Allen Stern has a post over on CenterNetworks where he suggests charging $1 for web feeds in an attempt to monetize blogging. He goes further by suggesting that like minded blogs could be grouped by category and offered for a discount.
Here's the quote...
In my model, the $1 per month would allow you to take the feed with you on any device or reader you'd like. So you could read it at home on your computer, take it with you on your iPhone, mobile, etc. If you look at ReadWriteWeb, they show 159,000 subsribers. Let's assume that 10% would buy the feed, the other 90% would move to the free partial feed. That's would amount to a net cash flow of nearly $200,000 for the year. All because readers enjoy the content on RWW enough to send in $1 a month. Heck, there's more cash than that in your couch right now!
Let's take this a bit further and look at bundle offerings. I believe bundles would be where this model really shows its strength based on the pricing. A few sample bundles you could subscribe to the following "bundles" for $4.95 a month
It isn't a bad idea really but it'll never work.
This comes back to something I call the Web 1.0 rule. During the dot.com boom most of the startups thought they could use the massive amounts of available money to build a service, give that service away for free, and then start charging for it once it was mature. Needless to say it didn't work.
The reason...you can't charge for something that people have gotten used to getting for free. People have attached a value to blog feeds in their minds and that value is "free". So trying to charge money for them now is next to impossible. The kindle delivers feeds over a free wireless connection and people complained about THAT subscription fee so the idea of charging a fee to get feeds via your own DSL connection is a non-starter.
The lesson to take away from this, in my opinion, is that you should be very careful when choosing what you give away for free. Because once you make that decision it's almost impossible to roll back. I think that's an important lesson to keep in mind as more and more startups learn that advertisement based monetization isn't always a guarantee of profit.