Creating A Hard Paywall Strategy That Works

In today’s world, living off publishing requires some tactical thinking. Gone are the days of newspapers and printed ads. In the world of digital, you have to utilise a paywall. Most publishers go for one of the two strategies:

  • Metered strategy: This particular business model was pioneered by The New York Times. It has been used by thousands of publishers across the globe. It only gives 5% to 10% of the publisher’s content for free, while readers have to pay for the rest.
  • Freemium strategy: On the other hand, you have the freemium model, which works in many industries, not only publishing. It makes a vast majority of the publisher’s content available, while requires a high-fee subscription for certain, high-quality content.

But there’s another type of paywall not many people seem to be aware of: hard paywall. This business model requires users to register before having any access to the publisher’s content. Of course, without free samples or a-few-decades-long history, this model is hard to implement.

But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Here are four things you need to do to ensure your hard paywall strategy works for your publishing business.

Only Work With Experienced Reporters

If you want to sell people on your content, then you need to make sure that your content is second to none. And how can you do that? By only working with the top reporters in your field. You can’t afford to work with someone that either doesn’t have enough experience or that has a bad track record with other publishers. You want to work with people that already have a reader base. That way, they’ll attract that reader base to you.

Stay Away From “Trendy” News

What kind of content should you publish? You can do interviews, think pieces, market analysis, and many other types of content. However, whatever you do, you can’t really afford to do trendy news. First off, trendy news works best with free or freemium publications. This type of content will bring in a huge amount of visitors for a short period of time. After the public loses interest in it, your articles become basically worthless.

Make Sure the Price is Right

While top-notch content comes with a price, you can’t expect your readers to pay more than $1,000 for your publication. If you’re just starting and you don’t have a reputation to justify such a high price, people that are interested in your content won’t stick for long. The way to go about this is to look at other publishers in your niche, see how much they’re charging, and then make sure that your price is noticeably lower. A lower price can be a good selling point.

Don’t Go Overboard With Advertising

Even though there’s nothing with trying to diversify your revenue with advertising, when it comes to the hard paywall, you should try to keep ads at a minimum. What’s more, in an ideal situation, you should lose ads completely. Your readers are paying a lot of money for your content. They don’t want to pay a huge amount of dollars only to be bombarded with ads. If you must, have a few advertisements here and there. But make sure to have an ad-free subscription plan as well.

Remember: Content is Always King

While all of the tips above will help you make the most out of your paywall strategy, don’t forget that your main objective is to give your readers the best material possible. You know the saying: content is king. And that won’t change in the near future. No matter how good your strategy is, you won’t become a successful subscription-based company until you have worthwhile content.


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