Your Premium Content Deserves a Premium Value

Written by
Sam Lucas
July 30, 2020

(Value, not donations) 

Why has content historically been expected to be free? We post videos on YouTube, songs on Soundcloud, and podcasts on Stitcher and are forced to seek advertisers to make a buck, or simply be happy with collecting views and calling our work a passion project. But to our favor, the industry is experiencing a major shift for the independent creator. A willingness from consumers to pay. 

There is a time and place for free content and there always will be! Free content is best used for marketing purposes to drive traffic to a product for sale. This is the traditional business model for brands selling hard goods. And these brands are the advertisers using your content to drive traffic to their goods. But what happens when we differentiate content from marketing collateral and define our content as a product in and of itself? A digital product. 

Enter “premium content.” Not all content needs to be free, available to the world, and blemished by ads. And not all creators need to entertain advertisers and brand integrations to sustain their creative business. 

Premium content is content that costs money to view such as renting an iTunes movie for $3.99, purchasing a video on Vimeo for $9.99, or a TV Series that you stream on Netflix as part of your monthly subscription. Premium content can be simply defined as content that can only be viewed behind a paywall, or credit card transaction. 

We all have premium content; that podcast series, web series, documentary, behind the scenes vlog, you name it.

Think about your existing catalog of content, wherever you host it, and the content that you are most proud of or has experienced the highest viewership. Think about your vision for your business and your next series, script, or concept and the entertainment or educational value that it will create for your audience. 

High quality production isn’t cheap. It costs both time and money, and your premium content deserves a premium value--all while remaining independent and maintaining full ownership of your brand. 

The biggest question is how? How do you go about earning money for your work? Where do you distribute and which content do you post for free vs. behind a paywall? You have options.

If you are just getting started in the production world, like many of us, you might start out by seeking donations on Patreon, although you will be diluting the value of your content and never truly defining yourself as a business, a “premium content” creator, or brand. 

You might go the custom private labeled route by working with VimeoOTT or USCreen to control the entire experience, and customize everything, although this option comes with a 5 figure price tag to get started, and high monthly costs and IT resources necessary to host and operate. 

If you are an executive producer with major Hollywood connections, you might start by shopping your concept to the major streaming services to sign an exclusive licensing deal, although you will lose ownership and creative control.

Or in our biased opinion, you choose Special; the perfect blend between a Netflix quality subscription streaming experience for your audience, the simplicity of getting started like Patreon, and the customization and configuration flexibility of your own private labeled app like VimeoOTT. All in one platform.

On Special, you control your earning potential with direct-to-fan subscription memberships eliminating the need for advertising, exclusive licensing deals, and high overhead costs.

It’s free to get started, and you are in full ownership and control of your creative business. 

Once you have researched a platform for your premium content, start planning your content strategy. Which videos will you publish behind a paywall and how often will you post new content? What do you believe is the right subscription price for exclusive access to your content and community? 

If you're on Special, we recommend that you continue to post a subset of content for free in order to be discovered on YouTube and social media in the form of teasers, episode 1s, or easy to produce content. The same way content has been used to promote an advertiser’s goods, you are now the owner of digital goods; your premium content. Use this free content as marketing material to drive your traffic to your premium content on Special. 

New viewers will have the opportunity to subscribe directly to you at the monthly or annual subscription price that you set to experience unlimited, ad free viewing of your premium content. 

Consider the costs of new series and episode production, costs of growing your business, and how many subscribers that you expect to acquire. You can use our subscription revenue calculator to see what you can earn with monthly subscriptions. 

Once you have determined your subscription price, we will handle the rest with secure payment processing and end-to-end subscription billing

What does “end-to-end” mean? We take care of automated recurring billing, automated churn & failed payment prevention, fraud protection, multi-currency payouts, and tax calculations so you can focus on what matters most--producing your best work for the audience that loves what you do!

Most importantly, using our Earnings & Payout dashboards, you have full transparency into your revenue, fees, and subscriber’s lifetime value. 

At the end of the day, your creative business needs predictable and sustainable revenue to grow so you can focus on what is most important: creating new content, increasing production quality, and producing authentic content demanded by your most loyal audience. 

A subscription business model isn’t for everyone, but if you can easily envision and differentiate your free content from your premium content, give it the value it deserves and grow your paying audience on Special. 


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