Web Content Container Companies: Let *Us* Make Money Too!

Over and over again I’m delighted by the phenomenal offerings on the Web, specifically in the areas of content creation and delivery. Most of them seem to be looking at the YouTube model of delivery: Make it free; make it (and all the content produced) public; and wrap advertising around the critical mass of users that flock to what you’re offering and make bazillions.

The problem? Any person, company or organization serious about investing time, effort, energy and resources building atop them — and delivering their content in an embeddable container on their website, blog, “FaceSpace” page or elsewhere — need to find a way to make money.

Now before you get all riled up with, “Hey Borsch, you numbskull. Haven’t you heard of the freemium model or that giving content away drives other business?” hear me out.

The answer, of course, is “yes” as evidenced by clients I’ve recommended implement a free/paid/pro version of what they offer online, as well as the huge success I personally experienced when giving away my report, Rise of the Participation Culture (RPC). With the latter example, for me to continue to carve out the time necessary to create quality deliverables like a line of social media ebooks, videos or presentations, there needs to be a way to make some dough off of them.

Arguments like, “Just give your stuff away and people will find you and new markets and opportunities will open up,” is mostly bullshit or a far too optimistic generalization for all but a few who do it. Yes, I believe that there is validity to “free” or otherwise I wouldn’t give stuff away (like free speaking engagements, free initial consultations, pro bono work, or free reports like RPC) but I limit those to 10% of my time or otherwise I’d get nothing else done.

There’s a real crazy-maker though, with licenses, and the fact that these offerings are geared so that YOU as a user, generating content, make NO MONEY and that THEY benefit from your effort.

I have several clients that have “members only” or otherwise protected areas that only customers or clients can access. For the most part, offerings like SproutBuilder, Acrobat.com, and the new Flowgram I just experienced, have no Pro-level, paid accounts which allow my clients (or me) to deliver secure, protected, yet embeddable content containers that we can monetize by selling them, a subscription to them, or otherwise deliver them behind a protected login to customers or clients with whom we have a monetized relationship already in place.

Here’s the other crazy-maker: the licenses. Flowgram says, in part, in the license you agree to in order to use their service:

By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising, or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing.

These sorts of clauses are in licenses from virtually every company that has some sort of embeddable, web content container with user generated content and a business model that allows only one type of content creation and delivery and that’s a free one!

As my wife and business partner says to me often, when I agree to a coffee meeting so someone can pick-my-brain, “It’s easy to give away your time and deep knowledge for free” and she’s absolutely right. It’s even more time consuming to create (quality) content and really easy to give it away for free. It’s much harder to monetize that content online and these web content container companies aren’t helping to make that easier.

So current and future content container companies: you’re competing with hundreds of Web offerings with different types of embeddable web content container approaches and we can’t keep up and there probably aren’t enough of us free content creators to allow you to build critical mass anyway. How about helping some of us (yes, you can still keep your free-built-on-users-backs model intact) to be able to make high quality content available online and to let us make some money?


  1. Maher Hakim on September 13, 2008 at 5:25 pm

    Your wish is our command!

    Steve, our company – Faculte, is building just what you are asking for: a content container which you can use to create rich media content, price it, and distribute it anyway you like. We will never own your content, we will never use it in anyway you won’t agree to it, and we will never insert ads in it. our business model is simple: if you make money, we take a commission.

    We are still in private beta, but you will hear from us soon.

  2. Steve Borsch on September 13, 2008 at 5:58 pm

    Thanks Maher. Didn’t want to say anything about Faculte (glad you did!) until you’re ready…but this is one key reason why you guys will be so successful…you “get it” in terms of what the market needs.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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Podcasting hit the mainstream in July of 2005 when Apple added podcast show support within iTunes. I'd seen this coming so started podcasting in May of 2005 and kept going until August of 2007. Unfortunately was never 'discovered' by national broadcasters, but made a delightfully large number of connections with people all over the world because of these shows. Click here to view the archive of my podcast posts.