Charging Membership for your websiteI know many small business owners who began charging membership fees for their website use. In most cases this ended up driving people off to competitors' websites and they lost traffic, sales and attention. You need to remember that you are not the only site on the web offering whatever service you have. If people can get that same type of content elsewhere, why would they pay you for your content?
The answer is that you have to show them there is a value in what you offer. Take newspapers. Many newspapers give today's content for free but charge for access to previous content. A person who wants that will pay for it, just like they pay for the paper. They can read the current content to know it's of value to them. So they then know that the previous content will be valuable as well.
Many sites that succeed have levels of membership. The primary level is always free and lets people learn about the system and its quality without any commitment. But the higher levels of membership get more benefits - benefits that are easily understandable and well worth it. Maybe you run a ratings website that rates cars. All members might be able to see the basic ratings - but paying members might be able to see a breakdown of ratings based on crash tests, reliability and so on. The members who get used to your system and really like it will be willing to pay a bit extra to get to that extra information.
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