The final word in local publication recommendations
The wrap-up of our local news publication series sees Leaky Paywall’s Pete Ericson and Tyler Channell discuss how they would build a local news publication to succeed in the digital age, using the best practices they’ve learned in their extensive experience with generating revenue with paid subscriptions.
Viability & Local News
- There is still a hunger for local news, even in the digital age. Don’t assume that you have to become dependent on large donors and a nonprofit status to be viable.
- Subscriptions and membership, handled correctly in your community, can keep your local news publication afloat.
- Subscriptions may bring in less revenue than advertising, but a digital publication requires less overhead than print.
- With a digital membership model, you actually can make a decent living publishing local news.
- Supporting a local publication is actually cheaper for the community in the long run: research proves that local news keeps local politicians accountable, often keeping taxes lower.
- If you’re taking the regional approach, maintain separate websites for each town you cover, to maintain your hyper-local focus and appeal.
- They can be hooked together via Multipass, if you want to sell multiple publication access via one subscription.
- Consider sponsorships as an alternate revenue stream to traditional advertising. Advertisers can sponsor anything: newsletters, article series, even apps.
- Start with traditional local news reporting.
- Also focus on social media curation from YouTube, Facebook, list serves: what are other people observing that affects your community. Curate that into a daily newsletter or section. The internet has so much information, people are willing to pay for curated content.
- Focus your goals on membership, but work your way up to it.
- Start with a few free articles, leading to a free registration, which leads to a newsletter, eventually evolving into a paid subscription.
- Your messaging, though prompting a paid subscription, should focus on membership: supporting the interests of the community.
- Perks you can offer to paid members include full-access, the ability to engage via premium comments, a premium newsletter, hidden ads, or a buy-one/get-one deal.
- Most of these are incredibly easy to set up, right out of the box.
- This gradual approach is made possible through your paywall, which allows you to offer meter free articles, while still allowing search and social access to all content.
- Your free newsletter is key to your funnel: it offers steady reminders of valuable content to free registrants, who will eventually want to read more than they have access to.
- The best way to collect your email addresses is via free registration. It encourages more engagement.
- Newsletters and email lists can be automated through MailChimp tags.
- Anyone tagged ‘free’ gets your free newsletter, which is just excerpts, sending people back to your publication (and article meter) to read the full content.
- Anyone tagged ‘paid’ gets the premium, full-text email, which is much more convenient. No log-ins or clicks, all comfortably curated in your inbox. Maybe sent earlier, even.
- Leaky Paywall can automatically manage the tags for non-payment, bumping anyone who’s payment fails back down to ‘free’ with reminders to manage their subscription.
- As an alternative to MailChimp or Zapier or other third party clients, Newsletter Glue allows you to create, manage, and publish your newsletters within WordPress.
- Hiding ads is, obviously, a reader perk. But it actually won’t materially damage your advertisers either.
- Only your best readers will opt-in to the ad-free experience, but they’ll be willing to pay up to 40% more to go ad-free.
- Likely, more than 90% of your readers will still be seeing the ads, but the other 10% will be paying you quite a bit more money.
- Sponsorships allow you to focus your advertising efforts on engaged, local community businesses in a more elegant and targeted way than display ads.
- Create specific sponsored campaigns, in email or articles, tracking conversions rather than impressions.
- Offering sponsorships over display ads and giving members the ad-free option is also creating a member-first experience, which is key in the community-building aspect of local publications.
- Selling paid memberships doesn’t preclude you from asking for donations. You’re still a mission-based publication and people want to support you.
Specialty subscriptions: coupons, password-sharing, gifts, group subscriptions
- Offering a buy-one/get-one subscription via coupon code grows your readership virally. By the time their subscription term expires, they’re hooked.
- Creating engagement in the comments is a great way to avoid password-sharing. Not wanting other to have access to their commenting account will prevent people from giving away their login.
- Selling a 2-5 person family plan allows readers to invite multiple people to have individual access for less than a whole separate subscription for each.
- Gift subscription sales should be about 20% of your subscription revenue. Promote them to your paid members from the get-go.
- Corporate or group subscriptions can be targeted to schools, libraries, or real estate agents. (Real estate agents can purchase a hundred-seat group subscription and offer a membership to new home owners in the area, branded with their name.)
- Consider giving local eateries free access within their establishments, via IP range, in exchange for word-of-mouth advertising of that access.
- Keep your offers simple: don’t make people do math. One offer, with maybe one exception for print and digital v. digital only.
- Price realistically for what you need to stay in business, but considering what people will pay. You can always raise the price overtime if needed.
- Ideal option: Provide two offers.
- The first is the real price of publication, including an explanation where the money is going.
- The second is a “pay what you can”, using the name-your-price extension.
- Some people won’t pay anything but most people will pay what they think is fair. They’ll really think about it and they’ll feel good about what they can afford.
- As a safeguard, consider using IP Blocker to eliminate incognito browsing as a way to elude the paywall. We’ve seen subscriptions go up by 10% when it is turned on.
More questions to ask or success stories to share? Get in touch.
Welcome to the Paywall Podcast. This is episode number 27. I’m Pete I’m here with Tyler again, and we are going to finish up the conversation about local news publishing. This episode is gonna be part free and the topic here is how would we build a local. News publication. So welcome back, Tyler. Hello?
Hello. Let’s dig into it. Just to refresh a little bit, we’ve worked with a lot of local news publishers. We’ve looked at the successful ones and what is working there and we’re going to. Share with you how we would build, actually build and the tactics behind it, a local news publication to succeed in today’s digital age.
And before we jump into it this is something we talked about in a previous episode. There’s really one main decision point in, in, in my opinion anyway, and that is to decide whether you’re going to. Take a donation based approach where you offer all your content for free and then upsell maybe some perks or if you’re going to draw a hard line and say, Hey we’re gonna sell membership here.
And if you become a member, then you have a certain number of perks. Ways work. We prefer the membership model which we discussed last time and that is essentially requiring members to pay for all the perks that they’re gonna get. Okay. Tyler, I want you, you made a comment this morning.
We were chatting earlier about digital subscriptions and the future of local news publishing. And I know you have a very strong opinion on what survivability looks like for, local news publishers. Do you wanna, riff on that a little bit? Yeah, sure. The whole for those of you who have heard me talk about paywall project, the whole idea behind that was to generate revenue for local news publishers.
And to show that there actually is an appetite for. For spending money on local news, that the people in your community will actually spend money on that. And to show that there’s value there. And I know there are a lot of startups, especially that have gone more of a non-profit route and I just have a couple of things.
Not that’s a bad route to go. It’s certainly an option. And it’s certainly a way to continue to provide local news in a community, which is very much needed. However, I will caution those who are thinking about that route as when we think about local news or just news in general, the model has long been advertising has driven our, revenue and.
And then we provide local news content. As, part of that, if you shift to a nonprofit model, essentially you shift from advertising revenue to philanthropic donations. A lot of times nonprofits are, funded by large donors who. Just want to support local news, which is fantastic. I I support that.
I love that. I love that, that there are people out there who will do that. However just, keep in mind that when you, make that shift, you’re essentially moving your revenue from add dollars to now donors like large donors who could at any point, decide to change their mind or change their funding.
And then. You’re left with no revenue stream. So the reason that I like to focus on digital subscriptions as a primary source of revenue is that that shows that people are willing to pay for the content that you produce. And even though the amounts are small, They do add up. And I think about it in terms of like political campaigns where people are giving like 10 or $15 a month to their candidate of choice.
It’s very similar in that it’s getting everyone in town to. Chip in a few bucks to essentially gain access to what’s going on in their community. And it’s way cheaper to do that than it is to not have it in the, to have local news in your community at all. There’s actually research to support this, that when local news disappears from a community there’s, more corruption in local government taxes can go up.
There’s a lot of a lot of things that, that happen when government’s not being held accountable. Yeah, I like that. That’s where I’ll stop cheaper, to pay for local news than to do that’s right. That’s my point. That’s my point. It’s cheaper just to pay a little bit for a month to have local news journalists cover what’s going on than it is to not have it at all.
Yeah. Local news gets fed to regional news, which gets picked up by national news. It’s, definitely the bedrock. And to me I local news is more valuable to me than national news because virtually any publication can report on national news anywhere you are. But local news is much harder because it’s localized to one specific spot on a map.
To me, there’s more value in knowing exactly what’s going on in my community. And in, in this little bubble. Yeah. Versus a national, yeah. Spectrum. Awesome. All right. So let’s dig into that. The subscriptions model we, as you can tell, we’re fans of local hyper local content. One of the things we’ve looked at is in terms of who’s actually making it work is when you’re publishing content, that is laser focused on your community, on your local community.
And you’re not. Broadly. We do see P regional publishers covering multiple towns, but it you’re giving up the ability to go deep into local reporting. So you have to be very careful of the area that you’re reporting on. And if we were to do it, I were to do it. I would have two, three, I would’ve separate websites, one for each town.
You can hook ’em together. With our multipass if you wanted to give all access to all the separate websites, but that’s how you go deep and really engage the local community. Yeah. And especially for local news publishers those who were used to making a lot of money from, ads. In a different era going digital and having a digital presence you, might not ever make as much as you did when advertising was paying the bills.
But the overhead of running a digital operation doesn’t necessarily require a building. It doesn’t require a massive staff. It doesn’t require a lot of. Yeah, so your, margins will be higher. And and, your content obviously is, laser focused. So right. Hoping hope is that people will, subscribe to that.
I’ll also say that when you’ve engaged your local community enough, which means you have a huge. Email list and you have probably a mix of free registrations and paid subscribers or paid donors. If you go that route you have a huge sponsorship opportunity. So the advertising, the traditional advertising shifts a bit where you can advertise on a website and you can generate a few bucks doing that, but you certainly run the risk of.
Alienating your, paid subscribers with a lot of advertising. So the, shift is going more towards sponsored products where you might sponsor an email or you might have an article series where you’re someone is sponsoring that article series. You can sponsor like your free registrations.
You can, if you have apps, you can sponsor the apps. There’s there’s a lot of creative ways to generate ad revenue, quote unquote, with a sponsorship model. That’s just a lot more elegant. Yeah. And then these advertisers, they love the sponsorship model because they they know that they’re, coming in with a quality a quality approach to and an elegant approach to the readership instead of just blasting, ads.
Yeah. Yeah. Okay. And I think you can make a decent living having a small public digital only publication relative to the, local community that you’re in. It’s, certainly possible. Absolutely but, the days of making millions of dollars it’s, a lot more difficult to do that on a local level, but you can certainly make a decent living providing hyper local news and and going to digital subscription membership route.
And that’s today. Today you can do well today, which means tomorrow you can do better if you keep your eye on the ball. Yeah. Yep. All right. So let’s I wanna jump into a little more into Tactics and the con let’s start with content briefly, and then we’ll jump into actual subscriptions.
Okay. What, do I publish? I wanna start a, and I’ve talked about this. I’d love to start a local news publication for our little our, really our three towns, which are very tightly knit knit together, Grantham, Sunapee in new London and really go deep with with. With these three, they’re all very, small towns, but they’re all geographically connected and socially connected.
And so that would make sense. Local news what’s actually happening and, creating unique reporting. So reporting on the news. Absolutely. That’s the traditional way, but I would also add the curation model of curating. Social media curating what’s happening on list serves locally.
If there’s YouTube videos, if there’s college news that affects the, local area and, take the we’ve talked about daybreak in the past. I think Tyler, you also brought up Madison minutes, which is another one to look at which looking at on, on the screen here where very similar to daybreak they’re, curating local local happenings from.
What’s you know, list serves and, Facebook and Reddit all these sort of other social media destinations where local news is being talked about, and then bringing, curating that content and putting it together in a. Daily newsletter. That’s absolutely fantastic. Yeah. If there’s any positive byproduct of social media algorithms, it’s that there’s now opportunity to curate content that’s otherwise you would never see, or you would see it maybe you’d see part of it.
People are now willing to, pay for. For curated content, because there’s just so much stuff online for people to sift through and so many different channels of places to get it from. So having it in, the inbox is pretty convenient and being able to, sift through it quickly. Yes.
Convenience is everything. Time is getting worse and worse for all of us on this planet. We have less and less time as things move faster. And so if so, if you do a good job curating news for your local area, people will sign up in droves. It’s just saving time. It’s saving money today. Yeah. Yeah, for sure.
Okay. So that’s, the content approach yes. Create, unique content to your heart’s content, but don’t forget to curate what’s already happening in your local area. Yep. Okay. So now, I wanna jump into the actual subscription portion of it, which obviously we, get involved with every day.
And so what I would do is I would set up A membership model on the website. It would, that would includes a free registration, which we talk about all the time, which you should absolutely have. You give away a few free articles and then you require a, free registration, which captures the email address, sends it off to say MailChimp, which I would use.
And then you would get maybe a little extra access so that free registration builds the list, but the, membership. Once somebody is receiving your newsletter daily, let’s say daily newsletter. And it’s driving them back to the website to read more content and essentially prompting the pitch to, to join as a member and support support the publication support, which supports the community and engage with the community.
All that messaging, even though it’s paid subscriptions. The messaging is membership. The messaging is community and joining and supporting it’s all the it’s the same messaging as if it were donation based. But this membership model If you take the, paid membership and you’re drawing a line in the sensing you have to pay and the, or the it’s the same as the donation model, except for the donation model.
You’re letting people at your content, your full content and asking for a donation. But the perks that you offer can be exactly the same to encourage people, to to pay, to give you payment for your content, but we’re gonna. I’m gonna choose membership. I’m gonna require the payment. And these are the perks that I would offer one.
It’s pretty obvious that’s full access to content. That free registered user, which is your, CA more casual but engaged reader your, you want them to have full access to I would offer the ability to engage with others in the community and our publishing staff, our authors that are writing the content through comments.
So premium comments. You can’t read any comments until you pay. And I have a screenshot here. This is, this would be, if you’re watching this you can see You can offer the ability to participate ask, questions comment on issues. And I would show the number of comments that are available, but not, and not let you read the comments unless you’re a paid member, essentially.
That’s the second perk. The third perk would be a premium newsletter. And that is essentially a full text newsletter instead of excerpt newsletter. And that, speaks to convenience. Four would be a hiding ads. A clutter free experience and five would be like a buy one, get one free.
So in other words if I buy a membership, then I can give one away. So those are the five perks and you and I, Tyler, we’ve been chatting about it. And I think we’ve settled on, these five is a good starting point to, really motivate that whole That whole like subscription funnel from start to end.
So your, website and I’ll just mention this, cuz it’s always worth mentioning your website. Has a metered paywall set up. So with leaky paywall your you’re, leaking a few articles a month. Maybe it’s one article a month. Maybe it’s two articles a month. Google can index everything.
Everything can be shared in social media. Then you ask. You require a free registration. If you want a little extra access to content, you still can’t still wouldn’t be able to comment. You would not get the premium newsletter. You wouldn’t get any of the perks, but you would get a few more articles.
And then that builds your, that gets handed off to MailChimp. Builds your list quickly works really, well. Then your newsletter. Gets fired off daily. It’s excerpt based, sends people back to your website to read more articles, which triggers the paid messaging, the upgrade message essentially.
So that’s, the funnel. And then the, upgrade message is all about. Joining the community, supporting local news staying informed really that, local feeling of, belonging. And then of course you get your perks.
Okay. So let me keep let, just check my notes here. All right. Let’s talk a little bit about the premium newsletter perk a little bit on how that would work. Just wanna clarify that. So when you get somebody to join your. Your email list. The way I would set it up is you have your free registration and you can certainly have a, like a MailChimp pop up or something.
How you collect the email address is important. It’s better to have an email than not the free registration starts. The relationship though. It also. Forces somebody who is a casual visitor to to give up their email address to get that, extra content and stay engaged. And when you, set up the free registration, what you’re doing is you’re setting a free tag off to MailChimps.
You can target everyone on your MailChimp list for free that’s tagged as free and send them your exce. Based newsletter. In other words, your newsletter has just the excerpts of the articles that are in there. And then you, have to click the link. Usually it’s the title of the article or the read more button that takes you back to the to the article.
And then you can read the full article if you’re still have an allotment on your free registration on the website. That’s the free registration. Now when somebody pays for a full membership Sends on payment, it would send a paid tag, call it premium, or you call it member whatever, you want to name.
The tag that, that paid tag goes to MailChimp. And the way leaky paywall works is it’s the tags get mirrored between leaky pay wall and MailChimp, which is sweet. So now the. Free tag goes away, gets replaced by the paid tag. If somebody cancels or if the credit card fails or whatnot, then the paid tag gets removed with and replaced by a canceled tag.
Now, the, once you have the paid tag, some on the list you, can send those and this is all you can fully automate. You can send a full text, email to the everyone who’s listed is paid. So I get this. So if I pay and I’m a member, I get an email. Maybe it’s one article, maybe it’s 10 articles or whatever.
I can have an email with, full text on it. You might have a little navigation up top if it’s, if you’re publishing a lot of news. But if it’s just a few articles, you probably don’t need to bother or, just have what’s, in this. And then I can just read the whole email without having to click without having to log in.
It’s just a convenient saves me time. It’s a perk. It’s a great perk. And we’ve seen with other publishers that offer this this perk that they’re their readers. They love it. Maybe they’re getting ready in the morning. And this is this is how they’re consuming their news.
They don’t it’s, no clicking, no logging in. They just know when they get their email, they get everything and it’s all in one, one place for them. Yeah. And speaking of having things all in one place I just wanted to give a shout out to newsletter glue dot com. Oh yes. If you want to publish your newsletter using MailChimp, but doing it inside of, the WordPress dashboard I would highly, recommend this, product.
It allows you to target your tags. Like we just talked about, you can target the paid people. You can target free people. And also it creates an archive of all of your newsletters on the back end of, WordPress. You can publish that. You can let people check out your past newsletters. It’s all around an ingenious product for.
For whatever system you’re using, whether it’s MailChimp or something else, they have a lot of, integration. So worth checking that out. It’s called news letter glue.com. Yeah. That’s a great tip. Yeah, we will save you time. Cut your workflow down. You don’t have to touch MailChimp. You just work out a word for us and send everything out.
Just let Mel Chi do the sending and you can do everything else inside of, WordPress. And not have to worry about going into that clunky back end of, MailChimp. So exactly. Yeah, exactly. Yep. That definitely used newsletter glue and then the other, the third part of the premium newsletter approach is, and this is optional, but if you wanna get sophisticated, you could also send out your premium newsletter earlier.
Then let’s say your, free newsletter. So your free newsletter could go out at eight o’clock or something like that. And your premium newsletter could basically you could promote early access. So it goes out at six. Again, depends on your workflow. Do you need it? Probably not the the full, access, full content newsletter is probably enough, but that’s another thing that we’ve seen publishers promote and works.
Yeah. Especi, especially if you’re a publisher who’s in like the stock world. You’re your latest information your, latest take on stuff. If you have an audience around that sector, it can certainly. Yep. A good thing to have. Yep. So it’s easy to all, these all these perks. We’re obviously we’re talking about leaky paywall and whatever other platforms to integrate with MailChimp.
All these are super easy to set up out of the box. With the exception of one that’s the comments . So the premium comments just a quick note you do, because every theme is different. You do need, and comments are integrated with theme functionality. You do have to make a couple of tweaks in the theme.
It’s not hard to do. But that comments are, is one thing that, that you’ll have to have a WordPress developer. Just make a tweak too. Yeah. And I’ll say this too, if you’re a mail champ. Hater, you just don’t like it. It’s terrible just too much going on. You can use whatever you want. Use any other newsletter platform and we do have an option to send.
Subscribers to those other newsletter platforms through Zapier. So if you have a really odd newsletter program that you, like to use, then if it’s integrated with Zapier, then we can integrate with it. Yep. Exactly. Okay. So let’s talk a little bit about another perk, which we mentioned, and that’s hiding ads on your website.
This is something that’s been actually talked about for years but we haven’t really seen publishers engage on it. The argument is, Hey, we want our we want. Best readers are paid subscribers to see our sponsors, to see our sponsor ads, because sponsors are saying wait a second.
You’re hiding ads to all your best readers, right? That’s the argument. However, I’ll give you a counter argument here on why hiding ads is the, way to go. First of all we, are starting to see it happen now and, the numbers are I think we might have talked about this in a previous podcaster, definitely in an article where the opt-ins between hiding ads and not hiding ads were significant.
It was the number of that was, it was over 10%. Of paid subscribers for a local news publication. This was in Sweden decided to pay more like 40% more just to hide ads. So they had, they is very was a, one, two test pay pay X amount for full access with ads pay. Second was paid.
For full access, no ads and 11, it was 11% of readers decided to pay 40% more just for that one feature. Yep. And we see it everywhere. Like not just with, yeah. In the news industry, you see it with. With discovery plus Disney plus, all of them are, that’s true running some kind of I spend three more dollars per month and you don’t have to deal with these ads.
So it’s certainly, and it also reminds me of, something. We, had a publisher. I don’t know if they’re still with us or not, that they had a print product. Maybe you could tell the story better than I can eat, but they had a print product and they were actually charging more for digital only.
And people were actually, navigating towards digital only, even though it was more expensive than digital plus print yeah. It’s I don’t want this paper stop sending it to me. Yeah. Yeah. That that was modern drummer magazine. Yeah. Yeah, yeah. For a few years, very successfully.
They were charging twice the price for digital only half the price for print and digital and 20% of their audience decided to opt for digital only. Yeah. Yeah. So, if you’re worried that off offering the option to hide ads for a little bit more revenue it’s, gonna be a drop in the bucket in terms of how many people.
Yeah, stop seeing those ads and your advertisers won’t even notice a difference really. You’ll just notice a difference in more revenue from people who are willing to pay more money to stop the advertising. That’s right. You’re, switching to a subscriber member.
First revenue model versus an ad first revenue model. So you need to really take care of your subscribers, your members first and make sure they have an excellent experience. Yep. When you hide if you, Hey, I’m not saying don’t have ads. We would absolutely have ads sponsored. We take a sponsored approach.
But they would be you wouldn’t have a, wall of ads across the site. You’d have you’d wanna publish in a nice elegant way, but still there’d be ads. And if somebody wants to drop the ads as a premium, Those, that group is very small. You’re, less than 1% of your readership.
You’re probably pretty far less than 1% of the, readers that land on your website from social from Google search go directly there to, see what’s going on. So it’s actually a very small percentage. So yeah, it doesn’t really. Even if you’re doing network ads, which I wouldn’t recommend at all, especially for local news.
The percentage of your paid is, just a, it’s just a fraction of your total, volume. Now, how do you handle the, how do you handle that? The advertiser that says, Hey, we want our ads to be shown to your readership. The answer is of course yes, absolutely. And you’re gonna do it better like that.
That’s that you flip it because the reality is, now your target who your who your free registered users are who your paid users are and when an advertiser wants access and you take a sponsor. Role then you, what you do is you, build a, special campaign for that advertiser to say, yeah, we have, we, here’s how you reach our, readership and this is where I’m, it’s my, not my level of expertise, but if I were to do it, I would talk about doing email sponsorship for yeah.
Like maybe free and paid. Free registered subscribers and paid members, or the other thing you can do is, which is add targeting on the website. So we, have a couple products. One is add drop, or the other is a, what we call conditional display notice like a header bar or footer bar that you put on the bottom to target.
What you do is you target who’s logged into your site as well as casual. You could do a campaign where it’s look alright, you let’s split. You can reach our readers cost X amount for the package. It’s a sponsorship. We’re gonna put you in on X number of premium only newsletters we’re gonna, we’re going to put your sponsorship information in content using ad dropper.
You can just you can target a specific level and you can also do it through a header bar footer bar where only paid subscribers. Get shown this and and then you create a creative campaign, which promotes the, that brand in a nice way. So what you’re doing is you’re not just, you’re not just shotgunning ads all over your website.
You’re what you’re, being more targeted. And that allows you to have. Create nice and more expensive sponsorship wows for your advertisers. Yeah. There’s, certainly more value for, the advertiser. If it’s more target, we need more vest. Yeah. Yeah. It’s not about impressions or, clicks.
It’s about how many times does it convert and If, it only seen by a hundred people and all 100 people want that product, then it’s fantastic. So that’s right. That’s exactly right. Yeah. You can get away from measuring clicks in view which is proven to be completely pointless, especially with the amount of add, add spamming and fraud going on in the yeah.
Ad network. Yeah. And not to mention, it’s hard to, filter out bots and crawlers and there’s just so much. It’s just easier to measure conversion yeah, but it’s, also there’s brand awareness if you’re publishing local news and there’s a local store, that’s advertising or a local organization, and you’re they know they’re getting in front of not only your general readership, but getting a laser targeted campaign with your paid.
Readership through email or specific website targeting that’s value. And you can just sell that as value. It’s a it’s like brand recognition. Oh yeah, for sure. For sure. And these are people in a community in your community that have shown a willingness to pay for local news. And it’s, there’s a good chance probably that they’ll pay for whatever product that you’re offer.
Right or that advertiser’s offering yeah. So let’s speaking of we’re talking about advertising here, sponsorships. So another thing you can do is, and with targeting is let’s say you have a paid. Member your, local news, you’re a mission based publication. There’s you want to ask for donations?
There’s nothing that says you can’t ask for donations while you’re selling paid memberships. Even if you’re for profit. I had this conversation last week with a local publisher who was. Tip toeing. Like I think I, I can still ask for donations, even though I’m a for-profit organization. Like absolutely.
You can. Yeah, because you’re mission based you’re helping the community and yeah. So what you can, do is now, that you’re. You know who your paid subscribers are on your, in your email list. Now, you know what your, you can target your paid subscribers that are on your website with messaging easily through our, two targeting methods ask for donation to only those that are logged in as a paid subscriber, right?
To only those who are on the paid newsletter list, because then you can really. Get very specific about who you’re talking to. Hey, thanks for supporting us. As a member, we we’re, mission based. We appreciate it. We’re doing a, campaign for donations for the next 30 days or whatever, and then ask them to donate and send them to a a, payment page where they can.
Pay more and you could use, we have a name, your price extension you can use to, to automate the payments on that keeps them in the system. And and you, will raise more money through a donation campaign and you can dip in and out during, the year as, you. Yeah. And you’ll end up making giving people the option to pay more for, what you offer is pretty.
Pretty powerful. So you, allow your, end user to decide with our name, your price tool. Yep. To essentially put whatever number they want. And okay. Let’s move on. So we’ve covered ads, donations buy one, give, get one free perk. So I might start with testing a, like a giveaway, like a six.
Membership. So let’s say somebody pays to become a full member in the welcome email I, might send them a coupon that says, Hey here’s your, here’s a, six month premium membership, totally free, no credit card required. And that coupon, and then a link would take them to, so let’s say a hidden subscription level or membership level that you create in leaky pay wall.
And that just links directly to that registration page. Whoever that person is just fills that out. He’s the coupon. And, they get a six month let’s say access, and I’m just making this one example up. You can make it as long as you want short as you want. But a, buy one get one free.
What’s the purpose of that? It adds value, oh, that’s nice. I can give this to a friend or family member. But it’s the viral nature that you. Of this, approach to, to happen. So if you have a friend and you’re sending this coupon off to a friend or, someone else, you have new eyeballs on your website, on your publication, you have that person then.
Let’s say they set sign up for the six month plan they’re on your MailChimp list. And they get tagged as six month or whatever you wanna call them. And then you can send them the premium newsletter and off you go. And then they may. To paid down the road if they get used to enjoying your content and then all of a sudden they can’t have full access in the full newsletter and comment and engaged.
Now you’ve got somebody who’s really considering it. Okay. So I think we’ve covered all the perks. Another thing I would add as a family plan you could use our group’s extension to easily do that. You, subscribe, this could be a per. You you subscribe and get access for three or four more family members. And that’s, that would be a huge perk.
One of the things that we hear about a lot is password sharing, oh I and let’s talk a little bit about that. I I, somebody pays for membership, then they just give away their, login to someone. And, they’re getting around the pay wall.
What we’ve just described as far as a setup covers a lot of engagement. There are a lot for commenting and is a big one. And if you’re. If, people are commenting and engaged, they’re not gonna give away their login cuz they don’t want anybody else commenting as, themselves. So that’s that’s a, sort of a defense against password sharing, but a family plan, it offers a huge perk.
It could be 2, 2, 2 more seats, one more seat, three more seats, whatever you decide gives that person the ability to basically just drop in an email and send off a, an invitation to join, as a family member and massive, perk gets more emails on your email list and at some point maybe they’re not part of the family plan anymore and they, pay or they refer someone else.
You’re growing this virally.
Okay. Family plan, gift subscriptions. Let’s chat a little bit about gift subscriptions. Offer them. Let’s and I will say that you want your paid membership revenue. You want to set a goal of 20% for your paid membership revenue. If you’re not bringing in revenue, if gift subscriptions are not 20% of your revenue, you have a big opportunity to to sell them.
When somebody pays for a membership, make sure you promote a gift subscription included in your welcome email. Include a button right on, on checkout that says get a gift subscription for someone else. And we I remember talking we had nice had conversations with with Marketeers in the magazine space, the print magazine space.
That number is, rock solid. There has been for decades that if you’re in a giftable publication magazine, then your paid subscriptions. 20% of your pay subscriptions should be gifts. And so that in local news, you absolutely have a giftable publication and target that 20% level really look at your website is that obvious are, your welcome emails promoting it?
Are your continuous emails down the road, promoting it something to something grow.
All right, Tyler, how we doing? Doing good. Okay. All right, I’ll just keep, I’ll just keep ripping here. Corporate and group memberships sell. Libraries access or schools access to a publication, easy to do by IP address whether IP extension by email address or use our group’s extension for someone to buy certain number of seats.
Another great idea for corporate sales is coupons and real estate agents. This is a big one sell a hundred. Seats a coupon with a hundred subscriptions to a real estate agent and the coupon is in their name and they can give that they can give that their coupon away to all their prospects and get their, keep getting their name out front in the community, which is really what they, their mission is.
And you can help that. So that’s that one’s, it’s, that’s a good one. And that one’s easy to set up.
Here’s another one I’d like to see tried. I haven’t tried it myself. Haven’t seen it, but how about letting local eateries offer free access to your publication in exchange for them simply telling anybody who comes in, Hey, by the way while you’re here, you can have free, full access to your publication, your local.
And just. And that might be, this might be something you would do as a startup maybe early on. I’m not sure about news publishers that have been around for a long time, but in the beginning I would absolutely do that. Just to get the word out let, the restaurants and anybody that’s coffee shops, anybody that’s sitting down you could do it through our IP exceptions extension.
Just set up their IP range in the back end of leaky pay wall. And anybody who’s sitting at this, the coffee shop or the restaurant can get full access and. You just need to talk it up to the restaurant. Maybe they’ll put up a little assign for you a card. But what you want is you want people to leave, come home, get used to going to your local news site and then getting the free registration and the paid membership thing going you ever seen that Tyler, anybody ever.
I’ve had, Howers talk about it, but no one’s, really knowledge actually trigger on it, holding the trigger. Yeah. Okay. But yeah, certainly an interesting idea to promote your, content locally. So yeah. Yeah, if you wanna get the word out, that’s a good one. Good way to do it. Alright. Let’s talk about offers.
So you’re gonna sell paid membership and you’re going to want to keep your offer. Simple, sales. One offer is the best. You don’t want people to do math. You’re not gonna have different price levels. You’re gonna have one price level with a, with one exception. So in other words if you’re a print if you’re selling print subscriptions and digital, let’s say print digital and digital only prices, the.
Don’t make people do math. Just it’s the it’s your content? It’s the value is in your content, not on the physical delivery. And just keep the price the same, but let’s say we’re talking digital only. You’re gonna have your price to run the business. So around here, the valley news charges $15 per.
Month for digital only access. You could say that’s expensive. I would but I, we pay it. We want access to local news that price may go up over time. Don’t be afraid to charge for access. If you need to start at $5 a month. That’s okay. But keep in mind, you probably wanna raise your price over time which is easy to do.
People don’t like it, but you can. So here’s, how I would position my local news. I would have a main offer which is essentially the support, the real cost of publishing and explain what the real cost of publishing is. The time you spend the reporting and keeping every, everyone informed.
And then I, would’ve a second offer, which is pay what you can afford. In other words, use our name, your price extension to let people opt into something that is less than as an example, $15 a month. So if I come to the site and say, God, I really want access by 15 bucks a month. Oh my God. I that’s just so much, but I’m willing to pay five bucks a month or half of that.
Maybe seven 50 or what or, something like that. If you let people choose what they’re going to pay you, they will generally choose what they feel is fair. This works every time and I’d love somebody to prove me wrong, but in general, now some people are just, Hey, they’re just gonna not want to pay anything.
And that’s the way it’s. But most people. You are gonna get them to pause and think about it. And they’re gonna think about what’s fair. They wanna feel good at the end of the day and what’s fair. And they might feel like I really can’t afford the 15, but I can afford five. So I guess that’s better than nothing.
And they’ll feel good about that. And that’s great. Now you got somebody at $5 a month and by the way, The choices are recurring monthly, not one time. So just stick to that and, they can choose maybe it’s $1 a month, maybe, really, they just can’t afford to pay anything, but they’ll, do a dollar a month because it’s better than zero.
And, or maybe they’ll pay you more. you’re, and if you can afford to pay more. You will and you feel that’s fair. It’s like you really wanna support this organization. They’re knocking it out of the park. They’re keeping local news flowing. Maybe they’ll be one of your recurring donors essentially, and they’ll pay more than what you’re asking for.
So those are the, two levels that I would offer. Let me think, Tyler, would you do that?
Like I missed what you were talking about, to be honest, say quickly one more time. I talked too long. I would have two levels. One is the real cost of publishing price. Call it $15 just as an example. And the second level is pay, what you can afford, pay what you want, essentially. Yeah. Oh, for sure.
Yeah. There’s actually research to support this. I don’t know where, this was from, but people. I actually don’t realize to the level local news is, struggling to stay around. And a lot of people think that it’s funded through nonprofit or government funded or so.
Yeah, I think ma the more that you can make the case to people about. Obviously what you offer and stuff like that, but be, honest with them Let them know what this is actually paying for. Let them know your situation and they’ll they’ll reward you for that, yep. Yeah, that, that means, especially if you give ’em a choice oh I can pay what I want monthly to support this organization.
Yeah. Yeah. I think that’s such a clever strategy giving people this is what it would. Take to keep us around, but if you can’t do that and we understand that not everyone can pay this this higher amount would you at least consider this rate, which also helps us continue the mission?
Yep, exactly. All right. Last thing I’ll mention. And before we wrap it up, is. Something that I’m a big fan of and that’s incognito blocker. So we have a, we have an extension to keep readers from going incognito to get around the paywall. It hardens the paywall a bit for you. We have financial publishers that swear by it.
They tell us that their subscriptions generally go up over 10% once they turn it on. And it’s very simple. There’s no, no configuration. You just turn it on. It tracks the IP address of the visitors. So if you go to a different browser even a different machine machine at home on the same wifi network that, IP addresses already said, Hey you’ve already read your one or two articles, so please register please pay for a subscription.
Yeah. And this is last one. Yeah. I’ll say this is a very to my knowledge. This is a very unique feature that you probably won’t find with other platforms. So certainly a great tool to, increase revenue and, harden the pay wall a little bit. So yep. Takes about a second to turn it on. Yep.
That’s it. That’s it for this podcast. Lo if we built a local news publication, we would offer the five perks that I covered. We would price price with that name, your price option. We’d make sure that the website was socially engaging with comments, target. We’d be targeting based on how some, how you’re logged in.
If you’re free register. User you get you. Promotion to upgrade to paid. If you’re a, paid member, you get occasional promotions to donate, to contribute more and then work with sponsors to target these, the the casuals, the free registered and the paid members. And maybe even the donors, you can target them as well.
That’s it for today. Thanks for listening. If you have any questions, have any ideas, please get in touch info. Scene one oh one.com and Hey, thanks Tyler for sharing your wisdom and we’ll talk next time. All right. Take care.