If you want to watch a good film, listen to some good music or otherwise enjoy any form of entertainment, then you will probably expect to pay something for the privilege. This is simply how commerce works. However, when you go online, you will almost always be able to find the media you want for free.
But that all changes with paid media.
Paid media is a form of online media that is paid. This can describe anything but it is generally used in the context of a blog or a website – to describe content that might not always be paid in other contexts.
A good example of this might be a YouTube video for instance. We are used to being able to watch videos for free. However, YouTube now offers creators the opportunity to hide their best videos behind a pay wall, thereby giving them a new way to monetize. Another option is to create a membership site that contains articles, videos and more for subscribers who pay a fee.
Running a Membership Site
The idea behind a subscription fee is simple – someone signs up to your site and that then gives them the ability to access content that other people can't. This can be content such as articles and news stories, or it can be content such as web apps, music and games. It's very easy to implement too – all you need is a PayPal button and some crude PHP knowledge and you've got it working. Then all you need to do is to provide a lot of good quality content for free, and advertize your 'premium' stuff for a cost. You need to make sure your free stuff is really good to bring in the traffic and get them interested, and then you need to make sure that the subscription stuff sounds even better to ensure they don't leave. If you can offer free downloads, productivity tools, entertainment, or information on how to get into shape/how to meet partners/how to make money – then you will have a good incentive for people to sign up.
There are many reasons that this is such a great form of monetization. The first is simply that it makes money from your site while keeping your visitors (unlike ads). And in fact, you will find that you actually get them to come to your site more often – because they will want to make use of the subscription they are paying for. And there's nothing to say that you can't keep the ads on your site too. In other words, you are now getting paid for someone to come to your website – it's a win win situation.
Meanwhile this 'premium' membership will make people feel like a part of your site and will make it feel much less static. They are now far more likely to post on forums, to promote your site to others and generally to be a more valuable member of your community. Good this isn't it? The fact that they are registering by definition also means you have their address for your mailing list.
To get this to work you need to be savvy and you need to build up a large user base for your site and its features first. Get people hooked on your site and then ask them to start paying and you'll find they're much more likely to.
Another tip is to include some element of 'status' in being a premium member. People enjoy exclusivity and the very fact that they have paid will give them a buzz. Segregate your forum into 'paid'
areas and 'un paid' areas and ensure that the paid areas are the cool places to be. Give people little badges next to their profile and generally make them feel special.
And don't be afraid to lavish those in your subscriptions with free stuff. That means making sure there is plenty to download and that you bundle as many different features in there a possible. Over time you will get more members and subscription will become more desirable.
Finally, consider the niches and subject matters that lend themselves best to this business model. What are people willing to pay for? Entertainment is one option, but serialized entertainment works best in that case. Paid courses and useful resources for work tend to be most effective!