When Free Isn't Cheap Enough

Farhad Manjoo has put together an outline of how you can access the online version of the Wall Street Journal without a paid subscription.

As Manjoo explains, the WSJ allows public access to paid content when visitors arrive through Google News or Digg. Using a Firefox plugin, you can spoof the referral the WSJ sees and thus gain access to the entire site.

This makes me wonder, “I can do that, but is it worth it?” Or, put another way, is free cheap enough?

This trick, of course, isn’t entirely free since it takes time to install and set up the plugin. And then it will only work on one computer using one specific browser.

At a higher level, this is something every website owner should consider: Is my website good enough to get people to use it for free?

Why would someone choose NOT to use a free website?

– The navigation may be frustrating.

– The site may be slow to respond.

– The content may not be valuable enough to warrant an investment of time.

– It doesn’t blast music at people sitting in cubes, I hope.

There are 40 billion other things they could be reading, watching or listening to online, and they’re only a click away.

Is your site competitive in that environment?

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