Paltalk, was trying to make money by giving away a free service and selling advertising. But suddenly advertising was drying up. So Katz—whose site operated chat rooms in which you could not only send text messages but also talk, the way you would on a phone—did something radical: he started charging people to use a premium version of his software, which offered some extra features. Guess what? Since 2004 he's been making a profit, and he's come to believe that, contrary to the conventional wisdom, people really are willing to pay for online services.
...if Katz hadn't dared to charge fees back in 2001, he wouldn't be in business today. That's something the big guys might want to keep in mind.
A year or so ago when people were advising to put up free content and earn revenue by putting AdSense and other advertising on the site, I did the opposite and charged a fee for access to the information.
Now I'm reading more and more about charging for content yet I'm putting up more free content and earning more from it.
Both decisions, even though the timing contradicted conventional thinking, have produced good results for me.
I've never charged for my content and I consider my site "great". My competition gives similar information away for free so I think it would be bad to have a premium membership in my niche. Internet advertising is doing well right now though (for me) so I don't see any urgency in changing to a paid membership style site. My $.02....
I have found that charging a fee depends on your audience or niche. Unless you have some really really good content that isn't given away on a hundred other sites then charing a fee is feasible. One thin I learned is dont wait too long to charge a fee as your members will be put off by denying them access to the good stuff.
I once ran y site for free helping solve problems and one day I had enough and told everyone I was going to start charging admission to the site and the site died in less than a week. Although I explained most sections would still be free they misread and took offense to the fee.
You need to built your biz model from the very beginning, offer a free "for a fee membership" trial (I offer it for a three months period), offer sections with no fee attached and be very clear on what the full "for a fee" membership is about.