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By Thomas Baekdal - January 2011

What the Heck is Baekdal Plus?

As you probably know, Baekdal Plus was launch in early December 2010 and suddenly you are faced with something that looks mysteriously like a paywall.

You have a choice between getting a monthly subscription for $4.99, to a yearly subscription for just $49.99. You can even try it out by buying just a single article.

But why would you do that? Nobody pays for content, right? True, but Baekdal Plus isn't your plain old regular content. Let me explain...

There is no way you are willing pay for air. You know, the kind that we breathe into our lungs? Air is free, because there is so much of it. You are willing to pay for "special air." You will gladly pay for compressed air, air canisters, air fresheners, air ventilators, air condition or air purifiers.

It is exactly the same with content. There is no way you will pay anyone for general content, because there is so much of it. As Clay Shirky pointed out in What will 2011 bring for journalism?

Google news showed 11,264 separate outlets for the Somali pirate story in 2009, almost all of them re-running the same couple of stories.

How is Baekdal Plus any different? There are two primary elements - the value and the format.

The value of Baekdal Plus

Baekdal Plus articles are not general content or "news." It is advice, insights, analysis or trend forecasts. There are four basic requirements that any article must meet before it can earn the Plus label.

  1. It must cut through the clutter. All Baekdal Plus articles look at a topic, find the important bits, and explain why this is worth focusing on. You will never see "99 ways to do social media" on Baekdal Plus. But, you will be able read about the one thing that really makes a difference. It is all about helping you make the right decisions, it is not about giving you more options to worry about.
  2. It must be tied into the bigger picture, and the long term effect. Baekdal Plus is all about helping you understand what the trend is really all about. What is it really that disrupts traditional media? How does it really change the world?
  3. It must provide advice for the individual. A Baekdal Plus article cannot be about what Microsoft should do. It has to be about what you should do. It has to provide value to you!
  4. It must be in-depth. Most Baekdal Plus articles must provide a high level of value, and most Plus articles are actually about 7-10 pages long (if you happen to print it).

The format

When I started thinking about Baekdal Plus (back in 2008), I was thinking of it as ebooks or industry level reports. But the number one thing that everyone told me, was that they didn't have time to read ebooks or look up information in reports.

They wanted to get the same content delivered to them as part of their stream.

This drastically changed my plans for Baekdal Plus. The solution was to create Plus articles that you can subscribe to via any channel. Instead of writing a single ebook, I am dividing the same message into several articles.

You get the same amount of content, but in a digestible format. And, since each article focuses on just one topic, it is easier to convert the message into practical use.

Financially, it would be much easier to sell ebooks. It is much harder to convince people buy a subscription for articles. But this is the best format. Articles provides the best level of value for you. And, that is what matters in the long run.

Sharing and connecting

A very important part of Baekdal Plus, and publishing in general, is that we now live in a connected world. This means that although Baekdal Plus is paid-for content, it must fully embrace the link.

You must be able to read, share, comment on whatever channel you happen to use. The reason other paid-for sites doesn't work, is because you can't use the content. You can't share it. You can't read it in your favorite news reader, like Flipboard, or save it for later with Instapaper.

You can with Baekdal Plus. Everything here is 100% fully sharable - and it is completely automatic. Sharing a Plus article works just like when you share any other article. Your friends can read it - for free - without having to sign up, or register.

This is not a paywall. It is a shareable paygate.

Here are two examples:

Tom Corbett was reading Baekdal Plus in his favorite news reader (NewsRack for the iPad), and simply shared it using the build in sharing buttons in the app.

Tore Hvidegaard, was reading the Plus article on the website and shared it using the retweet button.

Note: Thanks for sharing guys!

And if you visit those two urls, you can read the article too - with a notice that it was shared by the Plus member.

Technically, it is really simple. Once you sign in, all Plus URLs change from the public ones to the Plus ones. It doesn't matter how you shared it, what program you use, or if you just copied the URL.

The magic is in the link.

You are free (and encouraged) to share and link to anything on Baekdal - including the plus articles. Share them with your friends or your followers on Twitter.

> Subscribe now to Baekdal Plus

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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