Paying for Content is an Investment

Disclosure:
I currently am a paying customer at 5by5.tv, Shawnblanc.net, Daring Fireball, and Instapaper.

I’ve heard Marco Arment discuss that when in college you have more time than you have money.  This balance begins to shift as you get older.  As long as the price vs. time ratio is not badly out of wack (few hours of my time vs $800), I am at the point where I would rather spend a Saturday taking a long run, playing with my son, and spending time with my wife.

I am now seeing the value of this mentality in the way I consume content on the web.  My RSS feeds used to be full of various news websites.  I could easily launch Reeder and see a few hundred unread articles by the end of the day. I found myself skimming over all of it.  I have since blown up my RSS subscriptions and am relying on Macstories.net, Daring Fireball, and the Read and Trust network.  I am letting these sites find the relevant news and relay that to me.  Instead of reading the same headline from ten different websites, I am now relying on the writers I trust (hence the name of the Read and Trust network).

I have also been an avid podcast listener since iTunes first added support for it to iTunes 4.9 in 2005.  The iPhone has been great for podcasts thanks to apps that download the podcasts over the air (Instacast and Podcaster are my favorites).  The 5by5 network that is ran by Dan Benjamin has been a breath of fresh air.  He has quality shows and quality hosts.  He has very relevant ads, but I am also happy to support him monthly with a small donation.  The more people that donate, the better the shows can get (without having to increase advertising).

If you have got an iOS device, you need Instapaper.  I am not going to go into all the reasons why, but it is a wonderful application.  The developer offers a $1 per month subscription that allows server side search.  I am not really not that interested in the search component, but I am happy to support the further development of the service.  Since the developer has continued to release free updates to the original app, he is relying on new sales to continue to be able to work on Instapaper full time.  Without the optional subscription, this would likely mean that he would need to release Instapaper 2 and require everyone to purchase a new paid app to continue with updates. 

It is in my best interest to make sure the writers, content creators, and developers that I prefer are well compensated for their work.  They can either be compensated through additional advertising, through my donations, or paid upgrades.  Paying for quality writing saves me from having to read through a few hundred articles each day.  Paying for podcasts saves me time listening to additional advertising.  Paying additional money for Instapaper allows me to continue to get free updates for an app that saves me time as wel.  What is the common denominator? All these services save me time and time equals money.  I can always make more money, but I can cannot buy additional time.