In your opinion, when does it make sense to follow the plentyoffish model (ad supported) vs. the provide a service and charge a subscription model.
Taking that approach for example, someone could start a tutor site, make it ad supported, and potentially disrupt your site.
This is a great question and I had to spend some time thinking about it.
What I came up with is that if you have the best site you can go with a subscription model, and if you don’t then a free ad supported version is a good alternative. Here’s what I mean:
Usually its not too difficult to look at what’s already out there and do it just a little bit better. This was the case with the tutoring website I put together. What’s out there currently is really not very good, so I was able to make a better site, and hopefully people will pay a small premium for that trust or convenience or whatever else they are getting from it.
On the other hand, if you are making a new site and you don’t think you can be beat the incumbent (like for example if you are trying to compete with match.com which already has a ton of users and fairly decent site), then making your site “free” could be your best competitive advantage.
In summary, you have to offer SOMETHING better to get people to use it. If you can’t offer a better service, then offer a better price (free). Or do both.