Does paid content need money?

Currently I can see a lot of discussions about paid content going on in my timeline. Actually I thought this is quite an odd discussion (started years ago, stilborn child due to publisher’s attitudes). But somehow I started to think about it again and eventually started kind of a paid content site myself.

It is not about paid or non-paid – it is about the value

Most of the current discussions are about whether people would pay for content or not. In my opinion that is not the question. The question is “is the content worth paying” and “what do I need to pay”. The fact that good content can not always be for free is quite easy to understand and most web savvy people would understand this. Furthermore paid content should not have any annoying commercials or ads in between so the advantages surpass the disadvantages quite easily – as long as the costs are acceptable.

Paying without money

While most paid content providers want hard cash – understandably of course – this limits the audience a bit. At least it cuts off one of the most important audiences in the web – the teens & students. Very little of them might be able – or willing – to spend money on paid content. Nevertheless they are quite active in the online world and very likely to share things they like. Actually a perfect base for any brand ambassador (woah I hate that term) or marketer (even worse). So where does this lead us?

social payment method: pay with a tweet
social payment method: pay with a tweet

We need to find a payment method that does not include immediate money payments. Sounds strange at first but is actually quite easy. What is almost as good as money – or leads in the end to more money? Attention! Awareness! Loyal fans. So why not let highly interactive and connected web savvy users pay for your content with their connections and credibility?

There are many services out there that allow you to connect your content to non-money payment systems. “Pay with a tweet” for example lets users access your content after they tweeted or send a facebook message to their friends that they use your service. And this is only one example. I you think about it there are so many ways to make users interact and spread the voice…

So in my opinion there is no need to always aim for the immediate money payment. Sometimes it is smarter to think about the long run and to invest in branding, awareness and loyality. Using social payment methods lets more users experience your content since more users are likely to try things that do not cost money and they (the methods) will also increase the awareness of your brand since the connected network of your users will take notice about their interaction with you.