This Is Why I Want To Have A Paid, Premium Section Of Mixergy. What Do You Think?

Posted on Feb 22, 2010 - 4:34 PM PST

I have an idea to charge for some content on Mixergy as a way of bringing in revenue and growing audience engagement. My idea is different from what others have done, so I detailed it below.

Here’s a summary:

  • I would only charge for older interviews.
  • New interviews would stay free for a limited time.
  • More people would download new interviews when they’re posted to avoid paying later.
  • More people would download older interviews because I’ll occasionally make them free.
  • More people would blog about the interviews because they could embed videos and give away for free what I’ll charge for.

What do you think? Details below.

Why I want to charge

I want to earn money.

Not much to say here. I know you don’t begrudge me a profit. What I think you want to do is make sure that I take your needs into consideration. That’s why I’m writing this post.

I think sales are a strong measure of quality.

Can you guess how many people in the past 30 days saw my new interview with Paul Graham? 6,900

The same week, I also ranted about Google Buzz. I hadn’t used Buzz much when I wrote it because it was new. I didn’t contact the Buzz team and ask them for an interview. I just ranted because I was honestly upset. Want to know how many people saw that? 11,706

If I cared about hits, the data would tell me clearly that I need to spend 20 minutes ranting every day instead of hours prepping, requesting and doing interviews.

In a model that depended on ad revenue, rants like that will make their way into my interviews. Then viewers will react to them with equal passion, and my traffic will go up, and my advertisers will send me lots of pens with their logos on them.

But if you had to PAY for one of those posts, which would you pay for? I think money is a better yard stick here. The interviews you pay for tell me what you consider so good that you know they’ll help your business.

I think it’ll keep my old interviews from being dismissed.

I interviewed Seth Godin over a year a go, and it was one of the most influential interviews I’ve ever done. Know how many people saw that interview in the last 30 days? 26.

I posted a funny video last week of a guy at Groupon who got hit in the face with coffee. Know how many people saw that? 10,047

It’s an extreme example, but what I see over and over is that old content always underperforms what’s new — regardless of quality.

Nobody cares about old content, because content creators think of it as “old.” If I start charging for old interviews, there is a good chance no one will buy Seth Godin’s interview and I might lose all of those 26 viewers. But I bet you if I stop charging for it for just 1 week, people would jump on it for the limited time it’s free. They might even thank Seth for doing it and me for re-releasing it. Suddenly, old is valuable.

I think it’ll grow my interviews’ audience when I publish.

Since I know that most of an interview’s views come in the first week, I want to try growing that audience by adding a sense of urgency. If viewers knew that every interview was only available free for a limited time, I think they’d be more likely to download each interview on the day I publish it. They may not listen to it right away, but once it’s on their computers (or iPods), they’ll be more likely to listen to it.

I think it’ll encourage people to blog and embed my interviews.

A lot of people blog about my past interviews and interviewees. I want to grow that.

Right now, since everything is free on my site, there isn’t enough incentive to blog about my work. Anyone can just find my interviews on Mixergy. Why should they bother with someone else’s site?

But if I start charging for my interviews while others embed my videos on their sites and have those videos available for free forever, then I think they’d be more likely to blog.

I know this is dangerous and could leech traffic from my site, but it’s worth it.

What I do NOT want to charge for

All current interviews would be free.

Nothing would change here. You could get them on Mixergy and many other sites and services — including iTunes were you can get each interview is audio and video format.

Featured older interviews would be free.

Every week I’ll take some premium interviews and re-release them for free. I know that will generate buzz for what’s now considered old.

An intro pack of interviews would be free.

Anyone who comes to the site should have an intro pack of 5 to 10 interviews that they can download or view on the site. I think this would be a better introduction than having them look through the site and try to figure out where to get started.

The interview’s transcripts would be free.

If you want to learn from a program, the transcript would be available to you.

Mixergy interviews posted on your site would be free.

If a fan writes about my interviews, she should enhance the value of her post by embedding the interview.

Mixergy interviews posted on interviewee’s sites would be free.

If someone does an interview with me, they’ll be able to post it on their site and keep it free.

What I DO want to charge for

I would charge for the archive.

I have over 300 programs on Mixergy. I think people would pay or them. And if they don’t, isn’t that a good message for me? It would mean that my interviews are considered just another piece of content and I better work like mad to improve the value.

I would charge for special programs.

A few of my past guests suggested that I create online classes based on their work. I don’t have the time to do enough of these right now — because each session would involve a lot of prep — but I’d like to try them in the future.

Why other revenue options aren’t enough

Why I don’t think advertising is right

Advertising is good for people who are aiming for huge audiences. I’m not an entertainer. I’m not gunning for a huge audience.

I like spending 15 minutes asking an entrepreneur to detail how she got the first 2 sales. That’s never going to get the kind of audience that a falling cat has (or a screaming CNBC host, for that matter). It’s also never going to get the size audience that Leo Laporte has. That’s not my vision, passion or interest.

Why I don’t think shares in startups is a right fit

A lot of people who try to reach startups do it so they could get adviser shares, or so they could find companies to invest in. That’s not me and I’ll tell you why: it’s because that’s not how I got here.

When I researched Paul Graham’s history for his interview, I saw that his investment style was based on the investment and support he got when he launched Viaweb. He figured that if that what worked for his company, then it could work the companies he invests in.

I never took funding. When I try to do what others did for me, I think of the ideas that I learned. I remember Kara Swisher’s book on AOL, where she talked about how Steve Case planted himself in someone’s office until he got a deal. I don’t even remember whose office or why he did it, but the idea that you can go do something like that was more valuable to me than a financial investment. I remember how I read Dale Carnegie’s book, How To Win Friends and Influence People, where he said he based all the ideas in the book were based on the experiences of real students in his classes. I took the Carnegie class and the way it showed me how to relate to people was worth more than a financial investment.

I paid for books and classes with my work and money. If Kara handed me her book, I might have dismissed it. If I hadn’t worked so hard to get a seat at Carnegie’s class, I might not have looked at it as a Discovery Channel show — educational, but not really worth my time.

Why I don’t think just living off my past money is the right fit.

How can you respect my work if you see it as just a hobby that I’m luxuriating in? How can you respect what’s taught on Mixergy if you see that I’m not bringing in real revenue? You can’t. And I know you can’t because when I didn’t run ads or charge for anything I’d get emails from people asking me, “What do you really want to do, Andrew?”

What’s your take?

Much (but not nearly all) of this idea is up so you can see what I have in mind, but I can adjust it easily.

I can’t do exactly what everyone says, because then I’ll be your slave.

I can’t do only what I want, because then I’d only be useful to myself.

What I will do is listen, learn and internalize. I’ll adjust based on your feedback.

How can I make this work?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Antonio, what if I created blogger accounts? Anyone who regularly blogs about my work is like a reporter and could have access?

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    To be honest, I've had the same concern. Things are growing fast hear, not just traffic, but reputation and audience support. I have to take a risk or else I'm nothing. But I have to keep being aware of your point because it's everything.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    People who run paid sites keep telling me that's the number. To be honest, I don't think my work deserves that now. I'll have to improve it.

  • http://www.thezenofjen.com TheZenofJen

    Hey Andrew, I only had a brief sec to read through this, but I did see one section that said that the old content always under performs the new content. I remember a Tim Ferris Interview where he stated that because of people's desires for “freshest, newest, etc.” that he did split tests and he took off the dates of his posts. In fact, if you visit his site right now, you still can't find dates. I remember being irritated by it at first, and then I heard his interview and thought, Tim you crafty bastard ;) All that being said, I certainly think there are creative ways for you to monetize this website, and rightfully so. If a stroke of genius occurs to me, I will certainly share my insights. But there is at least one way to reposition(?) your content to eliminate the “freshness” factor. I also think that having a skilled copywriter think Copyblogger who can write “magnetic headlines” might help drive more views to certain interviews. I for one will always be back for the priceless (truly at this point on many levels ;) info you provide here. You definitely have kharma coming back at you brother that's for sure!

  • http://www.juzd.com Jing Liu

    I don't but for your stuff I would!!! J/K, like someone else said giving people physical stuff creates a sense of value. A lot of online software still show picture of digital image of a software box when showing their product.

  • http://www.aaronwulf.com/ Aaron Wulf

    Andrew,

    I think you provide something unique and incredibly valuable on your site. There's no doubt about it. And I know that some people may overlook your older content, but I love it. I often don't go for the NEW stuff because I know it's new; there's so much to catch up on with the older stuff.

    But I did mention to you a few weeks ago that you deserve to make money off your hard work. I think it's going to obviously require some testing – and input from your viewers (with regards to what people will pay for). But whatever way you go, go strong. The right people will follow. You're a great leader with content that's second to none.

    Take care,
    Aaron

  • http://twitter.com/KulpreetSingh kulpreet singh

    I think the best monetization strategies for Mixergy are:
    - Business / Tech school course lesson plans
    - Edit all of the transcripts, organize them in chapters and make it into a book, or two
    - Members pay for access to 1) extra 5-10 minutes post-interview with a core “action plan” summary of the interview, 2) a members-only section of the forum you're creating, 3) free member-only giveaways of books, videos, course by your interviewees, 4) member-only discounts to events hosted by your interviewees

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks. Tim said that on Mixergy? Great observation. I forgot.

    And I really do need to work on better headlines.

    Sent from my mobile

    El Feb 26, 2010, a las 12:25 AM, “Disqus” <
    > escribió:

  • Matthew Closson

    For anyone who is going to take the information provided seriously and make an effort to go out and apply it to their own business ideas, the $25 per month is well worth the information provided. I would also seriously enjoy any future kind of in depth coaching type of premium services. Your interviews are of great value and I will continue to recommend mixergy to all of my enterprising friends, regardless of it being a paid site or not. Also the stats on your content views are appreciated. I just signed up for premium.

  • http://www.dennisgorelik.com dennisgorelik

    1) I don't think that strategy of teasing with free promotions would work good in the long run.
    2) Currently you are trying to charge not only for access to old interviews, but also for access to 1-2 weeks old interviews, which are not old at all…
    That would inevitably slow down Mixergy growth.
    3) It's ok to charge for some services, but charging for basic access to your interviews would not work out well. Newspapers proved it over and over again.

  • Jeez!

    The fact that you've compared Mixergy to WSJ & Netflix tells me all the knowledge you have on simple business concepts. Do you really want to compare the audience on Netflix & WSJ to Mixergy?

  • billflowers

    Andrew, giving away full interviews for a week while they're fresh completely defeats the purpose of charging. If, as you say, people don't value old content and they prefer free to paid, they have no motivation to subscribe to the “old” stuff when the new, “better” stuff is free.

    Also, instituting a free access grace period for new interviews incents people to download them whether they intend to watch them or not, for risk of losing access to a potentially great one. The net result will be increased downloads as all your viewers grab everything you release rather than browsing and watching just the ones that capture their interest. Your bandwidth-per-visitor ratio will go way up and you lose the ability to track actual views since all you will see is downloads (and everything will be automatically downloaded). Your proposed system presents zero friction to slow this down.

    I know you're trying to do the “right” thing and not piss off the people who have been your loyal viewers and evangelizers. Let me suggest something that's sure to draw some fire: Pick a half-dozen or so “starter pack” interviews that give new listeners/watchers a sense of the quality and value. Charge a subscription for everything without the grace period of free access. Instead, give away 10-minute excerpts of all interviews and only give subscribers to access the full length versions.

    If you want to keep the current viewers happy, have everyone create a member account right now. Grandfather them in for a year of free access. Let them invite new members in for a free one-month trial.

    As for pricing, I value your content, but not yet at $300/year. I'm feeling like about $99/year is what I want to pay. Also, I prefer an annual–manual–payment over a monthly payment even if (especially if) my credit card info is kept on file and automatically charged.

    For a value comparison, if I give an extra $16/month (about $200/year) to Dish Network I gain access to many more hours of original content in the form of HBO (or Starz or Cinemax or Showtime…). People can argue that it's not a fair comparison, but it's the decision I face balancing the family budget. HBO or Mixergy? NY Times or Mixergy? Technology Review or Mixergy?

    Thanks for what you do. Sure there's stuff out there on the web, but you have a gift for asking great questions and not letting people gloss over issues.

  • http://giangbiscan.com/ Giang Biscan

    It has taken a while for me to leave a comment on this topic. It's because I feel that my opinion may be seen as biased and subjective – Andrew is a good friend and I am a huge fan of his work. Nevertheless, here it is: I absolutely believe that he creates so much value and that he should pursue his plan to directly monetize the content.

    There is so much of information today on the internet, and much of it is noise, not so much signal. Advertising revenue model rewards traffic, which is a result of SEO, promotion, spamming, refuting someone else's work, using ghost writers, etc. Direct revenue, on the other hand, is a true measure of the content quality. So there is no better validation for his work than having good direct revenue from the content.

    It costs easily $10 for a day of parking, $300+ for a speeding ticket, $2 for a bottle of water, yet $25 is too much for 20+ hours worth of in depth interviews of 20+ legendary people in business? This is why I think the majority of the objecting comments here do not make sense.

    Some people suggested that Andrew organize events, do consulting, sell books, CDs etc. then charge for those instead. They may not know that Andrew spent years in LA, organizing events. Andrew and I organized events together and separately, so we both know this: Events are not scalable and events are really more about networking than about generating revenue. Even when you do charge for events, the majority of it goes into venue, food, logistics. It is a brick & mortal business.

    Aren't we all in online business because it is capital efficient and scalable? Doing events, consulting, sell books, CDs… would be moving in the opposite direction than what Andrew is trying to pursue. Yes, he could/should do events, books, CDs… but only if they are a part of his marketing/branding campaign, enhancing community engagement, etc. but not so much for revenue generation.

  • http://twitter.com/ATailoredSuit Antonio Centeno

    Andrew – that sounds like a reasonable solution. Although some may feel they can’t be totally objective about what they say as that technically they are being sponsored, but you are providing a way to have premium access for time & effort instead of dollars. As you know, you can't please everyone.

    Thanks for responding!

  • http://twitter.com/ATailoredSuit Antonio Centeno

    Tim – I know you meant this as a joke, but why not?

    Yea, I’m sure your 100,000 person mortgage company probably couldn’t authorize or wouldn’t try to value the power of your links, but there is a value there and if you could work out a three way deal (your mortgage 1K, perceived value of your link 2K by third party) you could have the third party handle your mortgage for a win-win situation in which value was created.

  • http://www.homethinking.com nikiscevak

    You might also want to check out MarketingSherpa (a kind of similar site) that does exactly this.

  • http://www.MemberCon.com Tim Bourquin – MemberCon.com

    Because the world doesn't run on attention Antonio. It runs on real currency. At some point real dollars need to change hands – that's how real bills get paid.

    Let me know when you open up a mortgage company that gets paid in links and attention – I'll be the first to apply. Until then, I don't think anyone has figured out how to make the numbers work. They tried back in the late 90's when everyone wanted eyeballs for their startups and said they would figure out how to make money later.

    We all know how that ended.

    This entire discussion reminds me of a joke that came out of that era. “We're losing a buck a sale, but we're going to make it up on volume!”

  • http://www.MemberCon.com Tim Bourquin – MemberCon.com

    Actually Antonio, I'm surprised you're suggesting Andrew's hard work be paid with links. You have an excellent custom clothing suit website. Would you be able to make living if popular bloggers paid for clothing with links? Even if it did bring you extra traffic, at some point buyers need to pay for your materials and tailoring with real dollars.

    Content does have overhead costs, even if it isn't in the same type of raw materials manufacturers need to buy to produce the products they sell.

  • http://twitter.com/MAGAnet Mister Mo

    Two ideas that could help clarify your biz model:

    1) It's difficult to get people to pay for something once it was originally given away as free.

    It's far easier to charge and get people to pay for a new section / function to your website — like an eBook, XML data feed, job board catering to start-ups, or an events submission section catering to start-up-related events (in flat-fee or auction-based fee format — See how SocialOomph makes auction-based money from their Twitter service: http://www.socialoomph.com/profilebanners)

    2) I personally respect websites that advertise — as long as it doesn't cripple the website, my browser, or my computer (no pop-ups, adware, etc).

    It shows they are not afraid to make money (especially if they're not already selling a product on-site) and have a long-term plan for their site. I think I would respect Wikipedia even more than I do now if they just advertised instead of surviving off of donations, but they must have their reasons (probably since it's community-powered), thus, can't knock them for that

  • http://twitter.com/ATailoredSuit Antonio Centeno

    Guest & Tim – I see your points. And you are right that some real currency needs to be exchanged. My point was only that there should be another avenue to pay for the service for thise not living in a wealthy country or for a person who has more time than money. As to paying for clothing with links…..I do this every time I give away a garment for a review. So far these have been good exchanges…..my goods and efforts for their links and helping spread the word concerning my company!

    Thank you gentlemen for the stimulating conversation and feel free to call me to continue it!

    Best regards – Antonio

  • http://twitter.com/jaycebroda Jayce Broda

    I am proof that your point is not entirely true. I found you through Yaro, but then watched dozens of archived interviews that applied to me and what I do.

    I would happily pay for selective interviews. Allow me to control where I can consume it of-course, so iTunes alone is not enough. Weather current or archived I would pay a couple of dollars to listen to Seth Godin, Gary V, etc. Keep improving the production value, (which you are) and keep the quality focused question and I will not only will I pay, I will bring others.

    Thanks for all you do Andrew!

  • http://twitter.com/jaycebroda Jayce Broda

    Quality interviews have a longer shelf life than blog post. Online video is it's own beast.

    These comments/dialogue is as valuable/if not more than your videos. Great stuff!

  • http://businessnoob.com/ Daniel Meade

    Tim, that response was a little rude don't you think? The title of this post clearly asks the question “What do you think?” to the readers of Mixergy, and so Patrick was merely giving his opinion (as asked for) and was not wasting time, nor was he “telling” Andrew what he should or shouldn't be doing.

    I see that you have recently been interviewed on Mixergy yourself, and so that must mean you are someone that should be listened to because the sites readers could benefit from what you have to say. Don't you think therefore, that you should be doing what you can to build and avoid damaging your personal brand? Comments like the one above suggest otherwise.

  • http://www.MemberCon.com Tim Bourquin – MemberCon.com

    When someone suggests Andrew's content and hard work isn't worth anymore than everything else online – that's rude. I'm simply pointing out he's wrong.

  • http://ryanesaki.com/ Ryan

    Andrew, my team has run into a very similar problem with out site where we offer tons of free content with tremendous value. Not saying this solution will work for you but this is what we are in the process of launching.

    We found a streaming partner and are offering more of a school type streaming service which is paid for with a monthly subscription or one off per lesson charge. We now have a tiered freemium model with a ton of great free content, and new gated paid content for those who are more serious about the subject and willing to invest into their development.

    We plan to continue to roll out free content on our regular schedule (which is much less intense than your schedule).

    I can see a similar thing working out for you where you keep the interviews free, and offer seminar and Q&A live streams (which are recorded and archived in a gated paid section) with your top guests. Essentially creating a FOWA conference type service online. Your guests will get paid either a percentage or flat rate so they win, you win because you get paid as well and have a scalable business model for live video, your audience wins because they get to a more in depth lessons with Q&A and interaction time with these speakers.

    We haven't launched our service yet so I can't say for sure this will work, but I will let you know if it does. I can tell you that I would pay for that service if you offered it.

    Just my $.02

  • http://www.webdesigncompany.net Melvin Ram

    Oops, didn't mean to like this. I was trying to hit reply.

    I don't understand why everyone keeps suggesting creating additional stuff and then they'll buy. Why not pay for that Andrew is already offering? Isn't it worth it?

    In the 20 or so interviews that Andrew publishes per month, don't you think you think you'll get at least 3 solid ideas that will make you at least $100 – $1000?

  • http://ryanesaki.com/ Ryan

    lol, I'll take the 'like it' Melvin. I agree, if Andrew were to start charging for access to archives, I would have no problem with it. I was just giving a suggestion that may generate more takers than a subscription to archive service.

    Monetizing content is always tricky. There are some drawbacks from the concept of paying for stuff you could once get for free. It's a much harder sell. If the goal is to generate as much income as possible, I think (and will find out soon enough for my own website) that there is more potential revenue in the freemium model as opposed to gated access to previously free content.

    My comment was in no way meant to devalue Andrews content. We all know its awesome and people should be paying for it.

  • lxmorj

    I think there is a revenue model outside of advertising that will work for you, the problem is finding one that doesn't alienate the massive following you have. I think cutting the services you offer for free to basic video, and having a premium subscription service is the way to go. The premium group can have access to things like HD video, high quality audio downloads, transcripts, occasional exclusive content, and perhaps access to weekly uStream Q&A where people can ask you specific questions about previous interviews, or ask your advice. This will allow everyone to access your interviews, but provide some convenience and value-add for the premium users. I am new to your site (2 hrs) but would certainly consider $10 a month for added access, more for access to group Q&A's depending on the size and quality of the group. Throw in a $150 (or something higher, idk) level for 30 minutes a month 1-on-1 time and you've got yourself a decent plan.

  • http://OpenSwipe.com Casey Allen

    Tim discussed it in this 20 minute presentation at WordCamp (not on his Mixergy interview): http://wordpress.tv/2009/06/26/tim-ferriss-blog

    It's a phenomenal presentation for any content creator.

  • http://twitter.com/prashantsachdev prashantsachdev

    Andrew, good to see that you are trying some ways to charge for this awesome repository of content you create on daily basis!

    As videos on mixergy are not like typical educational courses that people are firm to enroll into and learn (as found on lynda.com, educator.com), nor they are like typical premium entertainment content, the subscription model might not work as-is.

    I like the concept of keeping the newer videos free for a week – this ensure you don't harm your current free model (supported with advertisements) and charging for the older ones – you get a chance to earn nor are you loosing much on views for those content.

    It would be good for you to add following things –

    - Keep the particular video available for free for all those who watch it completely – “Live” or within 24 hours. This will ensure more traffic for your latest videos

    - For older videos, have some part of video or clips to be played for free and charge only for watching full videos.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks. I've been using your suggestions.

  • http://mixergy.com Andrew Warner

    Thanks. I've been using your suggestions.

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