Why Pay For Information?

Posted on 1/15/2010 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

With all the free information available on the Internet why would or should anyone want to pay for information?

Many consumers believe that writers should give away their work in order to build a following of customers who will then pay them for some other product or service they provide. Most would acknowledge that some effort and expense is required on the part of the creator to produce good, useful information, but too often such writings are not deemed to be of any economic value.

Photographers tend to supply information on their blogs as a way of getting customers to hire them for assignment work, for paid speaking engagements or as a way of selling a book. The other way to earn revenue is to generate enough traffic to ones site that advertisers will pay to surround your information with ads in hopes that some or your popularity will rub off on them. Few, adopt the approach of asking readers to pay directly for information of interest, rather than using some back door method to receive compensation for their efforts.

I’ve been in the photography business for more than 50 years. For more than 20 of those years, I have been writing Selling Stock, a regular newsletter about the stock photo industry. It started out in print and went online in 1995. Readers have always paid for the service -- currently $195.00 for an annual subscription. I’ve never accepted advertising believing that if the information has value the consumer should be willing to pay for it. Over the years I have developed contacts, expertise and perspective that my readers find useful and beneficial. Currently, I earn my entire living from writing about the stock photo industry. I'm no longer taking pictures or doing photo assignments. My intellectual property is all I have to sell.

Recently, I’ve come to realize that the problem with subscription services, be they magazine, newspaper or online, is that the customer pays upfront, without a solid idea as to what, specifically, will be delivered in the future. Readers base their decisions on the reputation of the publication or the authors, but they don’t really know what they will get. A fairer system would be to give readers specific information about each individual story before asking them to pay for the ones they want to read. Thus, I’ve launched http://photolicensingoptions.com, a new service that offers the reader the opportunity to pay for only those stories of specific interest, and nothing else.

Here’s how it works. Readers can go to the site at any time and see a list of stories with brief summaries. They can search for stories by keyword, category, author or date. All this is for FREE. If they choose they may receive a FREE once-a-week email providing a brief summary of all new stories available. Readers will be able to review author biographies for FREE. Once they find a story they would like to read in its entirety, they will be asked to pay a dollar or two.

The payment system is based on credits. Listed under each story’s headline is the number of credits required to read it. When an interested reader double clicks on the headline he will be asked to purchase credits or log in and credits will automatically be deducted from his account. There is no need to purchase credits until you want to read a story. There are various credit packages with the smallest being 20 credits for $25.00. Depending on the credit package you choose the price to read a story may be as low as $0.85.

PhotoLicensingOptions will deal with every conceivable ways photographers can earn income from their work, not just stock photography, although there is a heavy emphasis on stock in the stories currently available. There will be stories written by experts, in every aspect of the photography business.

For the time being we will continue to operate www.selling-stock.com as well. Those who like to read everything I write will find the annual or semi-annual subscriptions a little cheaper than buying all the stories one at a time. And they will get the breaking news information Selling Stock delivers on a daily basis. PhotoLicensingOptions will contain information from a much larger group of contributing authors, each with expertise in a particular aspect of the business. Every one of Jim Pickerell’s stories will appear in both Selling Stock and PhotoLicensingOptions.

Those interested in learning more about the business aspects of photography, or just keeping up-to-date on new developments and trends have two choices. They can either rely totally on free information, or occasionally pay for certain information. When making this decision it is important to consider quality and convenience.

Many of the photographers with unique knowledge who are capable of supplying well researched, quality information based on years of experience simply won’t take the time to make such information available unless they are paid. If readers want their insights they’re going to have to compensate them in some way.

The convenience factor is also important. Your time is valuable. You can spend all day searching blogs for useful information. We’re going to try to supply such information with a minimum of irrelevant chatter in one convenient location. If you don’t look at the best blogs every day a good story may be buried by the time you get a chance to check out the blog. If you’re exploring a new area of the business you may not know what the best blogs are. If the topic of a particular story is of interest to you six months after it first appeared, it can often be very hard to find that story when you need it. Also, you may have missed a story the first time around because that issue wasn’t on your radar when it was published initially.

Using Google for search can often be very frustrating, if you are unable to quote an exact phrase that appeared in the story. A single keyword often results in way too many unrelated hits that are only marginally connected to what you need.

Some of the articles on PhotoLicensingOptions that you’ll be asked to pay to read will also be available for free on the author’s blog. In such cases you are more than welcome to go to the authors web site (find it in the author bio) and search for the article. We believe many readers will find it more convenient to pay the author a small fee for making the article available on our site, rather than going through the extra hassle, but that’s the readers choice.

Copyright © 2010 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


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