I have all memberships including the Free one set at 10 years, if you read the subscriptions are a donation to help support the website, there is no premium content or pay per view.
The website, hosting, paid plugins, domain renewals, image licenses, before I write a post is about $500 a year, without renewing any imaging software, a percentage of depreciation for kit used, use of broadband, etc: would take the costs closer to $1200 a year.
The time taken for research, writing posts etc: is also given free.
Google ads brings about $120 a year, some visitors that might have been struggling with a bit of code, do value what I produce and buy a subscription or donate from the money they save finding a quick answer, "time is money" but that would be about another $50 to $80 a year.
My business model will find you $800++ out of pocket plus your time, so it is no good following my model.
Having said that if someone has something like a free article or digital download, followed by a series of downloads or articles that people want and are willing to pay for, then there are a few making a living from the web.
Like stock images though it is a small few that will make a reasonable living, and a few million more that will aspire to do the same, these are cash cows (fodder) for the get rich schemes and fail badly.
If paying $97 for a plugin is out of budget or out of the question then so should be the client!