Are people willing to pay for what you do?
You can create great content. That content can generate all kinds of traffic and attention. That traffic and attention can bring lots of healthy conversations and comments. Over time, those conversations and comments can lead to a vibrant community. That community is there for you and will support you. But, the big question is: would they be willing to pay for it?
The debate about online journalism and newspaper websites, their value and the general public's interest level in paying for online content has been dissected and debated by people way smarter than you and I (just check out the insights by the likes of Jeff Jarvis and Jay Rosen). Regardless of the debate, I think this is the right move for The New York Times to make (are you surprised?). This will be their moment of truth (for a more official look at what a pay-to-play New York Times will look like, check out this article: New York Times -The Times to Charge for Frequent Access to Its Web Site).
"Starting in January 2011, a visitor to NYTimes.com will be allowed to view a certain number of articles free each month; to read more, the reader must pay a flat fee for unlimited access. Subscribers to the print newspaper, even those who subscribe only to the Sunday paper, will receive full access to the site without any additional charge."
Here are some reasons why this is not such a bad idea:
- They will keep being indexed by Google and the other Search Engines.
- That search indexing will still bring in big-time branding, awareness and link love.
- For the majority of people coming into contact with the occasional article from the New York Times, the content will still be free.
- While this may deliver less banner ad impressions overall, the quality, targeting and readership analytics will deliver a more quality CPM and better targeting.
- If enough people love the content (and feel like they can't live without it), they will pay for it. Happily.
- The New York Times will learn - in short order - what the truth is about their circulation and readership.
Most media pundits are focusing on whether or not readers will pay versus finding the same news elsewhere for free. As much as you can get news from anywhere and everywhere you can't get the perspective of the individual writers and journalists that make up an issue of the New York Times. If what they are producing is of value to enough people, those people will pay for this content and the New York Times will reap the financial rewards of this.
Is there a better way of knowing if what you're doing is really of value or has a future?