There is a fellow who has been corresponding with me for about a year now. He is not somebody that I communicate with real regularly, but maybe every 2 months or so I will hear from him. He is a school teacher. Beyond that, I won’t identify him, for the sake of his anonymity.
This guy, let’s call him Mort, is always looking for ways to supplement his income on the Internet. When Mort writes to me, it is often to run an idea by me to see what I think. From everything I see from Mort, I feel that his problem is that he thinks small. Many people think too big, but Mort thinks way too small.
Most recently, I got an e-mail from Mort and he told me that he was thinking of putting up a membership website. He said that he would make it pay once for a lifetime membership site because if he charged a monthly membership fee, he just knew there was no way he could update the content once per month. He told me that he planned to charge a $5 fee for a lifetime membership.
Now, let’s think about this. How many memberships does he think he can sell for a website that he updates only very rarely? I told him that I thought the best he could hope to do was to sell 1,000 memberships. OK, that would make him $5,000. Now, for me, I must say that it would not be worth the effort of making a website for an upside potential of $5,000. You see, I think he will sell closer to 10 memberships than to 1,000. So, if he sold 10, that is $50 income. Let’s say he sells 100 – $500. It just is not worth the trouble. Frankly, his website hosting fees will eat up a good share of the money he makes.
Now, let me say this – I think that a paid membership site is something that can be done successfully. Much of the web has gone the other direction – free content supported by advertising. However, I believe the day is coming when content on the web will be mostly sold. It might be 10 years from now, it might be next year that it starts. Hard to say. I, myself, though, want to get into this, to position myself for when it is the trend.
However, I would not spend my time when I am going to make $5 for a lifetime membership. Frankly, I would not sell a lifetime membership, because I don’t necessarily want to keep providing content for such a long term. I would probably focus on an annual subscription if I enter this model. Monthly, maybe, but likely annual. Depending on what kind of content you are providing, and it’s value, I would be thinking more on the lines of $30 per year or so. Now, if I could get 1,000 subscribers at $30 per year, that’s a $30,000 income per year, nothing to sneeze at.
There is an important key to this, though. You must provide content! Update your content regularly, daily if possible. When you can provide up to the minute information, that is what people are happy to pay for. Another key is that you need to do this for free for a while first, a minimum of 6 months, before charging for it. That way you can establish consistency, show people what to expect. That way you will establish that you are a legitimate player in the business and that you have information that is worth paying for.
I wish my friend the best of luck. I hope that he can come up with a better idea, because what he is considering now is, frankly, not worth his effort.