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?