Feb 24, 2011

On Charging For Content

This is a rant – be warned.

There is a trend lately on personal development blogs – people are starting to set up e-mail lists, where they publicly state they will be sharing their best content {or all of their content} via this newsletter service, and you only have to pay $20 a month to get it!

Get that? Where information used to be freely distributed to anyone and everyone, regardless of income, social status, means or reciprocation, now there is a group of people who have decided that their time and information is just worth … more.

And I’m not a fan.

Don’t get me wrong, I think that it’s awesome for people to earn a living off their information, I just subscribe to the 90/10 rule – 90% free, 10% for pay. That way you’re helping as many people as possible improve themselves, learn something new, and better their environments without assuming they can afford to pay a premium price for the information.

And I’m not calling out folks who offer up e-courses, sell knitting patterns, or charge for ad space on their blogs. I’m talking about people who are no longer offering up content of any deep value where there used to be plenty, in order to make an extra buck.

Because $20 a month is a premium price. It’s more than magazines charge for a subscription. It’s more than two Kindle books a month. It’s more than some people can spend on school supplies for their kids in a year. $20 a month is almost $250 a year. That’s a laptop.

That’s more than most of us can afford to pay for information.

And as more and more intelligent people start charging for their information, less and less of that valuable information they were sharing with the world is going to be available. People honestly looking to better themselves, learn how to earn money doing what they love, wanting to know how to live a minimalist life or craft a socially conscious web presence won’t be able to do so as easily, because the experts in the field will be asking them for $20 a month for impersonal, newsletter-based information.

We’re not paying for one-on-one time here. We’re not paying for a greater level of accessibility. We’re paying for the same stuff that used to be free.

So here’s my stance. As I come across bloggers who are doing this, bloggers I love and have followed sometimes for years, I’m unsubscribing. I’m no longer reading anything they have to say, no matter how wonderful it is, because they have deemed me unworthy of their 90%.

These are people that I’d wanted to pay for private coaching sessions with, people whose ideas have inspired some of the ideas I hold dear. And I am choosing to say goodbye. Because if I – a middle class white lady with a full-time job and plenty of disposable income – can’t afford to pay for their previously free ideas, I bet there’s thousands more like me who can’t either.

I’m also making a promise right now. While I may write patterns that I’ll charge a few bucks for, I’ll always give more away free. And while I may stock my Etsy shop with fun and sustainable hand-knits, I’ll always share how you can do it yourself. And I’ll do as much of this for free as I possibly can.

This may mean at some point I’ll add some advertising space to this site, which will help me generate extra income that can then help me keep sharing the goodies for free. But I’ll never charge you for the 90%, and when I offer up that 10% for sale, I’ll give you a damn good reason why.

Because I want someone accessing my website from a shared computer in a poverty-stricken part of the world to have just as much access to what I’ve got to say as those who live comfortably and safely in suburbia. I would rather not make money off you than keep the majority out. This website is not a country club folks, it’s the city pool, and proud of it!

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