Would You Pay to Subscribe to a Blog?

Posted on March 5, 2007

Will a blogging subscription model emerge in the future? Are there enough readers willing to pay for a blog. We already have subscription models for most other forms of content, such as newspapers, radio, television and films. Scott Karp, writing at The Blog Herald, discussed the concept more in a recent post.
The issue of whether any paid content online is "better than what you can get for free" has been debated since the dawn of the Web. What arguably makes some of the top blogs better than other blogs is that, by dint of their success, they have become scoop magnets, e.g TechCrunch, Engadget. That doesn't necessarily make their reporting or analysis better, but you can always get the information there first. Of course, if they were behind a pay wall, that advantage might disappear.

That's why the Seth Godin consultant model might be more viable. Darren Rowse at Problogger, for example, offers advice to bloggers equivalent to what you might get from a paid consultant.

The argument against a paid content model for blogging begins of course with ideology - there are many blog purest who would refuse to call a paid blog a blog. Blogging, traditionally, has been about openness and inter-connectivity, which a paid subscriber wall certainly does not foster.
In the future there will probably be some blogs run by experts in a particular field that will be able to charge a fee for access to their blog or feed. However, this will most likely be blogs/feeds that have to do with legal, medical and financial subjects that require an extensive knowledge base. There have always been financial newsletters that people are willing to pay a fairly high fee for and there is no reason why this won't translate into paid blogs.

But paying for blogs that simply offer blogging or marketing advice seems highly unlikely because there is so much of this information already readily available. If someone offering blogging or marketing advice tries to move their blog behind a subscription wall people will just go to other blogs offering similar content. There is no shortage of good blogging or marketing advice on the Internet.

The paid blogging model technically already exists as the New York Times has some blogs that are behind the Times Select subscriber wall. The Times has a blog called the Opinionator that can't be read without a subscription. There are several other blogs behind the Time Select wall. The answer to the question of would you pay for a blog is probably a "yes" for many people, but it will depend on how important the content is to them and how unique the content is.