In May, Yahoo! Answers was discontinued after helping the internet answer its most burning questions since 2005. But now Quora, which started as a question-and-answer site but expanded to include blogging, is making its platform more appealing to YouTubers.
Quora says it is “on track to make cash flow positive through ads alone,” which means the platform is currently out of the black. However, Quora sees tapping into the creator economy and subscriptions as a way to make a profit.
“We want to make the exchange of knowledge financially more sustainable for creative people,” wrote Adam D’Angelo, CEO of Quora, in a blog post. “Although many people are motivated and spend their time writing on Quora just to share their knowledge, many others could share a lot more on financial grounds.”
Quora’s first new product is Quora + – subscribers pay a $ 5 monthly fee or a $ 50 annual fee to access content that each creator wants to place behind a paywall. These are the same prices that Non-Advertised Medium charges for its membership program.
Instead of paying select creators, subscribers pay Quora. Then each subscriber’s payment is distributed to the creators “in proportion to the amount each subscriber consumes their content, with a greater portion of a subscriber’s contribution going to authors and areas that the subscriber follows”. Creators have the option to enable a dynamic Quora + content paywall, which allows users to access certain posts for free if Quora thinks they are likely to switch to a paid membership. There is also an “adaptive” paywall option, which uses an algorithm to decide whether to use paywall content on a case-by-case basis for a particular user. This is intended to help YouTubers strike a balance between monetizing their content and expanding their audience to find new potential subscribers.
Quora told TechCrunch that it is still experimenting with Quora + and has yet to say what percentage of subscriptions it will take.
The other option is for creators to write paywall posts in Spaces, which are like user-created publications on Quora. Quora pays 5% of the subscription fee, which the creator can choose at their own discretion – this compares with the direct-to-consumer blogging platform Substack taking 10% of the authors’ profits, making Quora a competitive alternative. Other platforms like Ghost charge a $ 9 monthly fee but let the writers keep their earnings – for writers making at least $ 180 a month, Ghost would be more profitable than Quora.
“We can make a sustainable commitment to only charge a minimal fee without having to increase it in the future, as we generate enough ad revenue to fund most of the development and operation of the platform,” wrote D’Angelo. Substack, on the other hand, has no advertising.
Quora reached a valuation of $ 1.8 billion in 2017 after raising $ 85 million, and at that time the platform had 190 million monthly users. According to D’Angelo’s blog post, over 300 million people use Quora every month. Despite this user growth, Quora laid off an unknown number of employees in its Bay Area and New York City offices in January 2020.
Space subscriptions are rolling out today for English speakers in 25 countries including the US. The launch of Quora + will be less immediate as Quora invites selected writers to test the platform and see what works best for subscribers and YouTubers.