Last week, I talked about whether you can get away with charging money for your listserv. And how to figure out how much to charge. But why should you make that jump from free to paid? Are there really any benefits? Today I’m going to give you some good reasons to charge fees for your listserv. (Look here for how to figure out how much money you should charge people to use your listserv.)
Let’s start with the most obvious one: charging a fee for your listserv means no more paying for the community out of your own pocket. That means the community isn’t based on your personal budget, which means the community is more likely to last longer.
You could, I suppose, maintain a community of a free service, but why do that when you can have the best of both worlds? A well-maintained, professionally-host server for your listserv, but without having to empty your own pockets.
Trolls like to hunt easy territory. Email discussions groups are already difficult hunting grounds because most are invite-only. You can make it even more difficult by charging a fee. Why pay money to be a jerk when you can be a jerk for completely free on Twitter?
People tend to think something has more value if it costs more. If they want a better vacuum cleaner, they’ll spend more money whether the more expensive vacuum cleaner is actually better or not. If your listserv is free, then you’re valuing it at zero.
Now that doesn’t mean that your members aren’t getting a lot of a value out of your listserv. They probably are! They probably know they are! But giving your listserv a value of zero means it’s easier to forget or set aside.
If, however, your members are paying for your listserv, that’s a great reminder to be active. After all, they did pay for it. They should make use of it.
Now, just like people pay for a gym and never go, you’ll get members who pay but never participate. But for some, the few dollars they pay will inspire them to play. The perceived value you’ve given your listserv by charging a fee may increase participation.
I’m sure there are tons of other reasons to charge fees for your listserv, but these are the most important ones. Any other ideas? Leave them in the comments below!