Currently, Ning offers us the ability to charge access to a group or category of members. It would be more awesome to have the ability to lock more specific content within our networks. In that way members pay in order to unlock the said content.
1. Instead of charging access to an entire group, I'd like to open up the group to members but lock down certain pages or discussions within the group. As a member of the group already, a member is more likely to pay to unlock the said content.
2. Currently, videos can be hidden or set to be viewed only by friends. Imagine if we had the ability to sample a video and then charge members to unlock videos in the category shown in the sample video.This ability would really help us sell our video content.
3. Imagine if you could sample a picture from an album and then charge members to unlock the full album.
4. For music networks, imagine if you could sample a song from a particular artist and then charge members to unlock a song list from a particular artist.
5. Imagine if we could lock some tabs on our navigation panel and charge access.
The current charging feature is like wholesale, the lock feature is like retail sales. I hae seen this small lock on features on several sites.
It's not on Ning's road map. I am just expressing a wish that could be considered. Some network applications gurus here like Jen, Elson, Bernard lama, etc. could pick this up too for consideration.
These sound nice, but it's hard to know how often they might be used and how successful Network Creators would be with these additional levers for monetization. For example, I don't know how many members would pay to see specific discussions or pages within a group. But, you can always charge for access to a Page if you have content that is that valuable. The video example is a little more compelling, although I'm not sure I know of any similar services that let you preview video content before purchasing it (except porn, of course). Maybe an online learning driven service that offers full classes. Selling songs is a great idea, but there are intellectual property issues around that idea, so licensing is something to consider. However, there are services out there that allow you to sell songs you have created which you might be able to integrate into your network. I strongly recommend Bandcamp. The one thing that I think could possibly work that you are mentioning would be to charge for access to specific features, which is something others have requested.
In my own experience, the most successful networks using Paid Access do it in a pretty simple way by charging for access to the entire network or to a group. To be honest, it's hard for us to put additional resources into unproven monetization ideas without some data to lead the way. But, we're always open to hearing ideas like this.
Thanks Eric for the extensive response. This idea came to mind when I started to test the opinions of members on my network on the ability to charge for membership. Most of them being students, they make a lot of suggestions regarding these details. I love the idea of a one time payment for a lifetime membership too. May be the idea of locking tiny bits of content across the network is more suitable for a network like mine where we offer lessons, tips for exams, teacher / student one-to-one chat, etc.
I'd love to do this for example: Get students to pay in order to have access to teachers and their videos.
I'm looking at NIng for another network that is monetized solely based on this idea. So I'd love to see it. What I'm wanting isn't as complicated as what Denis is suggesting here. What I'd like is much simpler: a paid access member category that had the ability to create groups. You pay, you can create groups. That's it.
At this point, the only way to do that is manually, approving only groups created by those who I see are in the paid category. But when this takes off, that will become unmanageable.
I know Ning has been saying that member categories wouldn't be integrated with content controls, but this would be great to have.