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CONSIDERING THE PAID CONTENT MARKET
by: Cary Christian


I've talked to you a lot about using content on your site to obtain higher search engine rankings, make your site more interesting to your visitors, sell better by emphasizing the benefits of your products and establish your company as an expert in your field. (See last week's article, for example). I firmly believe this tactic is extremely important to your success online.

But what if you have some really juicy, hard to find information or have achieved a level of expertise in your field that allows you to consistently generate content that cannot be found elsewhere? You think maybe you should be paid for it?

Jupiter Research forecasts the paid information market to be in excess of $2 billion this year, and that it will grow by 20 percent annually to $5.4 billion by 2007. That's a sizable market and one that you should not ignore.

Let's explore a few ideas you could use to penetrate this market.


WHAT MAKES FOR GOOD PAID CONTENT?

You can look to existing sites that offer paid content to see examples of the types of content people are paying for. Here are two examples at opposite ends of the spectrum.

Terry Dean runs a membership site called NetBreakThroughs.com. Terry is a well-known and highly respected Internet marketer and, as a member of his site, you have access to his detailed testing of different marketing mediums online. He tells you specifically what works and what does not, and gives you solid statistics to back it up. His stature in the marketing community and his track record drive the success of this site.

There are many other membership sites like Terry's, most run by individuals whose accomplishments are as impressive as his. There are similar sites that are run successfully by less well-known marketers that seem to do well as long as original and effective content is provided.

There are also much more elaborate and technical sites such as Lexis-Nexis that provides high-end research capabilities for anyone desiring information on legal, taxation and business matters.

If you were performing legal research, for example, you could find the information you need in a fraction of the time it would take you using free sites. That is, if you could find what you need on the free sites at all.

The key to success in a paid content site is offering content that is not available fr^e elsewhere or being able to accumulate a vast number of resources in one place that would require many hours of laborious research and visits to hundreds of separate sites to obtain.

Research your own industry to see what type of informational resources are missing. If you were a consumer and user of your products, what types of related resources would you be willing to pay for?

Want to make it a little easier? Assuming you have lots of good free content on your site, take a look at your web logs. Find the section on "keywords" to see what terms people are using when they find your site. Then do some searches of your own on those terms to see what's out there. I have quite a few product ideas I'm working on right now that I found in this manner.


THE IMPORTANCE OF ORIGINAL CONTENT

To the extent you have knowledge, or access to knowledge, that is not available for fr^e online, you have an excellent opportunity to charge for that knowledge. The next step is determining what form your information to be sold will take.

If you believe you could continually generate new content for an indefinite period of time, then a paid membership site is an attractive option. With such a site, you must be able to constantly add new, original and useful content or you will begin losing members as quickly as you can add them. The same is true for a paid ezine.

If you do not feel you could keep up with this process of continually adding new content, then you are better off packaging the information as a special report, white paper or ebook of some kind that you will sell once. If the subject matter is sufficiently broad enough, you might be able to create a series out of it. Break up your information into categories and make a separate information product for each type of content you want to sell. This is a lot easier than creating a membership site or attempting to create a paid ezine.


COMPILATION CONTENT

Have you ever been searching for information online only to get millions of returns to your search string? Worse still, you find that most of the search results you investigate provide the same information as the last in a slightly different format.

A search like this can take hours of your time to piece together the complete picture. That's where a compilation site comes in. If your business is in an industry where the information is out there but needs to be compiled and organized, then you should consider being the one to compile and organize first. Depending on the industry and how frequently people use and reuse these sources of information, you could either create a member site or package the information as research products to be sold.


COORDINATION WITH YOUR REGULAR CONTENT

If you decide to provide paid content, do not get rid of the fr^e content on your site. The fr^e content continues to attract visitors because of your enhanced search engine positioning and can also serve as a terrific sales tool for your paid content products.

For example, if you have an article on your site that deals with selecting an accounting software package, you might mention at the end of the article that you also have an ebook for sale that goes into the subject in much more detail and offers insider tips on how to get the best deals. Now your fr^e content is working double time for you.


BUT WHAT IF I DON'T HAVE SPECIALIZED KNOWLEDGE?

Get it. One step at time. Think about your industry. Ask questions you think consumers might have about your products. Search your logs. Research these questions. Find one that you cannot get a decent answer for online. Develop the solution. Package it and sell it. Then repeat. Over time you will not only find yourself becoming a real expert in your industry but you will have developed an impressive array of products to sell along the way.


Copyright (c) 2003

 


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