Posts Tagged ‘content’

How to get online readers to pay

May 15, 2009

There’s a recent article over at Folio on three examples of successful paid content strategies. They’re interesting cases, and I hope they give you some ideas on monetizing content online. The two lessons seem to be: 1. You can make money on tangibles and 2. You can make money on subscriptions – if you’re a trade mag for industries with money.

Unfortunately, I doubt most consumer mags would be able to charge $649 to $1,785 per year for newsletters. But if your niche is right, the model just might work for you.

How do you define your product?

May 5, 2009

Love this blog post (first in a series on the old vs. new rules for media) from Steve Pratt on content vs. distribution. The gist: instead of defining yourself by your platform (a “magazine”, a “newspaper”, a “TV station”), define yourself by your content. Platforms are a means to an end, not the end itself.

Where will the money come from?

January 6, 2009

As many print products lose readers to online, the question remains: how can web properties make enough money to produce the same quality content that their print revenues allowed for?

For whatever reason, display ads don’t command the same prices online as they have in print, and web readers are used to having everything available instantly, and for free. But can this last?

A recent article in the New Yorker by James Surowiecki discusses this problem, specifically as it applies to newspapers. A few of his key points:

Define your business. Do you create magazines, or do you create content? Says Surowiecki: “Many argue that if newspapers had understood they were in the information business, rather than the print business, they would have adapted more quickly and more successfully to the Net.”

Consider alternative revenue models. “There are many possible futures one can imagine for [newspapers], from becoming foundation-run nonprofits to relying on reader donations to that old standby the deep-pocketed patron.”

Remember that nothing’s really free. “For a while now, readers have had the best of both worlds: all the benefits of the old, high-profit regime—intensive reporting, experienced editors, and so on—and the low costs of the new one. But that situation can’t last. Soon enough, we’re going to start getting what we pay for, and we may find out just how little that is.”

Leverage content for greater profit

December 9, 2008

Further to the discussion on how brand extensions can help you make money online, there’s an article by Clive Thompson in the current issue of Wired on “How T-shirts keep online content free“. The thesis? The content will build your audience; the money can be made by selling them branded T-shirts and other merchandise, as do the creators of animated comedy series Red vs. Blue:

Their algorithm is simple: First, don’t limit your audience by insisting they pay to see your work. Instead, let your content roam freely online, so it generates as large an audience as possible. Then cash in on your fans’ desire to sport merchandise that declares their allegiance to you.

It’s not likely to work for everyone – but will it work for you?

Multipage vs. single page articles

September 10, 2008

Mitch Joel at Twist Image has an interesting post up about his annoyance at multipage articles on websites. His annoyance stems from the fact that this practice often exists simply so that sites can increase their pageviews (and thus ad impressions) and pages per visitor.

So, why do magazine and newspaper Websites continue this terrible user experience of having to click through multiple web pages to read a 750 word article?

Is it possible that those two extra clicks of the mouse generate enough page impressions and banner ads served that it’s worth the frustration to their readers? The answer must be yes.

Guilty as charged – who doesn’t want to help out their stats, and who isn’t under pressure to increase ad impressions? Multipage content (slideshows are often an extension of this in a lot of cases) can be a good way to increase pages per visitor, and therefore demonstrate higher user engagement.

But…it isn’t just about the impressions. Michelle Evans notes in the comments that multipage articles are a good way of gauging user engagement – you can tell in your analytics software how many people clicked through to the next page. And Lorenzo says that he likes multiple pages on long articles as it gives him a sense of progression. (I’d have to agree.)

My take as a reader? Clicking through multiple pages a paragraph at a time is overkill. But for longer content, I’m happy to do it and even sometimes welcome it. And if this is what it takes for online media to make money at this stage in the game, then fine – I prefer it over a) invasive ads (strange floating popups, I’m talking to you) and b) pay walls. 

My take as a web editor? I hesitate to put up really long articles in one page. It just seems strange, like the reader will get lost. And yes, I do like to see how many people click through multiple pages in content.

What do you think?

How long is too long?

August 25, 2008

It’s generally assumed in the online world that web articles should be kept short – after all, web readers have the attention span of a gnat. Zainab Zakari at the New York Review of Magazines disagrees in an article that goes over studies on attention spans, actual site statistics and his own anecdotal evidence.

On the one hand, I think short and to the point is good: the bulk of my online reading consists of scanning articles and rarely making it past page 1. But on the other hand, when the time and place are right (usually a Saturday morning browsing the Globe), I’ve been known to spend a good 20 minutes to half an hour reading one long, in-depth article. So what do web readers really want – and what should you be providing them with?

Well, the answer is probably both. There’s no need to exclude long features from your site if you think people will want to read them, just because the prevailing wisdom pushes short web articles. But in highly scannable pieces (service or how-tos), where readers are looking for you to get to the point, it doesn’t hurt to cut the excess (especially in repurposed content) and make the story quick to read.

What are your online reading habits when it comes to length?