10 step recipe for monetizing on content – the Engineering Weekly case

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Most news-sites face one big challenge: Content is king – or so they say – but how to make money from it?

Danish news-site www.ing.dk (Engineering Weekly) has a good shot at it. As the only website I’ve been able to find, they’ve optimised themselves to Google, making premium content searchable in full length – but only gives a way first 200 characters for free when users eventually click their links. And they take full advantage of this fact.

Here’s what to do, to do it the ing.dk way:

  1. You take one high-quality niche content site
  2. Design it nicely, with well-integrated nice and large bannerads
  3. Draw users to your site by making your site search-engine friendly
  4. Put up a barrier, so visitors, who find the site at Google, only see the headline, the first 200 characters or so and the usergenerated comments (and of course the bannerads)
  5. Tell the visitors they have to log in using password to read the whole story. This of course is an obstacle, but also makes content more valuable in the eyes of the visitors.
  6. Give the visitors 2 weeks for free when signing up
  7. Make your daily email newsletter a part of the sign-up process. This ensures that visitors, if the content of your site is relevant, will come back for more.
  8. Ask for a suitable amount of demographic information in the sign-up process (but keep the process short!). This will help you sell ads – and get higher prices
  9. Have other nice ads in your email newsletter, which the visitor receives daily until opting out again. And keep most of the stuff in the newsletter non-premium. This makes it more likely the visitor will keep receiving the newsletter even when his free subscription ends.
  10. After 2 weeks give the visitors a good offer on subscribing to your site. (Actually you might want to make it free, after all, depending on the nature of your site. 10 (now addicted) free-riding regularly returning visitors might generate more revenue from ads than one visitor paying full price).

Most of this is plain and simple. Just do it. The most tricky part is how much you can charge – if anything – for the content. But keep it behind a password protected barrier – you don’t want to miss the chance of having the visitor signing up to your newsletter and providing you with additional info on him.

If they’re actually making money at ing.dk I don’t know. But the trick about having the site fully indexed by Google and yet keeping content behind passwords and logins might very well be the way to go for at lot of other websites. You know: the ones with content as king but no revenue streams.

Want to see how the Google thing works? Look at this Google screendump resulting from searching airbus serial number “MSN009” and motor type “Trent 900” – number and name not included in the first 200 characters of the article in question. (Strangely enough neither The Economist, Financial Times nor other premium content sites seems to have implemented the method – yet!).