The former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Benjamin Disraeli, once said: “As a general rule, the most successful man in life is the man who has the best information”. As someone whose main source of income comes from writing, I have been pondering what the best way is for me to profit from sharing my knowledge with others (a topic which I briefly touched upon in last week’s income report).
There are a number of ways in which someone with experience can make a living. For example, you could help businesses solve technical problems that no one within their business could resolve. Alternatively, you could work as a consultant and give advice to individuals and companies to ensure that they follow the right path in their website development.
As I mentioned above, a lot of my income comes directly or indirectly from writing. Whilst I do plan on working one on one with people through consultation, I see most of my income over the next year coming from writing. And whilst I will continue to update this blog actively, I am keen on writing long guides that delve deeper into a subject.
Even with a featured posts page, I believe a lot of good content gets lost due to the chronological nature of blogging itself. Which is why I favour a different approach to publishing premium content that covers a subject completely.
There are three ways in which I can publish premium content:
- Membership Website
- Release All Content Free on KevinMuldoon.com
Let’s look a little closer at the pros and cons of each method.
If you have ever signed up for any blogging or affiliate marketing type newsletter, you will be familiar with how membership websites work as they are heavily promoted. Membership websites usually cost between $49 and $299, however the most popular price point is $97. I have seen some websites offer a monthly payment option instead and dripped content to readers over a period of six months.
There are many reasons why membership websites are not cheaper. Firstly, the perceived value of any product is, in part, due its price. Therefore, many membership products have a higher perceived value simply because they are sold at a higher price.
Secondly, and perhaps more importantly, a large percentage of sales of membership websites come from its affiliates. In an ideal world, all bloggers and marketers would have integrity and simply review each product honestly for their readers. Unfortunately, that is not how it works. Very few bloggers are going to recommend a membership website that costs $9.99 as they would only receive a $2.50 or $5 commission. Ask them to promote a $97 product that pays a $48 commission with every sale and you will see hundreds or thousands of reviews online within a matter of weeks. Additionally, if you can manage to persuade an affiliate marketer with a large email list to promote your website, you could potentially make tens of thousands of dollars.
From a profitability point of view, a membership website is the best way to sell premium content. At least in the short-term. If I launched the product correctly and found enough affiliates through marketplaces such as ClickBank, I could earn a large amount of money in a short space of time. This would give me the funds and free time to work on other projects.
As a customer, I cannot help but feel that some membership websites do not offer value. They bamboozle customers with sales and marketing talk and justify their cost with additional bonuses such as a few videos and interviews with key people from within their industry. In my opinion, these additional bonuses rarely offer extra value. Yet the system does work, particularly when they release the product on a limited basis in order to make the perceived value of the product even higher.
Of course, the value of a product depends on the person who is buying it. If you join a membership website and get all the answers you need: $97 is good value for money. Particularly when you compare the cost of the membership website to spending weeks or months finding the same information.
What does surprise me is how small some membership websites are. It is not uncommon for a product to have less than ten thousand words, divided into twenty to thirty smaller articles (in comparison, my book The Art of Freelance Blogging has around 70,000 words and normally sells for around $3-$5). I do not see any benefit to writing something in 1,000 words when it can be explained in 50 words; however I do think that membership websites should cover all aspects of a subject so that beginners are not lost.
Where I think I could excel over other membership websites is support; however support is one of the most time-consuming things that anyone can provide. If I spent all day helping others on a forum, I would be unable to develop new books and products. This is the main reason why very few membership websites provide support. They occasionally provide an unsupported discussion forum, however there is rarely any guarantee that someone will help you with any issues you have.
I have enjoyed releasing a couple of books this year. It allows me to reach an audience that I may not have reached online. From a customer’s point of view, it offers the best value for money. It is also the most practical as membership websites usually force content to be read online. Whereas a book can be viewed on desktops, tablets, eBook readers and mobile phones.
Unfortunately, it is not the most profitable way for me to make money through my content (assuming I continue to focus on web development related topics such as blogging, marketing and WordPress). One problem is that the success of Amazon has attracted many more authors: some good, many not so good. Regardless of the quality of books being released, there is no doubt that the number of books being released every week has increased. This means that there are more authors fighting for the attention of readers.
Release All Content Free
Releasing premium content free may seem like a crazy idea when there is a profitable market for the type of content I am writing. Why would I spend several hours a day researching and writing content and then simply publish it?
That is exactly what I have been considering. I am keen to publish detailed guides on KevinMuldoon.com that will help bloggers and website owners tackle common issues. Although, technically I would be publishing content free, I can make money from it. Specifically, the additional content would increase page views here. This helps raise my profile and would increase revenue from banner sales, increase commissions from affiliate links and increase the number of people who sign up to my newsletter. In the long-term, developing a large email list will also give me the opportunity to successfully launch a premium product in the future.
Later, I may publish my books online free as well. My books would still be available through bookshops such as Amazon, though everyone would be able to read the content on my website free. It is possible that the increased revenue that this could generate would be higher than the revenue I am currently earning through my books.
Trial & Error
One size rarely fits all. What works for me may not work for you. So do not be discouraged from launching a membership website if that is what you are planning on doing.
At this point, I am not going to commit to anything long-term. What I hope to do over the next month is complete one or two guides for KevinMuldoon.com. I can then see how they have been received and then re-evaluate my position.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on this issue. So please leave a comment and let me know what you think is the best way to profit from premium content :)