Q&A on Content – What to Offer in Front of the Paywall

by Kristen Burgess
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[Question] In regard to stellar content on your website, I fully appreciate the value of that.  My concern is that I will soon be launching a site, and my content is going to be largely for those that are paying for it.  And I’m experience a conflict over if I’m sharing a lot of content for free, then that takes away, that digs into the content that I’m going to be offering to people that they pay for.  I’m struggling with what can I give away for free, just on the homepage unrestricted part of the site, without eliminating what I’m creating for people that are paying.

[Answer] Okay, great question.  My response is going to probably be counter to all intuition.  And, first, I’m going to give you an example.  Let’s imagine we have a website like “The New York Times” website.  And on their website they have many, many news stories.  I don’t know, a hundred a day or something like that.  Why would people every pay for the subscription to the newspaper? Because, in the newspaper they’re going to get more information even than what was on the front page, plus they’re going to get it curated in an organized fashion.

Let’s take something like BusinessInsider.com.  So they’re posting what, a hundred articles a day.  Why would somebody join their monthly thing and get say a monthly magazine delivered to their door?  Because it’s additional advanced information.  What happens is, folks tend to, you’re normal when it comes to this.  You’re starting front forward with the membership, and then you’re like, okay, what percentage can I take out of the membership and make it free?  Let’s flip the whole thing on it’s head, because the truth of the matter is 90% of the people that reach your website will never buy anyway.

If you really want to change lives, imagine that if 90% of everything that you have is free, and then you simply extract some items and make those for the paid part.  What we would normally say is that the paid part is maybe more advanced.  Or the paid part is more step by step.  The paid part is more organized.  The paid part is more 1 2 3.  The paid part is deeper.  Whatever the case is.  But it’s not usually a volume thing.

Obviously, if it’s just a membership, and that’s all you want to do, you’re not looking to attract organic traffic, then who cares.   You don’t need anything on the front page.  But, I suspect that you want to have organic traffic coming, and in order to have that organic traffic coming, you want to have a lot of content.  So it’s going to be small content pieces, then when they buy the membership, they get the whole thing.

It’s kind of like you could post 15 posts a day on the website, but it’s little here, a little there, but then when they buy the membership they get these complete lessons.

There’s all kinds of different ways you can structure this.  I want to say one more thing, and that is to never worry about giving stuff away for free, because the more that you give away for free, the more that the good stuff is just hidden away in the middle of it.

Seriously, folks used to ask me why should anybody buy my book, when there’s a hundred other books out there that teach the same thing.  Why would anybody buy ANY of the 100 books?  Because they want to learn, and you happen to be one of them, so there’s a possibility that they’ll buy yours, a 1% shot.

The next question that people ask is, why would I write a book on something that is covered in Wikipedia?  Well because, in order to learn it from Wikipedia, you’ve got to wade through 1k posts, figure out what’s right, what’s wrong, and by the time that you do that it takes you 87 hours.  Or, you can just buy the book, it’s guaranteed to all be accurate and correct, you read it in a 1/2 to 2-hour sitting, and you’ve got it all right there.

That’s the difference between free content online, and paid content that’s curated, that’s deep.  Because the free content online is just overwhelming, it’s tons of information.  The paid content is more organized and you learn step by step exactly what you want.  I know that does not directly answer your question, but I hope it gives you some ideas to work with.

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