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Online publisher says this is the perfect time to start charging for website subscriptions.

The trend from "free" to "fee" is gaining momentum, according to Peter Schaible, director of the Subscription Website Publishers Association.

If you're already publishing information free on your website, now is the ideal time to convert at least a portion of the content to fee-paid access, he said.

"This is the perfect time to start charging access to your website. Information seekers are getting accustomed to the change, just as they have learned to pay for premium content on TV."

This trend away from websites offering free information and toward a subscription, or pay-for-access, business model has several causes, Schaible said.

* "First, only a few websites operated by big companies can afford to provide valuable content without being compensated. And trying to recapture expenses by selling advertising on websites has failed to pay the bills. Online advertising and click-through rates are on the decline."

* "Second, in the current political and social climate, there is heightened anxiety and concern about privacy. However, in the seclusion of a subscribers only website, you can share ideas with an affinity group of like-minded people with less fear of ridicule or repercussions.

"The result has been a proliferation of private, members-only, subscription websites and online newsletters--virtual 'gated communities'--covering literally hundreds of diverse and specialized topics."

What is SWEPA?

The Subscription Website Publishers Association is a commercial organization "that exists to support online publishing by providing education, training, and industry recognition," according to its mission statement.

Peter Schaible, owner of SunDance New Media, is executive director and editor. To learn more about the association, visit its website,

Annual membership is $187, which includes four special reports on online publishing and promotion and on teleseminars.

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Publication:The Newsletter on Newsletters
Date:Jul 31, 2003
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