All companies involved in content creation and management face a major problem which will only worsen over time — how can we compete with the increasing amounts of free content? Rather than bemoaning the flood of freely available content, take the opportunity now to strategize more creative ways to monetize your content in the future.
Put yourself in the position of the content consumer. If you were them, which content would you be willing to pay for and what types of content would you expect to be free? As you come up with answers, also directly poll your content consumers for their thoughts on paid versus free content.
Counter Free Content with Quality Content
One way you can compete with free content is by differentiating your content based on its accuracy, timeliness, relevance, viewpoint and insight. If you’ve not already identified unique selling points for your content versus that of your competitors — free or paid — now is the time to do so. You may also look to partner with other content companies to provide compelling paid content which draws on your combined strengths.
If you’re selling your content to audiences as a reliable source of up-to-date information, then you must ensure that is indeed the case. Do you have the necessary checks and balances in place within your organization to result in the production of error-free and consistent content? There’s no faster way for a content company to lose a paying audience than failing to deliver on what it's promised. You may need to rethink some of your workflow processes and invest in digital governance tools if you haven’t already done so.
Charge Differently for Must-Have Versus Nice-to-Have Content
Think about how your audience will use your content. Is the information you provide a must-have data source or more of a nice-to-have? If the former, charging for your content, which may come with its own guarantees or certifications of quality, is likely to be an easier argument to make to your audience than the latter. That said, there are also audiences out there who will readily pay for an opinionated or entertaining take on a specific topic or a more general worldview.
We will also continue to see the growth of new types of media companies where a brand is built around a single person. Content, in this case, may be available free of charge and act as a driver to encourage the audience interested in that individual to buy branded products or to pay for branded events.