The Superior Model – Ads vs Support Based Content


Listening to the latest Rogan podcast with neuroscientist Sam Harris, I was intrigued by the specific conversation Harris brought up about his thoughts on his supported model versus Rogan’s ad model. This was something I’ve recently thought about and wavered between, so I wanted to see how two of the best examples of this, thought about each other’s models. It wasn’t discussed much, but enough for me to understand where the true value lies and which model, in my opinion, is superior.

First off, my main model for my vapor company DIYorDIE, is a support based model. It was mainly spawned out of the “magazine” subscription model, since in the beginning, my sole product was this e-zine. But it wasn’t until a few month later I decided ditch the zine, and just put those articles up on my actual website, rather than a download, and enact a “paywall” which only a membership would allow you to access. This then morphed into the “support” model only shortly after. So I’m able to put out a majority of my content for free, which then entices “free” users to subscribe in order to access the more intricate, demanding, and advanced pieces of content I provide, without the need of sponsorships or ads. I actively denied sponsorships and ads for quite some time, mainly because I thought having them would diminish the “do-it-yourself” nature of the content I was providing, muddying the brand. And not just that, but at the time, I was producing some crass and abrasive pieces of content that advertisers might not enjoy too much. Therefore, to remain completely true to what I was doing, a “support” model was more enticing and rewarding. 

It means there is absolutely no security, and no budget. A very big risk for complete and total freedom. 

But after listening to this podcast, I question now, that maybe it isn’t the most efficient model. Harris’s support model, is a bit different from mine. Instead of a paywall, or a patreon-like revenue stream, he employs a “pay what you want” type of system. This is rooted more deeply in charity-culture or donation-nation, which – like he mentions in the podcast – activates a different part of the customers brain. For better or for worse, it’s a bit different. What’s similar though, is that there are no ads, and the restraints of corporate branding aren’t there. The issue is that audience size and retention do not correlate with sales. You could have an audience the size of Harris’, and not get a single “donation”. It means there is absolutely no security, and no budget. A very big risk for complete and total freedom. 

Now, Rogan’s model is simply put, and ad based model. This means a company pays for time to get their products or services in front of his massive fan base. It’s the most simple of models, but also the most demanding; as it requires active searching for companies to sponsor and brands to make deals with. Because of this, it’s often (in the short run) the more rewarding. The larger your audience, the larger your revenue stream. The downsides – well, one was highlighted specifically in the podcast – and it exemplifies perfectly why the ad based model isn’t immediately the best. In summary, his audience was very upset that he was “pulling punches” with a specific guest because that guests’ company sponsors the show. A simple conflict of interest issue. And that’s just one example, but it shows how corporate restraint may color the content of the show.

The Default

So to me, the question remains. Is my model the most superior? Is Harris’? Is Rogan’s? Well, when it comes to content in the modern age, I think my model is the best. It basically combines both Harris’ model, with a simple product model, while keeping the Rogan option open. For one, there’s always content that you’re providing that’s completely free. This means those who enjoy your work – but for one reason or another, isn’t quite ready to support you financially – well, they can still feel inclusive and can still remain a non-financial supporter. Then, those who do want a bit more from you, can do so with complete freedom attached. And if a company were to come by with the right offer, who aligns perfectly with your ideals and content, that sponsorship can provide even more financial relief, without the constant demanding search for brand deals. The only demanding aspect being the quality and quantity of your content. So, if you’re a content creator who is looking to take the next step and receive some monetary value from your work, I implore you to check out the free-to-play model that I use. You can go with the Patreon way, or do what I do and create your own type of Patreon system, or some type of variation of that. It’s a model that has served me well for over 5 years now and I think should be the default for those who don’t quite have the millions of eyes and ears on your work.