As discussed yet in the article about membership subscription sites you can’t make business with mediocre content. This was possible 5-10 years ago but that’s no more. Sure, you can get a few subscribers even of a site with cheap rehashed content but most of them will quickly unsubscribe, some will ask for refund, and none of them will recommend your site to others. The web is now full of all kind of content and a lot of it is free and high quality.
So, what you need in order to be able to charge for your content:
- It must be unique or at least hard to find elsewhere.
- It must be expert content. If you are building a site giving career advice you can’t go with the stuff that you can find on every blog online. You need real expert advice and insights that work.
- It must be rich. This means ideally not just text but also media like audios and videos, charts, info-graphics, tools.
For these purposes web scraping, rewriting existing articles, copying content from a book or (why am I even saying it) auto-generating content is out of the game. None of this will work. You need to invest human hours into creating very high quality content before you can even think about making business with it.
So, how? The options are mainly two:
Option One: Create Your Content Yourself
This is the most obvious one and it is the best. I know this does not sound like what a business owner does but with paid content sites it is the most viable path. You, or at least someone within your company (maybe several persons) should be knowledgeable in the subject you plan to build business around. The best content is created in-house and you as an owner of the site should be very well into the matters you charge for.
So how do you go about this if just starting? Focus on expertise you already have. Maybe it’s your job, maybe it’s a hobby or interest. But it should be something that you really know well, have experience with, or have inside information that can be shared. Gaining expertise along the way will not work: the quality of content required nowadays is too high for this. You can’t pretend to have expertise.
Now, if you are not good in writing for example, you can hire someone to rewrite or edit your articles. You definitely need to hire someone to create videos or audios unless you are expert in that. Don’t do cheap home made webcam videos unless you know what you are doing.
You will probably hire a website designer and someone to create charts, tools etc. This is OK. But the expertise must be coming from you, from your knowledge and experience. Not from stuff you just read online last few months.
Option Two: Get The Expertise From Someone Else
The second option to use someone else’s expertise. You can join forces with an expert in a given area and handle the marketing, sales and / or technical side of running a site. You can even take interviews and write the articles yourself. You can do this with multiple persons. Or you can just hire an expert to create the whole thing for you: videos, audios, texts, tools, etc. Either of these options are fine as long as you really have an expert.
And expertise comes from experience… so you get the idea.
What Not To Do
A sure way to fail your paid content site is to do any of the following:
- Rewrite, copy, or rehash articles from other sites. This was already said but worth to repeat and remember.
- Create lame content without having real expertise. This is just as bad as the above. It won’t get you anywhere.
- Try to gain expertise along the way. No, you won’t become an expert in anything just by reading about it. Don’t try to create a premium content site on a subject you know nothing about.
- Hire freelance writes to research and write articles. No matter cheap or expensive. Writing for a premium content site requires much less expertise in writing than in the subject of the site. So even a great writer won’t get you anywhere if they don’t know the matter. You are far better hiring someone who knows what they are talking about, even if they can’t write well.
- Auto-generate content of any kind unless we talk about generating charts or reports in some unique useful way or based on private data that you have.
I wish I could tell you it was easy as in “hire writes for $5 per article and get 100 articles done” but it’s not. If you don’t have access to real top-notch expertise do not even try to start business with content of any kind.
So if you are just about to start, knowing where to find the expertise is going to be your main worry. And creating the content is your main expense. But not only. The next article in this series will discuss the costs of running a paid content site. Read it here.