Pete is an auto mechanic. He works for a small privately owned auto repair shop in Cleveland, Ohio. Pete goes to work every morning, 6 days per week at 6 am. He has to come in early because customers come into the shop on their way to work. The rush hour for bringing in new business is early in the morning. Every Friday, Pete gets a paycheck, takes it to the bank, and he’s all set for another week at work. Pete has a good life.
Charlie is a salesman. He works for a printing company in Miami, Florida. Charlie doesn’t get a salary, he’s a commission salesman. Charlie gets paid a percentage of the business that he brings in to the company. When Charlie lands a big new client, he has a big commission check! Sometimes, things are lean for Charlie, when business is slow. But, overall, Charlie does pretty well. Whenever the books a new piece of business, he can be absolutely certain of how much he gets because his contract spells out exactly how much he gets from every bit of business he brings in for the company. Life is usually very good for Charlie.
Steve is a Systems Administrator for a big Insurance Company. He makes sure that all the computers keep doing what they are supposed to do so that people in the company can get their job done. Steve gets a salary. He knows exactly how much money he earns, and every month when he gets his paycheck, it is exactly the same amount. If Steve needs to work a little extra time due to a network problem or some other problem at the company, well, that’s just part of the job. But, he gets that paycheck every month, and he lives a comfortable life.
Susanne is a self-employed teacher. She doesn’t work at a school, rather, she is a private tutor. Susanne teaches people face to face, and she also teaches people who live far away over the Internet. She is able to teach people over the Internet using the latest technology, bringing her specialty to people who otherwise would not be able to get it, because they live too far away. Susanne gets paid in various ways, but she has a set amount that she charges for each lesson that she gives.
Bob is a Publisher. He is also self-employed, like Susanne. He publishes information on the Internet, information that helps people. There are thousands of people who read Bob’s writing, and who benefit from his information. A while back, Bob wrote that he was planning to cut back a bit on how much information he published every week because he was so busy. There was an uproar. People were very upset and pleaded with Bob to not cut back on his writing. They depended on Bob’s information. However, Bob didn’t get paid for his work. Some people bought books from Bob or patronized his advertisers. But, most people just enjoyed Bob’s work without paying in any way. It came down to the point where Bob had to face a decision. For the number of hours he was working, he simply was not making the kind of money that he should be making. Bob decided to start charging a fee for the information that he wrote on the Internet. Some people thought that was OK. Others were quite upset. Basically, it came down to Bob needing to decide what to do. Frankly, Bob had to choose between either stopping his writing altogether or finding a way to earn money from it.
For anybody who reads my various sites, it is obvious what I am talking about. I am Bob. I am currently trying to decide what to do with one of my sites where I spend a lot of time and make very little money from it. On this site that I am talking about, I often work around 10 or more hours per day. I get e-mail questions from 15 to 20 people per day asking for my help on this or that. I rarely miss a day of writing on the site, and when I do miss a day, there are some people who get very upset about that. I work on the site 7 days per week, 365 days per year, although I write articles only 5 days per week. I do all this for a couple of hundred dollars per month. That simply is not sustainable. You can’t work forever without making money, or making very little money, anyway.
So, I have been considering converting that site, partially, to a paid subscription site. Some people, around 30% of those I’ve heard from, don’t like the idea. Some are very vocal about it. Some of the same people who regularly request personal attention from me in the way of personal e-mails and such are some of the very vocally anti-subscription people. Amazing.
Now, think about it, if you get 20 e-mails per day from people requesting some kind of assistance, how much time does that take? Some of the e-mails take only a couple minutes. Some take hours. On average you can figure 15 minutes per e-mail request. And, this is in addition to writing articles for the site, and site administration too. So, the e-mails alone can consume up to 5 hours per day. As I said, many days, probably most days I work 10 hours per day on the site. To be safe, let’s say I work 8 hours per day on the site.
Would you work 8 hours per day, 7 days per week for $200 to $300 per month? Probably not. Well, I have not minded doing it to establish the site and get it rolling, and believe me, it is indeed rolling.
So, I am getting close to making a decision on the subscription aspect of the site. It is not yet certain, but getting close. My decision might surprise some people. I’m OK with that. One way or the other, subscription or not, I have already started laying out some changes that I will be making in the site. I feel that they are changes that will improve the site, others may look at it differently, we’ll see.
What do you think? Should people who provide information on the net be compensated? I am talking about original information, not stuff that they copied from some other site. I am talking about information that thousands of people read every day, not some small site that a few dozen people read. Time and Newsweek charge for their magazines. What is different about somebody doing it on the Web?
What do you think?