points us to a column by Shelly Palmer that clearly articulates a point I've tried to make in the past, but haven't been able to make that clearly: arguing "free vs. paid" is the wrong debate
. Professional content is always paid for somehow -- it's just a question of how. In some cases it's a third party paying. In some cases it's a user paying. And, in some cases, it's a user paying not with money, but with something else, like time or attention, which helps give a third party the reason to pay:
Can you frame this conversation as free vs. paid? No. Not if you are trying to get someone to pay you cash directly for something that is ubiquitously available for free. Free vs. Paid is not the great debate, it's a no-brainer -- free wins! Valueless vs Valuable, Scarce vs Ubiquitous, Demanding of attention vs Commanding of attention are the debates and the winners will be the individuals and organizations that can most effectively translate the value of content into wealth.
Exactly. This is why the focus on "free" is almost always misplaced. People stop thinking once they hit that big oval zero -- and forget that free is simply a part of a larger business model, which is often about bringing in a larger audience that gives other reasons to pay.