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I created a new training module talking about how language in new industries changes over time, how you can track change, and how you can take advantage of structural changes. I made the first 1/3 of it freely available, but the action items are for subscribers only.

I am still trying to figure out how to balance creating premium members only content and publish many posts to the blog. Which of the following ideas do you like best?

  • make one out of every few freely available forever
  • make a portion freely available forever
  • make new content freely available in its entirety and then make it exclusive after a week or some other period of time
Published: June 16, 2008 by Aaron Wall in pay per click search engines Keywords


June 16, 2008 - 4:04am

Hello,since I always keep up with your latest posts, have already purchased your ebook and don't intend to spend more money, I prefer the latter option.

make new content freely available in its entirety and then make it exclusive after a week or some other period of time

I think that it's best for you too, by doing so you have the chance of testing your new ideas, gather feedback from a large audience (I believe many valuable SEOs read your blog but aren't premium members) and prepare a more tutorial oriented post for the subscribers.
BTW: thanks for sharing your thoughts

June 17, 2008 - 12:05am

Hi, I think making it free one week then charge is a good way, since half an article, especially if any action item is not worth much at all, however, if you publish a lot of full lenght articles about SEO, people will se the power in your articles and be willing to pay for all the other articles.

I talked with two friends at LBi, and both thought the same as me.

Martijn Anschutz
June 16, 2008 - 4:16am

I would stick by making a portion freely available.
Mayby by integrate the first portion of the content in the blog instead of the training-section, less friction, more readers?

June 16, 2008 - 6:41am

Hi Aaron

I think "make a portion freely available" is a good idea.

That way you give readers a little taste of something good and leave them wanting more :)

June 16, 2008 - 10:37am

I think that making a portion freely available as you did with this module is a pretty good idea. In this case you gave people an idea of what you were thinking about, and some direction, but not the action items and the additional information.

It's a good balance!

(Full disclosure: I'm a member, so that's probably a bit biased.)

June 16, 2008 - 11:23am

I like the last idea.

make new content freely available in its entirety and then make it exclusive after a week or some other period of time

I am not currently a premium subscriber. I am pretty certain, however, your service is worth the cost. My own issue is one of time -- time is limited, do I have enough time to focus on the material you publish in the subscriber section? Given I am not currently a premium subscriber, I suppose I've indirectly said to myself, "no". Were I to see more of the content you are publishing, perhaps I would change my mind. I think that is a realistic scenario.

Regardless, the fact you posed the question is noted and appreciated.

June 16, 2008 - 1:02pm

I like the idea of making the content free for a week and then it goes private.

This way you can deliver value to the people who follow the blog closely, but if they really get serious, they will want all the info as a reference.

As a premium member, I also feel the forums is one of the major (if the not THE major) benefit of the program.

June 16, 2008 - 1:41pm

Some people will scrape the limited time content.

I'd just do the teaser.

June 16, 2008 - 2:46pm


I'm a big believer in testing rather than guessing.

So why don't you test each approach and see which ones works best for you?

You are probably trying to hit a balance between giving out information of value that will attract people to subscribe without actually devaluing the content of the course. Difficult. So I suggest try each approach for a period of time and judge for yourself.



June 16, 2008 - 4:44pm

For an online training program conversion and brand strategy are more of a longterm process than something that is easy to test.

It is hard to be certain which strategy is best. I think I may mix them.

June 16, 2008 - 3:44pm

make new content freely available in its entirety and then make it exclusive after a week or some other period of time

I'd rather go with the 3rd option to make the content public and then after a week or so add it to the premium pool.
MarketingSherpa does it too!
it'd also help you garner more links as people tend to link to articles that are just, or recently posted. It's a win-win for you!

June 16, 2008 - 4:56pm

I like the 3rd option, making it freely available for a week then making it exclusive.

June 16, 2008 - 5:40pm

I'd prefer the first option because it allows you to remind us what we're missing by not subscribing. Teasers just make me not like you, and I agree about people scraping content if you leave it open for any amount of time.

June 16, 2008 - 7:26pm

I wonder how many more would sign up if the price was say, $39.99 a month. or maybe less for a 3 month introductory period before going back up. Correct me if I'm wrong I think you used to charge more than $100 a month.

June 16, 2008 - 11:15pm

I don't like low price points because they are not an adequate filter. I spend hours in our forums every day, and like to keep it at a fairly high level.

From a business model perspective if one were to do discounts it would be more logical to discount the recurring rate and keep the upfront rate high. Doing so would help keep people subscribed for a long time while still filtering out much of the noisiest and least valuable market participants (who luckily are on many of the free forums rather than ours!)

June 17, 2008 - 12:01pm

I think the way you are doing it now is the best mix between free and paid content.

As someone said above, my biggest issue is finding time to read your material even though I am a paid subscriber.

I think you provide a lot of value and helpful information.

I think case studies would be a great way to improve your offering.

For example, I am in the process of moving a site from one domain to another. Having a case study on a success and a failure example and an analysis on why one succeeded and one failed would be really helpful right now.

Sometimes knowing the "rules" is not enough. Its much richer when you can see real world examples of where certain techniques worked and where they failed and best practices on how to impliment them.

June 17, 2008 - 11:20pm

Aaron I think you need to keep some content premium only. If you go with the week free and then move things to the membership side it eliminates a lot of the incentive for wanting to be a member.

It would be easy enough to keep up with the blog daily and never pay for membership. I know there's more than just the content on the premium side, but I think the week free would keep many people from subscribing.

I think the best option is a mix of free and paid content. You could offer a more general post on the free side and then offer more specifics on the premium side.

June 17, 2008 - 11:25pm

No matter which option you choose, I think it's important to provide good content on your blog every now and then.

Not only, because I'm currently not a subscriber ;-) (Right now I have to focus the time I have on building sites (did too much reading and too little building before) and am not making too much money from my sites, yet (I'm definitely considering joining at a later point, though)).

But also, because if you want to keep people interested (so you can get more people to join/substitute people who cancel their subscription some time) it's important to still offer great content (if you compare this to copy-writing offering some of your best content would probably be great, but then again you might give people too high-expectations).

I'm sure you know all that, but during the first few weeks when you started the subscription thing I probably would have not come back to your blog if I had been a first-time visitor. I've seen to many blogs I enjoyed reading start being diary-like blogs instead of offering great content and was already afraid your blog would go the same way (and become useless to a non-subscriber).

I'm sure that had to do with you being overly busy during launch time, but anyway I'm more than happy to see you're giving away free blog posts with valuable content again - thanks!

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