How to sell the content of your web site

Business Tip — A number of web sites out there will tell you how to come up with a workable business model for your e-commerce web site. Here’s an untypical way to sell your content.

Much about everywhere, you’ll read you’re going to make money by selling:

  • Your products and services (e.g. “mainstream” e-commerce such as selling books or mp3 files)
  • Your traffic and user-related data (e.g. affiliation, advertisements, etc.)
  • Your position as opinion leader when applicable (e.g. a high PR link to another web site)

Sometimes, you’ll simply read you’re going to save money — or sell more offline — because your web site explains each and every aspect of your product or service.

Lastly, you’ll read that you ought to sell content when that’s what you’re offering. The problem is noone tells you how to sell it. Get real: Who do you expect will pay to access your premium content or your archives? Even if you use micropayments to sell your content I wouldn’t expect your sales to surge:

  • Gaming theory tells us if A competes with B on price only, the price will tend to drop — not the opposite
  • Search-engines — or any other referral, for that matter — will not pay to access your content, so you’ll need to leave the door open somehow, and it will be cached somewhere

If the above makes sense to you, try this alternative model: keep the content free and sell the ability to follow outgoing links for a symbolic price (say… $.01 each), i.e. the opposite to the conventional subscription model where you pay for content and access related content for free. In this model, the odds are — imho — on your side when your visitors need to decide if they want to pay to not.

Consider: Your prospect just committed himself to thinking your content is interesting — he read your story. Moreover, he further committed himself to thinking you are providing an interesting link — he decided to follow it. In many ways, this means he trusts you before you even started to sell him anything. How more cooperative can a prospect be?

Comments on How to sell the content of your web site

  1. Me too. And quite honestly, it’s probably the only thing that would make me pay for online content.

    Note however that technically, a search engine can let you access the information you’re looking for. And this is where the use of Micropayments makes sense: It must be low enough (say, a few cents) to discourage the business user to bother conducting the search himself.

  2. Agreed. I’ve never signed up for a website’s “premium” content, and I don’t plan to. However, I think if those sites offered a low, reasonable micropayment option -say to download a game trailer I really wanted to see or access a certain review section – I’d be much more inclined to opt in. Why would I pay 9.95 a month for service I’m unsure of?