How we got into publishing with college magazines

2010: A New Challenge

In 2010, Dartmouth College presented us with a challenge: they wanted to bring Dartmouth Engineer Magazine, a traditional print publication, online.

But they didn’t want to use any of the options available at the time. No unwieldy flipbooks or PDFs.

They wanted an actual issue: all their collected stories gathered together and published with one click.

With WordPress as a solid foundation, CEO & Founder Pete Ericson and software engineer Lew Ayotte designed and built IssueM to meet all of their criteria.

A new way of presenting digital publications, capable of integrating with email, with social media, with search engines. Easy to manage on the backend and beautiful on the front.

It became the perfect vehicle for Dartmouth Engineer to reach out to all of its students — past, present, and future.

How do we know it was perfect?

Not long after, a whole litany of colleges came knocking on our door, looking for the same services.

Today, a decade later, over 1000 publishers are using IssueM to deliver knock-out content in a user-friendly format.

Leaky Paywall: A Star Is Born

It wasn’t long after IssueM started gaining momentum that one of its users approached us with a custom request: a way to restrict posts to paid subscribers, without cutting off all access to search engines and social media.

We took a page out of The New York Times’ playbook: Lew and Pete built Leaky Paywall.

A metered paywall allows casual readers to sample a few articles before restricting the rest to subscribers only. But it’s a leaky paywall because search engines can still sneak a peak behind the wall. Readers can share their accessed articles on social media. They also get to choose which articles they want to explore —  they’re limited by number, not by topic.

Leaky Paywall started out small: it only worked with IssueM articles. But it had the bones of something greater.

Over time, Leaky Paywall has expanded in scope. It works for just about any WordPress publication and service integration. As the most flexible paywall on the market, It has become the subscription and revenue foundation for more than 900 digital publications.

2015: A New Team Member

For our 5th birthday, ZEEN101 treated ourselves to a new lead developer and a paradigm shift.

It was a meeting of the minds at WordCamp Boston when Pete Ericson met up with Jeremy Green.


Together they made the decision to stop selling IssueM and Leaky Paywall as individual products and make them open sourced on WordPress instead. This created a whole new level of usability and innovation.

Jeremy’s elegant coding gave us a whole new range of options for improving and customizing ZEEN101’s foundational tools.

From there it was just a matter of time before the word began to spread.

Today: Prepared for the Future

A decade of experience in digital publishing has honed the tools and advice we provide to our publishers.

We can show you how growing your email list can increase your digital subscriptions. We can introduce you to new ways of making advertising revenue. Looking for a way to push your publication online and on mobile without muddying your workflow? Want to sell single issues or make the most of your premium content? We know how to do all of that.

From IssueM, Leaky Paywall, and our UniPress platform for apps to our PubCare suite of services and our new LiveMarket approach to digital advertising, we are confident in our ability to see publishers grow their digital subscriptions and revenue.

Which warrants some celebration.

So, Happy 10th Birthday to us! (We wouldn’t say no to some cake.)

Want to see what a decade of learning and forging the digital publication space can do for your publication? Let’s talk.

Learn how Leaky Paywall can help grow your subscription revenue