Refining the digital pay model(s)

I’m watching the digital subscription/paywall space closely. As ad revenue has declined for indie publishers, the passive revenue opportunities for publishers has also plummeted. So how does an indie publisher stay in business? Alternative business models is the common refrain.

This article from Poynter by Rick Edmonds reports on a session at the American Society of News Editors Convention. Some good quotes:

“Are we driving readers from protein to potato chips?” Conceding that a slideshow of Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader tryouts was among the top trafficked stories ever, he said that paying readers want more serious content as well.

and news of some Gannett surveys that concluded

“Number one on the wants list in most markets was investigative/accountability reporting.”

You can’t run a news organization on free. Money has to come in the door from somewhere. I’m currently a digital subscriber to the NYTimes and the Wall Street Journal.

I think we’re a couple of years away from indie publishers, e.g. bloggers, being able to run a successful paywall operation. I suppose it’s a WordPress plugin or two away (they exist already: 1, 2). I think the bigger issue is training people that paying for content will deliver higher quality content. That’s a two-way street for publishers as well. Huffington Post knows all too well that 2,000 pieces of new content a day keeps its pageviews high and they can scrape every extra penny per CPM. A paywall would theoretically reduce the need for slideshows, link bait headlines, multi-page articles and other pageview trickery.

via What news organizations are learning as they refine their digital pay models | Poynter..