Paid Content – A Dying Business Model?

Michael Arrington in his boycott of Associated Press seemed to suggest that paid content is a dying business model.

I must admit I am not a huge fan of linking to articles from Associated Press, simply because it is extremely difficult to determine the original source when these stories “go over the wire”.

A great example of the reasons why is when I reported about the appropriated story last year from the Museum of Hoaxes – that was Agence France-Presse to blame, a different organization.

Readers might also remember my run-in with The Guardian where I was a major source for an article, but didn’t receive a link. The author and editor of The Guardian explained their viewpoint in the comments, but it still wrankles a little.

That being said, there is a huge amount of PROFIT being made online in the form of online membership sites which is a paid content business model.

Highly successful examples include:-

I could the continue the list with the likes of Armand Morin, Mike Filsaime, Jeff Walker, Yanik Silver, John Reese, Ray Edwards, Jim Edwards, Frank Kern, Jason Postash and many many more. Among bloggers Brain Clark with Teaching Sells and Yaro Starak with Blog Mastermind immediately come to mind.

Then of course there are the mega information marketers such as Agora Publishing with multiple content channels such as Early to Rise

I should include affiliate links to all of them, but that isn’t the point – most of these guys are pulling in million dollar earnings on a yearly basis, and whilst they have diversified into physical products, exclusive coaching and seminars.

Agora might even be pulling in $1m a day by now, I don’t have recent figures.

Agora might be making more money than Facebook

Paid content certainly isn’t a dying business model

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  1. Jeff says

    What Michael does in techcrunch you can get elsewhere. News are a commodity. Like oranges or cotton, there is very little differentiator.

    Opinions or specialized knowledge however has a lot of value. That’s why niche markets outside news will continue making money. Bonus for those who don’t just offer information, but also a relationship, an experience.

  2. says

    Content is King so if you get it free great but pointing out that paid content is dying is certainly not happening, it is getting highly competitive.

  3. says

    i agree that Paid content certainly isn’t a dying business model, but google is working to avoid paid links. we know that isn´t so easy, but day after day, google is giving less weight
    to these links.

  4. says

    In my view, paid content is a matured business model and definitely it is not dying. Well, we can say that the market is in somewhat saturated state.

  5. says

    Yes, content is a commodity. And with all commodities the usual ruels apply: Standard apples are cheap, are neither specifically tasty or healthy – but feed the majourity of people.

    If you look for a good apple, you will need to invest some money, but it brings much more back than these “artificial” apples.

    The same rules apply for content: Some things are available everywhere. Specific know how is definetly not. And even more when it comes to explanations. I´m in health business. You can find millions of sites on the web – but still it is good to see doctor – isn´t it?? Because he can explain, he has got the better “content”

  6. says

    The underlying tenet of the internets (sic) should be “share the knowledge”. So what’s the problem with using AP’s shitty stories as long as you attribute? You can’t trust their stuff anyway – like a lot of mainstream media. I think they’re beginning to feel the winds of change blowing up their collective asses.

  7. says

    I think that it depends on how well a site screens their potential blogs. For example, i read two different blogs that write paid content articles for travel-related things. Blog A does it very well, itnerspersing the links with the natural flow of the blogs’ voice. Blog B doesn’t do it very well- just post after post of paid content. The only reason I read Blog B is because it keeps me up-to-date on the companies paying for advertisements of travel-related items!!!

  8. says

    A couple of years ago I would have responded to this question by saying that the paid content model was pretty much dead. However, recently there seems to be a change – Aaron Wall’s SEO Book programme is one example which seems to be working well.

    I think the difference now is that paid content models have to be supported by a community. Paid content models for newspaper sites for example don’t really work because all you’re getting for your money is the content. However, if you’re also joining a community that you can interact with, ask questions etc then it becomes a lot more valuable and can work well.

  9. says

    I don’t think that paid content is likely to die. It really exists and is powerful to a very high extent that makes it so hard to fall off that easy.

  10. says

    I’ve been a paid member of a couple of private content sites over the last year or so, and thought it was a relatively new trend. So, I was a little surprised that some may consider them a dying model. Maybe I’ve just been a bit out of the loop. I think that depending on the niche, they will be around for a while. SEO for example is constantly changing, and newbies especially may see a benefit of being privy to exclusive paid-only content.

  11. says

    Paid content model is far from dying. It is evolving very quickly in one niche like Internet Marketing, but in other niches, it is just a toddler.

    Paid links is not paid content. Make money blogging by selling ad space is just one way to make money with content.

    With more and more information flooding the Internet, people need to filter and save time. Add to the fact that, not all information online is TRUE. That is why paid content will become more important in the future.

    A community is one benefit, I agree with Marketing Minefield.

  12. says

    Paid content is is never the quality of original content. I would put it up there almost with auto generated content. In theory it can make you rich with millions flocking to your site. However, the reality is that paid content writers are usually sub par. Sorry to disagree but I think original content is king.

    • says

      Mark it is more a case I would look to offer premium content on this or other sites, not so much paying a license for other content, though I do have rights to tons of 3rd party content and would consider outsourcing.

  13. says

    Good Premiun Content is the King! I think importent Content will give you a lot of good Traffic and Backlinks, thats why it is such a big business.

  14. says

    Great article Andy. I apologize I haven’t read much of Michael Arrington but could I ask a question here? Has he given any rational argument as to why Sponsored posts are so bad? I make 300 or so a month doing them and they are some of my better posts on the blog. But take me with a grain of salt, I’m a blogger in progress learning as much as I can before I start having iron-clad opinions.

  15. says

    Excellent Post indeed!Paid content though does’nt matches original content but works far better than the latter reducig time and energy too!

    I feel a customized alvour must be added in the content because that wil keeps the readers intact. Thanks a lot!

  16. says

    Agora makes more money than facebook? really? find that hard to believe.

    Paid content isn’t going anywhere. With new websites going up everyday, paid content will be here to stay. Paid content is the best way to get good content up fast – there will always be people that can’t write that want to start an online business and there will always be people their to write for them. The internet is just going to get bigger, and with that comes paid content services.

  17. says

    If the blog provides information and is monetized through advertising, paid content is OK, as long as it’s quality content. When the blogger wants to engage the readers (for example, real estate blog),the blogger’s personality needs to come through. It is harder to achieve with paid content, since it’s someone else who is writing.

  18. says

    I don’t know, on one hand, I think it is a dying model but on the other hand, I’m quite convinced it can work. Goes both ways, methinks.
    But I guess if paid content makes you more money than it’s worth, then definitely go for it!

  19. says

    If content has huge audience it can be free. It will always bring money with PPC ads. But if audience is small (and rich =) it must be paid and expensive. Unique information is expensive.

  20. says

    Strangely I always stayed away from paid content until very recently.

    As a slighly more knowledgeable blogger these days I have found sometimes I need to pay to get the content that I am after.

  21. says

    I can see why you may see this as a dying business model but we have recently just launched a site based around this and i have to say the feedback is rather good and hopefully will be around a long time

  22. says

    I agree to those who said that content is not a dying business as long as you deliver a great and unique content, actually many of the visitors are still looking for a good and quality content so I still believe the business still remain.

  23. says

    The niche will stick around as long as there is buyers and sellers on both sides. Look at big oil companies, there are BETTER options out there, but the the money will flow till the well is dry, and paid content isn’t dry yet – maybe starting, but far from dead…

  24. says

    Excellent – and I totally agree with you. I have never heard about Agora before, so thank you for telling me about that company.

    Maybe you can do another post, where you list all of those big companies that control more of the internet than most of us know.

  25. says

    I think one hundred years ago there were people who said that there is too much literature around…there is ALWAYS need for good, unique content and there will always be different models of who pays for it.

  26. says

    Hey all,
    My mind says that the paid content business is not something like a risk or it would be a dying business.So this is a good and well business for you.Thanks for sharing advices.Have a nice day

  27. says

    Paid content isn’t going anywhere. With new websites going up everyday, paid content will be here to stay. Paid content is the best way to get good content up fast – there will always be people that can’t write that want to start an online business and there will always be people their to write for them. The internet is just going to get bigger, and with that comes paid content services.

  28. says

    I tend to agree with this article that the paid content model is dead. Very hard to create original content that is value-added enough to entice people to pay for it.

  29. says

    People can theorize about it all they want, the fact is the market will pay for value.

    I am a Stompernet member, and the $797 a month is a big chunk of change, but my online revenue has increased by at least $4,000 a month because of it. So I don’t whine and complain about it, it makes me more than it costs.

    Dave Sherwin

  30. says

    One man’s content is another man’s junk. Content will be sought for all the sites/blogs being pushed online daily and

    paid content will always,always be sought after to fill that need and in most cases the paid content is of a much higher quality.

  31. says

    I’m with Top Rated. It ain’t dying.

    When something saves the lazy man time, people will pay for it. And paid content SHOULD be a way for people to access good content without traipsing all over the net to find it. Long live paid content – in whatever guise it morphs into.

  32. says

    Interesting, but quite to the contrary I was at a talk recently by Chris Anderson who suggested that the few might lie, to some extent, in paid content. That is a free offering combined with a paid offering for more niche specific content which is specifically relevant to the reader, and which they would feel justified in paying for.

    So the big headline stuff would be free, but the nitty gritty details would be paid for content… At least that was my take on it anyway, I hope I didn't mis-understand. Again he was promoting a book about the subject, so perhaps an alternative read.