By: Elizabeth Coffey, Marketing G2 Digital Marketing Specialist

From an unsuccessful ‘pivot-to-video’ to a ‘pivot-to-paywalls’ that shows promise, more and more publishers are turning to their readers and audience members to generate the revenue they need to be successful.

People will pay for quality content and the right value proposition, but with the many types of paywalls out there how do you determine which kind of paywall is right for you, your publication, and its audience?

There are three basic kinds of paywalls that you can set up at your publication:

  1. The hard paywall - A hard paywall usually only displays an article’s title and maybe a few introductory paragraphs before asking users on the website to sign up for a subscription in order to read the rest. Common among professional and financial publications, hard paywalls can result in a sharp decline in digital readership at least initially, but over time creates a dedicated audience of loyal readers. Some examples of a hard paywall in action are the ones used by the Wall Street Journal and the Times of London.

  2. Metered paywalls – The most popular paywall type among publishers, a metered paywall allows users to view a certain amount of free articles per month (the number varies from publisher to publisher), after which users will be asked to subscribe. A/B testing is used to determine how many articles a month a publisher allows users on its website to view for free and what to charge users after that limit is reached. Examples of publications that are currently using a metered paywall are the New York Times and the Financial Times.

  3. The freemium paywall – Low-traffic, regional, or niche publications don’t usually benefit from a hard or metered paywall. What works best for publications pursuing a smaller than average audience is a freemium paywall in which content is divided into free and paid categories, not by the number of times a user visits a publisher’s website. Premium, paid-for content can include podcasts, exclusive in-depth articles, and behind-the-scenes videos, among many other types of content. Events and other social gatherings can be added into the mix too. The idea is to reward your loyal readers who are paying to support your publication.

Will your publication be making the pivot to reader-generated revenue this year?

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