Selling Content Subscriptions in a Free Content World

Most people believe that nothing online has any value, because most of the people download music, movies and software for free (illegal or not, most people think it’s free or that it should be free.) In a world that seems to believe that everything should be free on the Internet, how can subscription websites survive?

In this article we look at this question and we will provide 5 tips that will keep your subscription website profitable. You can still make a descent profit, whether you run a money making website, an online magazine or a private community. One thing is certain; you have to have unique and accurate content.

1. Be an Expert
You must all have seen these websites where, on every page you are reminded that you need to buy a subscription to get to the requested content. All over every page or even worse in pop-ups, you see phrases like “Sign Up”, “Limited offer Today!”, “Purchase a Subscription Now!” and “Get access for only $9.99 per month!”

The focus of these websites is on making money online, not of being of value to the customer or giving the potential customer some free information they are looking for.

Instead of aggressively try to sell subscription to visitors these websites could better focus on becoming experts in a specific field. They should focus on delivering quality content.

Some content should be free, so that people can see that you are an expert. If people belief that the website can deliver valuable content than they want to pay for it. In this way, you will be seen as an expert and not someone who is trying to make a quick buck!

2. Niche Market
This subject is already covert extensively by many people over the years, but it is very important to get success with your website, so we will cover it again.

A niche topic for a website is a website that has a relatively small scope and is covert by only a few websites. For example, instead of creating a website that explains “how to make money online”, you might want to create a website that focuses on the topic of “how to make money with a specific piece of software.”

Because of the narrow scope, you will get more search engine traffic, and it will give your site a bigger change to get a bigger percentage of the market sales. (Note: the fewer websites, the better the change will get.) Never cast a big net in the hope that you will catch more fish. Always write about a small subject. Show that you understand the topic and that people only can find the information on your website.

3. Worth Buying
If you do some searches on the internet then you will find many websites that trying to sell a product (usually an EBook on how to make money fast or on some other broad covert topic.) These sites only consists of one page (usually this are landing pages of products) filled with reason after reason why the visitor should buy the product (in all kinds of multi-coloured fonts.)

With so many of these websites online these days, we don’t think that this way of selling will last much longer (of course in the past this did work, because there where fewer of these type of pages.) But with all the competition on the web, it is just not realistic to expect to reason someone into buying a product.

As we said before, a better way is to give some of your valuable content away for free. You make part of your subscription site public and the rest of the content is for members only. This way people can see examples of what you are selling and they will much sooner buy other content or a subscription. People much feel that it is worth buying a subscription. Free content is a much better way then trying to tell (with reason after reason) someone that it is worth buying. If you give away some content, your content can sell itself.

4. Search engines
An added benefit of the subscription business model that also has free content on the page is that search engines will love your website. Search engines can find websites or so called landing pages that only try to sell content, but don’t provide content of their own and in most cases they will rank these pages very low. Because your subscription website also offers free content, this will most likely not happen to your website. Search engine love, free accessible, clearly formatted, keyword rich, unique content. So, keep adding new free pages all the time!

5. Presentation
The content of a website will sell subscriptions all by itself, but a user friendly presentation is also very important. A well designed website, will sell more subscription then a crappy website with the same free content. This is often forgotten in today’s subscription market.

Try to be professional and people will treat you this way and they most likely will see the site as an expert in the market. So, get a new logo, add more well formatted free content and add some professional colours to your web and the subscriptions will follow.

Conclusion
You can still make money online with subscription based content, as long you follow the tips we have discussed above. And yes, there will be people that don’t want to pay for anything, but there also plenty of people that want to pay for good quality information.

If you understand your site’s visitors and stay in touch with the free content model as the tips above explain, you could earn thousands of dollars per month with nothing more than a computer and some passion.

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