When The New York Times enacted a paywall system for their online content in March of 2011, it ruffled more than a few feathers amongst readers. They were accustomed to accessing just about everything on the web for free.
While many predicted this online subscription fee would hurt the publication, it has actually helped. This year, for the first time ever, The Times is poised to earn more from subscriptions (online and print) than from advertising – an estimated $91 million.
Now, I don't have to tell you that gigantic, traditional, old-as-the-dinosaurs publications like The New York Times and fresh, spunky little independent fashion blogs are not on the same page (at all) when it comes to readership or ad revenue, but somewhere in the middle is The Daily Dish blogger Andrew Sullivan.
Mashable reported yesterday that after announcing that he would separate from The Daily Beast, cut off ads and establish a “freemium-based meter” on his site, Sullivan brought in roughly $333,000 in 24 hours.
How did he do it?
Sullivan's paywall of sorts asks readers to pay $20 a year for unlimited access to The Dish. However, you can still access most of his content for free anyway, through social media and blog links and a certain amount of free “read more” clicks per month. In a day, 12,000 readers paid up, $19.99 (or more!) for continued access. Sullivan has a staff of seven, and the “paywall” is one step in the right direction towards their goal of raising nearly $1 million in funding this year.
A new way to make money blogging?
Andrew Sullivan has been working on The Dish for more than a decade, and being linked with The Daily Beast certainly didn't hurt his exposure either (he has nearly 1 million regular readers). While most of us are not blogging on this scale just yet, the success of his alternative revenue model is encouraging for independent publishers.
If your readers truly love what you're doing, do you think they'd pay for access? While $20 might be steep, what about $5 a year? $1 a year? Think about how great that could be for your business if 100, 500 or 1,000 of your readers agreed to pay! Since virtually no bloggers have set up a paywall for their site, we don't yet have a case study for success.
If your favorite blogger started charging for unlimited access, would you pay? Would you consider setting up a paywall on your site?
- The New York Times Paywall is Working Better Than Anyone Had Guessed
- Blogger Makes $333,000 Online in One Day