With the decline in the consumption of print media, online content has boomed.
Yet, asking people for money to get that content is very tricky.
That’s because a lot of the primary audience for online content has grown up being used to getting it for free.
One idea that has been experimented with a lot is paywalls.
But paywalls tend to cause sharp declines in the demand for content.
And then there is the notion of subscription fees, often annual but also offered in monthly and quarterly chunks.
Plus, there’s the angle of letting visitors access some of the content for free (up to a specific limit).
For example, a magazine website could allow users access to ten articles for free each month.
This gives the audience an idea about the quality of the content and might compel them to start paying later.
But all of this should be looked at through the eyes of demand cycles.
Generally, when the demand is high, prices tend to go up.
Too many casual visitors drop off if the demand is high and paywalls are put up.
But if those casual visitors can be kept engaged during peak time, they might reward content producers during non-peak times.
That’s because the relationship will have been built on the right footing: with a sense of empathy and generosity.
Of course, this suggestion should not be accepted wholesale.
Because the dynamics of different industries vary significantly, much testing should be done.
That way, a sort of “equilibrium” can be found for the different variables: what times and to what extent content should be kept free.
And the exact process needs to be carried out for pricing.
Simply following industry norms is not always the best way to go.
Since all these scenarios and business models are relatively new, there is a lot of room to innovate.
And one final recommendation is to go deep with market research and figure out what your audience wants and how as precisely as possible.