Says:

    I disagree. I don’t believe that you have to pay to have friends. If everything I read, or deem to read, is reduced to copy to sell me friendships or experiences, or to train me to do something I bloody well know how to do on my own; well, that would be a very sad and contrived world indeed.

  50. Rufus Dogg Says:

    @Danny Ah, I’ve tripped upon the secret.. Donald O’Connor was right.. Make ‘em laugh.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2oWk4ZiuSHE

  51. Jim Matorin Says:

    Further validation that social media gurus egos have become too big. The blogsphere was created for people to have a free voice and an opportunity for people to share. If I want exclusivity I will pay for it, but only for people that have true experience (I believe 10,000 hours according to Malcolm Gladwell) and know how to write.

  52. aaron wall Says:

    I think the idea is less scalable than people think it is at first. Like right now we are down to do major infrastructural upgrades & I get about a dozen messages a day asking when we re-open. But I didn’t realize how much stuff would break on the Drupal 7 upgrade, so we are running late on the upgrade & it isn’t something I can just push rushing (our programming lead is already working so much that his back is hurting and his wrist is hurting).

    Also any software or program you offer which is part of your competitive advantage will quickly be cloned. The only way around that is to build a marketplace system with feedback that learns from network effects.

    If it is fairly static and measuring 3rd party data then original ideas don’t stay that way when they stay behind paywalls. Some of our tools where we were the only people offering them now have a half-dozen or a dozen people with similar offerings. And even the ones we offered for free have been highly cloned. Check out how many SEO toolbars there are now. Before we made ours there was maybe only 1 somewhat decent one and then like 5 crappy ones. Now there are about a dozen that are straight clone jobs of our toolbar.

    Ultimately the only things we have done which really are not cloneable (or worth being cloned) are
    - selling my time
    - the community vibe we created
    - specialty tools which are mostly valuable to a niche audience (like a domain hunting tool we offer)

    The problem with selling my time is that I get the flu, or my back goes out, and no matter what happens to me stuff piles up if I am not there all the time. Selling years of your time without a day off can lead to burnout, relationship problems (my wife is an amazing person for putting up with me working way too much…I am so lucky to have her in my life…I have debated numerous times quitting the site so she and I have more time to hang out and have fun) & health issues as well (I am somewhat overweight, and that leads to a person having a more negative outlook on some fronts as well).

    And while externally it is easy to call the site a success, ultimately I am still selling my time at below market rates (when compared to what we earn doing other stuff). Further I now am a boss with a bunch of employees. So that is yet another layer of people who rely upon me and who I must rely upon. Not an intended consequence, but a needed solution that comes with a certain level of scale.

    And freetards let you see the ugliest sides of humanity EVERY DAY OF YOUR LIFE. I guess it is not the same as seeing war & people being killed, but to sell you must let people know that they are missing out on something. And for every person who pays you then you might get 2 or 3 people who want to tell you are a horrible person for trying to make a living (even if/while you are selling your time for less than the market states it is worth).

    Also some of our customers have been the type to “learn a technique then abuse it until it is destroyed” types. Some of them (mostly the folks working with Patrick Gavin) have certainly cost us far more than they have paid us. Thus I have fired some of our customers, but truth is some other customers might actually just be fake names for the same folks.

    I don’t regret building a membership site, but it is much harder to do well than most people realize. You can’t just be a bit better than the market…you have to be a year or 2 ahead of the market over and over again. For years straight.

    Another thing that makes it challenging is that your competitors will subscribe to your site to see how they can clone what you are doing and/or take your most valuable information and publicly leak it to destroy your competitive advantages & add risk to your businesses.

    Some SEO and marketing techniques work well because they are not fully understood by market participants. Domainers were not widely yelling from the rooftops about the amazing returns they built with domain names while they were still way under-priced.

    There are a lot of honest folks in the world, but most of them are not entrepreneurs. There are a lot of entrepreneurs in the world, but most of them are not very honest. The markets are dirty, and when people can act remotely and don’t have to look in the eye the person they are dealing with they will do things that they would otherwise not do. It is easy to push a scam (or write content about scammy topics and let AdSense do the dirty work) when you don’t really consider the person on the other end. And if you don’t do anything dirty then those who are doing dirty stuff will likely cross-invest some of those profits to drive you out of the marketplace.

    And it is unfortunate that even if you do a great job of ensuring 95%+ of your customers are a good fit then the other 5% can still harm you enough to more than offset the value you get from what you are doing.

    Oh, and Clay Shirky is where I got that great quote from about using price to balance supply and demand.

  53. John Haydon Says:

    I don’t want to charge my true friends, because they’re, well… my friends. Plus they help promote my business.

    However, weak ties by definition can’t enter into a value exchange. They might find me via search – stop by,take what they were looking for and then leave. Could I offer an $19 ebook-type product (thinking out loud)? My true fans would know that most of the content in the book is already in the blog.

    I’ve also been thinking of creating an offering called “Group Therapy” where people who want my time pay me say $50 and then sit in the “waiting room”. When 10 people have signed up, I schedule a 60-minute conference call with these folks.

    Good stuff to think about here – and the comments are extremely helpful.

  54. Martyn Chamberlin Says:

    Come on Julien. Come out and dance a little bit. I want to hear your counter arguement to me and Jim. Let’s not get mean, but let’s talk.

    Please? :)

  55. Julien Says:

    You got it. Here’s what I think specifically about what you and Jim said (I can’t email him, he used a fake address).

    I think this model does not supplant anything, it simply adds to the “rainbow” of options which are basically all different kinds of media brand extensions. Books, speaking, TV appearances, all of these are natural extensions for a blogger who does well. But they don’t really pay for a living except for speaking fees, and those are unattainable by most people.

    I don’t think most people can pay to be “themselves,” but that access is a part of the value– the ability to ask questions, chit chat, and get valuable information out of someone who’s an expert. This is why many people pay to go to conferences and hope to “network” with popular speakers, etc. It’s a real value and people are willing to pay even for the *opportunity* to meet someone. In this case, you are guaranteeing a certain level of personal attention in exchange for membership of a certain kind.

    This membership most often will need to be about something– but not always. Bill O’Reilly has paid members who get some kind of premium access (not sure what, sorry), but these people pay for exclusive outtakes etc I’m guessing. And they’re happy doing it.

    As for you “1 in 10,000″ number, I don’t think that’s true. I think the number is small, but still larger than the ones for speaking fees, books, TV appearances, etc. So it widens the number of people who could make a living this way.

    Jim mentions a marriage counselor who’s giving advice about marriage he doesn’t need. I can’t speak to his personal situation, but I do know that said marriage counselor (MC) isn’t speaking to HIM specifically, and he’s acting as though he’s having a personal conversation with him. He’s not. The MC is a channel that Jim can tune in or out anytime he wants, pay into if he wants or not.

    The MC does not care about Jim, he cares about his audience. This is something a lot of people miss about the web. If you come to my blog and then you like it, and then my content turns to something you don’t like, that’s not me mistargeting you (although it can be), it’s the channel shifting (like the way the History channel is now always about alien abduction or whatever).

    I also think there is a misunderstanding about these people who charge for their time. Sure they can often be bullshitting about their value, but it’s also possible that they just don’t look “big” because this isn’t television. Microstars are invisible when you’re looking at other verticals, but they can still be hugely sucessful and making millions inside of it. Their time is valuable and they are asking THEIR AUDIENCE to pay, not YOU. They don’t care if YOU pay, or even if you look. They are paying attention to those that care, and it doesn’t matter to them if you are among them or not.

    As for creating privacy, or “protecting attention” or something, I think it’s more about trying an alternative business model if something you’re doing is working and increasingly popular.

    I hope I addressed all the points, but I’m scrolling back and forth here, so forgive me if I missed some stuff.

  56. Joseph Doughty Says:

    @Aaron You just saved me a huge snafu as I get my membership site ironed out. I feel your pain, in my own niche industry I have been ripped off and lied to more than once and these were “friends”, I shudder to think what an “enemy” would do. Makes me almost want to turn off my computer and never return.

    @Julien, thanks for offering such a great and thought provoking blog that is free of charge, at least in money. Personally I think the currency is really time, those who manage it better get paid better. Selling access to your expertise is only an extension of the larger blog business model.

    I hate to use the phrase “blog business” model, becuse I consider blgs merely a tool. One of many available to a business owner/entrepreneur. IMHO: the bloggers who stumble are the ones who mistake the tool (blog) for the actual business.

  57. John Morrow Says:

    I always enjoy your blog – it is thought provoking even when I don’t agree. And I don’t in this case.

    While I agree with the principle – content creators need to find ways to get paid for their content – I don’t see a practical way to achieve this as long as everyone else is falling all over themselves to pump out free stuff.

    I think the New York Times plan to go to a $20 a month pay wall is utterly doomed to fail, because as much as I love reading the New York Times, my Google Reader feed is full of stories from 10 newspapers just as good. Why would I suddenly drop $20 on the NYT?

    I wrote about this just yesterday:
    http://www.evilorstupid.com/2011/02/pay-as-you-go-charging-for-internet.html

  58. Taylor Davidson Says:

    Julien: Love the post, the comments, and the diversity of opinions. Like you, I believe that we’ll see prices attached to a lot more content and interactions. And as much as we can debate “paid” and “free”, the devil is in the details, the situation, the product, the service, the interaction. There is no blanket answer here. Some will work as “paid”, some will work as “free”. Here’s to finding out the when, where and how paid can work.

  59. Ryan Critchett Says:

    I’m aligned with this completely. This is a great demonstration of the evolution of both “thought about the internet,” and the internet.

    There are “experts” everywhere, speaking and writing books.. Yay. It won’t be that way forever.

    Once a massive following is established, a great paid access operation is brilliant.

    This is the evolution of the internet. Great post Julien.

  60. Jeff Gibbard Says:

    Julien,

    I have to say that you wrote a well thought out and coherent case for paid (premium) content in a way that Sam Lessin really should have. While Letter.ly’s founder came off as pretentious you got to the heart of the issue which is of course, supply and demand, time and attention, and the strength of your ties to fans/followers, etc.

    I have often thought about charging for content or access. It’s not that I don’t love the reach that comes with freely giving away ideas and opinions or the good feeling that comes with generosity. I think I have been struggling to understand when a pay wall is appropriate and I got the sense that it was tied to popularity. Using it as a method of controlling supply and demand of my time and attention makes perfect sense.

    Great post. It’s the first one I’ve read on your blog. I’ll be back.

  61. Soledad Song Says:

    This statement I strongly disagree with:

    “Of course, you don’t want to monetize your strong ties. That would be insane. The social norms space stays pure. You don’t pay your wife for the nice dinner she made.”

    It illustrates succinctly what is wrong with economics and family structure in U.S. “social norms.” There is a reason why more than half of Amerikkkan marriages end in divorce and why Family Law is the most litigated legal practice specialty in the U.S. It is because domestic and nurturing work is not valued in this society, business, or governmental system. I think you’re a Canuck(?), but our countries are close and similar enough in social norms for this to basically hold true in the tundra as well.

    You might not *want* to monetize your strong ties, but you must consider your partner’s contribution to your well-being and functioning or (s)he will leave you. A true partnership requires reciprocity. While you might not ask for the check and place money on the table after every meal, to take one’s partner for granted and deny that they, too, need currency to operate within a capitalist system is what I find insane. Cooking, cleaning, organizing, planning, childcare, counseling, talk therapy, fashion styling, decorating, and yes, even sex, are all work and need to be valued, appreciated, and compensated as such.

    For an incredible podcast series on the topic of Family v. Wage economies, see Yale/New School Economics Professor Dr. Richard Wolff and his Psychotherapist wife, Dr. Harriet Fraad’s “Family and Economy” series: http://www.rdwolff.com/content/family-and-economy-part-one

    It breaks down this concept much better than I even dare attempt to in a blog comment.

  62. Yossi Barazani Says:

    I believe paid access to blogs will work only for very small fraction of the blogosphere. Most blogs who are interested in monetization have to look for new out of the box ways to monetize their content. I also believe that the dominant way of monetization: advertisements, and especially pay-per-click ads (adsense) is flawed, see my post: Make money without manipulating your readers to click on ads http://blog.publishedin.com/post/1453644943.
    If not ads, what else? The value of a blog is in the content itself, and the reader came to read the content in the first place. When a blogger writes about products, services, or businesses and link to them a commercial value is created. Interestingly, businesses pay billions to google for every user referred to them, but pay nothing to blogger who refer his readers to them.
    We created http://publishedin.com to help bloggers and online publishers to monetize their content, and for businesses to increase quality traffic to their business.

  63. Leigh Says:

    Julien I agree with you and this is why.

    Flipping this idea around:
    I’m a therapist and my following is made of therapists struggling to grow a practice. It’s hard to ask someone to shell out $175 a week to talk about their problems or even $85 bucks to get a massage (less money, more fun — but still expensive).

    Therapists are called, “Greedy” — which makes us very sad!

    An hour of any persons attention is expensive (or should be) – I mean, would you cheap out on your tattoo artist? No – that would be a disaster – same thing with therapists.

    I watched your clips in your SPEAK section today and had a great idea – (Thanks for that BTW) – Therapists ought to host more free/low cost collaborative group sessions on a regular schedule — like church or AA, but more fun.

    In doing this they would provide:

    a safe space to learn + to be vulnerable + socialize

    and have wider reach, better word of mouth they would circle out to clients with deeper pockets

    I’m thinking: Tuesday Bi-Polar knitting circles, Wednesday Anxiety-Prone Bowling Club, Thursday Depression potlucks etc.

    Thus, therapists can:
    - efficiently serve a less affluent audience with purpose & mastery
    - reserve their expensive daytime slots for clients who can afford to pay for individualized attention

    So in answer to Cristel in #7 I don’t think it’s “Greedy” to manage & put a price tag on ones attention — it’s a must.

  64. Lourenco Azevedo Says:

    Good article that raises interesting questions I will quote you:

    “The blog would remain free– it puts new people into the “funnel.” But personal access is what some people want, so that gets its own structure which is not free. Depending on what it is, it costs a certain amount. But the more you do for free, the more people come in, that’s obvious.. and it shouldn’t change for most people.”

    That’s good, but I think that will be one more burden, because you still have to produce content to promote the payed content… and I think it get’s mayhem very easily if you then give privileges inside of your payed structure. Like premium subscriber, gold subscriber… and so on. I liked what Everett Bogue just did, killed is blog and started a letter.ly. – I got here by is post. In that way you really relieve pressure on your life and can focus in the essential to produce good content and live from this. It’s only possible to do that if you have a large number of subscribers, but you get to the essentials and you know who is following you or not.

    Thanks once more for this juicy reflection

  65. JIm Says:

    I’m in. How do I sign up?

  66. Dave Bosslen Says:

    Great article, I think that paid access website are sometimes essential on tiny niches.

    Even you build your website only for your own fun, the expenses can exceeds the money you will want to invest in a hobby.

    Paid access for my point of view is the solution if have good information people will pay.

    We have seen it on one of our website at: http://wishlistmemberplugins.net, we are dealing with a tiny niches of plugin for wordpress and people are paying money for those products and for the information we provide.

  67. Gary Rowe Says:

    I’m quite late to this party but I thought I’d chime in with a different take on the paywall approach.

    I’m not a professional blogger, but I maintain a few posts on my technical website and I’ve been able to raise a bit of revenue by asking people to donate if they’ve found the information I’ve provided useful. So far, so standard.

    What is different is that I don’t ask for payment with any type of credit card or PayPal or tipping service. I ask for a direct payment through Bitcoin. My (very small) audience is Bitcoin-aware and so I occasionally get a few pennies (literally, amounts that small are viable with the technology) as a thank-you. Since it is paid direct to me there are no fees, and payments are irreversible.

    Obviously, you guys are much more visible so you would use it differently, perhaps in conjunction with a site account and an analysis of the contribution that account has made. There’s a lot of possibilities with it.

    If you’re interested, take a look here: http://gary-rowe.com/agilestack/2012/01/09/how-to-accept-bitcoins-on-your-blog-with-no-code/. Feel free to email me if you want further advice.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*