In the late 90s and early 2000s, Tom Green was one of the most recognizable names in the realm of comedy and was known for his roles in several Hollywood movies as well as his own comedy show, which he hosted on his website.
Initially, clips from his show were available for free to those who signed up to his emailing list. Shortly thereafter, Tom Green decided to put all his content behind a paywall, meaning even fans who had been following his work for over a decade now had to pay to view his content.
Shortly following this period, YouTube, which had just launched and was quickly gaining traction, approached Tom Green, asking him if he would like to upload clips from his popular show “Tom Green Tonight”. Being committed to his pay-to-view model, he refused and, as you may have guessed, his popularity began to drop rapidly, as his once loyal fans found other, free, comedic content to enjoy.
Now, the world of eCommerce and brand building differs significantly from the comedy scene of the early 2000s – a point that isn’t lost on me. However, this story provides us with a good example of how commitment to a hard paywall can alienate a loyal fan base, causing them to look for other creators who make it easier to access their content.
Even if you decide to put up a paywall, consider providing free access to premium content from time to time, a gesture that won’t go unnoticed by your loyal readers.