Would Your Content Sell?

Email What would happen if you turned the prevalent practice in your market on its head?

Everyone has a blog offering free content, so instead you start a paid newsletter. Drop.io founder Sam Lessin is now giving you that opportunity with Letter.ly, a simple way to sell email subscription newsletters.

Would people pay for your content?

How it works

You create a free Letter.ly seller account, name it to receive a unique
Letter.ly URL and set a price per month. You can also connect your
Facebook account to post the subject lines of their letters as status
updates, or a Twitter account to tweet them.

People can subscribe to the email newsletter at the associated URL
and pay through Amazon. You choose the frequency of publication, and interact with readers by email. As part of the account set up, you can also give away free subscriptions. 

The process to cash out your earnings through Amazon is reportedly quite simple.

Is it for you?

I'm reminded that Barbara Corcoran started with a simple newsletter, which she made super useful, and got her started in real estate.

A paid newsletter would put you on the spot to deliver value. It would also make readers accountable for wanting to pull your content — after all, they'd vote with their wallets. I rather like the idea. More paid newsletters would help do away with the multitude of free subscriptions few read, whether they're voluntary, or volunteered.

If you've been thinking about testing some form of paid subscription, you may want to take a closer look at this new tool. Apparently, there are already more than 500 paid Letter.ly newsletters. Think beyond making your product or service information compelling.

Think about developing a must read that provides context to the industry, or exclusive news. How else would this tool be used?

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0 responses to “Would Your Content Sell?”

  1. interesting. I bet people would pay for content.
    I’ve seen pdf being sold, made from recycled blog posts, that people are buying. $150 pdfs, not $15. The information is out there, one just has to search a little.
    People want it now, and don’t want to work too hard to get whatever it is. They see value that would be worth paying for. Someone else might not.

  2. I’m fairly certain people will pay for the convenient delivery of quality information, and bloggers tend to forget that email remains the dominant “social” application online.
    The big question is whether Letter.ly has something to contribute. It’s a trivial thing to set up your own email newsletter, and there are plenty of services out there providing template creation, scheduling, metrics, and high deliverability. As far as I can see without actually subscribing a Letter.ly newsletter or setting up one of my own, none of these features are really part of Letter.ly’s portfolio. They are, however, the heart of traditional email marketing.
    I suppose Letter.ly’s big draw is twofold. It simplifies billing, and it provides a marketplace for subscription newsletters. Browsing Letter.ly’s offerings, a potential subscriber *knows* they’re all paid. No problem here overcoming the web’s expectation of Free.
    That being said, I can think of other ways to manage email subscriptions — ways that produce more attractive documents, and allow a publisher to schedule and monitor the performance of their work.
    Guess we’ll see how it goes, huh? Good luck to Letter.ly and its publishers. It’s great that people are thinking of new ways to distribute and monetize content.

  3. Valeria,
    We have to move back toward more paid content and I have a solution for how you can make it happen quickly in your field.
    The “information tsunami” is truly like a tsunami in that the wave is dragging everything it contains over the top of all of us in random fashion. Like being caught in a real tsunami, we all are feeling beaten up and out of control. We get dragged wherever the wave wants to drag us with no ability to sort the good from the bad.
    The only solution is to have paid content. But How?
    The core of the challenge is to rebuild the levels of trust we used to have when we paid for subscriptions to premium papers and premium journals and magazines in our fields. Some stil do of course but not like before.
    Part of the reason we paid for the premium journals in our fields, in my case science and engineering, was we knew that almost all the top people in the field of our interest were all subscribed to those journals.
    Subscribing to these paid journals then made us, in some fashion, feel we were an accepted member of the community of “top people in our fields”. This effect also tended to focus and direct the conversations in our fields so in general progress could be made cooperatively. It also created a place for people to propose and get attention to radically new and different ideas in a given field.
    It seems we are losing this dynamic.
    So since I’m an engineer by education it’s in my nature to propose a some kind of step toward a solution to get us back to being able to pay for and get premium, trusted content.
    If you are a leader in your field you need to start a paid-subscription journal in the following fashion.
    Immediately recruit 10 to 20 other well-known and respected leaders in your field that all will agree to engage consistently around one, paid newsletter forum and together produce content and discussion that will immediately become a “Must Read” in your field.
    What you will do here is create a powerful “gravitational pull” in the universe of your field and the rest of your profession will flock to pay to be part of that conversation. Your forum with then instantly become an authoritatively voice that people will trust.
    Deep down we all know that in the long run you get what you pay for in this universe. The ability to get high quality information quickly and for free has been a 10-year long anomaly resulting from this rare time in history when humanity transitioned from limited social connectivity and poor overall information access to a time with massive social connectivity and ‘too much’ information access.
    In the past you had to pay to get access to quality information via trusted sources because there was work involved in aggregating the quality information into one place.
    In the future you will have to pay to get access to quality information via trusted sources because there will be work involved in filtering out the quality information (the “ligan”) from the deluge of flotsam and jetsam.

  4. IMHO with the shear amount of free content available trying to charge for it would not work (look at newspapers).
    The ability to create and share is largely what fueled web 2.0 and continues to do so.
    If your charging for content what would stop me from getting else where for free?
    Is anyones content really more valuable than someone else’s?

  5. @Andy – you are correct, people prefer not to do the work to sift through information if there is a way to acquire that knowledge by downloading a resource. Useful products work.
    @Chris – quality, specialized information that solves a problem has a market, and it’s more scalable than consulting services. A simple and elegant solution to the billing problem can be a differentiator. I’ll be curious to know how Letter.ly fares. Some of the most successful and longest running newsletter don’t have pretty designs. They do have super useful information you cannot get anywhere else. One for content.
    @Roger – yes, already if I want to learn about a specific subject, I rely mostly on the knowledge and the relationships established over the years with my off line network. What you share is one potential execution. On another note, I see that you started a Twitter list of social media peeps and so far there are only guys on it. I’d be fascinated to learn the rationale. Are those the people whose content you’d pay for?
    @Susan – I see evidence every day that you don’t need to have hundreds of followers and fans to get started. You just need to address a problem in a way that nobody else is addressing. People ask me for recommendations all the time and I have still very few to give.
    @James – newspapers are not about content, they’re about news. Jut because you can write and share it doesn’t mean that the content you’re writing and sharing is valuable to people. And be my guest on going elsewhere for freebies. Charging for something valuable is a good way to screen out those who don’t have a commitment to a topic/industry/network, and community.

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