That’s a VERY core question right now because if needed, I am quite happy to shift any business model.
Let’s take some examples:
- Would craigslist have taken off if people needed to pay for surfing the ads or posting them?
- What about facebook? what if it was based on a 3 months subscription model? would to work?
- What about twitter, google and the dozens of tools we use online? would people pay for them or would they simply find another way of surfing and using the net?
- How many times did you use forums online? Did you ever pay to be in a forum and get a question?
ALL THIS IS FREE!
People expect to get if for free and literally, any of these tools would be a 100 to 10000 times less used if people were asked to pay for them
Let’s make a quick check on dating sites:
- plentyoffish: 5’000’000 unique visitors – alexa rank 335!
- match.com: alexa rank 445
- lavalife: alexa 13’000
- eharmony: alexa 1300
- friendfinder: alexa 6000 unique visitors 800’000
so, verdict is VERY clear!
I mean plentyoffish does not put major effort in advertising or barnding – the site has fun features but is not that easy to use but it’s the highest ranking dating site.
So, the same site for a fee would probably be lost in the alexa 5000 area rather than where it is now.
visitors would be probably 100 times less especially because the site has very poor branding.
Now what about social networking sites?
They are ALL free, right?
- Hi5 – alexa 54
- facebook – 2
- twitter – 12
- youtube – 4
What about wikipedia? of course it’s free! would people pay to use it? of course not – other online encyclopedias who tried to get people to subscribe for a fee fail miserably. I mean not 100% but they don’t get the magnetic pull that wikipedia gets: rank: 6
The first commercial sites are amazon and ebay.
for a lot of these top players, the easiness and usability is key.
Youtube does not force a membership.
facebook does require it to be active on the site.
what is free and what is fee is a VERY subtle balance and has to do with what people are willing to pay to be on it.
When you check a site like match.com, it could very well be that such site would be massively more popular (I MEAN MASSIVELY!!!) if it was in free access.