#3 Your Paywall – readers try before they buy

If you think your content solves a pain point for your audience that motivates them enough to pay then you absolutely should be running a metered paywall.

What is a metered paywall? Simply a metered paywall lets your reader view X number of articles over a Y time frame. This is what the New York Times does. They offer you 10 free articles before they prompt you to subscribe. The benefits of a metered paywall vs. a hard paywall (where you can’t access any content until you pay) is that all your articles will show up in Google search and all your articles can be virally shared in Facebook. This lets readers find your publication when they search Google for info that you are publishing about and lets them share any one of your articles with all their friends, and all their friend’s friends.

One of your articles could be shared with millions of different readers. Only when one individual starts to look at other articles on your site do they start using their allotment of free articles until they are prompted to subscribe.

You can charge 2 ways:

  1. Charge a monthly or annual recurring subscription. Keep in mind digital price points can be very low today: you can charge $2 per month, $19 per year, offer a day pass for $1… digital lets you test different approaches. Don’t be afraid to charge up if your content is truly valuable. Vogue Magazine charges over $1000 to let readers access their archives.
  2. Let readers access your content in exchange for an email address. If you plan of building an email list and marketing your products or selling your list to advertisers, consider making readers cough up their email before letting them at your content. Gaining a targeted reader’s email address is still one of the best marketing strategies today.

Let’s have a look at a small publisher who is successfully charging subscriptions: DKonPittsburgSports runs a sports news blog with a metered paywall for both it’s web and app content, and his 10,000 paying subscribers are managed in one WordPress dashboard. Find out how he did it.

Bonus strategy: Let subscribers post events on your news site. The GeneseeSun lets any paid subscriber publish events on their community events calendar. Local events are a challenge to publish but if you can leverage the power of your audience and locals who want to promote their events you could become THE go to resource for local events. Genesee used the Events Manager plugin to pull this off.

Bonus bonus pricing tip: If you are just starting out start with the lowest price you can stand (and advertise a limited offer). Over time it’s easier to raise your prices than lower them. Why? When you start low you will get more paying subscribers early on and that allows you to build momentum. It also lets you start learning what your audience truly wants and when you deliver that value, you will become comfortable with the next step of raising your prices. If you start too high you will trickle in subscribers and turn away folks that otherwise might have paid to try you out. That means little momentum and less learning about your audience.