Sorry, we could not find the combination you entered »
Please enter your email and we will send you an email where you can pick a new password.
Reset password:


Plus Report - By Thomas Baekdal - March 2018

Metered, Hybrid, Closed, Donated? What Paywall Works the Best?

Shared by Plus subscriber
Michael Kjeldsen
This is Baekdal Plus content. It is shared with you for free by a member. Please reshare it.

One question that many of my clients have asked me is "what type of paywall is the best one?" And the answer is always "it depends..." There are many different factors to consider.

Fundamentally, the best paywall is the one that fits your editorial focus in combination with your audience behavior. But even this definition is too simple, because usually the paywall and the actual decision to pay aren't the problem. The problem is to get people to the point of paying.

In fact, in many cases, the paywall itself doesn't work. For instance, here on this site, my paywall (which is actually a paygate, but more about that later) doesn't work by itself. Almost every person that subscribed to this site either did so because of sharing or because of the free trial system.

Those are the two elements that makes it work, not the paywall itself.

So, in this 40 page Plus report, we are going to take a very detailed look at this. We are going to talk about paywalls (or what some call 'hard paywalls'), paygates, metered paywalls, hybrid paywalls, product walls, single-copy sales, donation based 'walls', premium paywalls, the access model, and the importance of upselling.

With each one we are also going to talk about the before and after, like the importance of free trials (before) and the importance of sharing (after), as well as how much marketing and selling is required to make each one work.

So let's dive into this very exciting, but also very complicated world of paywalls.

Momentum or moments

The first thing we need to talk about is the difference between whether a paywall is designed around an ongoing flow of content or whether you just get a single item.

Ongoing paywalls are those where, once you subscribe, you are provided with full access to everything until you choose to cancel. In other words, it's about building up and sustaining the momentum of your readers over time.

But this is not the only model, just as important is the one-time access model, where you pay to access a specific thing. And if we look at the different paywalls, we can divide these up like this:

Most publishers will choose to focus on an ongoing model, because it drives a much more stable income over time, as well as building up long-term relationships with your readers.

But don't discount the one-time models either.

One of the fascinating things about digital natives (like YouTubers), is that, for many, a big share of their overall revenue is actually based on one-time deals.

We see the same thing with high-end hobbies, like fitness. Old publishers usually try to get people to subscribe to the magazine as a whole, but the content often doesn't have a high enough focus or usefulness to pay for. Meanwhile, many digital native fitness publishers are defining their 'publishing' to be free, so that they can sell people one-time access to training programs.

We also see this with many photography sites. Since everyone can publish about photography, it's very hard to get people to subscribe to a magazine about it, so instead many successful photography sites sell one-time tutorial series as a product.

I will give you more examples below, but my point is that you shouldn't discount one model over another. Each one works great for different things.

The hybrid model

The second thing we need to talk about is the hybrid model. I have listed this as a separate model, but that's kind of misleading because the hybrid model isn't just one thing.

The hybrid model is when you combine more than one paywall model into the same site. And this concept is probably what you should do as well.

The big advantage with a hybrid model is that you can adjust it to each person, in order to provide the model that they might respond to the most.

A recent example is from Norway, where AftenPosten have adopted a hybrid paywall. They started out with just a metered paywall giving people free access to a number of articles per month before being asked to pay. But they found this wasn't really working very well.

So, to boost the 'premium' aspect of it, they have now combined this with higher-end premium articles that you can only read as a subscriber. In other words, they have the 'normal' articles that use the metered paywall model to get people in and to drive up exposure, combined with the exclusivity of the premium paywall model.

This is a great way to combine models, creating a tiered model where you are slowly taking people one step up each time.

Of course, it doesn't have to combine a metered paywall with a premium paywall. You could combine any models you like. The point is that the hybrid model allows you to optimize things far better than you could with a single paywall.

The only time when a hybrid model doesn't work is when what you have to offer is based on a single thing. In this case, having multiple paywalls just adds complexity, which confuses people and often leads to 'choice paralysis' where people end up not choosing anything at all.

So, the hybrid model works a lot better for big publishing companies than it does for smaller single publishers.

Multiple plans?

Another thing we need to talk about is this:

Is it a good idea to have multiple subscription plans for the same thing? ...or should you just have one simple price?

The answer to this is complicated.

First of all, the idea of having three subscription plans, two of which are about print, is of course only something legacy publishers would do. Digital natives would never do this, because they don't have print to offer.

But the question is whether it is a good idea to create multiple plans at all? And the answer depends on your editorial focus.

For instance, I recently published a Plus report called "A Guide to Pricing Strategies for a Sport Site" (36 pages). In this report, I very heavily focused on creating multiple subscription offerings, because with sports, you have so many different areas of interest, so offering people a more nuanced way to subscribe expands the potential audience that you can get.

Not everyone is willing to pay one price for everything, especially if people are only interested in a part of what you have to offer.

So, for a sports site, a paywall model like this might make more sense:

But this concept only works if you have a publication that covers a lot of different areas separately. It does not work if you are only covering one topic.

You should also consider how committed people are, and adjust for that.

For example, with Aftenposten (see above), below the pricing options there is a tiny link that says...

Are you under 30 years old? Get 50% of Aftenposten Digital.

I don't have any data about how big an impact this has, but, theoretically, it's a pretty smart thing to do.

We know that, historically, people don't become full newspaper readers until later in life, and that reaching young people early is often very difficult. So giving young people a 50% discount to start early is potentially a really cool idea.

Not only might it give you extra revenue from a demographic that otherwise wouldn't have subscribed, it also has the potential to build up a long-term habit of paying for and reading news which might benefit you later.

Another example is what I do here on this site.

For Baekdal Plus, I have two subscription plans, a monthly ($9/month) and a yearly ($99/year).

If I look at the active subscribers, I see that 58% of my subscribers have chosen to subscribe for a full year, with 42% choosing to subscribe per month.

But then I look at the 'lost' subscribers over time. These are the people who once subscribed to Baekdal Plus, but have since cancelled their subscription. And the result is shocking.

Even though most of my subscribers are paying per year, most of the people that I lose are those who pay per month.

This is a very strong indicator of the difference in loyalty and momentum.

But think about this. What would happen if I were to cut the monthly subscription plan in order to force everyone to subscribe per year?

Well, if I did that, a percentage of those who subscribe per month, might choose to subscribe per year instead, but mostly I would just lose that market.

The real challenge is to figure out how to convert the monthly subscribers into the more loyal yearly subscribers. I need to do more as a publisher to upsell and to build up momentum for this audience.

In other words, I should think about the monthly subscription plan as just the first step, rather than as an end goal. Just because people have started paying doesn't mean you have completed their conversion.

For publishers, getting people to pay is the easy part. The hard part is all the complexity that goes into figuring out how to make it work.

(Free) trials?

Finally, before we go to look at each specific paywall model, we need to talk about free trials.

One of most critical things to remember about the media world that we live in today is that people now have so much access to content that there simply isn't a need for more.

Nobody today goes around thinking: "I wish there was another magazine so that I could have more to read."

Instead, your future success depends entirely on your ability to prove to people that you are worth subscribing to. And the only way to do that is to show people what you have to offer them.

Just putting up a subscription page is the single worst strategy that you can have. You need to build up momentum, you need to let people have a 'taste' of what you offer, and you need time.

In other words, you need some form of 'trial' system.

Mind you, this is not unique to the digital world. This was also critical in the old days of print, but back then we had one of the best trial systems ever invented.

It was the newsstand.

(Photo by Ray Dehler - Flickr)

The newsstand was the perfect mechanism for allowing people to get a taste of what your magazine was about. It provided a massive amount of exposure because there were newsstands almost everywhere, the price of a single magazine was low enough for people to buy one without thinking too much about it, and it allowed people to 'taste' your magazine so that you could upsell them to a full subscription later.

Just imagine how much worse your print subscription would have been if it wasn't for the massive single-copy exposure provided by newsstands. You would likely have gone out of business.

The problem is that, in the digital world, we don't have newsstands anymore. What we have is a lot of other things that can provide exposure and awareness about what your publication is about, but they don't work the same way.

Mind you, there are many ways that this can be done. For instance, a metered paywall where people have free access to a limited number of articles each month is essentially a free trial system that never ends. It's limited by its use, but not by time.

Similarly a premium paywall, where only part of your site is limited for paying subscribers, is also a free trial system, because here all your free articles create awareness. But you still need to give people a taste of what your premium articles are about, otherwise people will just stick to the free content.

The point is that you absolutely need to build a trial system, not just on your site, but also to create exposure overall.

For now, let's discuss the pros and cons of each paywall model.

The classic paywall

The classic paywall, better known as a hard paywall, is the type that most people think about when they say that paywalls don't work.

In many cases they are right, because the idea of just putting up a paywall around your content so that nobody can see it without paying is obviously not going to work.

This is particularly true for legacy publishers, because it's important to remember that a paywall works as an amplifier for the results you already have.

For instance, if you are a publisher who is already losing your audience, putting up a paywall will just make you lose that audience faster. And we have seen many examples of this over the years.

As I mentioned earlier, the paying part of a paywall is almost never the real problem. The problem is convincing people, but the hard paywall comes with no elements that make this possible. So, in general, the hard paywall is rarely a good choice for publishers.

But over the past year we have seen interesting behaviors, mostly with young people. Because young people are extremely good at using digital channels, soft-paywalls (like a metered paywall) sometimes don't work for them. This is because young people know how to get around them or how to find other sources.

So, hard paywalls are coming back in the form of exclusive content, and there have been several very interesting examples of this over the past few years.

One that I came across recently is Helsingin Sanomat.

As they explain:

The soft paywall model did not work for the younger audience. The younger audience was already engaging with our content. In fact, this audience was reading it more than the older generations. Younger readers felt it was stupid to pay because it was so easy to bypass the paywall with incognito mode, social media, and other means. They would only pay if they could not get to the content without paying.

To create a reason for this younger audience to pay, we introduced hard paywall articles, which we called diamond articles. These articles are hand-picked, unique, and often take a long time to form - just like diamonds. We use the diamond emoji in social media to mark all the hard paywall stories and a diamond logo in our stories to mark the best of our content.

Standard news stories are not diamond articles, because reliable news is also available for free. What consumers are willing to pay for are mainly feature-like articles that dive deep into a topic.

This is truly fascinating, because they are using a hard paywall to create a type of exclusivity.

This, of course, is not unique for traditional publishing, we see exactly the same with many digital natives. For instance, many YouTubers who are using Patreon also have some elements of exclusivity that are only available for their 'Patreons'.

It's the same thing.

What's worth noting here is how big a change something like this requires. A hard paywall generally does not work for everyday content. It only works for special content that has this extra level of value and exclusivity. It also doesn't work for common topics.

As Helsingin Sanomat wrote, it doesn't work for "standard news".

So, to make this work, you need an entirely different editorial focus, but if you do that right, it can actually be a very interesting model ... especially for a younger audience, which is something that, just a few years ago, would have been insane to say.

However, also keep in mind the tremendous amount of marketing effort you need to put into this to make this work. Creating a hard paywall around exclusivity is pretty much the same as trying to launch a product. And as such, you need to put in a lot of marketing effort to make it work.

The paygate

The paygate is another very interesting model, and something that I came up with back in 2010.

It's just like a hard paywall, except that it's sharable.

The way it works is like this:

As with a hard paywall, non-subscribers can't read a paid-for article. But subscribers have full access, including the ability to share the article. And when they share it, anyone it is shared with can read it for free. People don't have to sign-up for an account. It just works.

This is how Baekdal Plus has worked since launch, and for many years it has been a very important driver of growth. The reason is that, because it can be shared freely, you get the exclusivity of a hard paywall combined with the social effect of 'word of mouth'.

In other words, you get the most powerful form of sharing effect of all, which is a personal recommendation.

On top of this, because it's sharable, it also works as a form of free trial for new readers to see what the full Plus articles are about.

The paygate also creates a more user-friendly experience for your subscribers because, by allowing them to share your content freely, you allow them to use the content in a way that feels much more natural.

And you can then use this. For instance, when a Plus subscriber shares one of my articles, there is a special notice added to the top of the page, adding the the exclusivity.

So a paygage is an enhanced version of a hard-paywall. So, should you use a paygate instead of a paywall? Well, that depends.

Because the content is sharable, a paygate doesn't work for big sites, because that would lead to too much content being shared and thus being freely available. It also doesn't work for general content like news.

For news it would be far better to focus on a metered paywall, which also allows sharing, but isn't limited to subscribers.

Where the paygate shines is when you have high-end and highly niche content, where word of mouth is an important factor for growth.

However, over the past several years, the effect of sharing has dramatically decreased due to changes in how social channels design their algorithms.

I illustrated this in "A Deep Dive into the Future of Subscriber Analytics", where I included this graph:

This graph illustrates how much sharing effect a single Plus subscriber generated for each article, over the past 7 years.

Between 2010 and 2015, every time this person shared an article, it created an additional 3,000-6,000 pageviews. But then in 2015, and more so in 2016, changes to how our social networks operate caused the effect of sharing to drop to almost nothing.

So, the sharing effect that you would get from a paygate is now much smaller than what it was five years ago.

For Baekdal Plus, this has resulted in free trials being a much more powerful element for subscriber growth. The paygate and the personal recommendations that it creates are still very important, but it's now only a secondary driver of new subscribers.

So, a paygate today probably only works as part of a hybrid paywall model. I would not recommend this as a single model.

The metered paywall

The metered paywall (also called a soft-paywall) is also a very special type of paywall in that it allows people to view a limited number of articles for free each month before asking them to pay.

For instance, a common model is for people to be able to read 5-10 articles per month.

A common example of its use is with newspapers, and this is no surprise. A metered paywall only works when you have a high frequency, high volume, low focus, and wide and often random audience.

If any of these conditions are different, the metered paywall stops working.

For instance, if you have a low frequency of visitors, most people will never hit the limit and thus can just read everything for free.

The most important element, however, is the low focus. Because as soon as you have a higher level of focus, other types of paywall work better, because then you have something far more specific to sell.

In other words, the metered is the lowest form of paywalls you can have. It's what you use when you lack specificity.

For most publishers, the metered paywall is not the best choice, but for newspapers, where you often have very little focus (since they are covering everything for a mass audience), it's one of the only models that really work.

So how should you set up a metered paywall? What should the limit be? Should it be 20 articles per month? 10? ...or 5?

The answer to this is very simple.

Measure it!

Here, for instance, is an example from Aftenposten, where they had originally set the limit to 20 articles per month. But when they did this they found more than 90% of their traffic never hit the limit.

This is obviously not good. So Aftenposten has now changed their model, which involved introducing a hybrid model (as explained earlier) and tightened the metered paywall limit.

What number Aftenposten is using is irrelevant, because you should measure this specifically for your site. Look at your frequency statistics, and set the limit to the threshold that fits you.

But if you want to be really smart about it, you should design your metered paywall to react dynamically to each person. This, for instance, is what the Wall Street Journal is now doing.

They have implemented a scoring system that looks at each person, and gives everyone a score for how likely they are to subscribe.

As the Nieman Lab reported:

What we've found is that if we open up the paywall - we call it sampling - to those who have a low propensity to subscribe, then their likelihood to subscribe goes up.

The Journal has found that these non-subscribed visitors fall into groups that can be roughly defined as hot, warm, or cold, according to Wells. Those with high scores above a certain threshold - indicating a high likelihood of subscribing - will hit a hard paywall. Those who score lower might get to browse stories for free in one session - and then hit the paywall. Or they may be offered guest passes to the site, in various time increments, in exchange for providing an email address (thus giving the Journal more signals to analyze). The passes are also offered based on a visitor's score, aimed at people whose scores indicate they could be nudged into subscribing if tantalized with just a little bit more Journal content.

This is a much better model than just having a metered paywall fixed to a specific limit.

The donation model

The donation model is a really weird model because it used to only work with very small sites, or with dedicated charities.

What's special about this model is that it doesn't limit the content in any way. All the articles are still free to read by anyone, regardless if they have donated money or not. It's purely a model based on people's willingness to support something they like.

For the past 20 years, many websites have tried monetizing via donation buttons, but it has never really worked. Here is an article from 2007 by ProBlogger that talks about its potential (which doesn't sound that interesting).

I suspect that this type of income stream will work better in the short term than over the long haul of a blog because it has a certain novelty factor and because those who are going to use it are more likely to do it once early on but less likely to make repeat purchases.

What's interesting is that, due to continued financial problems for publishers today, donations have started working as a way to keep something alive that you care about.

In the digital native world, this is driven by channels such as Patreon, where independent publishers have been able to convince people, in a somewhat modest way, to donate to their survival.

For instance, we have sites like Canadaland, a small news and podcast channel, who have been able to keep a modest living via donations. Or take the small publisher Fully Charged, which has an amazing channel about renewable energy, now also partly funded by Patreons.

And we are starting to see the same kind of effect in a larger sense with newspapers, although with very uneven results.

The only really successful example is The Guardian. The Guardian now has a very big audience of supporters, the latest public figure being 300,000 people who regularly are donating to The Guardian's continued survival as 'members'.

A total of 800,000 people now pay money to the Guardian, 300,000 of which are regular paying members, up from 50,000 two years ago, when it started offering paid memberships. An additional 200,000 subscribe to the digital and print editions and readers have made 300,000 one-off contributions, according to the publisher.

This is truly remarkable, because remember, all the content is still free. You don't have to pay anything to read any of the articles. These people are paying because they want to pay.

But before you think that this is also the model for you, there is a very important catch.

There are generally two things that need to exist before a donation model starts to work.

  1. You need to be threatened in some way, which was very true for a newspaper like the Guardian who for many years was losing an incredible amount of money.
  2. There needs to be an outside force that makes you relevant and wanted.

In the Guardian's case, this outside force is the polarization of the UK media landscape, with newspapers like the Daily Mail and others on one side and The Guardian on the other, combined with the absolute mess that is Brexit.

This creates a very strong outside need for people to support a newspaper.

This is also why newspapers like the New York Times are so successful. Here the combination of a polarized US media landscape and the total mess that exists around Trump and the entire US political system, creates a revenue potential that most other newspapers don't have.

If you took these elements away, suddenly it would no longer work. For instance, if the Guardian was a French or German newspaper, where they don't really have any big political problems, asking for donations to 'stay alive' just wouldn't work.

This also means that donations don't work for anything where there is any question of 'return on investment'. For instance, a business magazine is all about creating articles that are valuable in relation to your business. In this case, the whole model is based on return on investment, and asking for donations just doesn't work.

So, the donation model is very interesting, but it's extremely niche in its usefulness.

The Premium model

The premium model is kind of funny in that it used to be called the 'freemium model' until someone realized that 'free' didn't sell as well as 'premium'. But the concept is the same.

The premium model is based on the idea that you have two types of content on your site. Some of it is completely free, while other content is locked behind a hard paywall (aka premium). And you then use the traffic and exposure of your free content to drive awareness for your premium content.

It sounds like a really good idea, but, in practice, its success rate has been kind of sketchy and inconsistent.

One of the key problems is that many publishers don't understand what premium content really is. To make something premium, it needs to have a significantly higher level of focus, uniqueness, relevance, usefulness, concern and interest.

It cannot just be another random article about some random thing. It cannot just be news that doesn't really apply to anyone in particular. It cannot be about something that is merely nice to know.

This is a problem that I often see with publishers trying to do premium content. In order to get premium to work, there needs to be a very clear and very distinctive difference in the value and focus that you provide for your individual subscribers. Not just a focus within each individual article, but a focus across all of the premium space as a whole.

This is why the best premium paywalls are defined around niche areas of focus, rather than mass-market ones.

Another important thing about premium content is that it also exists in its own space. Even though you might use your free content to drive traffic to your site, this doesn't mean you have actually converted anyone to your premium content. Instead, in order for you to sell the premium content, you need to promote that separately (and aggressively).

But with that said, premium content is a very interesting model that works really well when done right. For instance, a hobby magazine would do really well creating a 'premium site' where you take things to a much higher level for the true enthusiasts.

The access model

The access model is another very interesting form of paywall, but probably not the way you think.

Usually when we talk about access models we think about 'Spotify for News', where you pay a single price to get access to a wide selection of publications as part of one big package (like with Blendle).

But this is not the access model that I'm thinking about, and if you want to know why, I invite you to read "Forget Spotify for News. Let's Fix the Real Problem" that I wrote last year.

When I talk about access models, I'm thinking about combining several premium models into a single 'all access' package for your most loyal audience.

The best way to illustrate this is to talk about sports. In the Plus report that I mentioned earlier, "A Guide to Pricing Strategies for a Sport Site", one of the multiple subscription offerings I talk about is based on access.

One example is when you have multiple events that people can buy access to individually, like in the example below with Eurosport (my concept) offering access to individual triathlon events.

In this case, it makes a lot of sense to offer people a full access plan where people get access to everything.

Of course, this could also apply to many other things.

For instance, if you are a fitness publisher and you are offering people three premium packages, one for exercise, one for nutrition, and one for health, it would make a lot of sense to then also offer a full access plan where, for a single price, they get all three.

And we now see this model being used in more and more places.

For instance, MasterClass is a brilliant high-end learning site that features many wonderful classes (for instance, about writing, by several famous authors and movie scriptwriters).

In the past, they only offered people the chance to buy individual classes, but now they've added an all access model.

So, now you have two choices. You can either buy access to a single class for the one-time fee of $90 (which is quite cheap considering the quality). Or you can buy full access to all the classes for $180 per year.

Notice that the 'all-access pass' is an annual subscription. So this is not just a wonderful example of an access paywall, it's also a good example of how to upsell people to become long-term customers.

MasterClass then takes this a step further, if you have already purchased classes in the past (like I have), they offer you a 50% discount to upgrade to a full subscription.

This is a really good way of turning one-time customers into long-term subscribers. And it's all based on the 'access' model.

BTW: I also love how incredibly simple they have designed their payment screen. This is something many publishers could learn from.

The product model

The product model is another very interesting form of paywall where, instead of selling a subscription to your content, you create a content 'product', which you then sell as an individual item.

In the past, this was a model that wasn't really possible to do, because the infrastructure needed for manufacturing, promotion, and distribution, just wasn't there.

Let me give a simple example.

One of the things we have seen is that many YouTubers and digital natives have started building up secondary income streams by selling some form of product.

Here, for instance, is a sound pack by YouTuber Peter McKinnon, who is famous for his videos about photography and video production. The purpose of this is to give video creators a collection of 50 sounds that they can use in their videos.

There is nothing really fancy about this. They are good original sounds, but it's basically just a zip file with 50 sound files that you can buy for $20. But think about the model here. This is something that simply wasn't possible before the internet.

This is important, because the internet has enabled a market that we usually wouldn't consider to be relevant, and many publishers are now defined around it.

One example I usually mention is with fitness magazines.

What would you rather pay for? A fitness magazine subscription where you just get random articles about random things? ...or, a fitness training plan that specifically helps you achieve your fitness goals?

The answer is that while most fitness magazines are struggling to survive, the internet is absolutely booming with these high-focus fitness training products.

Another example is with Masterclass, which I mentioned above. Here the main product is the classes where you can learn about things that you care about (with an upsell to 'access').

Again, it's a product based paywall.

Mind you, it's always preferable to have a continuous relationship with your audience. The product focus is, from a trend perspective, taking up a bigger and bigger slice of publishing when we look at how digital natives are successful.

So, always consider this as an option, as a secondary (or even primary) income stream, or as a starting point for your relationship with your audience.

The single-copy sales

Finally, we see people talk about single-copy sales as a form of paywall. The difference between this model and the product model is that the single-copy model focuses on selling individual pieces of content, rather than collections of it.

For instance, with Masterclass each class is divided up into about 30 individual sessions, so imagine that instead of buying access to the full class, you would buy each individual 5-15 minute session.

Some would then also suggest you add 'micropayments' into this, so that instead of paying $90 for the full class, you are now just paying $1 per session.

I hear many who argue that this is a good model, but it isn't.

This is a terrible model.

The reason is very simple. Your goal should always be to get people to connect with you for the long-term. As such, asking people to pay for individual articles will always be less effective than to simply give that article to people as a free trial.

The reason is that when you look at the numbers, single-copy sales always lead to a lower total revenue.

Here is an example.

What I have done here is to compare the total revenue for people who initially focused on single-copy sales, and people who instead gave the content for free as part of a free trial.

As you can see, even though the single-copy sales created an additional income of $5,000, it also dramatically lowered the total audience who would later upgrade to a full subscription.

In comparison, the free trial system initially attracted four times as many people, which had a really big impact on the final revenue potential.

So, my advice to you is to forget about single-copy sales. It's a distraction, because it would always be better to increase your initial exposure (for free) so that you can convert more people later.

What model would work for you?

These are all the paywall models that are available to you, and, as you can see, there are a lot of nuances, challenges, and complexities with them.

The challenge now is to figure out what works best for you.

As I mentioned earlier, the best option is probably some form of hybrid model, where you are combining different paywall models and different offerings, and where you are continually focusing on upselling people to the next stage.

You also have to consider how you are going to convince people that you are worth paying for. How are you going to show people what it is that you have to offer? What type of free trial should you add? Should it be a traditional one? A metered one? A premium one? ...or some form of sampling?

Don't just stop thinking about this once people start paying. Think about how your content is going to be used. Do you need to consider sharing? Or maybe you need to create a service that people use every day?

There is no single answer to the best way to do this, because it all depends on your focus as a publisher and the needs and moments of your audience. But with this Plus report, I hope you now have the big picture to get it going.

And if you want a practical example, don't forget to read "A Guide to Pricing Strategies for a Sport Site".


The Baekdal Plus Newsletter is the best way to be notified about the latest media reports, but it also comes with extra insights.

Get the newsletter

Thomas Baekdal

Founder, media analyst, author, and publisher. Follow on Twitter

"Thomas Baekdal is one of Scandinavia's most sought-after experts in the digitization of media companies. He has made ​​himself known for his analysis of how digitization has changed the way we consume media."
Swedish business magazine, Resumé


—   monetization   —


What will happen to publishers after COVID-19?


Read the room. Why publishers' call to advertisers is misguided


Why is it important that we do not give news away for free during a crisis?


Premium Podcast Monetization Strategies Explained


The difference between advertising and charity ... and supporting the news


The problem with the $4.7 billion that News Media Alliance say Google makes from News