In this post I want to talk about the value of subscription services. Let’s answer the question of whether there is any benefit to paying for a membership site in order to get access to information?
There is a lot of hype about the future of such a payment model. Netflix has successfully used this and most of us have been paying for our mobile phone plans through a monthly subscription plan.
I am also writing this post because I have now started a subscription service for my own blog which I will discuss in more detail below. I’ll still have free content but I will be charging for access to my plus content.
The Subscription Model
As explained above, this is any monthly or annual recurrent payment for which you receive a product or service.
Examples of household subscriptions
Netflix and Amazon were the first 2 examples which came to mind. The streaming movies from Netflix and the Prime Membership from Amazon have both been widely adopted.
SoundCloud and Audible are other examples which are quite popular with my peers. Music subscriptions allow you to stream music without having to listen to ads and often give you the ability to download the music for offline listening.
Audible, the most popular provider of audio books, offers either a monthly or annual subscription price and allows you access to a massive selection of books. At $15/month you get 1 credit per month which allows you to purchase an audio book regardless of how much it costs.
Even your auto insurance is a form of subscription. You can stop it at any time though would lose access to the coverage for your vehicle.
Advantages For the seller
Bookkeeping is far simpler for a business when you have a steady stream of money coming in. If you have 1,000 paid subscribers then you know that the following month you will likely have something similar which means you can depend on that income for your marketing and operating expenses.
Many households cannot afford a chunk payment of $150 for an annual subscription, but they can afford to pay $15/month.
People forget to cancel subscriptions. It’s sad to say, but companies rely on this little factor as part of their revenue model. Especially if the subscription cost is low enough, it’s easy for a person to forget or at least not feel guilty about canceling a particular subscription.
A monthly subscription grants the company access to the customer’s bank or credit card account. An established payment may be tough to cancel, especially when you can initiate it with 2 clicks but have to go through multiple steps to cancel it.
Hidden costs are another form of revenue for companies utilizing the subscription model. There could be cancellation costs or they can simply delay you from being able to cancel.
For example, if you want to cancel on the 15th of the month and started on the 1st, it’s rare that you will get a partial refund. Instead, you are given continued access – which you don’t want – for another 15 days.
Advantages for the buyer
Because the company knows that the consumer can cancel at any time, they have a pressure on them to create a genuine relationship with the customer.
Netflix does this well by recommending certain movies to you. They email you when movies get released which you might be interested in. They also allow you to manage your subscription.
By having a genuine subscription model without any commitment terms, the customer can save time on searching and on acquiring the product or service, knowing that their continued contribution is forcing the company to maintain its value to the customer.
When opting for a subscription model, it’s rare that you will get hit with unwanted advertising.
It’s mentally exhausting and visually insulting to read through some of the online content these days. I haven’t visited common finance sites such as Entrepreneur, Inc, Bloomberg, or any of the other 1st page Google search results for this exact reason.
The same is true with many of the blogs I am reading these days. There is so much advertisement that it’s simply distracting. Nor can I trust that the writer has my best interest in mind, after all, they are getting paid by someone other than myself.
How You Can Utilize It
I was thinking about this when my climbing buddy K. was telling me about her husband’s new hobby of taking pictures out in the wilderness. They are avid outdoors people and he takes breathtaking photos.
She mentioned that he would be interested in generating some income from his hobby to allow him a travel expense budget in order to take even more photos.
If he could market a website to potential consumers where he dished out legit how-to’s on taking better pictures or using a particular camera and then putting his photos up for sale as well then he could create that income.
My doctor buddies all have some sort of unique hobby, something they spend hours a week researching and learning more about. Spending just a little bit of time documenting their findings online – for a nominal fee – would create a very valuable resource for someone else trying to learn the same thing.
How I’m Utilizing It
The UCC blog has been the ideal way for me to learn more about personal finance, investing and entrepreneurship. Without it, I would still be learning everything but would never get to dive in deeper.
The blog has allowed me an opportunity to connect with some of the brightest individuals through email, the comments, and other bloggers’ sites.
My personal threshold for any project is 2 years. If I can surpass the common hurdles that come along with a new project in that time period then I know I have found something that I am passionate about.
I have been writing about personal finance on this blog since June 28th, 2015. I am 1 year, 9 months, 2 days into this project and I have so many other grand plans which I hope to share with my 4 readers.
I have spent hours researching certain topics and I am fairly comfortable sharing the most detailed aspects of my life. In return, I have decided to charge $20/month to have unlimited access to my writing.
I will continue to publish posts which anyone can read but will have more in-depth posts and personal updates which I will share with my paid subscribers.
The value of information
This is the perfect time to talk about the value of information and money.
Let’s define the grammar before we move on. When I say information, I don’t mean the shit that comes out of the web or from pundits on media channels. I am talking about well-researched, accurate, useful and applicable information which can answer my specific query.
On the web, marketers and advertisers have a monopoly on information. Only a few of bloggers, podcasters and YouTuber’s are fighting back by disseminating real information.
It takes a lot of time to weed through the crap that’s out there to get at the truly valuable information. For high-earning professionals, it makes more sense to pay someone for that information rather than sifting through all the crap out there for the right information.
I have been hoodwinked and bamboozled my entire life by false information. I started realizing this sometime in 2001, I was born in 1978. I had just scratched the surface then, it wasn’t until 2012 when I realized that I could truly live life the way I wanted if I could break away from the traditional advice.
Paying For Financial Advice
I pay my financial advisor a monthly fee because Andrew saves me hours of time researching a topic. He also has saved me thousands of dollars because he has helped me make the right decisions.
Over my lifetime, he will likely help me earn & save hundreds of thousands of dollars. For his services, I am going to pay him only 0.025% of my entire net worth, over my lifetime.
I cannot impress upon you what a steal this is. In comparison, a business will spend $10,000 for an advertisement in order to earn them maybe $40,000 in profits – a 25% ratio in comparison to what I pay above.
Paying For The Right Information
I pay $25/month to subscribe to various podcasts which help me get even more in-depth personal finance knowledge. On a given day I digest 3-4 hours of money related podcasts. I listen at 2-2.5 speed which allows me to absorb that 3-4 hours in about 1.5 hours.
I pay $15/month for my Audible subscription which gives me access to a wealth of information. Even though this expense probably returns the highest wealth of knowledge, it also is the most time-consuming.
Factor in the books which I buy and the audio I download for free from my local library, and it’s quite a few hours a week of financial knowledge digestion.
Value of time & money
If we don’t learn how to be frugal with our money then we often will find ourselves wasting time as well. The majority of doctors earn an income proportional to the hours they put into their work. Spending more means having to spend more time working to earn more income.
Let’s talk about another form of spending, spending time in order to learn something. I can spend 20 hours reading books to learning the basics of an investment strategy.
I would need another 50-100 hours of reading books and researching topics in order to feel comfortable with the material, to the point of being able to apply the relevant facts to my life.
If you are in your wealth accumulation phase, the most efficient use of your time is to earn more money, especially as a doctor. If you are a professional earning <$100k then putting more time into lowering your spending might make sense.
Either way, you need to eventually become the master of your finances and figure out the most efficient way to pay off your debt and put your money to use. You would be best served to know and anticipate how to react in a market crash and how to capitalize in various economic circumstances.
You would be best served to know and anticipate how to react in a market crash and how to capitalize in various economic circumstances. In a sudden market change, you won’t have the time to react. Either paying a lot of money to find the right expert during the shitstorm or spending money now on establishing your information pipeline would be wisest.
Paying for expert consults
When I see patients in the urgent care, I routinely come across really interesting cases which I know how to manage but not efficiently. Let’s use acne, for example.
Certain skin type with a certain type of acne will respond really poorly to topical treatments while they might respond amazingly well to a round of laser treatment.
I could save my patient so much time and money if I just have them skip the whole process of using various creams for the next 3 months and have them go straight to having a laser treatment done.
The problem is that I don’t exactly know who that ideal patient is. It would be amazing if I could have an expert dermatologist at my disposal, pay them $50 for a quick virtual consult. I would jump at that opportunity!
It’s not just that particular visit that would go smoother, it’s also that I now will leverage that $50 into expediting future visits, making better connections with patients and build my reputation.
Would I figure it out eventually, sure! At some point in my career, I will come across the perfect guideline which will help me make the right aesthetic decision for my patient. Or I will refer a patient to dermatology, follow their chart and learn from what the dermatologist recommends – fucking tedious!
However, this is a very inefficient process to get anything done. That’s what my blog is about, after all, to cut the time it takes to go from point A to point B. To slap some nitrous on the financial independence race, to do away with the fluff and to use our money as tools rather than having it control our lives.
Paying for expert advice
I wouldn’t call my blog “expert advice” and I don’t think it’s easy to find a lot of experts who will trickle valuable information on a blog on a daily basis. This method of information sharing is inefficient for the expert producer.
However, it is just perfect for a person who is sharing their journey on the blog through the realm of finances while utilizing experts to make sure they are doing it right.
I recommend that you find your perfect financial adviser, investor, tax strategist, CPA, life coach, therapist, personal trainer, dietician, and lawyer who will advise you on your particular situation.
If you aren’t going to spend that kind of money now to secure those experts then consider subscribing to blogs, podcasts, YouTube channels and digesting books which will keep you up to date on that relevant information.
For those who need a specific question answered, I have recommended clarity.fm, a service which I have used plenty of times and am very happy with. Here you can connect with any of the professional which I mentioned above.
How Much Should A Doctor Spend On Expert Help?
If you aren’t spending at least $1,000/month on professional help then you are likely not getting your fair crack at optimizing your life. Does it sound aggressive? It shouldn’t if you are making $300k a year.
Our economy, just like medicine, is becoming more and more specialized. Staying on top of facts is going to get harder and harder.
Don’t stop just because you haven’t met the right expert. You might need a life coach, a financial adviser, a tax adviser and a business consultant.
Or you might need none of those right now because your relationship with your partner is your biggest obstacle. You need to spend that $1k/month on a marital counselor to help you through the shit you are dealing with now.
Some of the best money I ever spent was on couples therapy. It helped me make the right decisions and gain insight into my flaws.
Why you need to subscribe to my blog
My posts are relevant to healthcare providers who want to learn about personal finance. I talk about optimizing spending, saving, investing, budgeting and entrepreneurship.
$20/month is very small price to pay. The information here is what I wish I had available to me as soon as I started residency. It’s spread out over 450+ posts, 675,000+ words, well researched, with commentary and a few curse words to keep away the sensitive crowd.
In our current economy where the tide is rising and taking all boats with it, there isn’t a whole lot of excitement, merely anticipation. I believe that our generation will experience market volatility that’s amplified by the easy access the average consumer has to trading.
Our weak and fragile dollar has yet to settle on a realistic value.
When such volatility starts to unfold then I believe it’s that much more critical to have your information sources lined up. I am sadistically excited for such market changes because I want to put my knowledge to the test.
Whatever I do right or wrong, you can learn from. Even if you aren’t going to be paying for expert opinion, you can watch my life fold or unfold as I navigate the financial markets and build up a financial safety net through my research and employment of experts.