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For many newspapers, the decision to erect a paywall has been a decision of last resort.
And for a seemingly good reason: despite the obvious need to generate the type of revenue that advertising often can't provide alone, asking the consumers of your content to pay for the privilege can be a difficult undertaking.
When comedian Louis C.K. decided to produce his own event and sell video of it to consumers directly online for $5, little did he know that his experiment would spark a trend. But then again, little did he know that his experiment would produce hundreds of thousands of dollars in profit in a matter of days.
Louis C.K.'s ability to profit significantly while retaining creative control over his event, ownership of his content and the relationships with his fans is, not surprisingly, of interest to other established comedians.
There are thousands of apps available for the iPad, some free, some reasonably priced, and some shockingly expensive - but which is best? Does price tag indicate quality, or can you get great tools free of charge?
We had a rummage through the store and uncovered ten apps, five with a hefty markup, and five completely gratis. It's time to pit fee against free and find out which comes out on top.
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie is a classic book. First published in 1937 for individuals, over half a century later, brands now find themselves seeking friends and influence too.
But if U.S. airline Virgin America's latest attempt to woo influencers on Twitter is any indication, a book isn't needed. What is? Free product.
One of the most lucrative markets in the consumer internet has been online dating. And one of the most successful players over the years has been Match.com. It's not difficult to see why: plenty of people are willing to pay for a chance at a date and Match.com has been successfully charging for them for more than a decade.
But business isn't so easy today. Newer competitors, many of them free, have gained traction, and one, Plentyoffish, is, according to comScore's numbers, the most popular dating site in the world. Apparently Match.com doesn't like that.
Back in 2008, online social networking startup Ning couldn't give away free, hosted social networks fast enough.
The company, which was co-founded by Marc Andreessen of Netscape fame, reportedly estimated that by New Year's Eve 2010, it would host approximately 4m social networks. Social networks which would produce billions of daily page views for the startup. Ning's projected trajectory excited investors so much that they invested more than $100m in the company.
Does giving away free product lead to more sales? Many argue that, online, it does. But there are an equal number of skeptics. So who is right?
When it comes to how free e-books influence print sales, a study published in the Winter 2010 edition of the Journal of Electronic Publishing concluded that giving away free e-books is often good for business, at least in the short-term.
Anybody who has met Gary Vaynerchuk – or seen one of his videos / keynotes - will tell you that he is a one-man whirlwind of ideas, passion and drive.
Gary has managed to condense some of his key ideas into a book called Crush It, which is aimed at wannabe entrepreneurs (and anybody who doesn’t enjoy what they’re doing for a living).
I had dinner with Gary last month and he suggested doing a Crush It giveaway for Econsultancy members. And sure enough, I now have 25 signed copies of his book at Econsultancy HQ and they're all up for grabs...
If you're an iPhone app developer, free versus paid can be a difficult decision. Notwithstanding widely-publicized success stories, most free apps don't make any money for their developers.
One solution: use a free, watered-down version of your app as promotion for a paid version. The freemium model does work but it's hardly perfect. The problem: Apple doesn't offer a way for app users to easily upgrade from a free version to a paid version. Developers have to create two different apps and app users have to install both.
When I interviewed Squarespace CEO Dane Atkinson, I asked why Squarespace chose to adopt a free trial model and not a freemium model.
Although the freemium model, in which a company mixes free services with paid upgrades, is increasingly popular because of the economy, for some online businesses, free trials are well worth a look and could even be a better fit.
Before the company's Twitter marketing campaign went viral, Squarespace wasn't a brand known to many. But the company has experienced rapid growth building a niche in the competitive market for content management solutions/publishing platforms. And it has done it by doing something many others have avoided: charging users.
I spoke with Squarespace CEO Dane Atkinson about the company, its success with a paid business model and what ROI the company's viral Twitter marketing campaign produced.
How do you sell hardcovers for $26.99 when your book argues that information wants to be free? When you're Chris Anderson, you give away "Free: The Future of a Radical Price" online.
Anderson takes issue with critics — most notably so far Malcolm Gladwell — who think his book argues that "information wants to be free." According to Anderson, "Some information wants to be free. And some information wants to be really expensive."
And the "LongTail" author and Wired editor is hoping that while readers can access the online version of his book for free, they'll still want to pay to read the book in hardcover form.
The strategy stands to gain Anderson some points in the attention economy for walking his talk of free, but will his publisher make any money giving away his goods for free?