Give it Away Now

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The beauty of the internet is that it has democratized information, and of course this applies to the fishing industry. Whether you caught your first bluegill last week or you just cashed a second consecutive Bassmaster Classic check, you can learn in short order from a chair what took prior generations hundreds of hours on the water to figure out. In fact, on some topics you can learn more – not what a subtle worm bite feels like, but the type of worm you should be using on Guntersville or Oahe, even if you live in Beijing or Sydney. The web is constantly dropping science like that and we’d be fools not to take advantage of it.

And it’s all essentially free.

The rough part is that quality control is not exceptionally strong in the fishing industry. You pay the same for top notch stuff from Bassmaster, Tackle Tour and Tactical Bassin’ as you do for the unsubstantiated, unspellchecked musings of the dude down the street.

So in a world where there’s lots of good stuff available for free – despite the frequent need to separate the signal out of a field of noise – how do you monetize that? It’s an issue that every media outlet has struggled with. Newspapers like the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal have erected pay walls, with varying degrees of success. It seems that no industry has been changed more by this than “adult entertainment,” giving new meaning to “why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?”

In our little world, many outlets have tried to create “premium” content or clubs for “insiders,” and just about all of them have failed. Although there may be others, the only one I can think of that seems to be consistently growing is The Bass University, which depends on its subscriber base for revenues and ad sales. Maybe there is no good option, except to keep giving it away, and depend on ad sales. Maybe high revenue YouTubers and their ilk have usurped the role of more traditional media, but I keep thinking that there has to be some scalable way to unlock the buying power of the true fanatics’ desire for more and better information. If someone figures it out, let me know.