Foundational Ideas on Monetizing Content
Among other ideas I noodle on for months or more at a time, I’m very slowly mulling over monetization on Write.as — how we would do it, what fits our product, what is the most human way to approach the problem, etc. I first wrote about it a year ago, before we added support for Web Monetization.
I don’t want to just slap a copycat subscription feature on our blogs and call it a day. Like everything, I want to approach this with my own eyes, after surveying the current landscape, talking to our unique group of writers, and asking “Why?” to everything along the way.
So here are some new general principles / ideas on monetization that came to mind today, especially after an earlier conversation with one of the writers in our community, Manuel Parra-Yagnam.
- A subscription isn’t just buying an existing product, but also buying the future expectation of content / improvements / so on. This can be detrimental to more casual writers, people just getting started, people for whom writing isn’t the main product, etc.
- A paywall or asymmetrical exchange of information for money doesn’t really sit well with me as a consumer. I’d prefer a more human exchange of value that matches the level of engagement — some base (affordable) level of access by virtue of reading here, with added levels to support the author or publication if I’m very engaged.
- (Unbaked thoughts:) Information needs low friction to access — it’s hard to gauge the real “value” it will have to you beforehand, and even immediately after. (I may read something that sits dormant in my brain today, but randomly becomes useful to me five years from now.) It’s better, as a consumer, to view paid content consumption as a long-term investment in the person or organization behind the content, rather than as a single purchase of “content” that will somehow be worth it (especially right away).
- Perhaps it should be more about products around the content than the content itself — community benefits, extra access to the author, bonus perks, etc.
- What if we think of funding writers as part of a wider ecosystem instead of on an individual basis? E.g. the Medium / Coil model of funding many creators under a single subscription — but with more control over the business model, products, and pricing in the hands of creators?