Monday, January 14, 2013

Blog Club Paywall

A great deal of buzz was generated last week as the ongoing discussion of newspaper paywalls intersected with another ongoing discussion: BLOG paywalls! Many blogs and especially the annoying guru-bloggers are already a pain-in-the-ass : they inundate visitors with pop-up, pop-under, redirects, and expanding adverts and links that take you to links that go to other links, and you may never end up actually on the page you want to read.

There have been very successful paywalled blogs: "Don't want ads ? Subscribe to remove them. Only £3.50 a month." ~ Paul Tomkins edits the blog Tomkins Times. Created in 2009 it is completely focused on the fortunes of Liverpool FC. Paul made it work by focusing on building up a community not just a blog. He interacts with more than 2-thousand readers on a regular basis! ALSO: He is not afraid to EXPERIMENT, which is what we bloggers all must do!

The newspaper paywall system has been a sketchy one:

They (including NEWSOSAUR blog) said it couldn’t be done, but the Augusta Chronicle put up a pay wall without losing traffic.

Andrew Sullivan, well-known Daily Beast blogger, is turning his blog into a subscription model. $19.99 a year. Let me ask you, do you have at least 50 faithful readers who stop by your blog every day? If you took $20 multiplied by 50 is that more money than your blog is currently "earning" via ads?

Sullivan::: "...we want to create a place where readers - and readers alone - sustain the site. No bigger media companies will be subsidizing us; no venture capital will be sought to cushion our transition (unless my savings count as venture capital); and, most critically, no advertising will be getting in the way."

*The Observer is an interesting hybrid of a local subscription and newsstand paper with a free web presence. The subscription component, in my view, acts as a partial governor against the damaging tendencies of pageview journalism.
Ryan Holiday ~
There's a theory out there that if mainstream publishers can’t make paywalls work then what hope have bloggers like Sullivan? I like a lot of the observations Ryan Holiday makes in his article. In face, it* has given me an idea. I'm going to erect a "partial paywall" --- details to follow later --- "stay tuned" -for the time being, I will tell you that the general consenus among those who track blogs is that finding a unique niche is one of the most important things when blogging - and my "paywall" involves a niche blog that will be an extension of may "home" blog here. You'll be allowed to read some of the information in articles posted on this blog. But the deeper details, the extended version, will be pay-enter. Do you recall the "old days" when people actually paid for magazine / newspaper subscriptions?

According to, Andrew Sullivan’s blog gets an estimated 1.08M page views and 867,678 unique visitors daily. People will likely check after the pay-wall goes up. It would be nice to see some numbers regarding how many people do actually pay for content.

Interesting to note ::: Sullivan has never allowed comments on his blog. Instead he has opted to publish the occasional anonymized email.

Something else to consider ::: Should Andrew Sullivan succeed in getting 5% of his audience to pay $19.99 a year, with 95% reading his free content only -- that's just like a software that offers both free and enhanced paid versions.

If you want the last word on paywalls - The Media Briefing has an excellent report here.
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