15 Innovative Tactics To Grow Your Subscription Revenues

Grow your subscriptions

So you have subscriptions running on your website and paid subscriptions are ok… but you need to generate new digital product revenues? What are our publishers putting to work?


The following 15 17 strategies are easy, low hanging fruit, tactics that you can implement now to create and grow new revenues. All these strategies have been tested by our publisher clients and are ready for you to put into action. If you would like to listen to the episode that inspired this list, head over to hear the episoe here: Paywall Podcast.

The 1st item on this list is foundational.

You need to capture more interested casual readers by trading some free content for their email and login to your website. Get them on your newsletter and let it drive more interested readers back to your articles. Engaged readers tend to subscribe at a higher rate and they give you behavioral data.

The last item #17 is your second foundational step. With your free registered readers getting your free newsletter, it’s job focused on upgrading your free readers to paid. Your (easy to automate) subscriber-only newsletter can add a lot of value to your paid subscription/membership.

So read #1 first and then #17

1. Build your email list with a free registration wall

If you are not capturing visitors with a free registration wall then this is your first priority. You must grow your email list to nurture future paid subscriptions. If you are thinking your paywall is an annoyance on your website then we suggest it simply is not implemented correctly.

Your paywall needs to engage your casual readers. A larger list also means more sponsor revenue. Learn how to set up your free registration.

Let’s talk paid subscriptions

Peter Ericson

Want to learn more about growing your audience and converting subscribers with your paywall? Get in touch with Pete.

Let’s talk

2. Hide ads from your subscribers and charge more

Roughly 10% of your readers will pay you 40% more just to hide ads. We know, publishers don’t want to lose ad revenue. We hear this all the time but only a very small percentage of your website traffic is from your logged-in paid subscribers.

Hiding ads is easy to set up with our Ad Dropper extension and it’s almost free additional revenue and your biggest fans will love it. Read the case study.

3. Sell subscriptions AND promote donations

Speaking of biggest fans, let them pay you more than your asking subscription price and give them full access to your content. You can easily target your paid subscribers and ask them to contribute. You can also simply offer a Donation subscription level that lets fans pay more AND offers access to your content. Learn more about offering Subscriptions, Memberships, and Donations.

4. Add a subscriber benefit: posting classifieds/events on your website

Do what Small Boats Magazine does: let subscribers post unlimited classifieds. It grew their classified listings and boosted subscribers. Just restrict the classified submission page with Leaky Paywall or let WordPress users with the Subscriber role post using your favorite classifieds plugin.

5. Sell one off access to content

If you are a publisher with valuable one-off content, consider giving your readers the option of purchasing single content or subscribing for full access. We are starting to see this gain some steam as single content buyers are coming back for more. Learn more about pay-per-article with this case study.

6. Gift Subscriptions should be 20% of your subscriptions… promote them

If you are a B2C publisher, talk to Greg Wolfe. Greg has long-time marketed in the print magazine space, and he will tell you that 20% of your revenues should be gifts. That’s likely a big opportunity for your giftable publication.

7. Slim your subscription offerings to one to reduce indecision

Give your visitors less options to eliminate choice overload. Make it easy to subscribe. Netflix is king of this (recurring monthly), the New York Times now promotes only one subscription type, and even veteran print publishers are looking at focusing on a single annual print+digital offer (with a print opt-out).

Here is a great looking subscribe page that converts paid and gift subscriptions.

8. Sell group subscriptions to a business, school, library, or organization

Start talking up access to organizations. Once they say yes you can handle the payment offline and provide a coupon code for individual access. If you need details on how to pull this off check out this article on group access options.

9. Local sports section: Sell sponsorships on the images in your photo galleries

Publish a local news site with lots of photos? Sell a photo gallery sponsorship like Spotlight News has been doing for years. Simply add a watermark of the sponsor to the photo using Photoshop or a WordPress plugin.

10. Get realtors to sponsor your local news site with a coupon code

Real estate agents want to get their name out. Help them by having them give out branded discount codes for an annual subscription to their clients and prospects. It’s easy to do: Create a discount code in their name (Ex code: janesmithrealty) that is good for 100 subscriptions. Sell it to them at a bulk discount.

11. Find a sponsor for your free registration

Do you offer a free registration on your website (you should)? Promote the name of a sponsor on the subscribe card, free registration form, in your welcome email, and on your website. It’s a big exposure for your sponsor and easy sponsorship revenue for you. Here’s a simple example (note the free registration card).

12. Block incognito browsing

Some of our financial publishers tell us that blocking incognito browsing and browser switching bumps their subscription revenue over 10%. Yes, we all do it, but you can tighten up your paywall and boost your paid subscriptions. Here’s how.

13. Sell access to private podcasts

We see publishers starting to monetize premium podcasts via Apple Podcasts. Why not control the experience and (revenue) by restricting your premium podcasts on your own site. Easy to do… just restrict your media to a specific subscription level.

Street Photography Magazine has been succeeding with this for years.

14. Sell premium archive access with a Timewall

Do you have a deep archive of evergreen content (I’m looking at you magazine publishers)? Are you amassing a database of valuable content for a niche? Lock down your articles after a specific amount of time and require a more expensive plan to access it as Track and Field News has been doing.

15. Upsell a product on your check-out page

Add a checkbox to purchase a print edition, calendar, DVD, or other physical good during registration. Small Boats Magazine publishes an annual print book that you can easily add on checkout.

16. Local news publisher? Sell a family plan

You don’t even have to lift a finger for this one. Simply create a higher priced “Family Plan” that lets more than one subscriber log in, which is typically the default setup. You can get fancy with this with group subscriptions or concurrent access restrictions later.

Learn more about how to set up a family plan.

17. Easily turn your existing newsletter in a premium newsletter

Turn your existing newsletter into a value-add premium newsletter. It’s easy and empowers you to target and better message your readers.

Let’s talk paid subscriptions

Peter Ericson

Want to learn more about growing your audience and converting subscribers with your paywall? Get in touch with Pete.

Let’s talk

Learn how Leaky Paywall can help grow your subscription revenue