This has been the topic of discussion for a very long time, the argument of making people pay for content over giving it away. The landscape is changing rapidly, the world is and will not tolerate being forced to buy content whether it be music, files or the written word, you can’t enforce control when you need trust! It used to be that he who had control made the money, today, the good news is, that is changing, he who has less control makes more money. The bottom-line is the bottom-line, we will always try to monetize anything and everything. It seems we are very short-sighted though, we are still trying to make people do things they don’t want to do. Trying to control what people can access is not the way to go about building trust, in fact, it puts the guard up and raises questions as to motive.

One of the bigger challenges I see with making money online is, it’s not seamless enough yet, people still have to jump through far too many hoops. You would think with all the advancement in technology this would have been solved long ago. As mobile technology improves, the more and more we become mobile, the more transactions and advertising will be come seamless, it has to because we won’t tolerate what is cumbersome. Mobile advertising is where you should be developing your content, convert your free content into an app for iPad, iTunes or mobile phones and what have you. Advertising (At-vertising) is now Appvertising. The world will almost be 100% mobile in the next 5 – 7 years, focus your distribution through Appvertising. Feed your Blog content through an app, distribution is not the problem anymore, the Internet solved that for us years ago.

The easier you make it for your audience to come in, the greater return on your investment. Attention is the new currency, and in that currency there is an underlying trust osmosis component. The equation of tomorrow is:

EXPOSURE -> DISCOVERY -> COMMUNITY -> REVENUE

We are moving from selling products & services, to selling our attention, Google is doing it all the time.

The power of the future is in sharing, sharing music, sharing content, and sharing means doing it freely, not being forced to pay for that sharing. The problem is we are in the midst of a copyright gridlock (coined by Gerd Leonhard), there is much to be figured out here. Making the money happens around all that sharing, your primary content is distributed freely, this paradigm shift of Free & Open will change behaviour. The revenue change will come after the behaviour, habit & culture changes first.

Being connected scares companies and business owners, because we are going through a fundamental shift, from Closed to Open. The fear of loss is far greater than the desire for gain in this shift. It means not controlling how the money is made, the open & free marketplace means you & I are in control, we get to decide, big business doesn’t want that. So think of ideas that will allow you to maximize the Open & Free Business Model,  that will allow you to attract the right kind of attention.

We have to change our beliefs in how the world really is. Today only 25.6% of the world is here online, what will the world look like in the next 3 – 5 years when that number is over 60%? What would 5 Billion people online change in your online presence and brand? Think about that for just a moment, should you be doing things differently?

We have a Global Trust Crisis, Copyright Gridlock where the value of money needs to be re-determined, and there is so much to unlearn, but that’s what makes all this fun, the future is perfect because we haven’t screwed it up yet!

Give your audience access first before paying, Collaborate instead of Dominate, Coordinate & Cultivate instead of Command & Control, Control is Dead. We are becoming a broadband culture, we click to get before we ever pay. Access first, pay later.

I would love to hear your thoughts, my goal is to make you think, nothing more nothing less.

What do you think?

I know your scratching your head wondering what I mean by this, stay with me and let me share some thoughts on the topic. We’ve been and still are under the bondage of control & protectionism, just look at the Newspaper & Music industries as an example. I’m not opposed to the creators, writers and artists from being compensated for their work, I’m suggesting that there is and will be a better ways to ensure that compensation happens.

I’m a firm believer that making content readily available and free will create new ways of monetizing, eventually most will figure out how to monetize around that content. If the music industry is smart, they will make collective agreements with those distributing music now, especially those doing it illegally by today’s laws. Pirates if you will, are not really the enemy, they are however breaking new artists all the time, the music industry benefits while the pirate(s) don’t get paid for finding them. The model is now beginning to reverse and is becoming open, the pirate will still find and break new music while everyone else benefits including the pirate. Collaboration is far better than the closed system of control we have today in the music industry. In Matt Mason’s book The Pirate’s Dilemma: How Youth Culture Is Reinventing Capitalism (affiliate link) he states, “To compete or not to compete” that’s the question music labels have to answer. That is, to compete with the pirates not against them. The pirate is not going away so it makes more sense to change copyright to usage rights, to rewrite these binding, closed mechanisms to open collective agreements. So instead of fighting the pirate, work with them and feel the benefit, distribute the music freely through systems like Apple’s iTunes. Apple could essentially pay the labels a fee for that distribution, hence they still make there cut and everyone is happy. It sounds simplistic but it’s not, I’m merely sharing this is how it will be in the near future, I don’t know the details of making it work.

You & I won’t tolerate gate keepers and closed systems, you can’t put content behind walls and generate new money, only in an open & free environment will you make new money. Those words are Gerd Leonhard’s , he is a media futurist and his focus is the music industry. From his book called Music 2.0 he makes an interesting statement in the segment called, Access Will Replace Ownership and the Consumer Will Drive the Business:

In three to five years, consumers will have access to “their” music anytime, anywhere, and the physical possession of it will in fact be more of a handicap, or a pastime for collectors. Music will feel (and act) more like water, and music providers will become utilities.

Keep in mind this book was written prior to 2008, it is a collection of essays previously released. I’m not an authority on the music industry, I do however preach his message and see open and free as a sound business model. His new book I have yet to read but you can get it here: Friction is Fiction: The Future of Content, Media & Business (Affiliate Link)

Gary Vaynerchuk has also seen the shift long before it started, he produced 40 minute video’s on Wine Library TV and gave you the content free for 17 months before anyone really knew who he was. How do you think he is doing today, he took the family business from 3 -4 million a year to over 60 million a year doing that show. Today he has a 10 book deal due to the open & free business model, he continues to build his legacy in this new model. His goal is simple, buy the New York Jets NFL team and spend more time with his family. Gary’s message is simple, embrace who you are, your DNA, work hard, work really hard, and never give up on your passion. He doesn’t promise you you’ll make it big, nor does he claim you will be a millionaire, he does however promise, if you do what your passionate about you will win. Winning does not mean lots of money, it may however mean you will enjoy and maybe even love what you do. he preaches his message everywhere and to anyone who will listen, his book hit the New York Top Sellers List and is still available, Crush It!: Why NOW Is the Time to Cash In on Your Passion (Affiliate Link)

There are other examples of this business model working, the true test will be if and more like when Industries see the revenue streams around what they sell, how they look for gaps, create vehicles and harness the power of their audiences.

How will you embrace this new environment of Open & Free as a business model?

If your are interested in coming to one of my Open & Free Business Model Workshops, please email me Here

The Internet is filled with places to get free information, free software, free content, it’s all there for the taking. We can click and get whatever we want right? The Internet is a giant copy machine, we copy everything, imagine what would happen if you took the copy function away, you would lose the the listening function. What would happen then, revolt, maybe the hackers would be the politicians? Pirates would rule the Internet world, how would you stop them or should I say us?

Personally, I think most content should and will end up being free on the Internet, we will figure out how to monetize around that free content, we have no choice, it’s going to happen. There will be wars over intellectual rights, copyrights and royalty fights before it’s all said and done. Access will come before ownership. When we see a threat, we default to protectionism, we should be asking the question, how do we go from copyright to usage rights?

There is so much confusion as to where Social Media is taking us, it’s really reshaping Media to where the new sell is the conversation, the non tangible things matter now more than ever, this is a drastic disruption to old thinking. Why is Social Media so powerful, it’s FREE! You can join any number of Social Networks at no cost, build a following, a brand, and hopefully trust. The best thing is to sell something different like, convenience, experience and trust, generate demand, create new innovation and maybe even add value to the orginal.

Most Blogs provide free content, some have communities attached to them where you pay a small fee to be part of, they add value to a need, that’s one way of monetizing around your content. If you are going to be in this space, you have to decide if you’re going to compete.

Linus Torvalds released Linux back in 1991, Slackware was the first distro to be released, it’s a free operating system that has spawned a number companies that have figured out how to monetize something around the Open Source code. Open is good, it stirs the creative juices, it brings about innovation, and takes creativity far beyond any closed system has ever dreamed of going.

The power of free is far reaching, provides a platform to build something far greater than any one person, we must collaborate to build anything of true value in this attention space. Do you think FaceBook won’t make money from the free to join social network? Where you can be connected to thousands of people, business contacts, business owners at no charge. They will, and it will be astounding how much that will be.

Think of all the things you can get it for free, then think of all the content you can’t get for free, what’s important to you in this circle, that’s what you will pay for. But I can promise you this, if you can get for free, you will, even if it means you have to hunt for it. If you create content of any kind, offer it for free, you will harness the power of your audience. You can’t put content behind walls and generate new money, only in the open can you generate new money, and only then you will see the power of free.

One of the down sides to monetizing Blogs and websites is, they try to capture as much of your contact information as possible upfront, including credit card details. I understand why, but it also operates on the assumtion mode or that you will forget that you signed up and gave all that information. Next thing you know you are paying for something you didn’t want anymore. I’m sure I’m over reacting but, I get miffed at sites that say the 1st month is free but give me your credit card information before we give you access.

I won’t name names because just about every site selling a service or product practices this model and it really needs to be re-thoughtout (is that a word?) further in my humble opinion. I rarely sign up for services that practice the credit card collecting up front, if it’s a trial then they can come back to me when the trial is about to lapse. These days trying before buying is an even better way to go, especially with the new Social Media environment claiming transparency practices.

In the day and age of transparency & trust, we should think about the message being sent when asking for credit card information on the marketing of ” The 1st Month is on Us”. If that’s true, let us sign up and try it, if we want it, come to us later and ask us to stay on and then ask a payment method. I know you think thats bad business, but really? I think the opposite, it would tell me you are so sure of your product and you are willing to lose me if its not a good product or service. Of course this doesn’t work with all products and services but, if you are offering a trial opportunity, then make it just that, don’t charge or ask for creditcard or payment method up front.

If it’s FREE! – Don’t ask for my credit card!