Boost revenue and readership with a sponsored subscription level

A clever idea to boost revenue

Rugby News has found a way to combine a free registration level, email-based bulk subscriptions, and advertising sponsorships into something new.

Individual subscriptions are bread and butter for most publications, but sometimes there’s cake, too. Bulk subscriptions of any kind are a nice revenue bonus, with the added benefit of collecting email addresses for your continued reader outreach as well.

There are a few basic bulk subscription types: IP-based, email-based, group-owned. But clever publishers are also finding ways to mix and match these to find new ways to expand their readership and their revenue with bulk subscriptions.

A sponsored subscription level

Rugby News is an Australian publication of, you guessed it, rugby news. They publish stories on every level of the sport, from school to professional.

They also have created what they call the ‘Student Pass’. The student pass is a free subscription level, offered to anyone with a valid high school email address.

Their revenue for that free level comes from the advertising budget of their sponsor, the University of Wollongong Crusaders Global Rugby Program.

The sponsor benefits

It’s not hard to see what Rugby News gets from this: a nice chunk of advertising revenue from the sponsor, more readers sharing their content for more exposure. But the sponsor gets a good deal too.

Sponsored content is an increasingly popular alternative to more traditional methods of digital advertising. Given how ineffective banner ads have proven to be online, attaching the sponsor’s name to valuable and themed content is a strong alternative. Sponsoring a subscription level is no different.

There are four main benefits to the sponsor of a free registration level.

  1. Their name and/or logo on the subscription card
    When you customize that card (which is easy to do in Leaky Paywall), you can even add a sponsor link, giving them a landing page where they can explain their mission or share their messaging.
  2. Their logo on the registration page for their sponsored level
    It’s not hard to create a separate registration page for the special level. Adding the logo is just a matter of using the right shortcode to customize the registration page.
  3. A customized welcome email to the sponsored level
    The sponsor can add their logo and messaging to the automated welcome email that goes out to each registrant for the free level. The Per Level Emails Add-on allows you send targeted email campaigns to your different subscription levels.
  4. A one-time email blast to the members of their sponsored level
    The MailChimp integration allows you to automatically tag your new members. For the sponsored level, they’d be tagged ‘free’ (so they get all the messaging you send to encourage free readers to become paid) and ‘sponsored’ (so you can create a list with these specific free level members). You can offer the sponsor a chance to send out one email to that sponsored list, reaching out to them for whatever purpose the sponsor can devise.

Not such a hard sell, is it?

Easy to accomplish

There are a few easy ways to create a sponsored subscription level, depending on who the sponsor wants to offer it to.

The first step is to create a new subscription level with the sponsor’s name on it.

Then, if the sponsor wants to offer it to a group with a shared email extension – like the students using their valid school emails to gain access to Rugby News –  you can set up an email-based corporate subscription.

If the targeted group doesn’t have something like that in common, you can create a coupon code specific to the subscriber. They can give it to the group they want to sponsor and proceed from there.

Have any clever ideas for subscription sales? Let’s talk about how to make them reality.


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