About donations, free and paid content

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Free and paid content

Free content is a marketing strategy

I am no marketing expert.

Free content has been around since the dawn of time.

It needs to be a hook for paid content.

On many platforms I see the latter step implemented either via cheap referral links, social media following or visitors to your site.

Are the cents really worth it?

Wouldn’t it make more sense to make quality content paid in the beginning, instead of collecting the crumbs?

But perhaps there are other points that may influence the potential future of creator, like audience, social image, authority, word of mouth…

About donations

I’m sorry for all creators that do hard work and have 0 donations. (I am talking about small creators, with a small but growing audience)

Providing excellent educational content, and see little (or nothing) in return.

Experiment: go to your favourite creators donation page and find a nice “0$” or other ridiculously low amount.

Although they create extremely valuable content. For free.

I get that donations are inherently optional, else it would be paid content.

But I find the “conversion rate” of visitors and donations extremely worrying.

Donations depend on the “goodness” of people. It seems to me that people became greedy af and just want to consume.

Most likely I am foolish to think donations could ever work

Just as an example, since the analytics data is public: Taking a look at the conversion rate of elementary.io


I find the 0.3% conversion rate for a successful payment both exciting, but also depressing.

Now my question is: would the numbers (downloads, revenue) look different if the download was paid in the beginning? Even 2$ or 5$?

(If it would be possible with the licenses of Ubuntu/Linux)

I don’t have the answer to this, but it makes me wonder.

People want to be fed, for free


Don’t get me wrong.

I am aware that donations can’t be the only source of income, and that you need to diversify.

Certainly there are people (with a massive audience) that do somewhat well in terms of donations.

It seems that “paying with visibility” (being it on platforms, referrals etc) has become the new standard.

Those little numbers below your Twitter threads, YouTube videos, GitHub repos and so on, seem to have become the new “currency”.

What does “free” even mean?

I don’t know if it’s a consequence of how we are used to consume content nowadays: for free.

But I think it’s definitely something that needs to be fixed, although I don’t know exactly how.

With the rise of “free” services by giant corporations (do I really need to make any names?), I think we lost touch of what free really means?

Does free imply being the product perhaps? And I’m not even making any implications about privacy and personal data abuse.

Perhaps providing less free content, and, you know, sell it instead, would make the ecosystem a bit healthier?

Here, have a slice of pizza 🍕