Growing revenue for news and magazine publishers
Publishers needed a new revenue stream to counter the decline of print and digital ad revenues.
Coming from an early digital marketing background that started in 1998 with corporate web development, we have suspected (and since discovered) that digital publishing offers more revenue possibilities than publishers thought possible. Leaky Paywall is the result of that belief.
However, building a digital subscription platform was not our first product.
2010: A New Challenge for Issue Based Publishers
In 2010, Dartmouth College presented us with a challenge: they wanted to bring Dartmouth Engineer Magazine, a traditional print publication, online.
But they didn’t want to use any of the options available at the time. No unwieldy flipbooks or PDFs.
They wanted an actual web-based issue: all their collected stories gathered together and published with one click.
With WordPress as a solid foundation, CEO & Founder Pete Ericson and software engineer Lew Ayotte designed and built IssueM to meet their criteria.
A new way of presenting digital publications, capable of integrating with email, with social media, with search engines. Easy to manage on the backend, organized and beautiful on the front, IssueM even resulted in 2 Folio design awards.
It became the perfect vehicle for Dartmouth Engineer to reach out to all of its students — past, present, and future.
How do we know it was perfect?
Not long after, other colleges came knocking on our door, looking for the same services: Simmons, Middlebury, Amherst, Yale, Harvard, Berkeley, Einstein, and others.
Today, a decade later, over 1000 issue based publishers are using IssueM to deliver modern content in a Google, social, and mobile friendly format.
2013: Leaky Paywall – A Star Is Born
It wasn’t long after IssueM started gaining momentum that a publisher approached us with a custom request: they needed a way to restrict articles to paid subscribers, without cutting off all access to search engines and social media. At the time publishers were locked into hard paywalls which blocked their audience growth. Search engines could not discover publishers’ deep content and readers weren’t sharing those restricted articles on social media such as Facebook, Linkedin, etc.
We took a page out of The New York Times’ playbook: We built Leaky Paywall.
Our metered paywall allowed casual readers to sample a few articles before restricting the rest to subscribers only. But it’s a leaky paywall because search engines can still sneak a peek behind the wall, and readers can share all metered articles on social media. Readers also have to choose which articles they want to explore — they’re limited by number, not by topic. This was a big advantage over the hard paywall approach that forced publishers to choose which articles were free and which were paid.
Leaky Paywall started out small: it only worked with IssueM articles that magazine publishers wanted to restrict. But it had the bones of something greater.
Over time, Leaky Paywall expanded in scope. It still works for any WordPress content site, but now offers more flexibility, CRM and circulation integrations, and customizations to meet the needs of the unique news, magazine, and content creators that exist today.
As the most flexible paywall on the market, It has become the subscription and revenue foundation for more than 1000 publications.
2015: The platform
For our 5th birthday, Jeremy Green took over as lead developer, and along with our team, has brought forward the feature set that modern publishers need today to build reader growth.
Consistently focusing on the needs of news and magazine publishers has delivered a set of tools for WordPress that doesn’t exist anywhere else.
These breakthroughs include:
Today: Best practices and results
A decade of experience in digital publishing has also honed the advice we provide to our publishers.
We take the best that we have learned from our publisher network and share the frameworks with our customer base. This approach has resulted in our Paywall Podcast, Case Studies, and our customer focused Mastermind Webinars where we help publishers grow their audience and revenue.
Want to see what a decade of learning and forging the digital publication space can do for your publication? Let’s talk.