How to Turn Existing Content Into Subscription Revenue

If you had to make a list of the things that video marketers, podcasters, speakers, and even event owners have in common, the fact that they’re creating an incredible amount of content on a daily basis would undoubtedly be right at the top.

In the modern era, marketing is all about providing as much value to someone’s life as possible to strengthen your brand’s position in their mind, and content is a big part of how you do it. But you can’t just write one blog post or record one video and suddenly find your business transformed. You need to create as much high value, informative, and relevant content as you can, and you need to do it over and over and over again.

One blog post a month on your website isn’t going to generate traffic boosts like you’d hoped. But one blog post a day, or several a day if you can swing it, will suddenly start to have an undeniable campaign on both your brand and your digital presence that you literally cannot ignore.

The problem is that at some point, you’re spending so much of your time on creating content that you’re not necessarily taking care of the most important factor of all: making money.

This was the exact issue that “Hustle & Flowchart” podcasters Joe Fier and Matt Wolfe found themselves in over the years, as they love creating content and amassed a major back catalog that they weren’t really sure what to do with. Then, they taught themselves how to monetize all of that existing content by way of a new, recurring revenue stream: the subscription model. Not only did this open up a brand new source of income, but it also allowed them to make more money from the time they invested in creating content to begin with.

Creating a Subscription Revenue Model

The major benefit of a subscription model extends far beyond simply making money from the work you’re producing. What you’re really talking about is a way to do the work once and get paid repeatedly, which really is the dream for most people.

The only way to get to that point is to create the type of content that people aren’t just looking for today, but that they’ll always be looking for in the future. This means figuring out what the people in your target audience actually like to consume, and working hard to create the types of pieces that will appeal to just about everybody.

Within the example of a single blog post, that would obviously involve a lot of keyword research and making an effort to better understand the people you’re going to be speaking to. You would venture out onto the Internet before you decided on a topic and pay attention to the types of questions people are asking or the types of conversations that they’re already having. Then, you would figure out how to add to those discussions and interject helpful information with your own unique point of view. Answer a question in a way that people hadn’t considered, or help shed light on an important industry topic that maybe people don’t fully understand. With that, a piece of high-quality content is born.

Then, you would want to make sure that you have many different types of content available — from text-based pieces to videos to podcasts and more. This type of varied content creation strategy will absolutely be helpful when collecting it all together and turning it into more of a subscription-based model down the road.

Speaking of that, you’ll definitely want to experiment with ways to monetize that existing content in a way that makes the most sense given your audience. Sometimes people might come to your podcast, in part, because it’s initially available free of charge. That’s how you attract attention and gain a loyal following.

But after you’ve amassed 20, 50 or even 100 episodes, you can start to take some of those free episodes down and put them in a “back catalog” that is only available via a subscription. People who are fervent listeners of your podcast still get to enjoy the content they love for free, but if they want to go back and listen to old episodes (or if new listeners want to see what they’ve been missing) they’ll need to pay in order to do that.

To incentivize the subscription, you could even add in bonus episodes that are only available to paying customers. It’s a great way to keep everybody happy that also puts some hard-earned money in your pocket. Podcasting is just one example – it’s a model that can easily be applied to other forms of content, too.

Getting Back What You’re Putting In

In the end, you also need to understand that for a subscription-based model to work, you need to go to great lengths to guarantee that your content continues to be seen long after that point of creation. If you take two hours to record a podcast and put it out there into the world, it needs to survive that initial week or two of interest and activity. In the best case scenario, six months from now and a year from now that content should still be getting discovered by people who are interested in it, all of which will funnel people back to the subscription itself in a way that puts more money in your pocket.

Sometimes, that means adding on a direct mail component – creating targeted collateral for that content that you can send to people proactively to make them aware that it exists. Other times it’s using new episodes of your podcast to cross-promote your books or your blog or other things of that nature.

But regardless, understand that the subscriptions model alone isn’t enough to get the job done. You still have to work to market and support that subscription model so that it can then in turn support your finances for years to come.

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Bethany Cowan

I set the stage for expert marketers to connect with eager learners. Together with DigitalMarketer, our audience and attendees at Traffic & Conversion Summit get most relevant, proven and actionable techniques available. When I'm not swimming in spreadsheets or running backup batteries to our speakers, you'll also catch me hosting, emceeing, and speaking from time to time.
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* If I have provided a non-business domain email address (such as, but not limited to, gmail, hotmail, etc) I am doing so in the context of it being used for my business and not personal interactions with Clarion.

Traffic & Conversion Summit is part of Traffic & Conversion Summit LLC which is part of the Clarion Events Group of companies (Clarion). We take your privacy seriously. We wish to use your information on the basis of our legitimate interests to keep in contact with you about relevant events, products and services which may be of interest to you. We will only ever use the information we collect or receive about you in accordance with our Privacy Policy. If you prefer us not to contact you about relevant events, products and services that we believe you will be interested in, you can manage your preferences via a link we will send you, unsubscribe using the link in our emails or by emailing usdataprivacy@clarionevents.com.