But why would I pay for that?

I consume a lot of online content, upwards of around 40 blogs and approximately 15 podcasts weekly.  I find the content provided by independent writers to have a lot more useful and unique ideas than mainstream media.  In the consumption of this media, from time to time I am exposed to a different form of advertising than is normally seen in conventional media, generally in the form of requests for donations.  When I first started listening/reading this media, I generally disregarded these requests, as it went against the way I had previously consumed content.

Not paying for this type of content seemed to perfectly align with my personal finance values, basically getting stuff for free.  Generally, people who produce the blog or podcast are doing it because they like to do it, not for the money.  What do you do however, if the producer of this content (which presumably you enjoy) tells you that they are having a hard time affording bandwidth or other expenses involved, meaning this content may disappear?

In this circumstance, I donated $5 to the site.  I noted that it was subscribed to by around 10,000 people, I figured that if a very small percentage of listeners gave the same amount, most of the financial problems the site was having would probably be taken care of.  I don’t necessarily agree with the business model, but I appreciate the content and don’t mind supporting the producers of it.  The way I look at it, I’ve paid $5 to be entertained.

In the same mindset, I look at purchasing apps/games from the i-tunes store for my i-pod touch as a form of entertainment.  One of my cousins performed a “jail-break” operation on his i-pod, which allows him to basically steal apps from the content provider via bit-torrent sites.  In my younger days, this may have seemed like a good idea, as I didn’t really have any money to buy things like this, but now it just seems easier to buy the  app and support the provider so that perhaps they will continue to create things that I want to consume.

The way I look at it, there’s a price on content for a reason, whether it’s free with the request for a donation from many blog sites I read, $0.99 for a skee-ball game from the i-tunes store or $9.99 for an album online, somebody has produced content and is looking to get back some money for the content that is being provided.

The way I deal with purchases or “donations” from the internet is to set aside $25 each month for this type of content.  This $25 is a pretty random number and basically comes from the amount that I used to spend on a zip.ca DVD rental membership.  I was getting a lot more entertainment from online content than I was from Hollywood producers and I prefer to spend this money supporting the content that both educates and entertains me.

I’m wondering if other people spend money online?  Do you donate to online content providers?  If so, how do you decide (if any) to give?

** Note ** – this is not a reflection on “The Canadian Dream: Free at 45” website, I’m not soliciting donations or insinuating anything business-wise about the site (which I have no financial interest in).  The purpose of this post was to discuss a portion of my monthly budget, as well as perhaps a “new” economy that has been created in the past 10 years that was non-existent previously and if people’s spending has changed in a similar manner to my own.

3 thoughts on “But why would I pay for that?”

  1. That was interesting. I agree that in my younger days I would not have thought of paying but now that I have more money and know from experience that it takes money and time to post information on the net I agree that paying a small sum is reasonable. And your approach of setting a monthly budget for this is eminently sensible. But how do you decide which requests to respond to: the first few you see, the cheapest, those sites which you visit the most or sites which you visit occasionally but find really useful/interesting?

    If you cant pay to a site one month because you are up to your spending limit would you go back to it next month and pay then?

    Is there a parallel with discretionary expenditure on things like make-up or magazines – you can get by with very little – but more is nice?

    You made me think.


  2. @ kathleen – I generally decide by need. For example, one of the podcasters I listen to had his apartment building burn down. He didn’t ask for money, but I figured he could use a bit of cash, so I sent him $20. I had enjoyed his pod-cast for some time and had never paid him anything, so it felt like money well spent.

    Generally though, I just see the small amounts given as a small thank-you. I figure if everyone were to give a couple of dollars here and there, it wouldn’t hurt – I kind of use it as a Thank-You for what they do.

    I generally give to sites that I visit the most frequently or consistently make me think the most.

Comments are closed.