There has been a lot of buzz about the freeconomy. As a results, you might wonder whether it still makes sense to sell downloads or other kinds of digital content. I feel it does, here are some arguments.
Why online content can be sold
The free philosophy is based on the idea that somewhere at the end of the line, you are going to sell something. This can be premium content just as well.
Micropayments are becoming more popular.
Today, people more often buy digital goods. Such as iTunes music, H&M clothing in the Sims game, or Radiohead’s latest album In Rainbows.
Google Adwords doesn’t work so well for smaller, specialized sites. However, it’s harder to get a free version of specialized content than of popular music, so buying this kind of content makes more sense.
Many people are starting to **** advertising more than paying a small fee.
People who like your work won’t mind supporting you a little.
Selling content does not mean a subscription based model
Maybe you’re thinking: selling content, is that not something The Wall Street Journal once tried (and failed)?
Well, yes and no. They used a subscription based model. I feel this probably isn’t the easiest way to sell content.
A subscription model creates quite a high barrier for a consumer to give buying content a try (lets say $30 a month).
That is why I feel that it is very important to try and make this barrier considerably lower. A consumer pays per post, I suggest a model where a blog posts about eigth articles for free and sells two special articles for a small amount, such as $0.50.
The barriers to buy content then are:
Do I get value for my money?
Since there are eight free articles available, a consumer can alreay see if he values the blog’s expertise.
Do I waste my money?
Since the purchase price is low (in our example $0.50 instead of $30) this risk is not so great.
Is buying content easy?
Credit card purchases are often experienced as quite difficult. However, buying content is quite easy with PayPal and Checkout, and it’s very easy with the Oronjo wallet.
How easy is it to find a new alternative?
This greatly depends of the (specialized) expertise of the blog and is correlated with the costs of content / ease of transaction (meaning: the lower the fee and the easier the transaction, the less likely a customer is to start searching for a free alternative).
It is not a question whether it makes sense to sell downloads or other kinds of digital content. It is a question of how. Experiments in the future we either too soon or did not use the right approach.
Fortunately, new services are arriving, which will prove that selling downloads makes a lot of sense, even in the freeconomy.
Lisa Cremer is marketing manager at Oronjo.com, a free service to sell downloads.