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To Paywall or Not to Paywall, That is the Question!

Are paywalls making a return?

When print advertising revenues first began declining publishers attempted to shift their successful print revenue model to the Internet: get advertisers to pay for digital ads and readers to pay for digital content. Paid digital content, however, was not as well-received. Readers weren’t exactly jumping at the chance to pay for content they once accessed for free.  As of late though a few newspapers, with some unique strategies, have found ways to make paywalls a viable revenue supplement and surprisingly a way to increase print subscriptions. Newspapers like the New York Times, the Dallas Morning News, and Newsday all saw considerable circulation increases while charging for digital content.

Could a paywall work for your association website?

There are several factors to consider when making this decision.

  • Are you providing content readers will pay for?
  • Is it content your readership can’t get anywhere else?
  • Are you a thought leader in your industry?
  • Should you do a hard paywall, entirely paid content, or a soft pay wall only charging for premium content or heavy content usage?

Media companies that have found some success with the pay wall systems, tend to be industry authorities with an already large following. Paywalls are general less successful with smaller audiences. Paywall success stories also provided some content for free and generally only charged a small subscription fee to heavy readers (20 articles or more). Other successful paywall sales tactics include bundling print and digital subscriptions at a discounted rate and/or offering access on multiple devices for a fee. Paywalls are not yet a solution to the decline in print advertising, but carefully considered they can complement current strategies as an additional revenue stream.

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