Hi, this must be my first post on k5 for a year . .
How does 5$ US a month stack up against a regular magazine subscription?
Firstly, I guess 5$ is above the level at which you can sub to Fortune, Forbes, or any print magazine for that matter
Not saying these are directly comparable, but for starters, k5 has not the editorial bureax that even a small regular magazine has. User comments have a more vicarious value - quality, quanity, acuracy and content are not as manageable or easy to anticipate..
Web logs are still of main interest to participants. Put something in, get something back. There's an element of paying for one's own work in the subscription.
Bandwidth for adverts. In physical magazines, the publisher discounts toe sub to pay for print and pulp costs, trying to get a clear ride on advertising revenues. But the impression of the subscriber discount from news stand sales to the reader is very strong. Often 60% or more. The publisher likes suscribers even at very low rates, even at giveaway, because stats are, well, more static, than online, and that feeds back into advertising rates, usually positively. With online media, there is no equivalent of subscribing to a magazine. The reader still is paying one way or another for their connectivity.
That last point in the para above, is worth noting. It needs fixing before anyone but secondary (indirect, ulterior motivated) monopoly seekers or aggressive concentrators of access and "portals" can enter online media sucessfully. ISPs feed nothing back from their own subscriptions. It's like publishing the NY Times, then giving it away free each day, then the publisher paying to have it delivered for you. Hard to do, even though I expect a few big news sites have peering agreements by now.
Transactional costs havebeen mentioned elsewhere.
Content, editorial focus and consistency. OSDN noted a change in focus. Ever seen a magazine do this? I have, but not without lots of marketing, soul searching, new investment and usually in the end, failure. To keep a subscriber base, you have to keep developing specific interests and constituencies. K5 has to a certain extent opened up sections, like the Sunday newspapers. But these are at th emoment just semantic splits. You have to develop and promote a section. Imagine if the Sunday Times (UK) had all of a sudden introduced 20 sections on the areas that interested the editors? How could any one of those be strong enough to attract new readers, let alone grab and refocus a valuable reader / subscriber constituency who might have been orphaned by strictly adhereing to the Pareto's Rule of payng interest?
I'l stop here, though I could go on. As a small community site, I liked k5 a *lot*. But when you ask for a subscription, you are declaring commercial values, which have to be backed up. There are plenty of diferences between a site like 5 and a newspaper, but subscriptions are very new to the online world, and even newer to user contributed sites. It may be needed to defer to commercial sensibilities. Subscription is a act bound in a word dominated by print. So subscribers have different expectations. Meet those at a consistent level, and then promote aggressively the aspects fo k5 which have made it good. Do *not* let the users do the talking for you if you are changing focus all the time, or cannotdirect that in some smal part, else you risk non representative commentary, and lurkers or alienated early readers will be put off.
Some thoughts from an old hack. Flame away if that's your wont.
p.s. when you say on your subscription page "5 lousy dollars a month . . " it's hard not to take that as rude, if not insulting. Solicit business. Don't heckle for it. Sell stuff, don't pester.