The Freemium Business Model for Blogs

A neon sign saying "free smells" in bright red at night.

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. 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 ;-) !