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The Free Web Is In Transition, Is It Time To Charge For Your Heart And Soul?

The Free Web Is In Transition, Is It Time To Charge For Your Heart And Soul?

Every now and then I browse the web looking for new cool ways to utilize the tools I use when designing; most prominently, Adobe Photoshop. One of the sites I sometimes end up on is PSDTuts, a tutorial site which I deem pretty good, if not just to get some inspiration and remind myself what is possible with Photoshop.

Well, now it seems they are having some problems. First of all, they need to make money to keep the site going, which is pretty obvious to me. That’s why they created something called Plus, a $9/month subscription which gives you more Photoshop tutorials, and more sample files to download. A pretty good extension to the site, I’d say, since there’s still plenty of content available for the cheapskate visitor, like me. I don’t mind.

Some people do, however, and the folks behind PSDTuts is learning that. There seems to have been quite so noise about this whole thing, which made Collis, the owner, write a long rant about why PSDTuts has to make money, a duh moment if there’s any to be, but nevertheless obviously a much needed explanation.

With advertising being a pretty uncertain way of making money, I certainly understand (and sometimes encourage) bloggers, site owners, forum operators and so on, to find other ways of paying the bills and turning a profit. Google Adsense used to be a good choice, but for most of us that’s just not the case anymore. I used to make quite a bit of cash using Adsense in my Swedish videogaming network a couple of years ago, but should I try it today I’d find that it would just generate coffee money. It’s a different ballgame today, with direct ad sales being the best way for a niched medium sized blog to make money, if you ask me.

That, or having spinoff services. I was recently asked about writing an e-book on how I’ve gone from a Swede dabbling in the international blogosphere, to someone making a living of working within that said sphere. The key is not relying on traditional advertising, as you’ll read in my blog post about it.

PSDTuts is doing the right thing, going with premium content, because they have obvious material that you can charge for. You should probably ask yourself if the same applies to you.

However, they’re also facing the obvious obstacle of charging for content, which is that users expect it to be free. Everything should be free online, you know it because you think it too, except when it comes to your own projects, which you’d charge for if you could.

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I’ve got news for you: The free web is in transition. It won’t go away, but it’ll change, because the best out there will be the one who’s pouring their heart and soul into their products, and that means that they need to make some money to be able to keep doing that. Free just don’t do that.

Be it ads, subscriptions, or spinoff products or services, we all want some monetary appreciation for our hard work at some point. You don’t think I’m telling you this for nothing, right?

View Comments (5)
  • I think I said this on another blog, but I find it a bit odd:

    In Web 1.0 subscriptions were everywhere. If someone could charge for content they did. Then came Web 2.0, which brought free, ad supported content.

    Now with Web 3.0, in addition to obvious evolutions such as AI search algorithms, I think we will slowly go back to the old Web 1.0 model – charge for content if you can.

  • I think blogging will increasingly be used for business to promote products but smart marketers will still use the culture of free to give away a knowledge base in order to gain a loyal customer base. Essentially, I am saying the two- free and paid can be used in tandem to build income for bloggers while still offering a value proposition for consumers- just look at how seomoz capitalizes on its premium memberships and seobook gets you with their paid ebook.

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