Yepic: Licensing Premium Content

It seems as if content licensing services targeted at bloggers are coming out of the woodwork these days. BlogBurst gets your content into newspapers and their Web sites, Lisensa sells existing entries for republication to any interested party and Scoopt Words acts as a literary agent, negotiating fair rates with publishers.

However, a new service, Yepic , has come out to target an altogether different market, the end user.

Rather than simply selling existing blog content for reuse. Yepic encourages bloggers to write special, premium content for sale through their service. This content, generally, is not available on the blog itself, save in summary format, and can only be read by paying customers.

Though not a new idea, it is a new application. By pulling away from traditional authors and ebook publishers and targeting bloggers, Yepic is entering uncharted waters when it comes to paying for content.

How it Works

Signup for Yepic is quick and painless, not even requiring an email confirmation. Registered users can then create a profile, post new content, purchase existing content or request new articles of other authors.

Yepic incorporates many social networking features into the site. Members can create profiles, rate other authors as well as individual articles and even participate in a forum. New, top rated and most popular authors are featured on a “Community” page along with a collection of random authors.

However with Yepic, the rubber meets the road when it comes to publishing and purchasing articles.

Publishing content is a relatively simple process. Many users will immediately recognize the FCKeditor as the primary formatting tool (as it is with profile edits). This means that the editor is compatible with both IE and Firefox, it also means that the people who are not happy with or don’t like FCKeditor will probably not like working with Yepic.

Submitted content can either be given away for free or sold at a price starting at $1. Yepic, in turn, pays authors a commission based upon the price of the article and the quantity sold. That commission can be as low as 10% (meaning Yepic keeps 90%) on low-selling articles priced under $2 or up to 75% on higher-priced or better-selling articles.

Buying content is also simple. The service uses PayPal to handle all transactions and displays purchased articles in HTML format on the site itself. There is no DRM attached to the articles meaning that users can copy, paste, print and save whatever they want.

Overall, the process is very smooth for both writers and buyers. They’ve taken much of the friction out of selling content on the Web.

However, this doesn’t mean that Yepic is a lock, there are many variables that might hold it back.

Concerns

Though Yepic has done a great job removing much of the friction of selling content and is targeting a largely untapped market, it remains to be seen exactly how excited both bloggers and readers will be about the service.

Bloggers will likely be put off by the very low commission rates. Though Yepic is fairly competitive on higher priced and higher volume works, the commission drops to 50% or less on cheaper items that don’t sell well. Compare this to a 90% commission with Lisensa or 75% commission for Scoopt Words (which many saw as low) and Yepic appears to be a bad deal for many bloggers.

To make matters worse, it would be fairly trivial for a skilled blogger with their own server to set up their own PayPal buttons and sell the works directly, bypassing Yepic completely while saving a great deal of money. Though the fees would still put a major dent in any small sales, it would still be significantly less than Yepic’s fees.

Readers, on the other hand, will likely find little worth paying for on Yepic. With so much content available for free, there is little reason to pull out the credit card, even if it is only a few dollars.

Even most of the content of Yepic itself, right now, is completely free. Less than half of all new articles were for sale and, of those, the vast majority were under five dollars.

Though some high end bloggers may be able to command decent sales with premium content, most bloggers, as it seems, will be doomed to earn mere pennies, if anything, from their work.

Still, if Yepic can convince bloggers that it is worth the price and the bloggers can convince readers to pay for premium content, Yepic, or a system like it, could easily turn in to a new profit center for Web publishers everywhere.

Comparisons

As a content licensing service, Yepic will draw many comparisons with other services such as BlogBurst, Scoopt Words and Lisensa. However, Yepic avoids any direct competition with those services by focusing not on reuse of existing content, but rather, selling premium content to end users.

In that regard, Yepic has more in common with self-publishing services such as Lulu.com. However, even that comparison is flawed in that those services typically focus more on printed works, not electronic ones (though Lulu does offer an ebook feature).

In the end, the closest competition Yepic has in a major way is most likely the “do it yourself” bloggers that sell their own work using either the PayPal accounts or a merchant account. There are many tools out there to make the selling of downloadable goods easy, though none I could find focused on content, and those services could easily be used to sell articles.

Content Theft Concerns

Many will have understandable concerns regarding the potential for abuse with Yepic. Since Yepic makes it possible for anyone to monetize almost any content, there is little stopping someone from taking freely available content and charging for it under their name.

Yepic, however, seems to have taken as many steps as possible to prevent this. Though they do not actively search for infringement, they do make reporting abuse easy and have strict policies against violating copyright.

However, Yepic’s best anti-plagiarism defense may be the fact it isn’t like to attract many plagiarists, yet. Much like Lulu, the only people who will make money are those that take the time to either promote their work or have a large built-in audience. It is not the “quick and easy” solution plagiarists and content thieves are looking for.

On the flip side of the coin though, writers who sell their work through Yepic may be surprised at the lack of digital rights management. Since the content is displayed in HTML format, it can be copied and pasted at will once it has been bought.

But to those familiar with DRM, this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. DRM, traditionally, has failed to protect content adequately and has only served to frustrated legitimate customers. Furthermore, content theft is unlikely of Yepic material, especially the paid content, since plagiarists are more likely to target the large amounts of freely available works out there.

Still, it would probably be worthwhile to enter any submitted articles into Google Alerts just to be on the safe side and detect any content theft that does occur.

Conclusions

All in all, Yepic is likely to gain traction with some niche bloggers and may generate a secondary stream of income for several writers.

However, to be a good deal for writers, Yepic is going to have to attract a large group of eager buyers. To do that, it will have to attract a great deal of high-quality authors.

If it can achieve this critical mass, especially while targeting such an unusual niche, remains to be seen. However. it is definitely in a position to capitalize if it can.

As for content creators, Yepic currently remains a questionable deal at best. Perhaps something to dabble in or experiment with, but not something to base one’s income on. The cost of doing business is simply too high.

That may change if it can prove its worth as an independent market, but as long as it relies on the promotion and traffic from the writers that produce content for it, most will be better of striking out on their own.

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