The ‘freemium’ or ‘productized consulting’ business models are fairly common these days:
1. Have a blog, podcast, mailing list, social media account, or some combination of the above
2. Write relatively-high-level content about what you do, give it away for free, build an audience
3. Upsell that audience to your product or service. When the audience has a more complicated need, they buy it from you.
Stratechery, by Ben Thompson, is yet another example of this. And he’s very successful. In his case, he has a podcast (Exponent) and a free weekly article on Stratechery. You can subscribe for three daily updates by email for $10/month or $100/year.
I’ve gotten a ton of value from Stratechery (and Exponent) over the years — it’s a great look at how the tech industry works from a business perspective, and how the tech industry effects society at large.
However, I didn’t subscribe until about a year ago! The podcast + weekly article was providing enough value for me. I didn’t need the three ‘daily updates’ each week.
And, after a year, the daily updates are nice, but I still feel that I get much of the value from the free content Ben releases. It’s kind of a strange place to be, as a subscriber. Ben clearly provides $100/year of content for me, but I can get most of it for free without paying.
It’s like the $100 is partially a donation or Patreon – it exists to encourage Stratechery to continue being Stratechery.
Ben is definitely creating more value than he’s charging for; it’s just made me question if I should keep paying if I don’t need to. Maybe he should charge more. Or maybe he should make the public weekly articles less-frequent. Or some other combination to make me feel like the payment was necessary to gain the value provided.