Unlocking Success: Salem Reporter’s 5-Month Journey to Audience and Revenue Growth

Learn how a local news publisher is driving audience and revenue growth

In this videocast, Pete and Tyler discuss how the Salem Reporter is growing their audience and revenue via Leaky Paywall and PaywallProject.

In this episode of the Paywall podcast, we dive into a case study on Salem Reporter, a local news publisher that has seen significant success in growing their revenue and audience through a strategic approach. Here’s what we discussed:

Background on Salem Reporter:

  • Salem Reporter is a digital-only publication based in Salem, Oregon, focusing on local news.
  • They have a strong emphasis on hyper-local newsletters and have implemented a free registration system and subscriber only newsletter.

Challenges with the Previous System:

  • Salem Reporter initially faced technical issues with their previous system, including problems with content access and support.

Transition to Leaky Paywall:

  • Tyler from Paywall Project began working with Salem Reporter and switched them to Leaky Paywall in May.
  • They implemented a one-and-one strategy, allowing one free article per month and then requiring registration to access 1 additional article and their free newsletter.

Revenue Streams:

  • Paid subscriptions
  • Salem Reporter sells advertising directly and partners with local businesses for ad sales.
  • They also generate revenue from obituary submissions, offering a cost-effective alternative to traditional newspaper obituaries.
  • Salem Reporter is exploring newsletter ads due to their high open rates.

Newsletter Strategy:

  • Salem Reporter’s free newsletter includes personal introductions, articles with images, and a section on local town hall meetings.
  • They prominently feature options for readers to pay for obituaries and subscribe in every newsletter.
  • Their subscriber only newsletter is simply an afternoon edition that captures the days news for more timely news delivery.


  • Salem Reporter has seen success with this strategy. In the last 30 day window they gathered 71 paid subscribers, 640 free subscribers, and a 57 active paid trials.
  • The ratio of paid subscribers to free subscribers is over 10%, which demonstrates the effectiveness of their approach. This does not include paid trials.
  • The seamless user experience and timing of registration requests contribute to high conversion rates.

Key Takeaways:

  • Simplify the user experience by using a one-and-one strategy (one free article before registration).
  • Personalize newsletters with a human touch and make subscription offers clear.
  • Offer a subscriber only newsletter.
  • Prioritize local advertising partnerships over ad networks.
  • Build a relationship funnel by offering a free newsletter with upgrade messaging.

This case study showcases how Salem Reporter achieved success in growing its audience and subscription revenue by implementing a strategic approach to content access and user experience.

For the complete audio podcast, visit paywallpodcast.com.

Watch the videocast

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