Is putting a blog behind a pay wall a good idea?

I’m planning to put my content behind a paywall soon and was interested in getting some feedback. I’ve been posting since 2003 and over the years the motivation to participate has wained. I’ve found that posting original content online has risks associated with it both professionally and personally which no advertising model could support. Also an ad supported model requires a great deal of traffic and popularity which has always been a distracting aspect for any blogger when it becomes part of the success criteria.

In many ways the paywall is insurance against the uneven returns on originality which is sporadic. I also hope to encourage more creators of interesting original content to guest post on this blog who I will be able to assure some return on their great effort. For example see this deep and thoughtful article on scaling game narratives from a friend I met on twitter.

The future of content for this blog will be focused on original work about narrative, creativity, and innovation including games, psychology, modern-anthropology, creativity, innovation, and cultural trends.

Anyone interested in finding out how this direction goes, guest posting or commenting in the future please let me know either in the comments or email me at karl at karllong dot com.

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  1. Frank
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

    If your goal is to have next to no traffic, then yes a pay wall is a great idea.

  2. My Site (click to edit)
    Posted January 15, 2011 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    A small amount of meaningful traffic is more interesting to me than free traffic.

  3. Gilles
    Posted January 16, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Permalink

    As long as you create valuable and unique content, you definitely should. Did you hear about this service, Cleeng? Allows to put part of any blog, video or article behind a paywall What do you think?

  4. My Site (click to edit)
    Posted January 16, 2011 at 4:28 pm | Permalink

    It looks very useful, a really great idea I think.

  5. Greg Dewar
    Posted January 18, 2011 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know that it’s a kiss of death to have a paywall – but you either have to have enough specialized info worth paying for or a dedicated readership for it to work. I think your stuff fits that better than most blogs/sites since it’s your expertise and your insights that people read, not just chit chat or gossip like other blogs.

    For example, paying for the Chronicle online to me is foolish because 80% of what they print is bullshit to begin with, so Im’ not going to pay, either at the newsstand or online. My blog has a decent readership and all, but I don’t know people would pay for it vs. say buying swag or clicking on the ads etc. I think you should try it and if it doesn’t work, then just change back. This absolutist bullshit some people put out there about “do it this way or die” is just ridiculous.

  6. David Evans
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 5:40 pm | Permalink

    Karl I’ve been thinking about this as well. I started my blog about the business of online dating in November 2002. Some 3,500 posts later, I’m burned out and find myself wanting to reduce my involvement with the blog to riffing on other posts and one original thought piece a week. I do the quick hits via Twitter, but only have a few hundred followers there. I have about 30,000 visitors a month to the blog. A few years ago I had enough advertisers that I could “almost* stop consulting and just blog, but not these days.

    I uploaded my old email list to Mailchimp and have been working on a newsletter design. I think I will send a few out and then perhaps follow GigaOM’s model of “good on the blog, great content behind the paywall.”

    My audience is small and dedicated, but is it large and willing enough to pay a few bucks a month? I don’t know. Time to test, good luck.

  7. My Site (click to edit)
    Posted January 19, 2011 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    I will certainly share what I learn, i’m already finding some interesting entrants in this space.

  8. Anonymous
    Posted January 26, 2011 at 4:55 am | Permalink

    Yes you are its Really Nice ideas behind blog pay I am really happy by you.
    Restaurant Email Marketing
    Thank you for post..

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  10. Posted March 30, 2012 at 8:22 am | Permalink

    Yes, very interesting. Thanks

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