It’s a new publishing environment these days. Everyone’s a writer or videographer or some sort of communication expert and content is king. Content is digitally driven and social, people play as curators and creators, and every platform from Facebook to LinkedIn to Twitter and less known names has a stake in the game.
Of course monetization is the challenge, and if you’d thought you escaped this intrusion on your user experience once you moved from traditional media to social, it didn’t take long for the notion to be disabused. From sponsored posts masquerading as news to retargeted ads that stalk you on your online travels, there’s no escape.
With maybe a few exceptions.
Some social communities have tried a different tack, proclaiming no ads as part of their value proposition in establishing platforms for content creators and consumers to connect. Instead, they are putting a different spin on their money making strategies, going the route of subscriptions, freemiums and memberships.
Here’s how some communities are doing it.
ConnectPal’s mission is in many ways to democratize content creation. It welcomes big stars and aspiring ones, whose content can be a written blog or a podcast or a video series. The platform uses a subscription approach to generate revenues for those who create their own ConnectPal pages.
Here’s how it works.
Having a ConnectPal page means having your own a profile page that describes who you are as a content creator, what you do, and how much it costs for users to subscribe to your ConnectPal page. Hosts set their own fees – not ConnectPal management – based on what they think the traffic will bear.
The more aggressively they push their ConnectPal content on their own social networks, the buzz is created and traffic grows. Subscriptions also grow in the process. ConnectPal manages the payment infrastructure and takes a comparatively modest percentage, as well as a percentage for handling related needs for members, like credit card processing. The site is easy to navigate and clean in appearance because…no ads.
Medium is the well-known alternative blogging platform that has gone the no ad route because it has found it can’t make money on advertising. It continues to explore its options.
Medium actually is kind of a hybrid blogging/social media community. Its content is arranged by topic, anyone can join and post for free, and the designs, plugins and extensions that some sites like WordPress offer up at a premium are built in, as it’s a one-size-fits-all approach. Medium is one of the world’s top-ranked sites in terms of traffic.
One of Medium’s approaches to drive revenues has been a membership program for publishers. By putting their entire site on Medium or just a Medium edition of their publication, publishers can make money on incoming traffic via their own advertising (like banner ads at the bottom of the content page). Medium makes money on the membership fee, but most publishers also charge readers a subscription fee. The site takes a cut of that if its publishers hit a specific revenue threshold.
This is another one of the most popular blogging/website platforms that uses the “freemium” model as its basis. The site offers a variety of design models, plugins and extensions, some of which are free and offered up through its open-source “sister” platform, WordPress.org. Ads are not a primary revenue strategy, though it reserves the right to place ads on blogs or sites on its free plans.
It’s easy and fairly intuitive for the non-techy individual or business to set up basic pages under its approach. A basic setup is free, but that has limitations in terms of storage and monetization options. For those who want more ambitious sites, WordPress has fee-based plans with bells and whistles in line with the cost: $200 a month for personal; $575 a month for premium; and $1,665 for business. Its VIP hosting plan starts at $15,000 a month; big names like Facebook and CNN are on this plan for WordPress’ management of almost all technical components. WordPress clearly needs no ads.