As Posnanski continues his quest to figure out how newspapers will work in the future, Jay at Fack Youk wonders how blogs are going to work. After several very worthwhile paragraphs about what a person’s bookshelf says about them and the arguable irrelevance of books when you’re blogging your butt off every day, Jay asks a question all of us who do this to ourselves ask from time to time:
What if blogs charged for their RSS feeds? It would be worth $1 a month to me to not have to go to a site and check for updates. I constantly hear people talking about the untapped taxable resource that marijuana represents, but it’s not like the alcohol industry is dying out. With the foundation of the print media crumbling under our feet, I don’t hear nearly enough people proposing ways to monetize the amazing amount of content being written out there on the Long Tail.
I’ll put my money where my mouth is. Who wants my dollar per month? Craig, I’ve already told you I’d pay to read ShysterBall. River Ave. Blues, ditto. I would certainly have to pare down on the number of feeds I subscribe to, but the money those people would make from the subscription fees would make their content better. The best bloggers could make a living from writing and not have to work around a full-time job like many currently do.
Following that are several more good paragraphs about what’s wrong with advertising and why cable TV is eating broadcast’s lunch.
There’s a lot of good stuff in there and I just wish I was smart enough to have some intelligent responses. In the meantime, I keep coming back to the idea that if I had anything approaching a good guess what the reader attrition rate would be if I started to charge for it, I’d consider it. But I really don’t, and until then — since I’m a pessimist — I fear that charging for content would lead to me getting a solid income stream of, like, $500 a month with everyone else abandoning me for freer content. And really, that would be the worst of both worlds: not enough money to live on, not enough eyes to feel like I’m contributing to the greater baseball conversation out there.
Ultimately, it’ll sort itself out. The key, I think, is for guys like me and Jay and Jason and Mark and Ron and Lar and everyone else plugging away at this thing to just hang on and keep plugging until it does.