Posted by Mitch Mitchell on Dec 1, 2009
I’m not going to lie. I love finding free stuff on the internet. If it’s applications I can use that will handle little stuff for me, it’s all good. If it’s information that I’m looking for, even better. It’s not that I’ll never pay for anything, but I find most of the time that the free stuff addresses my specific need and nothing else. Most of the time that suits me just fine.
I also recognize when I have to be realistic and pay for something. Depending on what it is and how much it is, I will look around for a bargain. But sometimes there’s only one place, or one way, to get certain information. if I need it bad enough, I’ll pony up the cash and get it done.
Sometimes it’s us who are giving away a lot of free stuff. Nothing wrong with that, but every once in awhile we have to look at what it is we’re giving away, how much of it we’re giving away, and whether it’s time to start charging for at least a portion of it. That’s not easy to do, especially when you’ve started out establishing that you’re doing a lot of things for free.
Such is the case with my Medical Billing Answers site. Many of you know that I’m also a healthcare finance consultant, centering on revenue cycle issues. That’s charge capture and billing for most of you. Anyway, I set up that site to try to give information to people in terms that were fairly easy to understand. I add articles to that site from time to time also.
I actually created the site for people who wanted to learn some things about insurances and the like and to get some information on how medical billing works as far as getting their bills paid. I also said that I would answer medical billing questions, one per customer, for free.
What ended up happening is the people who were asking me questions were people in medical billing. And some of the questions they were asking was some pretty technical stuff. I had answers for everyone, but sometimes I had to do a bit of research. That didn’t trouble me all that much; however, when more of them wanted me to provide links to prove that my information was correct, I figured that was the last straw, so to speak.
About 8 days ago, I decided it was time to go for a paid model as far as answering questions. I set it up on my consulting services page that I would now answer medical billing questions for a fee, $4.50 per question. I would also entertain as many questions as people had, as long as they paid for it, which obviously was a change in the business model. And, while I was at it, I set up a monthly consulting fee that I don’t think is overly high and is a pretty good deal for smaller hospitals or physicians offices that don’t the money to bring in a high priced consultant to help them out.
Then, while I was at it, I figured it was a fairly good business model to add to my business website also. After all, if I can provide consulting services and stay home, all through email, and can get enough people to pay my monthly fee, why not take a shot, right?
So, how have things progressed thus far? First off, no one has paid for anything, but it’s still early, and we had the holiday. As a matter of fact, I figure that all the bad stuff I’m going to mention can be blamed on the holiday week, so I’ll probably have to check the stats after another week to see how things really are. Anyway, second, I haven’t made a penny since last Monday, and this is my biggest Adsense money making site. However, my consulting services page is also the 5th visited page over the course of the week, which means people are at least looking at it. And they’re reading it, as they’ve spent an average of a minute and 55 seconds on it.
How about on my business site? My new consulting services page was the 8th most visited page for the first week, and people stayed there an average of 7 minutes and 37 seconds. Now that’s a bit of overkill if you ask me, but in my mind it’s telling me that people were at least thinking about it, even if they didn’t pull the trigger. Maybe it was because of the holidays; I can only hope. Since I only have Adsense on a couple of pages on my business site, I didn’t expect it to bring in any money.
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with trying to make money from your specialty. I can honestly say there are a few blogs I visit where I know they have some stuff that they should probably be charging for. Not everything, of course; I’d never charge anyone for reading my blog, like Garry Conn did at one point for certain posts (I’m not sure if he’s still doing it, but it looks like he’s started accepting comments again, and he has good stuff so give it a look). But I have been asked why I’m charging for my webinar when many people use theirs as freebies to help promote themselves. And I answer because I didn’t give a fluff presentation of nothing to entice people to pay big money for something later on, I gave real information that people could immediately use and thus I charged for it.
It can be a struggle in deciding what, and when, to start charging for certain things. If any of you have tried it, or have thoughts going to a paid business model of some sort, please share them, because I think it’s something valuable that many people should think about every once in awhile.