Almost every week, I see people asking these questions.

  • How do I stop people from downloading my videos?
  • How can I protect my download products from being shared?
  • How do I set up my content so only people with a password can view it?

The list of questions varies but they all revolve around the same issue. Password protected web pages.

How Password Protected Web Pages Can Work Against You-060614

When I started selling content online, I admit I wanted to put all sorts of restrictions around how my content can be downloaded and how it can be consumed.

Big mistake.

What ended up happening was, too much time, energy and money spent attempting to “protect” content. Too little left over for what really matters. Marketing, building the membership, the audience and meeting the audience’s needs.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying you shouldn’t protect your content. You’d be losing money and that’s just crazy.

What I am saying is…

There’s a fine line between making sure you get paid for your work and annoying your customers.

Customers expect you to create password protected web pages and areas of your website. Customers like it as well, because it’s fair to them. They forked over the cash, they should get it. Those who don’t, shouldn’t.

However, the moment you start obsessing over things like:

  • Restricting download times
  • Restricting video and audio downloads
  • Severely restricting IPs

This can try the best of your fans. Again, I’m not saying these should never be done. It all depends on your product and how you sell it.

For example, I buy a lot stock images. I know, full well, going in that there will be a time frame to download my purchases. I’m OK with that because that’s how it was sold to me. Those were the terms.

There are also various sites I belong to where the audio and video content is not downloadable. Meaning, I can only watch if I’m logged into their website. This is a common practice. I’ll put up with it.

However, the moment a publisher starts putting things like making sure I need a special player. Or, requiring passwords to open PDF files that I’d already paid for, and downloaded from password protected web pages, this becomes… infuriating.

The more layers of ‘protection’ you put in place, the more opportunities each layer becomes a problem for customers. Here’s a quick snapshot of what I mean.

On a good day, assuming everything goes well without issues for a customer, they may be a little irked but hey, at least they could get to the content – eventually.

What happens when, at each of those layers they encounter a problem? A tolerable experience turns into a nightmare.

This is when people get really ticked off. This is when you get angry support emails. This is when they will tell the world on every single social media network they belong to, on their blog, on their podcast, in the email newsletters.

See how that works?

Take the sane approach. It’s OK to create paid, password protected web pages. We’re running a business not a charity. It’s OK to want to protect your work with private downloads. Just don’t go overboard.

Listen, people will steal. Period. Deal with them as you encounter them. Don’t sit there worrying about would be thieves. In the end, you’ll lose more than you gain.

Focus on wowing the awesome customers. Those who aren’t – well, you’ll know how to deal with them you when come to that bridge.