The Passing Lane: Passing the Competition Online by Marnie Perhson

Issue #16 Monday, January 18,1999

About the Author:

Marnie Perhson
Marnie Pehrson, founder of C.E.S. Business Consultants and the
International Association of Computer Professionals, develops products that help computer professionals market and manage their businesses.

She is author of
How to Run a Successful Computer Training Business,

How to Get & Keep Customers for Your Computer-based Business

Keeping Your Sanity in a Home Business.

Marnie also develops business plans, marketing strategies, financial projections, & proposals for Internet projects. Her plans and strategies have garnered clients an average of $100,000 each in seed capital.

Marnie lives on a Georgia farm with her husband and their six children .

C.E.S. Business Consultants
Ringgold, Georgia
TEL: 706-866-2295


Making the Pay-for-Content Model Pay

Some "experts" say that charging subscriptions or admission fees for access to web content does not work. There are also those who feel that everything on the Internet should be free. However, there are some sites like the Wall Street Journal, and my own site, that market content successfully. What are some of the main keys that make a "pay-per-content" model successful?

You have to add value above and beyond just content. For example, our association not only provides content to members, but also gives them credibility because they agree to a code of ethics and receive use of our membership seal. We also give them advertising on our site, such as listings under various categories and banner ads and spotlight them on the site.

We add a very personal touch to our content by giving members the sense that we're holding their hand and helping their computer businesses grow. Deriving profit from a "pay-for-content" model alone can be difficult, but when you add other intrinsic benefits, you've got a winner.

With so much information available for free why would anyone pay for what you offer?

  • Many professionals see their time as money. How many people have the time/effort to spend weeding through the ever-growing number of web sites to find what they need? A profitable "pay-for-content" site has the information all prepared for subscribers in one place. Also, by sorting through the hype and biased information for them, you save subscribers hours of on-line research time. The busy individual will perceive this as a valuable service.
  • People will pay for hard-to-find information. If your content is exclusive, customized or perceived as vital, people will pay for the use of or access to it. Also, some people simply don't know how to research and find information on the Web; they are willing to pay you to do it for them.

If you're selling content on the Web, give visitors a taste of what you have to offer. This can be done in these two ways:

  • Trial memberships: If your information changes frequently, this is a good way to go. For example, if you offer customized daily alerts on various topics, you could give visitors access to your information for a trial period (2 weeks or a month). The try-before-you-buy approach is an effective tool here.
  • Offer excerpts: If you are selling a book or a newsletter, you can offer excerpts of it on your site to give people a taste of what they will find in the full publication.

Not all "pay-for-content" sites make money, but there are those that do. Use these tips to get you started. If you have questions or need help, e-mail me at

Text Copyright © 1999, Marnie Pehrson. Part of the original Sideroad.
The new Sideroad is now receiving traffic at