Another thing that Cory Doctrow talked about last night that I’ve been pondering ever since is how he releases his novels for free online as well as in hard copy. He spoke how this has worked really well for him and is probably the reason that he’s sold so many books.
His theory is that the reason most authors don’t sell many books is because no one has ever heard of them. Giving their stuff away for free and encouraging people to share it actually works in favor of the author because it puts their work in the hands of more people – a percentage of which are likely to purchase it.
To put it another way – the biggest threat of an author isn’t piracy – it’s obscurity.
I’ve been pondering this as it relates to bloggers on two levels.
1. The failed Micro Payment Business Model – When I first started investigating how to blog for money I came across a number of bloggers who were talking up ‘micro payments’ as a way to make a living from blogs. Their theory was that they would charge many people a small amount to have access to their blogs. The theory was that loads of little payments would add up to a big pay cheque.
Of course this micro payment business model has been tried by many and has not succeeded in almost every case I can think of. One of the main problems is that people are unwilling to pay for information that they can get for free elsewhere unless it has some extra value added to it. Micro payments might work for some but it’s usually only the case when the person collecting the payments has something exclusive to offer.
What has ended up overtaking the ‘micro payment’ business model for most bloggers making money from blogs is a model that freely gives readers the content that they wish to view. In doing so two things of value potentially happen for the blogger. Firstly they have the opportunity to sell space on their blog (advertising) and secondly they have the opportunity to sell themselves (in a sense) on their blog.
It’s this second option that fits quite nicely with Cory’s theory and we are increasingly seeing bloggers explore ways of leveraging the profile that they’ve built on their blogs through book deals, consulting work, speaking opportunities, e-products etc
2. RSS Feeds – The second area I’ve been pondering Cory’s theory in is in the age old debate of full or partial RSS feeds. I’ve been wondering how it stacks up.
While I don’t think it’s completely transferrable into arguing a case for full feeds I have felt for some time now that the ‘ideal’ is to publish full feeds in most cases. Of course this is complicated by the fact that it’s becoming increasingly common for people to reproduce other people’s content as their own.
I’ve long expressed being torn over the issue but have decided to go with a hunch and switch ProBlogger over to full feeds on a trial basis. This is partially as a result of lots of thinking and partially as a result of the poll that I ran here a couple of months back that showed that of those ProBlogger readers who cared either way – the majority wanted full feeds.
I’ll be tracking the results of the switch on a number of levels and will make a final decision in the month or two ahead.