The Freemium Business Model for Blogs
While contemplating business models for my blog one idea has been the nowadays common freemium approach.
Freemium means a basic free entry level product and additional premium features for more advanced users.
It’s very popular with software. For example many e-mail marketing tools allow you to send a few thousand messages per day for free.
What does the freemium business model for blogs mean though? Can it work?
What Premium Offer Makes Sense for a Blog?
For me the question was clear: what premium offer makes sense for an SEO blog or rather a SEO 2.0 one? An SEO blog is very specific already.
There are subscriptions tools that basically allow you to turn a blog or site into a freemium model publication with ease. You know it from the more mainstream press already.
Wired.com allows you to read up to 5 articles for free per month. Then you have to subscribe.
With some tools the payments are facilitated automatically so that users just pay once and then the money gets divided between the publications they really read.
The Brave browser offers such an automated way of paying publishers without having to subscribe to each and every one. Most other tools rather require you to subscribe to each publication manually.
They suggest some basic modes of distinguishing the free from the premium features of a blog. It’s suggestions like:
- removing ads for paying members
- granting access to the archives for paying members only
- commenting only for paying members only
I can’t really recommend those. All of them have some big drawbacks. Even the common subscribe to “read more” incentive is rather akin to blackmail.
Freemium in the SEO Industry
In the SEO industry we have plenty of examples of successful freemium business models. Many experts offer a
- membership forums
- premium tools
besides the free content and tools they offer. Tools and forums are more than a blog though. Brian Dean of Backlinko offers a premium online course and gives away massive guides and actionable tutorials for free.
Can a blog itself offer some premium content without simply limiting access?
Now I don’t program tools myself and to be honest I do not believe in using many tools. I use them myself but they are worthless when you do not have the basic knowledge and social skills to do the actual SEO.
In SEO 2.0 we deal more with humans than with software. How do you imagine premium offers or services in a SEO 2.0 context? There are some ideas for premium content on top of a free blog:
- In-depth ebooks
- Industry specific tutorials
- Personalized content
- Actionable case studies
To be clear: I don’t plan to create a membership forum any time soon. My time is very limited and I don’t think this is the business model that will work for me. Premium content would be a good option though.
Still – a forum is a viable option for some – both the users as those offering such forums.
A question for everybody: What premium content would you want to see on SEO 2.0? Don’t make me put ads all over place so I can remove them ;-) !
I feel this policy is useful only for the very well-known blogs. For a normal blog getting a decent number of visitors, introducing this technique of making services available only to paid members will make them lose the already existing customers who don’t wish to pay. Its a free world and i feel information should be kept free too, services and tools apart.
Thanks for your feedback Sydney. I’m not sure you understand the nature of the freemium model right though.
It’s not about taking away what was free before but adding something people might want to pay for.
That’s the question of this post: What’s valuable in a blog so that people would even spend money on it?
Also what’s a very well known blog? Is my blog very well known? Not really. People know me in my niche, which is still quite small.
Still, making blogs profitable does not require huge numbers of visitors.
Your proposal freemium for blogs is the best for those people who want to start blogging. But I have my own premium blogs. So will think in future.
You are right when you say you dont need a huge amount of visitors to make the blog profitable but you will need to provide some good, solid, hard to find information if you want people to pay for it. If your information is extremely useful, accurate and upto date then word of mouth alone can sometimes be enough to catapult your sign-ups skywards.
“Commenting only for paying members only” – no no no no noooo!!!