Money For Nothing And The Blogs For Free

Bill Quick has become one of the first bloggers to switch over to a subscription-content model for his blog. He’s using a service called BloggingNetwork that charges $3/month to offer access to certain items along with the ability to comment on them.

As much as I’d like a system like that to work, it’s going to fall flat on its ass by the end of the year.

The reason why is simple: opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one. Granted, some opinions are more valuable than others, and Daily Pundit is a good site, but there are a lot of sites that offer the same basic content for free. Basically, the Blogging Network assumes that people are going to pay for someone’s unfiltered, unedited opinion, and accept the restrictions that go along with it. What if I quote at length from a premium article? Would that be tantamount to blogging piracy? What if I want to link to the article? This opens up a whole big can of worms.

Paying for content isn’t the issue – I pay $40 a year for National Review OnDeadTree (a bill that I just recieved about a billion collection notices for, and that I really need to pay ASAP…) because I know there’s going to be good content there. I’ll also leave a few bucks into the tipjars of my favorite bloggers from time to time if I have some extra cash to throw around. I figure a good Lileks rant or a InstaPundit’s prolific linking is worth a buck or two from now and then.

The question is, is paying in advance for someone’s unfiltered, unedited opinion a good business model? Not a chance. Even if the content is there, the fact that it’s behind some firewall where my readers can’t get to it means that I can’t link it, and if I can’t link it, it’s just too damn much of a hastle.

Is there a content model that would work? Absolutely. Personally, a Blogging Monthly magazine would be a better alternative. A service like that could have the best in the blogging business submit one premium article per month that would then be added to the site. There would have to be an editing process to help keep the quality worth paying for. I would gladly pay $3 a month or even a little more for a site that searches the web for me, finds the blogs I wouldn’t have found on my own, and gives those writers a chance to put their best content out there. Granted, the linking issue would still be there, but if the content were good enough, there would likely be enough of a core audience that I wouldn’t feel bad about linking through a pay site. It would also ensure that the kind of unfiltered and unedited content that can often be the blogosphere’s biggest strength remains free.

As for the Blogging Network, I would be expecting this one to be in the dot com deadpool in short order. Then again, if it does take off I’ll eat my words – and I’ll do it for free.

9 thoughts on “Money For Nothing And The Blogs For Free

  1. Well, Blogging Network is growing rapidly — writer earnings are up 89% in the second month! Unfortunately, Jason Cain’s post contains many inaccuracies, which I hope he will correct:

    1. It is false that the payment distribution algorithm is secret. It is publicly described on the Payments help page:

    2. It is false that certain people on Blogging Network have a “free blog”. Every subscription on Blogging Network costs $2.99/month, half of which goes to the other writers in the Network.

    3. It is false that information about Mihail and Yasmeen is secret. It is publicly described on their About Me pages. The Shaycom site specifically mentions Mihail and I as founders. Every penny earned by Mihail and Yasmeen — who are both respected writers — is a result of readers enjoying their writing, and is helping grow the Network for all writers.

    4. Since Mihail and I tell everyone we meet about Blogging Network, it is not surprising that a few subscribers are friends or relatives. However, this is a small percentage; most Blogging Network subscribers are not friends or relatives, and have no prior connection to us.

    5. It is false that Shano stands for Shaycom. It stands for Shanaz Ramzi, a well-known journalist for Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper, who heard about Blogging Network through Karavan Karachi and is not a relative. She has made $0.62 so far.

    6. Yes, we’ve already had referred subscribers. As described, each person receives a $5 bonus for each referred subscriber.

    7. It is false that we control blog rankings. The rankings are based on unique readers.

    8. It is false that Mihail and Yasmeen are earning more than their fair share from Blogging Network. For instance, Bill Quick, who had no prior connection to us, has made $52.33 so far. Yasmeen, in comparison, has made $7.91, and Mihail has made $10.58 — and they are both paying $2.99/month for their blogs. This information is also public:

    Visit Bill Quick’s profile

    I hope Jason corrects these inaccuracies in his post soon. We’re working hard to make Blogging Network a fair and open place for readers and writers, and these inaccuracies could affect earnings for the hard-working writers who rely on the Network.

  2. I’m using Bloggingnetwork and having a great time. At first I had a daily blog but now I just read. Seems there are a lot of new people then just in the last few days! I’m very happy that Blogging has lasted out the old year and is growing into the new.

    A place where you can write, there are already readers there so you know you will get read and you will also get paid. Nothing could make me happier!!!!

    Happy New Year!!

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