Farewell to Free Content?

Is the free lunch over for content? Maybe.

Time Inc. has seen advertising revenue drop 6% in the first half of 2012; things are tough all over.

This article reports on Time Inc.’s CEO, Laura Lang, Time Inc. CEO Promises New Ads, Less Free Content:

“On the circulation side, Lang is intent on delivering content ‘whenever and wherever the consumer wants.’ At the same time, she wrote, ‘we will stop giving away so much of our content for free … we will reinvent what it means to be a subscriber.’”

It’s all very well for companies large and small to turn themselves into “publishers” and give content away in the content marketing frenzy. Companies for which content is their raison d’être can’t be anywhere near as cavalier.

Content costs money. “Free” content isn’t free, and if advertising won’t support it, consumers are the next in line.

Media companies can make money from content. Google of course, makes the most money. :-)

It does my writer’s heart good to read this; I’m all aglow.

Consumers have always been willing to pay for the content they want. As an example, consider JK Rowling’s new book.

As this article, J K Rowling’s New eBook Looks Like $18 of Crap on the Nook and Kindle, points out:

Publishers like to justify their ridiculous ebook prices by claiming to offer great value for the price. I’m sure that’s what Hachette was thinking when they set the ebook price for Casual Vacancy, J K Rowling’s new book, at $18.

There you go — $18 for a Kindle ebook. No dead trees. But $18? I’m not against it. If I wanted to read the book badly enough, I’d cough it up. I paid that amount for Hilary Mantel’s Bring Up The Bodies when it was first released. (And then I was disappointed; Wolf Hall was better.)

So consumers will pay for the content they want. The trick of course is developing the content for which they’ll pay. We live in interesting times.

Is Google Ending the Free Ride?

Want to rank in the Web search results? You’ll need to use a combination of “free” content marketing, and paid, these days.

It could get worse.

If you’re doing a lot of content marketing, read this article, Once Deemed Evil, Google Now Embraces “Paid Inclusion”. The days of the free ride may well be coming to an end:

“For publishers, the key issue is whether they’re going to be charged in the future for traffic from Google that currently is considered ‘free.’

With paid inclusion, it’s possible that Google could turn the tables. You want to be included? You pay. No pay? No play.”

Where are your customers? How can you reach them?

It’s time to take a close look at all your marketing, and work out a cost-effective way to reach your customers.

Do I Look Like an Idiot? Real Help is NOT Free

How much of yourself do you give away? Chances are that you give away a lot of information for free. I’m not talking about website content, social media and blogging here — I’m talking about your one-on-one chats and consultations.

If you’re an independent consultant or own your own business, I’m sure you do a lot of it. If you’re working for someone else, you probably do it it too, but off the clock. When you need to account for your time on a timesheet, you won’t get away with handing out too many free consultations.

I love this article in Forbes: No, You Can’t Pick My Brain. It Costs Too Much – Forbes:

“And no, a turkey sandwich is not payment for something that helped you overcome an obstacle and either created value or additional revenue for your company. I charge my paying clients very good money for my expertise and results. How would they feel to know that I’m giving out free advice? Not too swell I would imagine. In fact I hope they don’t call me demanding refunds!”

The Internet encourages “free”, because it’s a marketing tool.

However, you shouldn’t give away the farm. I learned that 30 years ago when I was managing a business. There were only so many hours in the day, and if I gave an hour to someone who wanted advice, that was an hour I couldn’t spend on what I was being paid to do.

There are still only 24 hours in a day.

If you don’t value your time, no one else will, either

Suspect you’re being taken advantage of? 

Here’s how to fix that.

1. Work out how much your time is worth.

Let’s say that your time is worth $300 an hour to your employer. (That employer may be you.)

Keep that figure in mind — write it on a sticky note and stick it onto your computer monitor. Stick another note onto your car’s dashboard, and onto the mirror in your bathroom. Let the figure sink in. 

2. Count the minutes.

When the phone rings, hit a timer. When someone enters your office, hit a timer. 

Hit a timer every time you chat with someone, or answer an email message by giving out free assistance.

At the end of the day, count up the minutes, and work out how much money you gave away. 

You’ll be shocked.

Now, think about how and when you’ll charge for your time.

Make a list of your fees for all the stuff you’ve been giving away — and start charging.