By: Karina Fabian, Marketing Communications Specialist


Digital advertising has a its place in a digital monetization scheme, but with Adblockers, ad fraud and simple supply-and demand, it’s not a reliable single source of income. In fact, 10 percent of publishers surveyed by Reuters in 2018 said they are planning for a future where “digital display” (i.e., ads) are a thing of the past.

That may be extreme, but there is a case for looking at alternate income sources for your digital properties. Paywalls are growing in popularity and acceptance. Some publications have found that, done well, they provide reliable income and even enhance the brand.

Determine your best asset to monetize: Do you have strong brand loyalty? Do you offer exclusive content? Can you create different websites or variations of your website to cater to different interests (ex – ad-free viewing, local news-focused, topic-intensive)?

Match your reader type: If you have people who come once in a while for research (such as if you have a medical journal), you may want to have a pay-per article. If your readers are loyal but use adblockers, you might want to offer an ad-free experience inside the paywall. If your readers depend on breaking news, you may offer a subscription that includes a newsletter or push notification.

Be creative: Paywall software, such as what we offer at Newscycle, offers you many options for creating a paywall – it’s no longer just a way big STOP sign on your website. You can offer different subscription levels, allow a certain number of free reads, show only a percentage of an article above the paywall, offer guest passes for casual visitors, or employ engagement analytics to target only the most interested readers.

Offer subscriber perks: Even a small benefit for a subscriber can sweeten the deal and push someone off the wall’s edge and into the subscriber side.

Learn the work-arounds and address them: The Boston Globe found people were using their browser’s private mode to get around the need to paywall. They closed off that “side door,” and found that they gained some new subscribers who would otherwise have continued to get around paying.

Decide ahead of time if there are exceptions: When is the news more important than the income? Will you take down the paywall for elections? National disasters? Local emergencies? Or maybe something as simple as high school football. Having processes in place for sidestepping the paywall yourself keeps you from having to react to an important event – and having such exceptions can help promote you with your readers – existing and potential.

It’s not always easy to decide whether or how to establish a paywall, but news sites are finding that it’s worth the time and thought. If you have questions about how Newscycle can help with your paywall needs, please reach out to us at info@newscycle.com.

About the Author: Karina Fabian has been writing about business, leadership & management, and software applications for over a decade. Before joining Newscycle, she wrote reviews of business software and services for Top Ten Reviews and Tom’s Guide, and about business practices and leadership for Business News Daily and Business.com. In addition to writing for Newscycle, she is a freelance writer and author of 16 books.