#84 — How to approach free content in the subscription era

#84 — How to approach free content in the subscription era

This week's roundup of the biggest stories in publishing includes finding out how Business Insider approaches free content, what the biggest SEO mistakes others have made are and how to connect with your audience better. Enjoy!

We want to hear from you, what bought you to Publisher Weekly? What do you want to see in your weekly newsletter? Email us to connect.

💯 Top picks

Business Insider’s fascinating approach to paywalls and free content

Simon Owens dives into the rise of the paywall, moving away from metered paywalls to subscriptions and how Business Insider are balancing free vs paid content using one surprisingly simple strategy.

💸 Business models

Spending money to make money, Part II: Case studies of newsrooms using paid acquisition

Paid advertising and marketing funnels! Lenfest Institute share the second part in a case study on how publishers can use tactics from the marketing world to grow customer acquisition.

How Schibsted's Aftenposten drives digital subscriptions in Norway

“Our primary acquisition driver today is our content,” says Aftenposten’s Sidney Glastad. “Our paywall is where we get about 70 percent of our web sales, and that makes it really important for us to understand what kind of content converts and how long people stay on different types of content. The way we work has evolved around that content.”

✍️ Modern journalism

How entrepreneurial thinking can help publishers connect with new audiences: A conversation

Almar Latour, publisher for Barron’s Group and EVP at Dow Jones speaks to WNIP about creating a startup feel, membership schemes and more.

Michael Barbaro and the raging success of The Daily

Michael Barbaro made the New York Times podcast The Daily a raging success. Or is it the other way around?

Journalism first: doing advocacy with data on…

“To promote accountability, Eva Belmonte explains how journalists can use data for investigations to bring about change.”

The Future of digital is print-like: Completeness as a service (and other affordances)

“The Arkansas Democrat-Gazette is in the midst of a multi-year project to convert its print audience to iPad-only subscribers. When a recent update from Medill renewed industry discussion, digital-journalism thinkers could be forgiven for seeing the effort as an isolated bit of backward-thinking.”

A reminder of what's coming in journalism, media, and technology this year

A summary of the key findings from a survey of 230 CEOs, editors and digital leaders from 32 different countries.

Trust tips newsletter: How to start earning trust

An RJI and API project emails quick, actionable tips for generating trust to your inbox every Tuesday. Sign up and see past tips here.

👩‍💻 Technology

The biggest SEO mistake content marketers make

The rules of SEO have changed dramatically – here’s how you can avoid the mistakes that content marketers still make by prioritising high-quality content above everything else.

Publishers losing ad revenue due to content 'blacklists'

“UK newspaper and magazine publishers lost almost £170m in digital revenue last year as technology designed to stop advertisements from appearing next to hard-hitting content, such as shootings and terrorism, also inadvertently blocked them from appearing in some of the most popular stories of the year.”

Evening Standard producer on the role of video & audio in publishing

Chris Stone, the Executive Producer of Video & Audio at the Evening Standard, talks to the Media Voices podcast about the role video plays in their journalism and why they decided to launch two podcasts.

🤷 WTF?

We recently discovered this not-at-all new tool from Google that lets you check the popularity of words and phrases in millions of books over a very extensive timeframe. Pretty neat! But take it with a pinch of salt, according to Wired.

#83 — How publishers can find their super users

#83 — How publishers can find their super users

Fear not, this issue is full of great reads about membership strategies and technology trends in publishing to help you forget about how fast time goes by 😉Enjoy!

Get in touch with us: We’re interested in finding out what bought you to Publisher Weekly? What would you like to see in your weekly newsletter moving forward?

💯 Top picks

“Membership is an attitude, an emotion”: How publishers can find their super users, master the forever transaction, and build recurring revenue

If you're interested in driving revenues through subscriptions as a publisher, WNIP recommend reading this book: The Membership Economy by Robbie Kellman Baxter. This short summary is a great read too - we can't wait to dive into the full book!

💸 Business models

News outlets should build customer lifetime value into subscription strategy, researchers say

Researchers at Northwestern University's Spiegel Research Center believe there is a better answer to growing advertising revenue or subscriptions: growing Customer Lifetime Value.

[Podcast] Gear Patrol founder Eric Yang: 'You've got to pick a lane' between media and e-commerce

“We’ve been profitable every single year at Gear Patrol except for the year we took investment because we were growing,” Yang said. He adds that about 40 to 50% of their traffic comes from SEO, not social media or other sources - (31 minutes).

Your comments section is only as good as your strategy

Adriana Lacy of The Intersection writes about the problems publishers are facing with comments, as some are removing the comments section completely, while others are making it a subscriber-only benefit.

[Podcast] The state of membership in news with Ariel Zirulnick

State of Digital Publishing speak with Ariel Zirulnick, Fund Director at Membership Puzzle Project about the state of membership in News - (40 minutes).

✍️ Modern journalism

7 tips for tracking your impact

Here’s some actionable tips for tracking the impact of your work beyond page views and monthly uniques.

Engagement isn't a project, it's a way of making news

“It isn’t audiences that need to be more engaged, it’s newsrooms.”

5 culture-killing phrases smart newsrooms will stop saying in 2020

"We already did that story" and 4 other phrases that this opinion piece advocates being removed from newsrooms.

👩‍💻 Technology

Has journalism finally found its big tech ally? Inside Microsoft's pitch to publishers

“While Facebook and Google are habitually denounced for their impact on the news industry, and Apple is regarded by publishers with suspicion, Microsoft is setting out its stall to be the good guy in big tech who can make journalism better.”

After publisher backlash, Google initiates redesign to highlight organic results

Google are taking (small) steps towards differentiating ads and organic results after backlash from publishers and businesses like SparkToro’s Rand Fishkin and Basecamp’s Jason Fried.

How bloomberg news is using Telegram

“On Telegram, the preferred messaging app for the privacy conscious, Bloomberg News is attempting to draw new subscribers and build an audience outside the U.S.”

“A trend no publisher—large or small—can afford to overlook”: Social commerce set to be the most important digital channel by 2029

As eCommerce continues to become more pervasive, and purposeful social media behaviours – such as using social networks to research and find products to buy – further nudge eCommerce forward, platforms, retailers, publishers and content creators alike, must all strive to innovate in their efforts to grab a slice of the eCommerce pie.“

Google: Enroll in the new advanced protection program in an instant

Google have made it easier to enroll in their advanced protection program using an Android phone or iPhone to further protect your Google account.

🤷 WTF?

Jack Dorsey has revealed the secret way to get verified on Twitter (kinda)

“There are few questions I get more often from journalists and other Nieman Lab readers than this one: How do I get verified on Twitter? ”

#82 — Publishers pivot to paid & newsrooms learn how to do sales

#82 — Publishers pivot to paid & newsrooms learn how to do sales

This weeks top reads are a great mix of topics about business models, journalism & technology in publishing. Enjoy!

We also added a new resource to the resources section, full of tips about creating podcasts.

💯 Top picks

As publishers pivot to paid, reporters have to be sales people too!

According to this Digiday report, as publishers increasingly shift towards subscription revenue, reporters are starting to think about things differently. Newsrooms care more about returning visitors over page views, and which pieces contribute the most for digital subscriptions. All of this has reporters thinking more about sales.

💸 Business models

International publishers will charge for more content and launch more daily news podcasts this year

Nieman Lab break down a recent Reuters Insititute report on what is expected in 2020 and beyond.

Anatomy of a subscription fail

Newspapers are hiking up costs of print subscriptions without explanations and charging long-standing subscribers much more than new ones. Readers are finding this frustrating (but still not leaving!), as explained by John Robinson in this piece.

✍️ Modern journalism

Give readers what they want from a story using this research

“New research indicates readers want to better understand terminology used and why journalists chose certain sources.”

News publishers are sending a message through powerful marketing campaigns

Evelyn Mateos calls for news publishers to step up and share the good work being done in newsrooms to communicate the power of journalism, and shares case study examples of using marketing campaigns to do this.

Here are 21 journalism conferences to attend in 2020

A list of 21 conferences from The Lenfest Institute - they’re all in the U.S. except for one which takes place in Italy.

Engage your audience with constructive journalism & identify your negativity bias

Want to try a different approach to your reporting? Constructive Journalism Network offers a few solutions-based techniques to take into your newsroom: flip the narrative, tell the other half of the story and take ownership of the problem! (You can also listen to this article).

👩‍💻 Technology

Spotify will use everything it knows about you to target podcast ads

Spotify announced its new podcast ad insertion technology “Streaming Ad Insertion”, which will put ads into podcasts in real time based on user data. Here’s another hot take on this topic.

BuzzFeed aims to cut out Google & other digital ‘middlemen’ as it expands its commerce business

The 2020 roadmap at BuzzFeed plans to broaden the scope of it’s commerce business by forming relationships with providers of goods. It aims to solve the “attribution problem” of Amazon, Google or Expedia capturing the profit created by publishers who inspire consumers to take action.

Starbucks is offering digital news with its coffee

“Starbucks’ introduction of on-the-house digital news could have ramifications far beyond its stores. Erich Prince discusses the possibilities.”

Google is killing digital magazines in News

The Google News team emailed customers to let them know they will be refunded their last payment and that they will no longer be able to access magazines from 200 publishers via Google News in the future. Old issues will still be available.

Twitter will put options to limit replies directly on the compose screen

“Just as Facebook has been pushing users to use its private groups feature, Twitter wants to give users the option to limit the spread of their tweets. Now, Twitter is adding a new setting for "conversation participants” right on the compose screen.“

🤷 WTF?

The two myths of the internet

“The 2010s began with one story about the political power of technology. It ended with another. Both were wrong.”

#81 — Predictions for 2020

#81 — Predictions for 2020

We're really excited to grow and evolve this newsletter and community in the year ahead. We want to make sure it's helpful for our subscribers and always appreciate ideas or feedback. Hit reply to let us know what you want from your weekly updates this year.

As always, we'll be sharing the latest and greatest ideas, inspiration and stories for independent publishing every Sunday. To kick things off, we've got lots of interesting hot takes on preparing your publishing strategy for the year ahead.

💯 2020 forecasts

NiemanLab predictions for journalism in 2020

At the end of each year, NiemanLab ask people in journalism and digital media to share what they think is coming in the following 12 months. Here’s the roundup of the latest predictions, including some of our favourites: “Respect the non-paying audience” & “A return to blogs (finally? sort of?)

Digiday’s reporters weigh in on the year ahead and discuss the streaming wars, a future that goes “beyond the cookie” and how publishers’ revenue streams may change (29 minute listen).

Here are 10 themes for news in 2020 from the NYT

“The New York Times Product and Design Discovery team took a human-centered design research process to understand how people use technology and what that might mean for news.”

Publishers will arm up for the churn war

2019 saw lots publishers putting up paywalls and introducing subscriptions. This growth in recurring reader revenue against a backdrop of a failing advertising market has been the beacon of hope of the past 12 months. But as in any business with recurring revenue will attest, the next part of the journey will be battling with churn! Digiday discusses how the more mature publications will be approaching this in 2020.

💸 Business models

Publishers are joining the race for reader revenues, but there’s no silver bullet

"Publishers large and small are joining earlier adopters with their own reader revenues plays. But with subscription fatigue threatening, quality content and smart reader retention strategies will be necessary for success”.

Newsday marries newsletters, audience data to increase subscriptions, engagement

Senior Editor at Newsday, Anthony Bottan, shares how they have driven subscriptions and increased engagement through newsletters by using audience data to identify high-interest topics among users with impressive results.

200k subscribers: How one of Poland’s leading newspapers did it

Gazeta Wyborcza, one of Poland’s leading newspapers now has over 200,000 subscribers, ranking 23rd in the global digital subscriptions snapshot. They share the attributes that helped them to achieve this success here!

The changing business model for publishers, in five charts

“For publishers, the biggest priorities heading into 2020 are how to grow revenue they can control: Both through direct-sold ads and subscriptions.”

Download the end of year charts in a zip file.

How to win the loyalty of new subscribers through great onboarding

Onboarding campaigns are well versed in the SaaS industry, and are becoming increasingly popular for subscription publishers to improve engagement with new paid subscribers. Check out this article to find out how real publishers are implementing onboarding in their subscription flows.

✍️ Modern journalism

These tips will make you a better writer

Poynter put together this resource with links to their favourite classic writing tips - and since a new year is a great time to revisit (or discover) ideas for writing, we really enjoyed diving into some of these articles.

Journalists are the new influencers

“With trust in influencers waning, could it be that journalists are in a prime position to influence culture? Phil McKenzie thinks so.”

👩‍💻 Technology

The big story of podcasting in 2019 was all about Spotify. Will 2020 be the year Apple strikes back?

“Plus: A podcast network for tweens, NPR updates its fee model, Luminary’s collapse, and a few more thoughts on 2019.”

TV Industry Suffers Steepest Drop in Ad Sales Since Recession - Bloomberg

“Global TV advertising sales fell almost 4% in 2019, the steepest drop since the depths of the economic recession in 2009, in the latest sign that advertisers are following viewers to the internet.”

Publishers are starting to diversify traffic sources

Publishers are starting to see more traffic being driven from mobile news aggregators like TopBuzz, News Break, Flipboard and SmartNews, which allows them to diversify traffic sources from the likes of Google and Facebook.

🤷 WTF?

Big tech won't get broken up and other anti-prediction for media and marketing in 2020

A fitting way to round up this issue: “It’s easy to put on rose-colored glasses in December and predict a glorious future for one’s industry. But this is media, so it makes more sense to deliver some frank reminders about what’s not going to happen in 2020 instead.”

#80 — 2019 roundup, top reads of the year!

#80 — 2019 roundup, top reads of the year!

These are the most important things we’ve read over a year of putting this newsletter together, and the most interesting ideas and inspiration for shaping the future of independent publishing.

Happy Holidays - See you in January 🎄❤️

💯 Top reads of 2019

1. How to build an audience of 1000 true fans in a noisy world

Building an audience for your work is easier and harder than it’s ever been. It’s easier because we have the tools and resources, and harder because there’s a scarcity of attention. This piece discusses how Kevin Kelly’s well-read article, 1,000 true fans, relates to the modern publisher.

2. How much I make running a paid newsletter

We loved this honest article from data scientist and author of Normcore Tech Vicki Boykis, who shares an unfiltered account of how her independent paid newsletter is doing, and what she’d need to turn it into a full-time income.

3. [Podcast] How the right audience development strategy can boost engagement, revenue and retention

This 40 minute podcast with the founder and CEO of News Revenue Hub covers many of the biggest questions facing publishers of all shapes and sizes who are actively building and growing memberships.

4. Have a point of view, develop a voice and serve your audience first!

This article includes a lot of actionable advice for independent publishers who want to stand out from the crowd and serve a very specific audience. Independent publishers need to adopt these changes to survive in a new world of memberships and subscriptions.

5. [Video] User revenue is now a growth engine in news media — now 3 challenges

Insights from a successful digital subscriptions business: Kjersti Thorneus from Schibsted explores the top 3 challenges the publisher is facing. This is a 47 minute video that you don’t want to miss.

6. [Podcast] Morning Brew: Bootstrapping a media company gives you focus

Morning Brew’s Austin Rief speaks to the Digiday podcast about running a sustainable and profitable email-first media business, competing with big media, and building a subscription business with minimal resources.

7. Why you should give away less content for free!

Independent publishers with a membership business have the benefit of being able to take (or leave) advice from observing the footsteps of large scale publishers, like The New York Times. Research into a number of these publications found that those who give away less content for free, are doing better. Asking your readers to pay can really pay off!

8. Stories from real independent publishers: Membership changed our lives for the better

“On August 15, 2018, we announced to attendees of our Media Gathering event in Cape Town the start of our adventures into membership for Daily Maverick. At the time we weren’t entirely sure how we were going to fund December’s payroll. Now, with more than 7,000 members joining us and a 75 percent growth in headcount since we started, things look a lot brighter.”

9. The internet could help small businesses regain power

“If the last wave of the internet empowered big businesses over small ones, it is possible that the next wave of the internet could easily end up doing the opposite—flipping the relative balance of power back toward small proprietors.”Move over mega-companies! We’re really excited by this take from The Information, about the next wave of the internet being one where independent businesses start to grow 💪

10. Winners and losers of the subscription frenzy: Publishers need a unique, explicit value proposition

“The internet for news is closing. In the wake of the global failure for digital advertising, publishers are putting their hopes in subscriptions.”The key differentiators for successful subscriptions include trust, uniqueness, perceived value and customer care.

11. New business models for journalism

Journalism needs a new business model. Hell, it need many new models. Here’s a bunch of them from news:rewired in a succinct roundup by Adam Tinworth.

12. How do we measure memberships?

Getting started with a membership business is one thing - once you’re there, how do you measure it? The Membership Puzzle Project shared a number of great articles in the past year, this was one of our favourites: Loyalty is membership’s North Star.

13. [Podcast] Dos and don'ts of audience engagement

The $2.5m crowdfunding campaign raised by De Correspondent to launch an English version of the publication was a hot topic earlier in the year. We enjoyed this podcast with Jessica Best about successful communication.

14. Findings from crunching 13 TB of local newspaper subscriber data

Surprise: “Subscribers who read many stories per visit and read them thoroughly were no more likely to keep their subscriptions than those who skimmed.”

15. Reminder: Site performance is important for all publishers

You can lose a large percentage of your readers for every extra second your page takes to load, and increase search-engine performance drastically with every site performance improvement you make. Keep your website simple, user-friendly, and focus on creating great content!

👻 Ghost 3.0 – Turn your audience into a business

This year at Ghost we made one of our biggest announcements to date, and introduced memberships and subscriptions to the software. Ghost can now power membership businesses of all kinds. You can now also run a members-only newsletter, exactly like this one, with native emails.

We’re really excited to see how independent publishers use these features to tell their stories.

#79 — Everyone has more digital subscribers than ever before

#79 — Everyone has more digital subscribers than ever before

This issue also includes the latest podcast news and a deep dive into where publishers are getting most of their traffic.

Also, as promised, we announced an exciting new feature at Ghost this week, check it out below!

Make sure you log in to to join the members-only conversation

💯 Top picks

Native email newsletters in Ghost

Since announcing Members & Subscriptions at Ghost, we’ve been listening closely to feedback from the first people to try it out, and it became very clear that solving email was the most important thing to focus our efforts. So, now it’s possible to send email newsletters directly from Ghost (in a few clicks), saving you time and keeping everything in one place.

💸 Business models

$400 a year too steep for you? The Information will now sell mere mortals an app for $30 a year

The app is for “consumers who want to be plugged into the big tech stories without searching through Twitter or watered-down general news sites.”

With over 10,000 paying subscribers, Stat News focuses on diversification

Health and pharmaceutical publisher Stat News is focused on finding new ways to generate revenue from its audience.

Newsday marries newsletters, audience data to increase subscriptions, engagement

“Newsday has been experimenting with newsletters to increase audience engagement and subscription sign-ups. The results are impressive.”

How social media is powering The Economist’s subscription growth

The Economist has adopted a new social media strategy focused on driving people back to its site and subscribe, growing monthly referral traffic by 180%. They won’t share how many subscribers this is driving, though!

Telegraph marks 'huge milestone' as number of digital subscribers surpasses print

The newspaper has revealed that it has reached 420,000 paying subscribers, with more paying subscribers online than in print for the first time in its 164-year history.

Barstool Sports tops 30k paying subscribers

“Barstool Sports has sold more than 30,000 people on its Barstool Gold subscription product, according to CEO Erika Nardini.”

✍️ Modern journalism

[Podcast] Building a leading online finance publication

Yahoo Finance Editor in Chief speaks with the Media Voices podcast about growing a leading publication in financial news online, including which platforms he uses to reach an audience and what technologies they’re using in the newsroom.

The news can be positive... and beautiful

Everyone has been sharing Beautiful News this week - highly recommended if you want to read something positive about world news.

These reporters rely on public data, rather than secret sources

“With the rise of smartphones and social media, journalists use new methods to track major news events.”

Local news should be available to all, yet Americans divided on how to pay for it

According to this Knight Foundation study, there’s still some disparity between what people say they want (local news) and how much they value it when it comes to financial support.

👩‍💻 Technology

The most important traffic driver for news publishers worldwide? Still Google

Google still reigns when it comes to traffic sources for news companies globally, generating two-thirds of outside traffic in 2018, compared to 30% from Facebook and only 3%(!) from Twitter.This is a really great NiemanLab roundup of the latest WAN-IFRA 2019 World Press Trends report. The full report can be purchased here.

News podcasts and the opportunities for publishers

Nic Newman and Nathan Gallo explore the growth of news podcasts across the world and the prospects for both publishers and platforms.

As Spotify ‘Wraps’ the decade, it reveals the payoff from podcast investments

Every year, Spotify put together an interesting overview of the listening habits of its users which gives insights into trends shaping the industry. Some of the more expected findings were that Post Malone was the most-streamed artist. Spotify also revealed that podcast listeners have grown by more than 50% since the start of 2019.

Find out your own listening habits over the past decade!

🤷 WTF?

Your work emails contain subtle clues about your emotional state

A new company is using natural language processing to analyse the language used in employee communications… to find out how happy teams are at work.

#78 — What 1000 true fans means for today's journalism startups

#78 — What 1000 true fans means for today's journalism startups

PS, we have an exciting announcement coming up at Ghost next week. Watch this space 👀

💯 Top picks

What 1000 true fans means for today’s journalism startups

“You don’t need a million casual readers, just 1000 committed ones”. Phillip Smith wrote this fascinating essay about the concept of getting 1000 true fans for startups in publishing, making one key point: you don’t need to chase a daunting goal, it’s entirely possible to build a successful business around a more attainable number of “true fans”.

💸 Business models

Turn passive readers into engaged members with these tips

Onboarding campaigns, special rewards and extra benefits are some of the key things you can do to increase engagement and retention. Find out more from this piece from the Reader Revenue Toolkit.

How TechCrunch uses product perks to drive paid subscriptions

Speaking of extra benefits – TechCrunch has begun offering extra perks to annual members of Extra Crunch, such as two free months of Aircall, 6 free months with Zendesk and $1000 dollars of AWS credits.

How news publishers are chasing international subscriber growth

“For news publishers chasing digital subscriber growth, international readers are playing an important and growing role.”

Why it’s so hard to scale paid podcast subscriptions

This piece from WNIP by Simon Ownes explores why it’s hard to monetise with subscriptions for content that isn’t text based – with Podcasters and YouTubers relying on ads, or selling to a major streaming service. Fragmented podcast listening apps make this even more difficult by adding increased friction.

✍️ Modern journalism

How we built a system to let our teams run their own user research projects

WhereBy.Us run five local media brands with a small team and minimal resources, so they put together documentation and ran user research training to empower their small teams. This article explains how and why they did it – plus they’ve shared a full worksheet so you can follow in their footsteps.

Journalism’s Dunbar number: Audience scales, community does not

Evolutionary science came up with a theory that the limit of close social relationships a human can maintain is 150. This article explores the notion that there’s a similar number in media for building communities, and to extend this number, you’ll need more than a marketing campaign.

👩‍💻 Technology

Tim Berners-Lee unveils global plan to save the web

“Inventor of web calls on governments and firms to safeguard it from abuse and ensure it benefits humanity.”

Platforms and publishers: The end of an era

“The relationship between technology platforms and news publishers is entering a new moment.”

This Tow Center Report investigates the end of the advertising revenue “bubble” and how publishers are dealing with a new sense of distrust in platforms.

Happy 25th anniversary, banner ads – now it’s time to retire

“While banner ads are past their prime, we wouldn’t be in this golden age of digital content marketing without them.”

Keyword block lists still cause headaches for publishers

“Publishers are being penalised more than ever over blunt brand safety tools that rely on lengthy keyword blacklists.”

🤷 WTF?

Opinion: Care about journalism? Maybe you should cancel your newspaper

“It’s not a popular thing to say, but journalism may be approaching the point where dedicated news consumers might take a hard look at their local newspaper and—in the interest of better journalism—cancel their subscriptions.”

#77 — What does audience engagement really mean?

#77 — What does audience engagement really mean?

What made you sign up for Publisher Weekly? Let us know in the members-only comments section or hit reply to chat!

💯 Top picks

[Podcast] What does audience engagement really mean?

“‘Audience engagement’ is a term that crops up a lot in journalism and many organisations exercise the idea in different ways.”This podcast discusses what engaged journalism really means with guest Leon Fryszer from Krautreporter.

💸 Business models

Google News Initiative Subscriptions Lab: Signup walls, content recirculation & more

Ten media organisations have been taking part in an initiative to test and learn more about growing digital subscriptions. In this article, Kelli Dakake, director of audience/passive channels at Hearst Newspapers, shares what she and her team have learnt so far.

How news outlets can make email newsletters more effective

“Everyone seems to produce email newsletters these days. But not everyone is doing it well.”Check out this article for lots of takeaways and key points to improve your email newsletters. Write like a person, keep it short and work on those headlines!

What food media is doing right in finding sustainable models

Multiple food media outlets are having success with fast subscriber growth, and many of them are generating revenue through methods other than advertising.

“Where there’s no competition, there’s no pressure to do better”: Local news is suffering even in areas where newspapers remain

“The local news report that PEN America released this week is packed with the grim statistics you’ve seen elsewhere, including all over Nieman Lab — The U.S. has lost more than 1,800 local news outlets since 2004; many of the papers that remain face consolidation and cost cutting by profit-minded…”

Paywalls can be a big lift for smaller publishers. Here’s how the Shawnee Mission Post is thriving two years in

NiemanLab explore how paywalls are working at the local and hyperlocal level with a case study into a Kansas-based publication.

✍️ Modern journalism

Five essential ingredients to make your community-driven journalism more resilient

The European Journalism Centre describe the commonalities among community-driven organisations that are growing and developing new revenue streams: Build a good team, a good culture and a product mindset, and then build paths for participation and explore reader revenue.

Publishers are having trouble hiring for product roles

As publishing teams move towards memberships and subscriptions as their revenue streams, we see a lot of parallels in the developments that take place with SaaS (Software as a Service) – because publishers are now adopting similar business models. According to this Digiday report, 71% of executives said hiring new talent in this area of expertise is a challenge.

The neuroscience of how fake news grabs our attention, produces false memories, and appeals to our emotions

“Highly emotionally provocative information stands a stronger chance of lingering in our minds and being incorporated into long-term memory banks.”

SmartNews raises $92M at a $1.2B valuation

“Looks like there’s still money to be made in news aggregation — at least according to the investors backing the news app SmartNews.”

👩‍💻 Technology

Americans favour getting news on mobile devices over desktops and laptops

It’s important to make sure your content is mobile friendly – words we’ve all had drilled into us for years, because it’s true. A recent study discovered that as much as 57% of adults in the U.S. consume news on a mobile device.

Twitter rolls out its ‘Hide Replies’ feature to all users

Twitter have introduced a “Hide Replies” feature to all users worldwide in a bid to balance the conversation. It puts the original poster in charge of which replies remain visible. A pretty controversial feature, that has the potential to reduce trolling or, conversely, silence people.

How Reuters is building a marketplace for video-hungry publishers

“On Tuesday, the news agency is announcing the addition of seven new national news agencies to Reuters Connect, a B2B content marketplace for news publishers that features content from partners including the BBC, CNN and The Guardian.”

🤷 WTF?

WTF is second-party data?

“Publishers are selling it, and advertisers want it. In an ad industry that’s scrambling for new, privacy-compliant ways to target people online, second-party data is all the rage.”

#76 — The state of subscription marketing

#76 — The state of subscription marketing

Want to chat? Remember you can slide into the comments section at to chat about this weeks topics.

💯 Top picks

[Podcast] The state of subscription marketing with Dr. Dave Chaffey

State of Digital Publishing podcast catches up with Smart Insights co-founder to discuss subscription marketing, how to build engagement, community and customer retention. Answering questions about balancing free and paid content and how publishers should approach subscription marketing, this week’s top listen is 57 minutes!

💸 Business models

How local news organisations can fight for their slice of the subscription pie

Subscription businesses have been growing for years - but largely in the tech industry. This article summarises a study from News Media Alliance about news media subscriptions and how publishers can get their share of the pie.

Tortoise claims nearly 20,000 members as it eyes move into podcasting

Last year James Harding left his role at the BBC to launch his own slow news publishing outlet. More than half a million pounds in funding later, Tortoise Media has 20,000 members within the first six months - here’s what they plan to do next.

Focusing on this metric let a newspaper increase reader loyalty (and subscribers too)

German publisher DuMont used to rely on basic web analytics, until they decided these metrics were no longer good enough. Instead they started measuring priority and loyal visitors - correlating this to the likelihood to buy or renew subscriptions. Once these visitors are identified, the publisher sends targeted newsletters, which has resulted in subscription growth.

Facebook’s intentions may not be pure, but its money is real: How publishers made the most of its membership accelerator

“Facebook wants you to know that this story isn’t about them (but it was always about them).”

✍️ Modern journalism

“Moments of Next”: Nielsen identifies exactly when readers are most engaged, and how publishers can benefit from it

“What if you could scientifically pinpoint the exact moment people’s attention is at its peak? What if you could identify the very instant they’re ready and willing to see something new?”

This study found that people prefer to see a feed at the end of your content, and were 20% more attentive than when no further articles were presented at the bottom of the page. Food for thought!

Survival tips for nonprofit newsrooms: Fundraising, membership, and sustainable models

“Revenue options for nonprofit newsrooms now include everything from story sales and membership to crowdfunding and even cryptocurrency tokens.”

Journalists-turned-entrepreneurs on how they built their businesses

More and more journalists are venturing into media entrepreneurship - learn more about how they did it.

Why journalists shouldn’t be afraid of metrics

Read this for the latest insights from a News Impact Academy event in Bucharest about quality journalism, audience development & news metrics.

[Free Course] Diversify and grow the ways you earn revenue shared this series of resources about innovating and testing the ways in which you gain revenue from your audience and how to close the gaps.

👩‍💻 Technology

The Atlantic’s new app takes a cue from email newsletters

Along with an entirely redesigned look, The Atlantic launched a new iOS app that is very newsletterish – complete with a dynamic “Today” screen that changes depending on what time of day it is for the reader.

New tools power collaborative data journalism with a local emphasis

ProPublica have built an open source tool to help journalists collaborate on data coordination. It’s called… Collaborate.

“It’s designed to help multiple people sift through a large dataset and to add information to each data point. It is not meant to be used for statistical data analysis.”

Your monthly guide to sending better emails

The latest issue of Not A Newsletter is here, including learnings about welcome emails, re-engagement strategies and building subscriber-only newsletter products.

🤷 WTF?

Spotify overtakes Apple as the #1 place to podcast

Spotify is rapidly overtaking Apple as the top app for podcasting, overtaking the Apple Podcasts app in a growing number of regions.

#75 — Figuring out why to go paid

#75 — Figuring out why to go paid

Join the conversion 📣 Use your email address to log in to Publisher Weekly and access members-only content

💯 Top picks

Figuring out why to go paid

“We know it’s for user revenue, but what’s the why for the audience?”This article explores the when and why of “going paid” and argues that you should only do it if you have something different or exclusive to share, or offer depth that cannot be found elsewhere.

💸 Business models

Why publishers are creating more subscription products

As more and more media outlets focus on reader revenue, will publishers focus on attracting more subscribers and retaining them to grow, or will they introduce additional subscription products? Twipe explore how multiple verticals are becoming a common option for success.

[Podcast] The pivot to paid could create an unequal news ecosystem

“As many publishers zero in on consumer revenue strategies and hardened paywalls, HuffPost is taking a different tack.”Lydia Polgreen discusses the diminishing returns of news aggregation and alternative sources of revenue at HuffPost.

'There's clarity around what you'll make': SmartNews is paying publishers to be on its platform

“There’s a novel idea being embraced by platforms hungry for publisher content: Pay them.” (Subscription article).

✍️ Modern journalism

Do you want a Trusting News coach?

The staff of Trusting News are helping journalists find better ways to demonstrate credibility and earn trust through one-to-one coaching.

Predictions for the next 5 years in podcasting

“The podcast industry is bigger, richer, more professionalized, and more corporate than when Hot Pod launched five years ago today. Here are the worries that’ll need to be addressed in the next five years.”

Sources and keywords: The fundamentals of online newsgathering

“Regardless of your beat or area of focus, understanding how to use the social web to discover, monitor and research stories is an essential skill.”

This guide from First Draft News shares the best free tools and techniques in newsgathering and monitoring.

Watch your language: “Data voids” on the web have opened a door to manipulators and other disinformation pushers

“There’s no easy solution to them, but the media plays an important role in both combating them and making them worse.”

[Video course] Fundamental search for journalists

“In this course we’re going through some of the tips and tricks on how to make your own research faster and more accurate using Google’s tools. We will go from advanced search through to verification, touching upon visualisation and finishing up with Geo mapping tools to help you tell your stories in a beautiful, interactive way online.”

Don’t miss this free resource from

👩‍💻 Technology

Google has made its search engine more human and this article explores what this means for publishers. The latest algorithm changes could change the rankings for up to 10% of all search queries.

Crash course: custom audiences for social media ads

Buffer created this course that teaches you how to effectively create custom audiences on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn.

The trouble with TikTok

“Journalists should not be promoting participation in a platform with a documented history of political censorship.”

Adobe, NYT and Twitter want to develop an industry standard for content attribution

“An opt-in system that will allow creators and publishers to securely attach attribution data to content they choose to share”

The next major traffic driver for publishers: Chrome’s mobile article recommendations, up 2,100 percent in one year

“It’s already driving almost as many visits as Twitter, and publishers have no idea why their stories get chosen (or don’t).”

🤷 WTF?

Twitter wants us all to calm down

“Twitter knows we treat each other terribly on Twitter. We dunk, ridiculing friends and strangers via quote-tweets. We ratio, piling on replies to bad tweets.”

In the next few weeks, the platform will be running experiments designed to calm us down and motivate us to use quotes, replies and retweets less destructively.

#74 — Paths to subscription & why people pay for news

#74 — Paths to subscription & why people pay for news

Join the community: Head to and use your email address to log in and access the members only comments area on any issue.

💯 Top picks

Paths to subscription: Why recent subscribers chose to pay for news

“The move toward subscriptions will require measuring audiences differently, with analytics that measure deep engagement and not just page views. Publishers will need to segment audiences by their loyalty also and by their eventual likelihood to pay.”

💸 Business models

Price elasticity tests yield revenue opportunities for publishers

Mather Economics ran some pricing tests with several publishers to measure the elasticity of digital-only subscriber price. They found that the ideal renewal price is often higher than expected, and digital-only subscribers are less sensitive to price changes than print subscribers.

What it takes to shift a news organisation to reader revenue

“Launching a paywall is easy. Pivoting a whole business from an advertising-centric mindset to one focused on reader revenue is not.”

API investigate the ways in which the news industry needs to develop the skills and technology to sustain membership and subscription programs.

Subscriber-only newsletters aim to build local news loyalty

“We’ve seen data from Google that shows that email newsletters are the single most effective way to get people to decide to subscribe”

It’s time to get personal with consumers, or get lost

“There is a limit to how many publications a consumer will be willing to pay for, and if you want to be one of them, you’ll need to:

  1. give people content so indispensable they cannot live without, or
  2. make them feel connected to something so deeply that they want help keep it alive.”

✍️ Modern journalism

What hope for slow journalism?

Global Editors Network catch up with James Harding and the founding team of Tortoise to discuss the opportunities and challenges of slow journalism.

Glamour Editor in Chief on transforming into a digital-first brand [Podcast]

Glamour UK’s Editor in Chief Deborah Joseph talks Media Voices about the transformation of the publication from print-first to digital-first.

What if scale breaks community? Rebooting audience engagement when journalism is under fire

The latest report from Reuters Institute investigates how digital media navigates audience engagement while keeping up to date with developments in technology, mobile and platform media.

Starting a company to build out a new model for local news

NiemanLab author Ken Doctor has announced a new company called Lookout and a new model for local news, which will launch next year.

👩‍💻 Technology

Will Facebook’s new news tab be a milestone or millstone?

“The money is welcome, and the potential audience is too. But does this push publishers away from being destinations and toward being suppliers?”

The transformation of Condé Nast

How a media mogul defined class and invented the modern magazine.

The Financial Times is rolling out subscriber-only podcasts

“The Financial Times has expanded its audio strategy to include subscriber-only podcasts, a first for the publisher.”

🤷 WTF?

Why editorial illustrations look so similar these days

“The answer boils down to three T’s: technology, taste, and terrible pay.” Quartz explore the trends in “flat design” and why it’s taking over the internet.

#73 (Special Edition) — Announcing memberships & subscriptions in Ghost

#73 (Special Edition) — Announcing memberships & subscriptions in Ghost

As most of you know, this newsletter is run by the team at Ghost.

More than 18 months ago when we came up with the idea to curate the most important stories about new business models for publishing each week, we also started doing our own research into this space as we set out to build a product specifically to serve it.

It feels to us like creating sustainable models for the future of independent publishing has never been more important than it is today. It also feels like people are finally beginning to wake up to the dark side of advertising, the problems of funding journalism in 2019, and the potential for memberships and subscriptions as an alternative. Longtime subscribers will have seen all of these subjects covered in some detail.

While there are a few plugins out there to help create membership sites and a handful of small paid newsletter products — so far there hasn’t been any full-featured independent platform for a membership based publication.

And, of course, that’s exactly what we’ve been working on.

Each year we do a major release, and this year’s is Ghost 3.0. We did a big launch about this last week, and there’s an overview of everything that’s new here — but what’s most relevant to you, is that we’ve announced native support for memberships & subscriptions.

Now, you can use Ghost to create any type of independent paid publication - from a simple newsletter like Sinocism to a full-featured paid publication like The Information.

Best of all: The technology is all open source, independent, and comes with 0% transaction fees of any kind.

It’s different to everything else out there because it allows you to build a business on top of a platform you own - nobody can kick you off or take it away from you when their funding runs out.

Turn your audience into a business with Ghost memberships & subscriptions

We’ve worked incredibly hard on making this the first proper subscription platform for publishers, so we can’t wait to hear what you think.

Early last week I got on the phone with Ben Thompson, one of the very first subscription publishers, to do an interview about this new release for his site, Stratechery:

Stratechery interview by Ben Thompson: Ghost 3.0, An Interview with Ghost CEO John O’Nolan

“I find this extremely compelling … I love the open source aspect … and I look forward to seeing how Ghost develops.”

Ghosting VCs – Crunchbase News

“it has a financing model that might make VCs a little scared. Why? It didn’t need ’em … Ghost is one upstart that proves that raising venture capital isn’t a prerequisite for making a big impact.”

We've been absolutely overwhelmed by the positive response since the launch - Ghost 3.0 has quickly become one of the most popular releases of 2019 on ProductHunt.

An independent publication about remote work, world travel, and building an entirely different kind of life — created by John O'Nolan

You can see some of the new functionality on the Publisher Weekly website (we now have subscriber-only comments for each issue). But I’ve also launched my own paid members publication, called Rediverge, to write about the intersection of technology, travel, and building alternative models for both life and business.

Either way, thank you so much for being a subscriber and for following along with us on this journey. We’ll return to our regularly scheduled issues next week, as normal.

Speak soon

John, and the team at Ghost

Don’t forget, this is a manually written newsletter! You can always hit reply if you want to chat, it’ll go straight to our inbox :)
#72 — How much revenue thousands of indie creators make each month

#72 — How much revenue thousands of indie creators make each month

Next week’s issue is going to be a little different as we’ve got some exciting announcements to make… watch this space 👀

💯 Top picks

Graphtreon: Earnings, graphs and rankings of thousands of independent creators has a ranked list of Patreon creators with information about their revenue and statistics updated daily. With categories spanning writing, magazines, podcasts and more it’s a great place to get some inspiration, discover new content and to understand just how much revenue an independent publisher of any kind can generate!

💸 Business models

How publishers re-engage dormant email subscribers

Publishers who send email newsletters have to find ways to improve open rates and click-through rates. Nothing hurts these metrics more than having a huge list of disengaged subscribers - so what methods can you use to either re-engage or remove churned email readers?

Find out how popular newsletters such as Morning Brew are managing their email lists in this Digiday article.

The News Revenue Hub is launching a pilot project to help news orgs increase their readers’ loyalty

"You can turn loyal readers into members and subscribers. But first, you have to turn occasional readers into loyal readers."

This article explains how the well-established conversion funnel relates to publishers, and what they should be doing to optimise their funnel as membership and subscription models start to take the place of advertising.

Unexpected ways publishers engage readers

Apps, newsletters and social media are some of the most obvious building blocks of a digital strategy in publishing - but there's many other innovative ways to engage with your audience. This article explores three less obvious trends: Building communities, using calendars to deliver news and forming reader habits with WhatsApp groups.

The October edition of your monthly guide to sending better newsletters is here

The latest tips, tools and advice about building an email newsletter from Dan at Not a Newsletter has arrived. This monthly Google Doc curation is one of our top reads each month. We really enjoyed the newsletter spotlight in this issue, with real insights from an independent newsletter writer, Pit Gottschalk, who has over 12k subscribers.

“Publishers are going to live or die based on their relationship with readers”: How Quartz is rethinking its membership offerings

Quartz have announced major leadership changes and are rethinking their membership strategy with a new subscription that is “similar to an subscription, where you’re getting access to this huge library of journalism, than it is to a daily news subscription.”

✍️ Modern journalism

Get rid of your ego and be an empathetic journalist [Podcast]

“It’s about really listening and trying to see audiences for who they are, not who we think they are, and letting them direct the coverage a little bit more than we ever have before,” says P. Kim Bui, director of audience innovation for The Arizona Republic.

A culture of listening strengthens reporting and relationships

To extend the sentiment of the podcast above from a different perspective, this article from American Press Institute includes tips for being more empathetic by developing a stronger culture of listening

How to engage with consumers through private messaging apps

“The rise of dark social sharing poses both threats and opportunities to news organisations - here is how to make the most of it."

Best ways to use Reddit for local journalism

Reddit is one of those corners of the internet where you might just accidentally get lost for a few hours. Increasingly, publishers are using Reddit as a platform to find unique story ideas or to build community. This article shares some of the best and worst ways to use Reddit for local journalism.

👩‍💻 Technology

The Guardian launches subscriber-only, ad-free daily app

“The Guardian has released a daily app for paying subscribers, as part of its quest to reach 2 million financial supporters by 2022. The draw of the new app is that it won’t carry ads and will offer a more streamlined news product.”

The Information will launch Ticker, a tech news app aimed at consumers

The Information are launching an app too! Typically aimed at professionals, the membership news site offers $399 annual subscriptions for investors, entrepreneurs and tech industry executives. Their new app Ticker will be aimed towards consumers, with a much lower price point of $29 per year.

ICFJ Survey: Journalists are embracing tech to tackle daunting challenges

“Journalists around the world are increasingly turning to digital technology to help address daunting challenges such as the spread of misinformation and growing attacks on reporters, according to the International Center for Journalists’ 2019 survey of the State of Technology in Global Newsrooms.”

Spend less time in your inbox with this tool

This Chrome extension promises to help you spend less time on your email, helping you to reclaim back an hour of your time every week.

🤷 WTF?

This Facebook scam siphoned millions from unsuspecting boomers

A “politically connected” entrepreneur was the founder of a company called Ads Inc. which operated subscription traps that would trick people into buying what they believe is a free trial of a celebrity-endorsed product – but what turned out to be a recurring subscription that was difficult to cancel.

#71 — How much money can be made with premium newsletters

#71 — How much money can be made with premium newsletters

Enjoy your Sunday reads!

Submit articles to the community or strike up a conversation – we’d like to hear your feedback.

💯 Top picks

Normcore Tech: How much I make money running a paid newsletter

Data scientist and author of Normcore Tech Vicki Boykis shares a transparent insight of revenue from running a paid newsletter on the side, how many subscribers the newsletter has right now, how many it would need to grow into a full-time income and some worries about VC funded tech.

💸 Business models

How the Post and Courier used a “mini-publisher” approach to create new revenue streams

“Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: The Post and Courier in Charleston, S.C., created cross-disciplinary teams across the company — spanning the newsroom and the sales/marketing side — to launch new products in specific content areas like food, politics and real estate. The initiative resulted in nearly $900,000 in new product revenue and, in the past two years, an increase in digital subscriptions by 250 percent.”

This publishers comment campaign goes viral in effort to reduce churn

Norwegian publisher Stavanger Aftenblad experienced growth, followed by churn! They decided to launch a campaign to emphasis the comments feature to their existing customers, and encourage them to share their views about the content.

✍️ Modern journalism

Using data as content: The publishers’ “secret weapon” to break through the noise

What’s New In Publishing share a tip from their own playbook and explain how and why you should consider gathering data to fuel your content strategy. The great thing about data driven content is that you can create a completely unique data set that can’t be copied in the same way a “10 best practices” article can. But it can be referenced and linked to, which is great for SEO (and your ego).

How are paywalled news outlets preparing to serve residents in California’s mega-power shutoffs?

“If we’re going to have news that is paid for by audiences, we have to talk about the news that should never be behind paywalls.”

One subscriber or 48,000 pageviews: Why every journalist should know the “unit economics” of their content

“With the advertising people looking at the ad metrics, the subscription people looking at subscription metrics, and journalists looking at outdated metrics…nobody was looking at these metrics together to get a clear view of the business as a whole.”

How BuzzFeed is solving native advertising's scale problem

Simon Owens explores an emergence of a new hybrid ad format that combines native advertising with ecommerce, reducing the barrier to entry for smaller advertisers who are not normally able to spend thousands at a time on traditional custom native ads.

Trust tip: Focus on the audience members who *aren't* yelling at you

Here’s some wholesome advice from the TrustingNews project that is easy to forget when you’re working tirelessly to build something that people value, only to see negativity in the comments.

👩‍💻 Technology

The Washington Post’s most valuable asset is now its software, thanks to Jeff Bezos

“Since Jeff Bezos bought the Washington Post for $250 million in 2013, the Amazon CEO has been carefully in distancing himself from the editorial operation of the fabled newspaper. But behind the newsroom, he has been diligently involved in the development of the publishing software powering the Post‘s digital content.”

Tech platforms are where public life is increasingly constructed, and their motivations are far from neutral

“Instead of thinking about platform companies as the next generation of newspapers, radio stations, or TV channels, we should see them as entirely new entities that shapeshift constantly. Sometimes they are like cities, newsrooms, post offices, libraries, or utilities — but they are always like advertising firms.”

Social media ad budgets continue to grow in 2019

Reports are showing a boost in social media ad spend for 2019, which will take over print ad spend for the first time.“Social (13% of spend) sits behind TV (29%) and paid search (17%) – which breaches $100bn for the first time.”

The data detox kit: Take control of your digital self

This resource from Tactical Tech and Mozilla will take up 30 minutes of your day for 8-days in return for being more in-control of your digital presence. There’s lots of tips in here about controlling your data and being savvy about consuming digital content.

🤷 WTF?

Hating Comic Sans is not a personality

As the creator of Comic Sans said: “If you love Comic Sans you don’t know much about typography. And if you hate Comic Sans you need a new hobby.”

#70 — Site performance matters for publishers who want healthy conversions

#70 — Site performance matters for publishers who want healthy conversions

Welcome back 👋 This weeks issue features tips for publishers about site performance, new research about audience engagement, peer support initiatives for journalism and more. Enjoy!

💯 Top picks

Slow sites have a negative impact on revenue: Why publishers opt for faster, leaner websites

Having solid site performance is increasingly important for bringing organic traffic to your site and having healthy conversion rates. Big publishers have found that they lose 10% of their traffic for every extra second it takes for the site to load.It doesn’t matter if publishers are generating revenue from ads, memberships or subscriptions - site performance can have a big impact on revenue!

💸 Business models

The business case for listening to your audience is still murky (but early results are promising)

A funded experiment involving dozens of newsrooms has been investigating whether audience engagement improves revenue. The results? Higher engagement and more conversations – but no evidence that this translates into money (yet).

What publishers can learn from adblockers

“Almost half of all internet users are currently using ad blockers, and Google itself has launched a native adblocker in its web browser Chrome. Digiday predicts the cost to publishers could exceed $35 billion by 2020. What can publishers learn from this large population of readers that block ads?”

Mozilla & Creative Commons want to reimagine the internet without ads... with micropayments

A program called Grant for the Web has been designed to give $20 million per year for five years to people working on building a proposed browser standard for micropayments. This is an interesting project considering it’s set against a backdrop where publishers have been reporting that micropayments simply don’t work!

✍️ Modern journalism

5 tips for getting your reporting to the audiences who need it most

Find out how to cut through the noise and ensure your work gets in front of the right people with these 5 tips from journalist Michelle Faust Raghavan.

Facebook’s coming news tab won't pay everyone

WSJ reports that Facebook is only planning to pay “a minority” of publishers whose headlines are featured in their upcoming news section.

A new 'fake news' law is now in force in Singapore

Many groups have warned this may stifle free speech and give governments too much power. The new act will require all platforms to correct or remove content when directed by the government.

Watch your language: How English is skewing the global news narrative

In an opening essay from a book about diversity in journalism, Tanya Pampalone investigates how the power of language impacts global news.

Peer support for local journalists working on data stories

OpenNews announced a new peer-review program that connects people in smaller newsrooms with experienced data journalists. They’ve launched the project based on conversations with local journalists about their needs, and aim to start small to figure out what works best, before scaling.

👩‍💻 Technology

This tool is going to shape the future of podcasting — and possibly misinformation

Ren LaForme shares a review of a hot new tool for podcasting called Descript, which creates a text transcript of an audio file and then allows you to reorder or delete parts of the text and automatically apply those "edits" to your audio file. It sounds pretty cool and Ren is a fan as it saves a lot of time - but warns that there is a potential for misuse.

The Washington Post’s TikTok guy gets millions of views by being uncool

Washington Post producer Dave Jorgenson landed a role at the video department and has made moves to manage their TikTok strategy… by making silly videos of himself!

Apple launches Apple News+ in the UK and Australia

“Apple News+, Apple’s subscription news and magazine service, has launched for users who live in the UK and Australia”

🤷 WTF?

Starbucks ditches newspapers

Not that we needed proof that the future of news is online in 2019… but Starbucks has stopped selling printed news completely and offers customers (limited) free access to paywalled online news sites instead ☕

#69 — Loyalty is membership's North Star

#69 — Loyalty is membership's North Star

Welcome back to your latest roundup of the biggest stories and ideas in independent publishing.

Last week’s issue had lots of content about creating better newsletters and this weeks is full of interesting ideas about podcasts. Plus: the latest research about metrics in memberships, what happens when newspapers disappear and how trolls manipulate the media!

💯 Top picks

Loyalty is membership’s North Star – Here’s how news sites & advocacy groups measure it

“The traditional marketing funnel just doesn’t work for us — we have 10 funnels!” Publishers of all sizes running memberships are grappling with the question of how to measure success. The Membership Puzzle Project released their latest piece of research which investigates the most important metrics and how to measure them, with plenty of real life examples.

💸 Business models

Slate shares the details of their podcast revenue for 2019! [Podcast]

Slate has been doing podcasts for 14 years and expects to hit 200 million downloads this year. They will also be reaching another milestone – 50% of their revenue will be from podcasts. This is from both podcast advertising and members-only podcast content which has 60,000 members.Listen to president Charlie Kammerer talk about their success in this 25 minute episode.

How publishers get their reporters to drive subscriptions

“For many newsrooms, paying subscribers have replaced pageviews as the key barometer of success.

That means thinking up new ways to steer reporters to create subscriber-worthy stories. Some, such as Business Insider, offer bonuses for reporters who hit subscription targets. Others, such as News Corp Australia, have tried to implement quotas, which have met resistance from newsroom unions. For many publishers, the answer is to simply raise awareness of what is working among reporters.”

The Information and Bloomberg discuss a bundled subscription

Axios reported that Bloomberg Media and The Information are in talks about a bundled subscription. Could this be the beginning of a trend where publishers with similar audience alignment join forces, in what is becoming a competitive subscription landscape?

✍️ Modern journalism

This company opens up the black box of what print newspaper subscribers are actually reading

German company Lesewert creates a “reading value” score that tracks how readers are consuming printed media. Their data uncovers what people are reading, which days of the week people read the most, as well as demographic information. Unsurprisingly, they found the average age of newspaper readers to be over 60.

How a local newspaper became digital-first to save its 123 year-old legacy

Here’s a real example of how to combat the decline in consumption of printed news. This local newspaper built a digital-first workflow, implemented a paywall and consolidated its subscription plans. They now have increased circulation and revenue! 🙌

The books and movies that made us better journalists

This article is full of reading recommendations from journalists - sharing the most important articles, books and movies that inspired their craft.

Aiming for its next million supporters, The Guardian launches a major “affinity campaign”

The Guardian is now supported by millions of readers - but the publisher knows it needs to start spending money on marketing to continue to earn more reader revenue. So they're launching their first major campaign since 2011, called "Hope is power." Other large publishers like the New York Times are doing similar things.

👩‍💻 Technology

Europe’s “right to be forgotten” doesn’t apply worldwide

A European court has ruled the controversial EU “right to be forgotten” rule which allows EU citizens to ask for information about them to be removed from Google, does not need to apply worldwide.

Useful tool: Support tables for HTML and CSS in emails

Can I Email is a great resource if you’re sending email newsletters. Type in a HTML element or CSS property into the search box and it will show you whether it’s supported by all of the major email clients. Bookmark for later, and don’t forget to check out our curated resources for publishers for other neat tools!

Media Voices Live: How publishers are innovating with podcast

“Publishers are in a unique position to take advantage of the rise in podcasting thanks to their storytelling expertise and ready-made audiences. With listener numbers growing and discoverability improving, there has never been a better time for publishers to create something unique.”

Who could have predicted that Podcoin, an app that promised to pay you to listen to podcasts, didn’t work out

The latest issue of Hot Pod explores the latest news in podcasting technology, including the shut down of Podcoin.

🤷 WTF?

Source hacking: How trolls manipulate the media

A new report published by the digital think tank Data & Society, written by Joan Donovan, Director of the Technology and Social Change Research Project at Harvard University’s Kennedy School, and senior researcher Brian Friedberg, aims to create a taxonomy of trolling tactics.

#68 — The right strategy to monetise your content through reader revenue

#68 — The right strategy to monetise your content through reader revenue

Happy Sunday & welcome back. Here’s your curated list of the most important stories and ideas in digital publishing this week! Thanks for supporting Publisher Weekly ❤️

Remember you can submit articles or get in touch with us directly to let us know what you'd like to see in future issues.

💯 Top picks

The right strategy to monetise your content through reader revenue [Podcast]

This weeks top story is a 40 minute podcast with Mary Walter-Brown, the founder and CEO of News Revenue Hub, which has been helping new organisations build sustainable revenue streams since 2016. Her advice covers many of the big questions relevant to publishers of all shapes and sizes who are building and growing a membership program!

💸 Business models

To capture reader revenue and engagement, some Indian newsrooms are going back to the once-scorned comments section

“News organizations are interested in building communities because they can potentially help generate user revenue.“

Insider's Pete Spande on balancing subscriptions and advertising [Podcast]

The Digiday podcast catches up with Insider’s CRO Pete Spande, to talk about balancing revenue streams and the reasoning behind their recent merger with eMarketer.

✍️ Modern journalism

After a $2.6M crowdfunding campaign, The Correspondent will have just one full-time US journalist

The Correspondent is hiring a total of five full-time journalists who will be based in Italy, Nigeria, India, London and the U.S.

“The U.S.-based journalist is Eric Holthaus, who will be reporting on climate change from Minnesota, though his stories won’t focus on the U.S.: “I’ll be telling stories that are collaborative, constructive, and transnational”.

“The Daily” hits one billion downloads!

The New York TimesThe Daily podcast has reached a milestone of 1 billion downloads since its launch in February 2017. An impressive achievement for the publisher, alongside having 4.7 million total subscriptions. The outlet credits the success of their podcast growth to the work and creativity of the TimesAudio team.

What exactly is a newspaper edition in today's digital age?

Dive into defining the edition concept in a digital world with Twipe and take a look at replicating print, digital native editions, newsletters and other emerging formats that are replacing printed newspaper editions.

As regulators investigate, Google is now funding the creation of local news sites in the US and the UK

“Google has now committed “millions” of dollars/pounds in support of the creation of three local news sites in two different countries by major media companies (that already have local news sites).”

👩‍💻 Technology

Your monthly guide to sending better emails is here

The latest compilation of Not A Newsletter is available to read and full of links to the latest in email news and the most important ideas and advice for people who are creating email newsletters.

Use email automation to deliver mini-courses and activate your archives

While on the subject of creating email newsletters – don’t miss this masterclass on how to build email courses to give your subscribers a digestible way to engage with your content and learn at their own pace. With feedback from teams at Pew Research Center, The Washington Post, Buzzfeed and The New Yorker.

BBC experiments with negative news filters to help readers with anxieties

“As one third of audience switches off from news, the public broadcaster is testing a tool that would allow readers to blur out stories that may impact their mental health.”The idea is not to filter or remove news, but to give users the control.

Washington Post builds ad network for publishers to take on Big Tech

The Washington Post are releasing a new product called "Zeus Prime", that will allow companies to buy automated ads as an alternative to buying ads on Google and Facebook.

🤷 WTF?

How the Internet Archive is waging war on misinformation

San Francisco-based non-profit is archiving billions of web pages in a bid to preserve web history. (Requires subscription).

#67 — User revenue is now a growth engine

#67 — User revenue is now a growth engine

Happy Sunday & welcome back to your subscription of the most important stories in digital publishing. It’s been such a busy news week that we had a hard time picking out the best reads 🙃

Get in touch 📫 Let us know what you’d like to see here by writing to us.

💯 Top picks

User revenue is now a growth engine — but here's 3 challenges [Video]

Kjersti Thorneus from Schibsted shares some insights from their digital subscriptions business which is anticipated to bring in NOK$1 billion in 2020. The article shares the top 3 challenges the publisher faces, but we’d highly recommend giving the embedded YouTube video from Newscamp 2019 a listen (47 mins).

💸 Business models

There’s a reader revenue revolution happening. Will legacy news miss it — again?

“When it comes to legacy news media and any new digital innovation, you can usually count on two things: The innovation will begin too late, and even when it does, it’s often a half-measure that doesn’t make up lost time.”

A personalised, flexible paywall model is best for your audience

INMA report that strict paywalls don’t allow for the nuances required to suit a diverse audience and make advertising less effective.

Subscriptions provide a high quality alternative to social media and advertising!

Business Insider explore how memberships and subscriptions can make the internet a better place and replace problematic advertising models.

“It’s a healthy, sustainable option for creators and users.”

The NYT is the latest publisher to put up a registration wall

A registration wall is when visitors are asked to create a free account to keep reading unmetered articles. The New York Times has recently put up a hard registration wall following some testing they ran last month. Getting all readers to subscribe is a smart tactic that is also being used by the Boston Globe – providing the publishers with more ways to get to know their audience (and more ways to convert them to subscribers later on).

‘Journalism Thinking’ doesn’t need a business model. It needs a call to arms

The question then isn’t “what is the business model for local journalism” but rather “how do we expand and defend journalism thinking?”

Christopher Wink shares a different perspective on subscriptions for local journalism. He argues that rather than finding a new business model, local publishers should join forces to form a paradigm shift and rethink journalism.

✍️ Modern journalism

Public service media struggle to reach younger & less educated audiences

Reuters Institute have published a new report about public service news – heres’s the TL;DR on Twitter, or you can read the full report.

Google wants to prioritise original reporting

“The company has changed its global search algorithm to "highlight articles that we identify as significant original reporting,” and to keep such articles in top positions for longer.“

Accounting and budgeting tips for journalism entrepreneurs

Here’s some free advice for journalism startups about financial management of news organisations! It’s part of a funded toolkit of resources which you can access here.

Introducing the impact editor: A new role critical for the journalism industry

A new role titled “Impact Editor” at The Bureau of Investigative Journalism is a new strategy for ensuring investigative work is having an impact.

👩‍💻 Technology

Here’s what we know so far about the upcoming Facebook News tab

Publishing news has been going crazy about the new Facebook News tab that is set to pay some publishers (lots of $) to syndicate their content. Here’s everything you need to know from NiemanLab.

Can AI help ‘preserve quality of the Internet’?

“The number of fact-checking initiatives have mushroomed in recent years and yet many argue they are a losing battle against widespread disinformation. GEN spoke with Dhruv Ghulati, co-founder and CEO of Factmata, to understand what makes this rising AI startup unique and how it uses quality metrics to offer a kind of ‘nutritional label for anything you read online’.”

Twitter launches new playbook to help you understand how to get the most out of their platform

We’re always dubious when a platform releases a guide for brands who use their tools. According to this article, the new Twitter playbook is one you should approach with caution, but it does include some insightful information as well. You’ve been warned! Here’s the full download.

🤷 WTF?

YouTube creators are turning the site into a podcast network

Many of the most successful YouTube creators have a podcast these days, including David Dobrik and Marques Brownlee. They’re utilising the platform they already know so well to host their podcast – which is a pretty smart strategy considering some of the most popular podcasts have dedicated audiences who choose YouTube over Apple and Spotify for their podcast experience.

#66 — Q&A with the VP of subscription growth at the NYT

#66 — Q&A with the VP of subscription growth at the NYT

Welcome back to your weekly update of the most important stories and news in publishing. This week we’ve got insights about the Facebook news tab, new services from Patreon and how The Telegraph are using Instagram and Snapchat to find new subscribers. Enjoy!

Thanks for supporting the community – We're deeply interested in what brings you here? Let us know why the future of digital publishing is important to you by hitting the reply button!

💯 Top picks

Q&A with Vice President of subscription growth at The New York Times

David Gurian-Peck oversees subscription growth at the NYT, which is the most important area for growth. He discusses pricing, strategy and how to measure success in this Q&A interview with The Idea.

💸 Business models

The Atlantic (re)joins the metered paywall club, with digital subscriptions starting at $49.99/year

Figuring out a subscription strategy that works seems to be the ultimate goal for media organisations this year. The Atlantic are changing up their strategies again – now you’ll get 5 free stories per month and be forced to subscribe after that starting at $49.00 per year.

Patreon might start providing loans to creators

“Patreon is eyeing a range of new services to support creators – including potentially providing loans, CEO Jack Conte said.”

What we can learn from membership programs

Educate your readers, develop passion and form relationships. Here’s three top-level learnings from major membership-driven publishers that we can all learn from.

✍️ Modern journalism

Unprepared for unpublishing? Here’s how some newsrooms are rethinking what lasts forever

A study conducted this year suggested that 19 out of 21 news organisations aren’t taking any steps to archive their online content. In other words, when content is removed from a news organisations website, there’s often no clear processes for archiving and saving history.

Why habit formation is key for all news media

“In this new analysis, the number of days a subscriber reads in a month was found to relate to the percent cancelling their subscription…”

Meet people where they are at: What journalists can learn from community organisers

“If a journalist is only building relationships with powerful people, how will that change the type of information they gather?”

Lenfest Institute share the learnings from their Organizing for Neighborhood News project in Philadelphia which challenges the way local communities engage with the public in their journalistic process.

👩‍💻 Technology

What publishers think about the Facebook News tab

“The big picture: Facebook’s News Tab could be a sea change in the relationship between tech firms and the news media. It could also recast Facebook as a friend of the news industry while putting pressure on Apple and Google to put up funds as well.”

How BuzzFeed's tech team help the news team report about technology with authority

A great example of preventing teams within a media org working in silos from BuzzFeed, who give their tech and news teams a dedicated amount of time per week to collaborate and share skills and knowledge.

The Telegraph is using Snapchat and Instagram to find subscribers

The news outlet has begun monitoring user journeys on Instagram and Snapchat to find out what content drives readers to sign up or subscribe, using metrics like retention and dwell time.

Jason Fried calls Google’s search results a shakedown!

The founder of Basecamp shared a controversial tweet about how the company bids on branded terms. He says that due to Google’s algorithms, companies must pay up in advertising costs if you want to be found in the search engine for your own brand name

🤷 WTF?

Your interactive makes me sick

Why your coolest scrolly features can cause problems, and what to do about it!

#65 — Members changed our lives for the better

#65 — Members changed our lives for the better

Welcome to your weekly issue with all of the latest and greatest stories and ideas about digital publishing.

Let’s chat! 📫 Hit reply to let us know why you’re interested in the future of publishing, or give us some feedback for the newsletter!

💯 Top picks

“At 7,000 members our lives are already changed for the better”: How the Daily Maverick developed its membership program

Our weekly Insider meetings are attended by the editor-in-chief, CEO, membership manager, product manager, support manager, developer, marketing and design team, with occasional drop-ins from finance and events team reps. Of the 10 regular attendees, only three of those positions existed before the decision to move into membership.”

💸 Business models

Want to make your journalism more memberful? Find a range of proven practices, including revenue-generating routines

Membership Puzzle Project have been around the world speaking with publishers to identify “memberful routines” that help to incorporate community knowledge that provides value. In this article they share some learnings from 19 news sites.

The Athletic is experimenting with free content and advertising

It wants to give non-subscribers the ability to sample some of company’s content and plans to use advertising to get their content in front of more people. Kinda goes against the advice that was shared by the Membership Puzzle Project in last weeks issue about tightening up your paywall!

How publishers are cutting print days — and not losing (too many) subscribers

“The key is the consumer will let you know when they’re done with the print product. Don’t prematurely yank it from them.”

✍️ Modern journalism

How to keep your sanity as you dismantle the status quo in newsroom

Own your priorities, learn to say no and focus on the good stuff! Real life advice for people working in newsrooms from Becca Aaronson, director of product at Chalkbeat.

Improving the way readers evaluate issues with solutions journalism

The Center for Media Engagement set out to determine how “solutions journalism” can affect the way readers evaluate both the reporting and the issue in a study supported by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation with contributions from The Impact Architects!

Common Sense Media Survey Monkey poll: teen media literacy

“Results from a new Common Sense Media|SurveyMonkey poll show that teens get their news more frequently from social media sites (e.g. Facebook, Twitter) or from YouTube.”

👩‍💻 Technology

Media's new revenue play: Sell software to other media companies

“Publishers are increasingly beginning to act more like digital product companies that sell services to clients rather than advertising to brands.”

Funders have given Facebook a deadline to share data with researchers!

BuzzFeed news reported that Facebook has until Sept. 30 to provide data it promised to academic researchers or a consortium of funders will cease to support the project. In other Facebook news this week, they’re also set to require buyers of political ads to provide more information about who paid for them.

“We realized Spotify for news was exactly the wrong thing to do.” Here’s what Kinzen is doing instead.

“News publishers should not be giving away their content to third-party platforms, or relying on social platforms. They should develop these personalised and curated experiences themselves.”

🤷 WTF?

The internet has made dupes—and cynics—of us all

“The typical response to the onslaught of falsehood is to say, lol, nothing matters. But when so many of us are reaching this point, it really does matter.”

#64 — How to use paid acquisition to grow your email subscribers

#64 — How to use paid acquisition to grow your email subscribers

Happy Sunday! Here’s all of the latest important stories and ideas in digital publishing.

If you’re enjoying this newsletter we’d appreciate it if you’d recommend us to a friend or colleague who might enjoy it too or share on Twitter 👉

💯 Top picks

How to use paid acquisition to grow your email subscribers and paid memberships

“There’s an opportunity to simply fund email list growth and to walk away knowing that this is a leading indicator for subscriber, member and donor growth, as well as increased revenue from sponsorships and advertising.”

Research backed insights about how publishers can leverage ads to get more people into the funnel who may later convert to a member or sponsor.

💸 Business models

The referral program that built an audience of 1.5 million subscribers

Tyler Denk shares a behind the scenes view of business news publisher Morning Brew’s growth. They managed to go from 100,ooo subscribers to 1.5 million in just 18 months with a very successful referral program – relying on their existing readers spreading the word to grow at a rapid pace.

How The Times attracts and retains digital subscribers

“In a world of Netflix, Spotify and Amazon Prime, how does a publisher convince readers to pay £26 a month for a digital news subscription?”

Subscriptions are the new competitive field for media!

“The migration to digital has put news content in direct competition with everything else. News, social, video-on-demand, games, are now fighting for spending allocation, and time spent.”

The biggest changes for publishers in 2019 so far

A mid-year summary of the biggest changes that have impacted publishers this year from Twipe, including the threat of paywall blockers and the expansion into audio.

✍️ Modern journalism

An upstart sports news service is thriving amid media layoffs

“The Athletic now has more than a half-million readers, but can it turn a profit?”

One potential route to flagging fake news at scale

A software engineer and computational linguist has been studying fake news and has ideas for ways to identify it algorithmically. Since fake news articles are more likely to use expressions that are common in hate speech, linguistic analytics could provide better ways to identify it at scale.

Apply for funds to transform your newsroom analytics

The American Press Institute are offering subsidised access to the Metrics for News software and services that helps publishers priortise audience-driven content. Application form here.

Inside Glamour’s print-first to digital-first transformation

The UK publisher cut back on printed editions of its magazine in 2017, and replaced it with bi-annual collectible glossy issues. Publishing Director Camilla Newman shares some insights into their digital-first journey.

👩‍💻 Technology

YouTube is testing a members-only videos feature

YouTube are reportedly gearing up to sell subscriptions for publishers' videos by expanding their existing product to support standalone subscription based services.

Axios joins media push into software with newsletter product

“Digital media publisher Axios is planning to enter a new business that includes selling software for helping companies create newsletters for their employees. The move comes at a moment when more media businesses are seeking to diversify their revenue through software sales.”

“Plus, a new free course for online fact-checking taught via workspace app Notion.”

🤷 WTF?

MoodFeed recommends content based on how you’re feeling

Rather than browsing categories on BuzzFeed, you can now tell it how you're feeling instead! 🙃

MoodFeed is offering readers a new approach to finding content that fits their emotions - by allowing them to self-identify their mood based on 6 options: curious, stressed, bored, nostalgic, joyful, or hungry.

#63 — Tighten up that paywall!

#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 (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.

Get your RSS feeds in your inbox

Curate your own email newsletters RSS style with this tool and get periodical emails with all of your favourite content. Don’t forget you can always visit our curated list of tools for publishers on the Publisher Weekly site.

🤷 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.

#62 — The four visitors to your site, and how to hook them

#62 — The four visitors to your site, and how to hook them

Welcome back! This weeks thoughtful takes on the future of publishing includes lots of news about emerging business models and a free downloadable resource in our top pick of the week.

For those of you who have joined this community in the past few weeks, here’s a brief reminder about who we are, and why we curate this newsletter!

Stories, ideas and resources all in one place – catch up with past issues, or discover neat tools for independent publishing 👉

💯 Top picks

The four visitors to your site, and how to hook them [Report]

Why do content creators focus on maximising reach, rather than improving engagement with the right people?

Editors at The Atlantic have become fatigued with placing too much importance on page views, and are focusing on metrics that offer more insight. For example: What kinds of audiences are visiting? What do those people actually value?

They’ve shared this (free with email address) downloadable resource that walks you through how to segment your audience, surface relevant content, deepen relationships and improve conversions. If you don’t have time to read it right now, save it and file for when you need a little inspiration - it’s only 9 pages and full of insightful opinions!

💸 Business models

How Piano built a propensity paywall for publishers — and what it’s learned so far

A propensity paywall uses signals to measure a visitor’s likelihood of becoming a subscriber, and determines exactly how to encourage them to do it by sending the right messaging at the right time. Piano launched their own intelligent propensity paywall back in June and have since seen clients increase their visitor-to-subscriber rates by up to 75%.

This month in email: Not A Newsletter, August Issue!

Dan Oshinsky released the latest edition of Not A Newsletter in the usual Google Docs format and it’s packed full of interesting reads as well as an overview of what Dan learnt looking back on two years of working at The New Yorker!

News aggregation app SmartNews reaches $1 billion valuation

Google and Facebook may have eaten up all of the news referral traffic in recent years, but this hasn’t stopped the Japanese startup SmartNews from gaining traction. For now, it remains the largest news aggregation service in Japan – but is growing rapidly in the US, making most of its revenue from advertising.

"If we can't figure out a model... we won't last!"

A creative plea from for their loyal readers to donate and pay for their news, to keep the publication alive.

“If half of those users […] paid $10 a month, we would earn $168,000 a year. Counting in our current business members, we would be fully funded.”

Some publishers are making money from Apple News

“Publishers like Vice Media and The Stylist Group say they’ve gotten traffic and more importantly, revenue lifts from Apple News in the last three months.”

✍️ Modern journalism

HuffPost UK launches new sections that will pay contributors

The publisher aims to give a voice to underserved communities through new Personal and Opinion sections, which will expand the variety of voices on the publication and actually pay contributors, unlike the former Blog section that is being replaced.

The New York Times and The Guardian are celebrating good digital revenue news today

NiemanLab summarise a week of good news for the two big publishers, with the NYT hitting 3.78 million digital subscribers, while The Guardian broke even with over half of its revenue coming from digital.

The Markup is back, with Julia Angwin reinstated as editor-in-chief, a new leadership team, and the same reporters

A little publishing news drama for you this week! The Markup is a nonprofit news site with a mission to investigate how big tech impacts society. In April, the cofounder and editor-in-chief was suddenly fired, causing the editorial team to protest. Now, Angwin has been reinstated, the people that fired her have left and there’s a new leadership team.

👩‍💻 Technology

How disabling 8chan became Cloudflare's job

“The decision to disable an infamous message board fell to Matthew Prince, an internet executive who is deeply uncomfortable with his own power.”Cloudflare disabling 8chan after it hosted advance announcements about mass shootings was a widely discussed topic this week, sparking philosophical debate about the meaning of free speech and the law on the internet.

See also: The announcement post on the Cloudflare blog and “A framework for moderation” from Stratechery.

🤷 WTF?

4 extremely online writers on how the internet broke our brains and how we can unbreak them

“Can the very online ever unplug?”

Mother Jones put the question to four writers with varying degrees of internet damage.

#61 — Email is important for publishers. So is retention!

#61 — Email is important for publishers. So is retention!

Welcome to your weekly roundup of the most important stories in independent publishing. It was a busy news week, so this issue is packed full of great content.

Thanks for being a part of the community – don’t forget you can submit articles & access a curated resources list of the best tools for publishers anytime!

💯 Top picks

The Facebook local news accelerator finds out what readers will actually pay for!

The Facebook local news accelerator launched to support 14 publishers in finding sustainable business models, with financial backing and the help of coaches and experts. One year in, the project shared this report of all of the things they’ve discovered so far, including:

  • Average conversion rate for email subscribers to paid is between 5-10%
  • Leading publishers aren’t seeing subscription fatigue
  • Retention is very important

Check out the full article for this weeks top read!

💸 Business models

The Guardian's membership editor functions as the "connective tissue" between supporters and the newsroom

Kyra Miller dives into how The Guardian’s membership team connects with readers and builds membership into its editorial flow, breaking it down into to challenges the publisher faces, their strategy, the numbers and lessons learnt. Published for Solution Set, a great weekly resource from The Lenfest Institute for Journalism.

The L.A. Times’ disappointing digital numbers show the game’s not just about drawing in subscribers — it’s about keeping them

“Digital subscriptions at the Los Angeles Times are way below expectations, and leadership, in a memo to staff, said the future of the paper could depend on solving the issue rapidly.”

The Athletic sports news site hits 500,000 subscribers

The sports news subscription product from The Athletic now has 500,000 paying subscribers, but expects to double this by the end of the year.

Stop sending emails to your inactive subscribers

Are you running an email newsletter? Word on the street is that you definitely should be. This in-depth article explains how to manage your email subscriber list effectively and provides tips for identifying inactive subscribers – and what to do about it!

✍️ Modern journalism

Journalists in Ukraine are using Telegram for effective engagement with their audience

Telegram was built for personal, security-driven private messaging. Recently publishers are increasingly using the app build communities and distribute content and news. In Ukraine, journalists are using the tool to connect with relevant audiences, while successfully increasing click-through rates and creating a better space for community.

Holloway aims to rewrite publishing with $4.6M from investors including the New York Times

“The goal is to democratise access to how the best are doing business today (and take on traditional publishing).”

Holloway has an ambitious mission: To share knowledge about business and startups, and make it available in communities that are growing, but where knowledge is hard to come by.

This week they launched a series of online books covering a variety of topics about startups and technology – and with a large investment from top tech investors and the NYT, they’re hoping to provide better resources for publishing businesses.

👩‍💻 Technology

Facebook’s $5 billion FTC fine is an embarrassing joke

This article provides some important perspective: Facebook’s $5 billion FTC fine is just one month of revenue for Facebook, their stock price is up and none of the new conditions will stop them from collecting data that feeds their lucrative ad business.

Wayback Machine now shows when a page was updated and what changed

The Wayback Machine has long been a popular tool for checking out what websites looked like in the past. Now it has new features to show what date a page changed as well as exactly what changed on it!

Spotify’s big bet on podcasts is starting to pay off

The company is experiencing huge growth in its podcast audience, as revealed in its earnings report. The number of people listening to podcasts on the platform has doubled since the start of the year, which has contributed to a 9% growth in premium subscribers.

Journalists on the ‘aha’ moments that changed the way they work

CJR interviewed a group of journalists to learn more about how they developed their approaches to writing, researching and all aspects of journalism. A very real article with some extremely interesting insights!

Adblocking: How about nah?

“The rise and rise of ad-blockers (and ad-blocker-blocker-blockers) is without parallel: 26% of Internet users are now blocking ads, and the figure is rising. It’s been called the biggest boycott in human history.”

🤷 WTF?

Why most marketing emails still use HTML tables

“How HTML helped, then hindered, the evolution of email, or why all those fancy marketing emails you get in your inbox still rely on HTML tables…”

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Anders Norén
Received a good first issue of the Publisher Weekly newsletter from @TryGhost to read with my morning coffee. I recommend you give it a try:
5:07 AM - 4 Jun 2018
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Andy McIlwain
Publisher Weekly - Issue #29… via @revue (Further props to @TryGhost for the newsletter. 90% of the curated stories make their way into my Pocket list. 👍)
5:42 PM - 16 Dec 2018 from Toronto, Ontario
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Jijo Sunny
Thanks for the votes! I recommend this newsletter by @TryGhost (@JohnONolan) for thoughtful takes on publishing, subscription biz and future of creators:
4:38 PM - 8 Jul 2018
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