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How do I decide what to charge my subscribers?

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  • How do I decide what to charge my subscribers?

    Since I tried to search for this topic and it rejected my keyword of "fee" since it was three letters, and since this is such a critical topic to all who are likely to use the subscription feature, I thought I'd open a thread to find out what others are charging as a fee structure and/or how they are structuring tiered subscriptions. I hope someone keeps this thread sticky as in my mind this is likely to be a number ONE concern of those upgrading to 3.0 - and that is how to generate revenue from it now that you've added a subscription mechanism.

    I've been involved with online content and online marketing and advertising since around 1994. Historically speaking I can tell you that there's still a lot of pushback as to what people are willing to pay for and how much they are willing to pay. I've found that many will equate the fee to that of a print magazine subscription or something that provides similar value.

    That said, a good starting point is probably going to be around $9.95/month, but it really depends on a lot of things.

    For example, I know folks who are successfully getting subscribers at $150 per month (that's one hundred and fifty) for a stock tips and day trading pub. What you charge is going to depend on what the market will bear but also on what value you offer your users and how they perceive that value. That said, pricepoint is always a struggle. What to charge what to charge. You can always start high and come down, but you can rarely succeed at starting cheap and then trying to justify raising the subscription price later on.

    Those of you who have existing members will invariably struggle with the idea of how to convert them to paid users. I say that you should grandfather all of them in for a six month to one year period of time and then start to charge them.

    Alternatively, you could create a membership level called "Charter Member" and offer them subscriptions at 50% off for as long as they remain a subscriber as a charter member.

    All NEW people should pay your full price, whatever you end up charging. But be really careful how you treat your existing members. Remember: Your community is only as valuable as your members make it. It is they who are providing the content, not you. They are the reason why new people will want to pay to join, so don't alienate your existing members by slapping them with fees all of the sudden or you will see your community shrink rapidly.

    Another good topic to discuss is whether or not you should offer a 30 day free trial.

    I'll shut up now and let you folks continue this thread on what to charge and how to generate revenue from your board. Google AdSense is another great way to generate advertising revenue. It is producing some pretty good revenue for those publishers who are using it.

    Hope this helps kick off some useful discussion!

    Adam Boettiger
    I-Advertising
    http://www.i-advertising.com/

  • #2
    As an addendum to my post above, there are a few really wonderful resources that can teach you how to generate revenue from selling subscriptions to Internet content.

    I am in no way affiliated with the two links or companies below, but am only posting them for users' benefit.

    The first is a site that sells ebooks on specific topics related to marketing. They have a section of their store called Content Marketing and there are two or three ebooks that you can buy and download that are full of case studies of folks who are successfully charging on a per-subscriber basis and are generating some good coin from it.

    See: http://www.sherpastore.com/store/page.cfm/2128

    and scroll to bottom right.

    The second place I'd look is to try out some Google AdSense links in either a top banner or side column placement that are keyword specific to the topic or theme of your board.

    See: https://www.google.com/adsense/

    There are quite a few resources on the topic of charging subscribers for online content, but the top one is one of the best. It is an actual ebook that you must pay for and download - in fact there are several available including transcripts from some of their conferences on selling subscriptions to online content - but then again, if you're thinking of charging your board subscribers for your content then you're not one of those folks who expects that you should get everything for free, right? LOL

    Hope these resources benefit some of you as you learn how to generate revenue from your communities.

    Adam Boettiger
    I-Advertising
    http://www.i-advertising.com/

    Comment


    • #3
      I simply chose what I would consider reasonable based on what I would pay for the service I offer. I settled on 3 dollars per month or 30 dollars for a full year. Basically the price of a beer per month. Subscriptions are voluntary on my site but I added the following benefits for subscribers.

      The ability to upload attachments and images. Only 1 meg at this point but I may increase that later.
      The ability to upload a profile image.
      The ability to open and close your own threads (providing I didn't lock them for good reason)
      Ability to edit your posts without the "Last edited" showing
      A little bit more detailed info on the who's online page
      Access to a private Contributors only forum
      Your name will stand out on who's on line in a similar way to the admins names (exact format still to be decided)
      The title Contributer under the normal forum rank


      These extra options seem to have gone down well with my subscribers. I have also increased the pm limits for subscribers.

      Frugal

      Comment


      • #4
        That sounds like a plan.

        ...but I have to ask you, how did you get the paid subscription option to work or be triggered as an option to them? Are you processing it manually?

        For the life of me, I can't find any documentation on it. I did find documentation on how to turn it on in the options, on how to go to PayPal and turn on IPN and paste in the URL for the board and how to create paid subscriber "plans".

        What I did not find, and what is either blatantly missing or I am blatantly blind, is how to present it in the reg process such that users pay to register.

        I've asked this close to three times now and nobody has answered me, so I am almost tempted to think that this feature is not ready for release yet and should perhaps have been included in 4.0 and not 3.0.

        Is there anyone who in addition to turning it all on in the preferences and activating the IPN settings is actually implementing it and has it working?

        What URL is yours located at?

        Comment


        • #5
          Well for my site I did it using an announcement explaining the benefits of subscribing and how to do it via the usercp. Once you have set up the plans and enabled IPN etc then the plans should show up in the usercp under paid subscriptions. This is fine for my site as subscriptions are voluntary. If you want a subscriber only site then it may get a little more complex as they need to register before they can access the usercp and the paid subscription option. The way I would probably get around this would be by allowing registered users the rights to access the usercp and nothing else. I would then edit the welcome email to say something like

          Welcome to X forums, you have completed the first step, to complete your registration you need to log into the forums go to the usercp and select the "Paid Subscriptions" option. Once you have taken out a subscription your registration will be complete and you can begin using the forums.

          There are probably more elegant ways of doing it but as I have never had any intentions for my site to be subscriber only I haven't put any thought into it.

          My forums are at http://www.frugalsworld.com then click on the forums link. I'd post a direct link but either a bug in RC1 or maybe the settings here won't allow me to use v b b (without spaces) in a url and changes it to vB instead.

          I have it implemented and working.

          Frugal
          Last edited by Frugal; Sun 4 Jan '04, 6:04pm.

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