Have you ever search for an article online and realised that you have to pay a certain amount in order to have access to the whole essay?

I believe every student has encountered that problem. So, did you pay to read that article? Personally, I would not want to waste that money.

Why would I want to pay for an article where I can substitute it with other available researches that have the similar contents to my objectives and they are free-of-charged?

However, there are still certain things that I would not mind to pay for. One example would be music. If I am a fan of a particular singer, I would not mind to pay for their albums. First, I can have good quality music. Second, I am crediting the singers for the effort that they put into production.

I am not trying to say that those journalists do not put in effort into their article. Of course they do put in hard work. However, different people are willing to splurge on different kind of things.

The bar chart below shows the number of consumers who would consider paying or have already paid for the different categories of online content.


[Image from the Nielsen Company]

As marketers, we need to be fully aware of the advantages and disadvantages of allowing people to have free access to our content. Not only we want to gain maximum exposure, we also have to be able to help the company earn money.

So, what are the benefits and drawbacks for providing free-form content?

The Benefits:

  1. People are able to link to your content and share it with others. Be it through Twitter, blogs, and etc.
  2. You will have higher chances in appearing in search engine, such as Google.
  3. Your content and ideas will spread faster and further.
  4. It will build more visitors to your site, which increases the traffic.

The Drawbacks:

  1. You have lesser control of your target market, as it is available for everyone.
  2. Inconsistent lead volume. Paid content are able to gain more accurate forecast that can be achieved from past performance, whereas, free-form contents are unable to collect accurate data.

Therefore, in order to decide whether you want to charge people for the content you provide, you have to know which stage you want to be in. According to HubSpot Blogs, there are a total of three stages, the Awareness stage, Evaluation stage, or Purchase stage.

You can read more information about the different stages here.

So, would you charge for the online content that you provide?


Eridon, C. (2012). The Pros and Cons of Form-Free Content (And Which to Choose). HubSpot Blogs. [Accessed: 9th December 2014]

Nielsen. (2010). CHANGING MODELS A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE ON PAYING FOR CONTENT ONLINE. Nielsen. [Accessed: 9th December 2014]



  1. Hi Ruhuan,

    Personally, I will not pay to retrieve information online too. After all, there are still other forms of platform we can research for the information (like the library).

    However, with so many platforms providing information and many are those that can easily be edited by any users of the web, there’s a certain limit we can trust what we see on the web. After all, they might be opinions from a biased source which we are unaware of. How can we make sure we get the correct information? If every website says differently, how do we know which is the correct one we should refer to?


  2. Hello Ruhuan! As a music lover, sometimes I do pay for the albums of my favourite singers too! In the past, people buy albums to show their support for their favourite singer. Because of open access, people no longer buy albums anymore. As i always dreamt of being a singer in the past (not anymore), I would want people to buy my music to show their support and of course, enough for me to pay my bills.

    From the chart you have given, it shows that there are less than 10% of consumers who already paid for newspapers. Whereas there are more than 10% of the consumers that paid for movies and games. Why would getting knowledge and global happenings around us be less necessary to pay than entertainment (Games and movies)? Content producers for newspapers need to pay for journalist, publishing fees and many credible research to support their news. I feel that the amount of work and quality given to readers by content producer of newspapers deserve much more credits (fees). I feel that there should be paywalls for news because its credible and publishing fees for these content producer are rather costly as well. Do you agree?


    1. Hi Sylvia,

      Thanks for your comment.

      As to your question, I believe that it is quite debatable. Personally I feel that general knowledge such as news is a form of need. The Government needs you to know what is happening in the world. Whereas, entertainment such as games and movies is a form of want. It is not a must to have it. You only pay if you want it.

      Besides, there are many other ways for people to hear about the general news without spending a single cent, such as through radios, televisions and other online websites. Therefore, people are less likely to pay for it.

      I do agree that it is costly to publish the articles. However, many of us are paying taxes for the journalist to do their researches. Hence, they are sort of funded by us. Moreover, with so many competitions out there, journalist can only gain recognition only if their articles are creative and much more interesting than the ones from the well-recognised companies. However, content producers can gain exposure from providing free content and earn revenues from other sources.

      An example would be “The Guardian”, whom does not create pay-wall for their content. They mentioned that, “A pay-wall MIGHT make a little money – we will make a lot.”

      Hope my reply is able to clear your doubt.


      Andrews, R. (2010). Mail Online: ‘Why we’re staying free’. The Guardian. [Accessed: 10th December 2014]

      Indvik, L. (2013). ‘The Guardian’. We ‘re Not Planning on a Paywall. Mashable. [Accessed: 10th December 2014]


    2. Hi Yanyi,

      Thanks for your comment.

      I do agree with you that there are many different platforms that provide information on what we are looking for. Some may be true, some may be false. However, there are many ways in which we could tell if a website is credible.

      An obvious way to tell if the website is reliable is through the domain names. For instance, domain such as .edu (which represent education sites such as university or colleges) and .gov (represents government website) are definitely credible sources for information.

      Another obvious way is to take a look at the writing styles. Poor spelling and grammar are an indication that the site may not be credible.

      However, it is always good to do more research so that you are able to ensure that the information you find is reliable.

      There are also many other ways you can use to check if the website is credible. Take a look at those websites under the references.

      Hope that my reply is able to clear your doubt.


      P. M. (2013). How can I tell if a website is credible? Computing & Information Technology. [Accessed: 10th December 2014]

      Sarokin, D. (2014). How to Determine Website Credibility. eHow. [Accessed: 10th December 2014]


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