Internet allows you to convert you skills, experience and creativity into digital format and share it with the whole world almost instantly.
If what you do helps other people to solve their problems they’ll gladly pay you for that.
Hereby we will discuss membership site model of selling information and methods of protecting your digital property against theft.
So, what is digital content?
On the internet everything is digital.
For simplicity let separate information into 2 types:
- Plain text:
HTML – Thats what text on web pages, posts, articles are made from
- Downloadable information:
Ebooks, PDFs, movies, sound files, MP3, downloadable ZIP archives, software, any kind of rich media, etc..
So, you got your membership site up and running and full of exciting stuff.
Exciting enough to make people want to pay you to help solve problems and address their needs.
Whatever is it you sell or giving access to – chances are it’s a content in a digital format – information.
While idea of getting paid for your work sounds fair and is appealing to you, the idea of getting your valuable content for free is appealing to many.
Let define the act of getting your commercial product without paying as “stealing”.
Why would you want other people to steal your digital property?
The question seems strange but apparently it is far from unreasonable.
Many successful internet marketers and digital product creators realized apparent benefits of spreading their digital information product worldwide.
More people are getting exposed to your skills, more people have a chance to know your name in industry and learn about your offerings.
Each stolen copy could still generate revenue back to you by the virtue of driving traffic back to your site, payouts from affiliate commission sales or extra signups to your opt-in lists.
You are using “ok to steal” product as a promotion for your main, real “not ok to steal” product or service.
Above usually applies to low cost items that are carrying plenty of back-end offers behind it.
Quite often free information, ebooks and videos are highly saturated with affiliate links and promotions.
General perception for free or stolen digital informational products is that “there are some gems into it if you manage to dig through the fluff, promotions and hype”.
General perception for free or stolen software items is that “there might be viruses, spyware, adware and malware in it”.
Quite often stolen copies of software on torrent sites are dangerously modified original versions.
Why would you be against other people stealing your stuff?
Some products takes years and tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to create and giving it away for free is not part of your strategy.
- Most of your sales are coming from single product and you invested most of your time, money and skills to create it.
- Your product was designed so that most revenue for it is coming from direct sales.
- You product or service is a high priced ticket item and every stolen copy means lost revenue multiplied.
- Your online service delivers time critical information. Sharing it illegally means immediate damage to your business model.
- Availability of your product for free diminishes perceptive value of your services in the eyes of your potential customers.
- Product that you sell may be of a confidential nature to certain group of specific customers. In certain cases not only your business but also your customers may get hurt by spreading information out of control.
- Someone may embed viruses and malware into your software product thus putting other people and your name at risk.
- Someone may change your links to their own affiliate links inside of your informational product thus reducing potential for backend sales for you down to zero.
Who steals your digital content and how?
People find direct downloadable links to your goodies. Once direct download links are discovered – everyone could get your stuff for free. No reason to pay if one could click and download it for free.
- Your own customers (with less than pure intentions). They do it by one of these means:
- By sharing direct download link to your files
- By sharing copies of products they’ve purchased.
- By sharing their credentials to access to your membership site with other people
- Organized group buys at numerous private torrent sites. 50 people or more get together. One buys – 50 get it for 1/50th of a cost.
- Most fraudulent way of obtaining your product is: buy, get refund, illegally share it with others.
Once your digital property is stolen – usually in a short time it finds the way to file sharing and torrent sites where thousands of people gets everything for free.
Every stolen copy means direct loss of sales and revenue, loss of perceived value of your services for your customers and business risk to you.
How is it possible to protect yourself from digital thiefs?
Traditional ways to handle this was to raise digital fences and roadblocks:
- Password protect your products in a way that it is impossible to use it without entering correct password.
Disadvantage: Must include some sort of password recovery mechanism.
- Restrict usage of your product to certain computer or IP address (server restriction).
Disadvantage: What to do if legitimate user has laptop, office computer and home computer?
- License enforcement. Means to control usage of your product via complicated license management technology.
Disadvantage: Often incompatible with different operating systems and system setups.
- Using third party addons and softwares to protect digital downloadables.
Disadvantage: These may or may not be compatible with other software you using or server configurations at your hosting accounts. When your solution consists of bits and pieces delivered by different vendors – each of them tends to blame the other guy for your troubles.
You lose time on technical support, your upgrade hassles are multiplied and outcome of your technical support requests quite often is not impressive.
- Prevents digital product sharing. Only one person may use the product on one computer with the correct license or password.
- Great increase in hassles for legitimate users.
- Increase in cost of establishment of protection mechanisms.
- Increase in complexity for your business. Increased requirement of skill level for you and your employees and technical support personnel.
- It becomes more expensive to handle support requests from people who want to legitimately change computers, locations, internet service providers, forgot passwords and use incompatible setups for licensing.
- May make competive products more attractive and increase the rate of refunds and chargebacks for you.
- Increased hassles for your faithful and loyal customers.