Issue #63 — Tighten up that paywall!

Happy Sunday! Here’s your top stories in publishing and the latest ideas about modern business models. As always, thanks for supporting the newsletter and for helping to build this community. If you have any ideas or suggestions for future issues, hit reply 📫

💯 Top picks

Tighten up that paywall! (And some other lessons from a study of 500 newspaper publishers)

Since The New York Times introduced a paywall in 2011, it has become popular with a majority of newspapers and a growing business model for independent publishers across the world.Research into a wide range of these publications suggests that pay model strategies with higher “stop rates” are doing better - which means giving out less content for free before asking readers to pay. Having a simple checkout process and understanding your readers is also important. Find out more in this NiemanLab piece.

💸 Business models

To increase retention, The Financial Times is using newsletter polls

“The Financial Times has started incorporating polls into its email newsletters in an effort to encourage readers to interact more regularly with its content and ultimately increase subscriber retention. Early signs show it’s working.”

How to do something about local news

“The old model for local news is dying, but in every crisis there is an opportunity. I believe that a more promising model for local news is just emerging.”Substack co-founder Hamish McKenzie shares his thoughts on emerging business models for local news!

PodPass wants to build the identity layer for podcasting (before some big tech company does it first)

As podcasting grows, and paid podcasting becomes a hot topic - there’s still an issue which needs to be addressed: Podcast listeners use several apps and platforms - so can podcast subscriptions be integrated into an open ecosystem? The PodPass proposal hopes to solve s0me of these issues with an open protocol that provides a better experience for listeners, and more control for podcasters.

✍️ Modern journalism

Ever wished you read more books? The NYT share how to be a better reader in 7 days

A full guide on how to get better at reading books, including making a reading plan and how to read more deeply. We’re sure it could be a useful guide to follow in a world of instant gratification and dopamine hits that keep us addicted to mobile devices 🙃

Could Facebook license publishers’ content?

It has been reported that Facebook is in talks with multiple large publishers to offer them a licensing fee of $3 million to allow them to show content in the Facebook “News” tab.

The Financial Times story playbook

The FT approached a problem shared by many publishers: How do we share content clearly and consistently at scale?To explore this, they have built a playbook of standardised and proven templates that can be used directly in a CMS by their entire newsroom. They shared the end result on GitHub so that others can learn from their processes, see their reference materials and get tips on how to create their own templates.

Semantic search: How to write content that anticipates searchers’ needs

Search engine optimisation isn’t just for marketing experts – Feast your eyes on some digestible technical SEO insights for content creators from PR Newswire, including how to rank better and understand searcher intent.

👩‍💻 Technology

Verizon sells Tumblr to WordPress!

Yahoo acquired Tumblr back in 2013 for $1.1 billion, and now WordPress.com (Automattic) are acquiring the social network for a reported $3 million. See also: a lengthy interview with WordPress CEO about the acquisition.

For your privacy, adopt browser compartmentalisation

Since incognito mode means very little for your privacy these days, a new technique is gaining traction which involves using two or more browsers on the same computer for different types of internet activity.

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🤷 WTF?

The lonely work of moderating Hacker News

Anna Wiener writes on Daniel Gackle and Scott Bell, the content moderators of Hacker News, a popular online tech-focussed forum owned by the startup accelerator Y Combinator.