People Will Pay for Content
Posting NSFW content on Patreon has lead to a stunning revelation on my part. It happened when I noticed the reaction when a new Patreon backer doesn’t find the NSFW content to his or her liking. Instead of downshifting the pledge from $10 to a lower level that avoids the spicy content (like a monthly pledge of $1 or $5), they delete the pledge entirely.
Stop and think about that.
Keep in mind that many — well over 90% — of my backers registered with Patreon so they could back my campaign. They had no previous pledges with any other Patreon campaigns. Most (if not all) of them saw the promotion for NSFW content on my site (or on my social media) and decided it was worth $10 to try it out. They were already readers of the PG-13 version of my comic on my (free) website.
I’ve done a good job of keeping the vast majority of my patrons, but the ones that didn’t stay… they cancelled their pledge all together instead of reducing it.
What does that tell you? Does it prove the age-old axiom from the Broadway musical Avenue Q?
But, to me, it’s an indicator of something far more interesting.
Let’s start with the assumption that my NSFW content is worth $10 — and the fact that they registered with Patreon to pledge tells me that it had a perceived worth of $10 at the very least. Then isn’t my PG-13 content worth one lousy dollar a month?
My first reaction was that people were willing to pay for porn, but not for other types of online entertainment.
But it’s not really a question between NSFW content and SFW content. It’s not about the sex.
It’s about scarcity.
There’s only one way to read my NSFW content, and that’s by paying through Patreon to read it.
You can read my SFW content without paying.
It’s as simple as that.
Given the choice between paying and not paying, I choose not paying every time. So do you.
And most of my readers are telling me that they’re not even willing to pay one dollar a month over free.
But they’ve already proven that they would pay for my content — as long as if my content has the worth
That’s an important consideration. You’ve got to be delivering great comics. If the quality isn’t there. If you’re not delivering top-quality content, you’ll never be able to get people to pay for it.
I think that means we’re headed towards an Internet landscape that is highly more receptive to subscription content.
But readers are not going to volunteer.
Waaaaaay back at the beginning of webcomics, there was an online collective called Modern Tales. This group has a unique subscription-based business plan in which the most-recent-two weeks of a member’s comic were available on the site for free, but only subscribers could view the comic’s archive.
It didn’t survive.
But we’re on a very different Internet than we were in 2001.
It’s been months since Patreon released its API, and — to be honest — I’m surprised that more WordPress plug-ins haven’t been released to extend Patreon functionality to WordPress sites. But it’s just a matter of time. Once you can identify a Patreon backer — by pledge level — when he or she visits your site, it’s a small matter to delineate sections that patrons have access to — leaving non-patrons without access.
At that time, we’ll see whether the Modern Tales business model was actually flawed — or whether it was simply ahead of its time.