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By Thomas Baekdal - June 2019

The future of slow news, and how to respond to people saying your content is too expensive

This is an archived version of a Baekdal/Basic newsletter (it's free). It is sent out about once per week and features the latest articles as well as news and trends about the media industry. If you want to get the next one, don't hesitate to add your email to the list.

Welcome back to another edition of the Baekdal Plus newsletter. In this edition we are going to talk about two things:

Plus: The trend around creating a news oasis

Last week, I talked about how audio is no longer a separate format, but something you should mix into your existing editorial product. A part of that is the very important trend of creating a news oasis ...or what some call a slow-news product.

These are publishers who have a much sharper and more defined focus where, instead of just giving people a bunch of random things to see every day, they only produce maybe one or two articles.

In this week's Plus article, I go into much more detail about what this is really about, and how it differs from the traditional model of publishing.

Read more in: The trend around creating a news oasis

Why is this content so expensive?

Now that paid-for content is starting to become the norm, every single publisher is having to deal with the problem of not just getting people to pay, but also to justify and explain why their content is so 'expensive'.

We can talk for ages about what the right price is, and I'm not sure we will ever really figure that out because it depends on so many factors. But there are two things I would like to mention.

First of all, the price itself is almost never the problem. The problem is that you haven't defined your audience, nor what the value should be for that audience.

This is a common problem we see all the time in the media industry, particularly with older media companies. We are so used to the idea of publishing being just a package of random content, and that the most profitable publications are those with the widest market, that it's hard to adjust to the new digital reality where people already have too much of everything.

The result is that, if you are just giving people a bit of everything (or just chasing the same stories as everyone else), you are also putting yourself at the bottom in terms of price.

The other problem is the lack of uniqueness, and that we are not good enough at explaining why something is worth more than other things.

Let me give you an example:

If you go to Adobe Stock Photos, you can buy a monthly subscription where you can download and use 10 images per month for the price of $29.99 (or $2.99 per image).

And if you search for something like 'headphones subway', you will get a very large number of pictures that looks like this:

But what Adobe Stock also offer is what they call 'premium photos', that instead cost $250-$600 per image. And they look like this:

While the premium pictures do have a slightly higher artistic quality, they are not really that different. So why would anyone pay $600 for a photo, when they can get something nearly identical for $2.99?

This is a problem that we see all too often in the media industry, and the problem often starts all the way back to when publishers defined it. Many publishers think that the content itself or where the content came from is what makes it valuable. But it's not.

The value of content is entirely defined by howwell it can be used, and the problem with Adobe Stock is that the use is the same for both products.

It's the same thing I see with publishers. When publishers define something new, they are only talking about the content, the channels, the platforms, or who will make it. But they forget to talk about the readers and how what they make will be useful to them.

The result is that you end up with a pricing level at the bottom of the scale.

So, a way to fix this is to instead focus on defining who your audience really is. And then create something that is so good that this audience will choose to pay for it.

A very good example is with Fstoppers. You might have heard about them. Fstoppers is a site for photographers, and almost all of their articles are available for free. But then they also have a 'store' where they are selling very high-end photography tutorials, priced at $299 on average.

To many people this is way too expensive, because (as people say) they can just go to YouTube and watch thousands of photography videos for free. Why pay $299 when you can do that?

But as FStoppers says, this is not the market for these tutorials. They didn't make them for random people, or amateur photographers who just want to watch some random content. These tutorials have been specifically created for the high-niche audience of professional photographers, who need this specific insight to help them improve their businesses and make more money.

And suddenly, $299 is a really good price. It's high enough to put it outside the range of the amateurs, which signifies that it's a higher level of value, but low enough to not completely stop people from buying it.

Lee Morris, one of the founders of FStoppers, explains this really well in a recent video where he responded to all the people telling him that the price was too high.

It's absolutely worth watching:


I'm not saying that this specific model is what every publisher should copy, my point is that the price you set is not about the money. It's about who your audience is, and what use-case you have set.

And if you want to set a better price, you also need to define this in a better way.

This is an archived version of a Baekdal/Basic newsletter (it's free). It is sent out about once per week and features the latest articles as well as news and trends about the media industry. If you want to get the next one, don't hesitate to add your email to the list.


The Baekdal/Basic Newsletter is the best way to be notified about the latest media reports, but it also comes with extra insights.

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Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


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