Over 10 years (+ counting)
News and magazine publishers needed a new revenue stream to counter the decline of print and digital ad revenues and grow digital subscriptions. Coming a from an early digital marketing background that started up in 1998 (corporate web development) we have always known that digital publishing offers more revenue possibilities than publishers thought possible. Leaky Paywall is the result of that belief.
However, building a digital subscription platform was not our first product.
2010: A New Challenge for Issue Based Publishers
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 web-based 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, other colleges came knocking on our door, looking for the same services: Simmons, Middlebury, Amherst, Yale, Harvard, Berkeley, Einstein, and others.
Today, a decade later, over 1000 issue based publishers are using IssueM to deliver modern content in a Google, social, and mobile 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. At the time publishers were locked into hard paywalls which restricted their audience growth. Search engines could not discover publishers deep content and readers weren’t sharing those restricted articles on Facebook, Linkedin, etc.
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. Readers 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 1000 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 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 Leaky Paywall’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 help target and convert paying members. You can upsell premium+ content, leverage your newsletters, sell individual articles, bulk subscriptions, and even offers sponsorships in your subscription funnel. How about apps? It’s all possible with our Leaky Paywall subscription platform.
Want to see what a decade of learning and forging the digital publication space can do for your publication? Let’s talk.