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Encyclopedia Britannica: Free is Good for Web Marketing

Encyclopedia Britannica discovers Encyclopedia Britannica has just opened up its content to Web publishers. As a Web publisher, you can get free access to Britannica.com [1] for a year through a program called Webshare. If you link to any article, your readers also will be able to read the entire article free of charge.

They are using a very broad definition of Web publisher — it includes any webmaster, writer or blogger who publishes regularly. If you’re interested don’t hesitate to request access by filling out the online form. The content would be a nice value-add for your clients, customers and readers.

Encyclopedia Britannica has seen its business change drastically as so much information has opened up on the Web. Britannica went from being seen as THE authoritative encyclopedia source, to having that de-facto title snatched up by Wikipedia, the free user-edited encyclopedia.

The reason? Mainly because anyone can read and link to any Wikipedia article. Wikipedia articles became even more visible as the articles started appearing in search engine results. In essence, Wikipedia and the free content model are their own best marketing vehicles.

That’s the dilemma for content providers on the Web today. Free distribution of content is good marketing. Free is just not a good business model.  It forces you to rely on advertising-based revenue streams, and ads are not right for every site.  Or you have to give away a portion of your content as a draw to attract subscribers or business leads or some other means of making money.

That’s something to keep in mind as you develop a business model for a Web-based business.