I've always been impressed with the good ideas that come from Mike Masnick and the Techdirt crew, and their latest initiative is no different. For quite some time now, Masnick has been repeating the mantra that if you are able to Connect with Fans of whatever you are making or selling, AND give them a Reason to Buy, you've got a business model.
The formula looks like this:
CwF + RtB = The Business Model
He's showed us examples of how it can work for a bunch of different industries, and now he's finally applied the model to Techdirt. By offering a number of unique packages, he's making it easy for anyone to give the blog money and get something in return. The most basic package puts a badge on the user's Techdirt profile, showing that they support the site. More sophisticated packages include signed copies of books or t-shirts. They all give the user a reason to pay money (getting something in return) as well as giving them a chance to connect with the Techdirt crew in another way (from a badge to advance views of posts).
While I'm sure that this will create a new revenue stream for Techdirt, I wonder how much it will actually bring in (compared to their other work), and how applicable this model is to other blogs.
Either way, it is a great experiment.
For the record, I bought the Approaching Infinity package for $35 USD, and am looking forward to getting my copy of Masnick's book and a Techdirt t-shirt. I also feel like it is a great way to support a blog that I love reading from and learn something new from almost every day.