The Fallacy Of Subscriber Only Content On Blogs

Lot of blogs, either using plugins or a little custom PHP code publish articles that are intended purely for their subscribers, with the content appearing only in their RSS feeds, or in emails generated from the RSS Feed.

Totally Illogical

Lets look at this from a number of points of logic

  • Best “public” content – if you are reserving your best content for subscribers, then you might be limiting the number of subscribers you receive. I look on this as a little different to “premium content” that might be served within a membership site or private RSS feed / email list – there is a different level of commitment.
  • RSS Syndication – your RSS content isn’t only available in feed readers, it can also appear on multiple syndication sites for easy reading without subscription
  • Scrapers and Search – Your subscriber only content is going to appear on RSS scraper sites, possibly without even a link back to you, but not on your own site – how logical is that?

If the content really is intended just for your subscribers, lock it away in a membership area and require registration to access it, even if you subsequently serve it though some kind of password protected RSS Feed using Http authentication or customer unique feeds.

You can even have premium content indexed, but blocked by a pay wall.

I understand there are psychological benefits advertising that subscribers to your feed gain access to content not available on the main blog, but realistically the methods people use are shooting themselves in the foot.


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  1. says

    Hahaha, I totally agree with this. It’s about time something like this came out eh? So many people are doing this subscriber only content, and it can be a turn off more than it inspires readers to subscribe.

  2. says

    I’ve got about 50+ scraper sites stealing my content and my RSS signature with a incentive download is at the bottom of them. Oh well… I doubt visitors will go throughout the web to try and find it. I’ll just focus on the content. =)

  3. says

    Some blogs use subscriber only content that makes sense. For example, a fantasy sports blog. Say they do pre-season rankings for a sport. Making the top 25 free, but the top 200 subscriber only would work.

    • says

      You might think that, but the content if published to the RSS feed might end up on 50 different splogs.
      It won’t be indexed in full on your own site the way most people handle premium content.

  4. says

    The best bits of the film are always in the trailer.

    My instant reaction to E-book snippets and other “tasters” is “that must be the best they have – why would they use sub standard content to advertise?”. Surely all marketing is about is presenting the cream of your product? Cartier don’t use a picture of a cheap sterling silver necklace with the strapline:

    “We have even better stuff in our shop – so come and visit!”

    For that reason, I have always been wary of committing any further for premium stuff – blog content is no different.

  5. says

    Writing “RSS posts only” is an option if you want to create a competition. This way you make sure the participants are subscribed to your blog (ppl who earn it) and that you don’t pollute your blog with posts related to the competition.

  6. says

    As a way to get more people to subscribe to your feed I think its pretty good… but there are far more benefits to allowing access to certain content with registration/$$

  7. says

    To me it feels like all you’re doing is giving scraper number 1 unique content to publish. It’s gonna show up somewhere anyhow, so it best be on your own site.

  8. says

    I’ve seen quite a few of these guys in my internet life. Useless, imho. The very idea of the internet is freedom, sharing, caring, understanding, progress, communication. Now, take your content, lock it away, make me wait for it, make me go through many steps to access it –no way that’s going to happen, I’m a lazy surfer, I just google on and find the next guy that offered the knowledge for free.

    Of course, there’s moments when you feel you may be entitled to just put a patent on what you offer, and then sue everyone that copies it shamelessly. Pity we can’t do that. But, hey, if you’re good at what you’re doing, and people keep coming back to YOU and YOUR webplace, isn’t it the best reward out there?

  9. says

    Subscribers to a blog seems kind of nuts to me. I always follow the model of: Give away your best info for free – sell them on a physical product later.

  10. says

    I’m not sure what some people are thinking of when they come up with schemes like this one. I’m absolutely thrilled when people come to my blogs, not that I like traffic, because they are searching for information and have come across something of value on my site. Why would I want to hide anything? To charge a fee? Please, there are other ways to monetize a blog then this method.

    • says

      I have no problems with fee based membership sites hanging off of blogs, in fact I strongly encourage it, but you then don’t have the content appearing on other sites, but not your own. It doesn’t appear in search, or you let Google through the paywall, and cloak humans like the newspapers or Webmaster World.

      The problem are the subscriber only RSS feeds.

  11. says

    Like many I have memberships with a few member only Blogs. They seem a bit different than the Blogs portrayed here. The content in the members area is no different than the public Blog except it contains information that has to be purchased. Other than that the main content is just as well written as every thing else.

    But it does make sense, you have to put your best foot forward if you want to grow your business. Public information needs to be just as good as the membership information.

  12. says

    I’ve always wondered if subscriber only content really was anything more special – usually I find it’s the same kind of stuff, just in a different wrapper!

    I have no intention of doing that on my blog, if someone likes what you write, then they will want to subscribe or be a regular return visitor no matter – either of which is good with me!