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$20 a Month for an Online Subscription? Are You Insane?

October 8, 2018

(image via wikimedia)

Everybody on the internet is asking for money.  Websites want you to pay for subscriptions.  Artists/creators want you to give to their Paypal or Patreon accounts.  A bunch of people have GoFundMe accounts or something like that.

I have nothing against the practice of trying to get money.  I have a couple books on Amazon, but that’s it.  I don’t ask anybody to give me money just for putting up content.  I figure if enough people buy my books, I’ll write more books.  I don’t want to go too far.

But here’s an example  of somebody going too far.  I was reading an article about an odd sub-genre on a publishing website, but after one paragraph, the article was cut-off and I was asked to pay $19.95 a month for an online subscription.

I laughed out loud.  I rarely laugh out loud when I’m online.  $19.95 a month for a publisher’s site?  That takes a lot of nerve, I thought.  Publishing sites are some of the most boring sites on the internet.  This particular publishing site doesn’t even try to make things interesting.

I don’t have an issue with a website trying to get paid subscribers.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the print version were on the verge of cancellation.  Any income is a victory.  But $20 a month?  $240 a year?  Most people don’t even pay that much for porn.  I mean, they’d probably pay more for porn if they had to, but they don’t because there’s so much free stuff out there.  And if people won’t pay $20 a month for porn, they definitely won’t pay that for publishing.

I don’t want to name the website because I read it occasionally and it has never said anything bad about me.  It can be a useful site at times. It’s boring, but so am I, so I understand where it’s coming from.  The $19.95 a month subscription is probably the first time I’ve had an emotional reaction to the site (besides yawning).

I’m almost outraged.  I almost want to go to their offices and scream as people walk to the elevator.  “$20 A MONTH?  ARE YOU INSANE?”

I won’t go to restaurants and shout at them while they eat, but I might yell at an elevator.  And then I’d apologize for being rude.

I’ve had subscriptions to comic books (when I was a kid) and magazines (when I was an adult), and I always had to cancel them because the quality seemed to decline once they got my money.  I mean, it’s been a while since I’ve had a magazine subscription, but I know I never paid that time period’s equivalent of $20 a month for a magazine subscription.

The whole point of a subscription years ago was to save money.  Now it’s to get access.  But you can always find the information cheaper, most of the time for free.  If I were an online publishing website that absolutely had to try to get paid subscribers, I’d probably go for around $5.00 a month.

To be fair, I’m not sure how much I’d be willing to pay for an online subscription to a website.  I buy books.  I buy an occasional magazine.  I buy indie ebooks.  But I have a tough time subscribing to online content.

Netflix costs around $10 a month.  I might complain about the negative effects of streaming and binge watching, but Netflix has way more interesting stuff that that publishing website.  YouTube Premium, with some original content and no ads, is $10 a month and has way more interesting stuff than the publishing website.  Maybe the creators of the publishing site think their content is valuable.  To somebody else, it might be.  I don’t know.

Now I’m constantly visiting the website just to make sure the subscription rate hasn’t changed.  By doing that, I’ve probably doubled the site’s traffic and increased its ad revenue.  Maybe the subscription rate plan wasn’t so stupid after all.

  1. I think a part of the plan was to get people outraged over the price of the subscription, so that they’d post and tweet about it, naming the site, and increasing the number of visits by making other people curious about just how boring and overpriced the site really is.

  2. And then of course, as you said, the other subscriptions out there that you need. $20 for this site, and $10 for Netflix, and money for news site you paid because you’re afraid for the death of necessary and good quality journalism, and then the dollars here and there to help your friend’s up and coming site or project…etc etc.

    • One of the reasons I spend so much time online is to avoid the real people asking me for money.

      Now I’ve got everybody online asking me for money too.

  3. $20 is a lot – I mean, really a lot. I’ve never paid that much for anything. And Netflix is definitely worth the subscription – doubt you could say the same for this site

    • I guess that’s the question content creators should ask themselves before pricing their subscriptions:

      Is my content worth more than Netflix?

      • I wonder how they do price their content – pluck a price out of the air or seriously think they’re worth that much?

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