How Does Have So Many Paid Subscribers If Information Wants To Be Free?

The web is full of free how-to articles and videos. So why do hundreds of thousands of new subscribers happily sign up every year to pay a monthly fee to learn software like Excel and Photoshop? And, more importantly, what can YOU learn from’s business about creating content that people want to pay for?

I invited the company’s co-founder, Lynda Weinman, to answer those questions, and to tell you the story of how she and her husband launched and built their business.


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Lynda Weinman

Lynda Weinman


Lynda Weinman is the co-founder of, a provider of educational materials, including Hands-On Training™ instructional books, the Online Training Library®, CD- and DVD-based video training, and events for creative designers, instructors, students, and hobbyists.


Why customers are happy to pay

Lynda started when there wasn’t much competition.

A lot of Lynda’s early traction came from teaching software that students couldn’t learn elsewhere. Her early classes were done offline about programs that were so new that students were willing to fly to her class from across the country.

Lynda had a reputation before starting her business.

Before there was Lynda the company, there was Lynda the author. She wrote the very first industry book on Web design, Designing Web Graphics, in 1995. Each of her books included an incentive for readers to go to, where she built an audience that became her company’s first customers.

Marketing happened organically, through word of mouth.

Lynda said many times in the interview that marketing isn’t her forte, teaching is. So until recently, she focused heavily on class quality, and let the marketing happen mostly through word of mouth.

The offline competition is more expensive and less convenient.

Lynda doesn’t see her competition as the free videos on sites like YouTube. For her customers, the real alternative is expensive, offline classes at local schools. Compared to them, offers a reasonably-priced and more convenient option.

Lessons are taught by leaders at the tops of their fields.

For professional subjects, students want to know that they’re learning from credible teachers, something they can’t always be sure of with free content online.

Students can learn on their own time and repeat lessons.

In a traditional setting, students can’t repeat a class over and over until they get what they need. By using the videos, they’re free to move through each lesson at their own pace.

Lynda offers lots of free samples.

Free may not be the company’s business model, but it is one of’s best marketing strategies. Students can sample classes and get a feel for the quality of the teachers and materials before

Full program includes

– You’ll hear the biography of

– You’ll learn many tips that you can use to build your subscription-based business.

– You’ll see how develops its classes.


Who should we feature on Mixergy? Let us know who you think would make a great interviewee.