Paywalls, Advertising, And No Good Solution

I recently wrote an article, when Insights on Tech was strictly a newsletter about how paywalls not done right really anger me.

I called out a few publications doing it wrong. (The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal, Digiday and Wired). I also pointed out how the New York Times and the Washington Post do it much better.

The more I think about the paywall model vs. the advertising model, the more I realize there is no prefect solution. As a publication you’re going to anger people with ads and pop-ups and you’re going to anger them if you put you content behind a paywall in any sort of way.

It’s a lose/lose. But ultimately you as the producer of the content need to get compensated for the time it takes to write the content and get it out to the masses.

So where do we stand? I’m not really sure. Insights on Tech has a Patreon and those who support us get perks. But, my goal is to still provide good content that is widely accessible as well.

So I’m going to explore more and I will report back.

What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts? Post your thoughts in the comments below. I’ve left this post free to all so have at it.

Photo by brotiN biswaS from Pexels


News Pay Walls

Update 2/6/2020

It’s not lost on me that I’m now producing my content behind a paywall. My goal is to provide content for those who want to support me as well as the masses. I hope my endeavors will be considered like the Times and the Post and not like the WSJ and the FT. As always, I encourage your comments.

The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

With the state of journalism in flux. Many news organizations have taken to the paywall as a solution to garner subscribers from their readership.

Many of these papers do it quite well. The New York Times and the Washington Post to name just two of them. Some do it terribly — The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times. These last two don’t let you read without subscribing.

The Hybrid Model

Some online publications, like Business Insider and TechCrunch have a hybrid model, which seems to be working. They release quite a bit of of stories for free, but put the deeper, more in-depth articles behind premium memberships. This make sense. The more in depth, the better the content “should” be. And therefore should be put at a premium.

Missing The Point

What I’ve noticed is that some outlets are just missing the point of letting some of their content out for free.

Digiday and Wired are two great examples. These two, and I know there are a lot more out there, give readers a certain number of articles a month to read before subscribing. Then they block them from reading anymore without a subscription. This in my opinion misses the boat completely. Why punish the reader for wanting to read your content?

In the case of Digiday. I went so far as to unsubscribe from their newsletter. I did this for two reasons. One, because of how they approached asking me to subscribe. At no point did they make it clear that I had a limited number of “free” articles to read. Second their subscription price was way too high for what I needed from them. I liked the content they were putting out, but the price point was just way to high. Also with subscriptions galore, they making the cut for me. In the case of Wired, they have a low price point to subscribe and well, guess what? I did exactly that.

Another thing that irked me about Digiday as they were trying both the limited articles model and the premium content model. Some content was always behind a wall for premium subscribers. That made sense until they limited access to the “free content.”

I don’t know what the solution is, but I feel like there’s got to be subscription fatigue out there. Everything is a subscription now-a-days. And that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

But there are good ways of doing it, bad ways of doing it, and ugly ways of doing it.