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Invision Community "Medium" business model application


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Hey team! @Jordan Invision here. Slipping into my other account on Sunday funday to see what your thoughts are on this idea I've been thinking about. 

For many years, I've been interested in removing ads from my forum, but I think the standard subscription model for my community wouldn't go over well. I don't have any concrete proof, just a hunch. 

Now, if my members could actually earn money via Stripe for posting engaging content within our rules, that would be epic.

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Recently, I've been writing articles on Medium. Their business model (to me) is brilliant. Everyone wins: Medium, the publisher and the readers. 

They explain in detail what it is (if interested check this out).

In a nutshell it's this:

  • A subscription model at $5 per month for unlimited reading
     
  • Guests can view a few content items per month without an account/subscription
     
  • Publishers can earn revenue on the content items they post
     
  • Publishers earn revenue by subscribers reading their post
     
  • The amount the publisher earns is based off of how many articles that reader read on Medium that month
    • For example, someone pays the $5 and only reads 2 articles on Medium in total that month, you get a larger chunk of their $5
    • Or, someone could read 50 articles on Medium that month (including one of yours) and you receive a smaller chunk of their $5

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I think the concept might sound a little confusing at first glance, but it's relatively simple. 

Essentially, the publisher is rewarded with money for posting engaging content. The community benefits by having people post content they want to engage with. The community is also incentivized to post engaging content as well because they could earn some of their subscription back and possibly make a profit. And the community owner of course takes a cut. Because the community is generating revenue, ads are no longer needed. 

This would need to track what content items users visited, then allocate an amount to that user based on their usage over a 30-day period. 

To me, this could be a game-changing application baked into Invision Community. I am writing this to see if anyone finds this kind of business model appealing, or think it's a waste of time, or...? Perhaps there are some huge drawbacks/downsides to this for a community. I'd love to hear your thoughts!

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I know this model very well. I think it makes most sense for big players, where there are millions of users and a lot of money to go around. For smaller sites, it feels a little over the top. You have this complicated setup and then when you split the money among all the participating members, you maybe pay out $1,50 to a single one. 😉 No one really benefits from that. And it will also need a lot of oversight. If there is money to be made, there will be people who try to cheat or use click-bait in an extreme way and so on.

But sure, the model is fine. Or to put it in more general terms: Letting members earn money with a cut for the site is always good. At the moment, it’s reserved to downloads and clubs. Options for content types such as Pages articles or forum topics are certainly interesting. Tricky, but interesting.  

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I was just thinking about you @opentype as I was reading this.  You periodically drop by here on the forums and give great advice, but only in small dribbles and drabbles as your time and expertise should be compensated for if you were to take on answering more substantive questions. If someone like you were to have the means of being fairly compensated for your time I suspect you would contribute more and the folks here would benefit from your knowledge.

Sometimes it might be answering questions or it might be via an in-depth article.  If one person stepped up and took advantage of @breatheheavyidea then more and more might come out of the woodworks.  This would encourage more substantive dialogs and knowledge transfer among the membership.  As @opentype mentioned this would be better suited towards very large sites if someone was to try to make a living at it or make a nice second income.

But there would be some folks that would be tickled pink to get even a few cents for their contributions as it would be a great validation that their contributions mattered to at least "some" folks.  If their "tip jars" started increasing over time they are likely to become more engaged and the community would benefit from better and better content being made available.  So, I think this idea warrants fleshing out...

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Simply reading content doesn't necessarily bring value to a community.  The real value is the quantity of positive member engagements elicited from it and the quality of said content. If content proves useful to readers then "that" content and only "that" content should be rewarded.

Edited by Chris Anderson
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Wow, I honestly love you for bringing such an idea.
I wanted to get a plugin done which does exactly what you described above.

There is a plugin that requires a reply/like to see the content and what we plan to add in addition:
 for each like/reply the user receives, we give him a commission.

1 hour ago, breatheheavy said:
  • For example, someone pays the $5 and only reads 2 articles on Medium in total that month, you get a larger chunk of their $5
  • Or, someone could read 50 articles on Medium that month (including one of yours) and you receive a smaller chunk of their $5


I'd love to see something like that added by the Invision team.

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Having all of your contributors being paid out of one big pot might not bring in enough money for high value contributors. Having separate subscriptions for these contributors might bring in enough money to make it worth their time. They might start out contributing content for the general community to garner an audience and switch over to a subscription model once they have sufficient readership and proven that their content is worthy to pay for. More of a Patreon model for these folks. So we are looking at a melding of Medium, Patreon and the IPS Suite.

Implementing this at the club level would also be super useful. 

Edited by Chris Anderson
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2 hours ago, opentype said:

I know this model very well. I think it makes most sense for big players, where there are millions of users and a lot of money to go around. For smaller sites, it feels a little over the top. You have this complicated setup and then when you split the money among all the participating members, you maybe pay out $1,50 to a single one. 😉 No one really benefits from that. And it will also need a lot of oversight. If there is money to be made, there will be people who try to cheat or use click-bait in an extreme way and so on.

But sure, the model is fine. Or to put it in more general terms: Letting members earn money with a cut for the site is always good. At the moment, it’s reserved to downloads and clubs. Options for content types such as Pages articles or forum topics are certainly interesting. Tricky, but interesting.  

Yea I definitely think this would be more useful for the bigger fish. I'd be curious to see how it would function though! Or maybe they earn money if their content item is "featured" or "promoted." So it stops people from making clickbait content. If it's curated, it receives a cut from anyone who reads it. That might be a happy medium? 

On my forum, the homepage is content we curate from the members. If they had the option to earn revenue from it, I imagine they'd be more inclined to want to start writing stories / creating genuine content that has a good opportunity to be picked up by our team. 

Appreciate your insight, @opentype!

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24 minutes ago, breatheheavy said:

Or maybe they earn money if their content item is "featured" or "promoted." So it stops people from making clickbait content. If it's curated, it receives a cut from anyone who reads it.

Your idea might be implemented by IPS in a phased approach.  Your suggestion might come in the first release.  The site would pay out any monies from their current subscription model as the payouts would be minimal to start.  About the time communities are embracing this new functionality IPS releases an update that provides a blanket subscription model akin to Medium.  As the communities embrace this new model and star contributors start gathering a following IPS could release an Patreon like functionality to support them as well as club support  In this fashion IPS could spread out development over time taking in feedback along the way to release exactly what is needed based on community response. Having three different implementations would allow sites to pick and choose which one would work for them or allow for implementing an phased approach for their own communities.

Edited by Chris Anderson
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@breatheheavyI like this idea a "lot" as well as your other ideas and many others here in the community.  Unfortunately they may never get implemented as IPS has limited bandwith and the marketplace developers are pretty much maxed out for the foreseeable future. There is also the concern of how many of the total customer base would utilize any particular idea.  I think this one would prove popular and should be considered for inclusion. The big question is does it get added to the core or would a new app be built akin to clubs that members would purchase to help offset the additional development costs. Could enough additional apps be added for sale to warrant bringing on an additional programmer or two?  Probably...

Querying the customer base as to what "great ideas" they would like most implemented would determine demand.  Once that number has been quantified then you would need to determine the development and yearly support costs.  Divide those costs by those individuals that pledged to purchase the app to figure out how much each person would have to front to get the app developed.  This would allow IPS to bring on additional developer(s) knowing that all of their expenses would be covered for the next year eliminating the financial burden of bringing in a new developer and hoping they pay their way. This would allow for a hybrid marketplace model.  Some high value apps would be sold directly by IPS and all others would be sold in the marketplace.  This would lift some of the heavy burden off of IPS trying to include every suggested feature into the core and the high value apps would be minded by full-time professionals.

Please don't let me derail the conversation, please continue on...

 

 

Edited by Chris Anderson
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  • 1 month later...
On 2/21/2021 at 10:37 AM, Chris Anderson said:

If one person stepped up and took advantage of @breatheheavyidea then more and more might come out of the woodworks.

This 😆 Still dreaming of this application. I feel like it could be a game changer. 

Want to clarify this is my own opinion and not representative of the IC team.  🙂 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 2/21/2021 at 1:43 PM, Chris Anderson said:

@breatheheavyI like this idea a "lot" as well as your other ideas and many others here in the community.  Unfortunately they may never get implemented as IPS has limited bandwith and the marketplace developers are pretty much maxed out for the foreseeable future. There is also the concern of how many of the total customer base would utilize any particular idea.  I think this one would prove popular and should be considered for inclusion. The big question is does it get added to the core or would a new app be built akin to clubs that members would purchase to help offset the additional development costs. Could enough additional apps be added for sale to warrant bringing on an additional programmer or two?  Probably...

Querying the customer base as to what "great ideas" they would like most implemented would determine demand.  Once that number has been quantified then you would need to determine the development and yearly support costs.  Divide those costs by those individuals that pledged to purchase the app to figure out how much each person would have to front to get the app developed.  This would allow IPS to bring on additional developer(s) knowing that all of their expenses would be covered for the next year eliminating the financial burden of bringing in a new developer and hoping they pay their way. This would allow for a hybrid marketplace model.  Some high value apps would be sold directly by IPS and all others would be sold in the marketplace.  This would lift some of the heavy burden off of IPS trying to include every suggested feature into the core and the high value apps would be minded by full-time professionals.

Please don't let me derail the conversation, please continue on...

Wellllllll if more people in the community find this to be valuable, who knows what could happen 🙂

I still think of this idea daily. 😆 

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I am wary of putting effort into anything that depends on economies of scale or network effects. For most websites this will not result in any sizable amount of money changing hands.

It should be pointed out that if you have the traffic to take advantage of this business model, you must also have the resources to pay for development of a custom implementation of this functionality.

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