The internet is nearing its 30th year and there is one problem that we haven’t found a solid solution for – how do you pay for content in a sustainable way.
In the beginning I thought advertisement was the way to go, but as ads bring so little value outside of scale, this proved not to work.
For a very short time I thought micro-payments would be a solution, but I doubt it lasted more than a week. In that regard, at least, I was wiser than some other people that still, 20 years later, think that could be a model for news media. Thomas Baekdal answers that question and ends with:
For micro-payments, however, we are optimizing for one-time hits. It’s like optimizing for a one-night stand. In other words, publishers who focus on micro-payments often find themselves pushed towards ‘in the moment’ throwaway news.
Finally, we have the problem of scale. Micro-payments only work (theoretically) if you have a lot of volumes. So a lot of articles across a lot of readers.
But most magazines and especially niche sites don’t have that.
Many have tried latching on to advertising revenues from large platforms, and while Youtube have some great successes behind them we are back to the problem of ads having little value and then the added problem of the platforms trying to minimize political and legal risks, leading to much content being removed or demonetised.
I thought Patreon would be a good solution but again it turns out scale is the issue. For the average creator? Lots of very hard work and you might make a living. For example, veteran artist Dave Kellett is creating a marvelous science fiction comic called “Drive” since 2014 and has just under a thousand patreon supporters. That’s not a lot.
I don’t think we’ve found a solution yet.