#101 — Using data for effective subscription marketing

#101 — Using data for effective subscription marketing

Here’s this weeks roundup of stories about independent publishing, business models and technology.

Hope you enjoy this newsletter - hit reply to let us know what you thought!

💯 Top picks

How The Atlantic uses data for more effective subscription marketing

“Sam Rosen, The Atlantic’s SVP of Growth described the data-driven evolution of their subscription strategy in a FIPP webinar.”

💸 Business models

'We need you to fill the gap': Publishers are making a hard sell for subscriptions

“News publishers aren’t mincing words in their messages to push subscriptions, directly appealing to readers to support journalism and even make up for lost advertising revenue.”

Following layoffs, theSkimm are launching a new digital membership model

“TheSkimm is planning to launch a full-fledged digital membership model later this summer called "Teal Memb’rship,” Axios has learned.“

How the biggest consumer apps got their first 1,000 users

Newsletter author Lenny Rachitsky has done the research so you don’t have to. Find out how Tinder, Uber, TikTok Product Hunt and more acquired their first 1,000 users. There’s some fascinating takeaways in here that are just as applicable to publishers launching membership businesses as to tech companies launching apps.

What publishers should consider when looking into affiliate marketing

This article explores how publishers can optimise affiliate marketing efforts, increase profit from that revenue stream and whether this model is scalable or not.

✍️ Modern journalism

Ben Thompson challenges regulator assumptions about big tech and its impact on the news industry

“I am a big believer in the importance of journalism — I rely on it for every post I write, for one — and am very concerned with figuring out a business model that is sustainable. Moreover, tech, particularly now, needs the accountability that comes from an independent media.”

The top 15 publishing and media podcasts

WNIP curated a list of the best publishing and media podcasts covering platforms, social media, journalism and technology. There’s a few in here that we’re going to add to our resources page.

Here’s (exactly) how we organized one of the largest virtual U.S. journalism events to date

Find out how the Center for Cooperative Media hosted their Collaborative Journalism Summit virtually instead of in-person. They pulled this off at short notice and managed to increase the number of registrations by an impressive amount.

👩‍💻 Technology

“The terms for the Spotify licensing deal were not disclosed, but I imagine a crap-ton of money was involved in this arrangement.”

Notion just removed the biggest limit on its free plan

If you’re looking for a new note taking app to organise your life, Notion just removed the limits on their free plan, which means you can create as many notes, blocks, calendars and databases as you like, and invite up to 5 collaborators. The Ghost team have used all kinds of tools for planning and note-taking over the years, and we’re happily back to using Notion to organise our work.

🤷 WTF?

Nearly 50% of the accounts tweeting about coronavirus are likely bots

“Researchers culled through more than 200 million tweets discussing the virus since January and found that about 45% were sent by accounts that behave more like computerised robots than humans.”

#100 — The importance of diverse revenue streams

#100 — The importance of diverse revenue streams

We’ve really enjoyed putting together this weekly curation of stories about independent publishing since June 2018 – which started when we were looking to sign up for a newsletter just like this, with a focus on business models in publishing.

Thanks for supporting us as a subscriber ❤️ To mark the 100th issue, it would be great to hear directly from you about what bought you to Publisher Weekly. Hit reply to chat!

💯 Top picks

[Podcast] - The importance of diverse revenue streams

“The news publishing industry may be getting squeezed by the pandemic economy, but for Interactive Advertising Bureau CEO Randall Rothenberg, it set itself up for failure long ago, by leaning too heavily on advertiser revenue.”

💸 Business models

"Turning a one-click reader into a 10-click reader”: Why publishers need to focus on reader retention, and other growth insights

“Publishers that have less than 1M readers are 59% more likely to rely upon content quality as their main strategy for growth. As their audience size grows, they move on to focusing on creating a better experience (1-10M readers), and experiment with revenue diversification strategies (10-100M readers).”

How L'Edition du Soir became the most read digital-only edition in Europe

This digital-only edition from France had 5.5million sessions in April, with a +134% growth compared to April of 2019. Read more about they gained this success in this short article!

Deep dive into the Global Digital Subscription Snapshot

“At a time where advertising has taken flight, physical events are a no-go and media around the world under severe pressure, digital subscriptions have become an even more critical consideration in the revenue mix than before.”

✍️ Modern journalism

[Resource] The Verification Handbook by

“This book equips journalists with the knowledge to investigate social media accounts, bots, private messaging apps, information operations, deep fakes, as well as other forms of disinformation and media manipulation.”

[Opinion] The Reuters Digital News Report might be a problem for the industry. This is why.

“The whole world reports growth in digital subscriptions, minus 1 institution. But this institution dominates the public discourse.”

Freelancers in Asia are becoming nimble, digital publishers

Find out how four freelancers are reinventing their work and making the most of the pandemic.

Politico editor-in-chief interview: Coronavirus cuts? No, we're still thinking about expansion

“Matthew Kaminski must be one of the very few bosses in journalism still thinking about expansion. While thousands of publications across the world face cuts due to a collapse in the advertising market, the editor-in-chief of Politico is still thinking about growing the title’s UK team.”

👩‍💻 Technology

Like it or not, Google and Facebook are becoming the leading patrons of the news industry

“At one point early last year, Facebook’s point person on the news industry, Campbell Brown, gave publishers some tough talk: “Facebook cannot be the entire solution to your problems,” she told a room full of magazine publishers.”

Can Pushkin Industries bring the podcast and audiobook audiences together?

“Plus: The challenges of moving a live show from theater to streaming, new shows for cloistered kids, and the podcast industry gets its first big pandemic-era acquisition.”

Bookshop, a new startup, is offering publications bigger kickbacks than Amazon (and the thrill of battling Bezos)

“Bookshop, which was founded to support independent bookstores, distributes earnings through a pooled fund and provides digital storefronts that let local stores keep the profits on any sales they generate.”

🤷 WTF?

IBM Study: 40 percent of 25,000 people surveyed in the US would like to keep their remote work perks

More than 40% of respondents to this survey feel strongly that their employer should allow them to opt-in opt remote work when normal operations resume.

#99 — 8 steps to strengthen your newsletter strategy

#99 — 8 steps to strengthen your newsletter strategy

This week we've got tips for email newsletter strategy, two great podcast episodes and a rundown of how one publisher gained an increase of almost 300% in new subscribers.

If you're enjoying this newsletter we'd be grateful if you'd forward to a friend, or share on Twitter ❤️

💯 Top picks

8 steps to strengthen your newsletter strategy

Consistency, calls to action and skimmable headlines! This week’s top read is a list of steps that you can use to improve your email strategy straight away.

💸 Business models

The Membership Puzzle Project are designing a definitive guide to membership models

As The Membership Puzzle Project comes to a close, the team are partnering with The Lenfest Institute for Journalism and the Google News Initiative to produce a comprehensive guide for member-driven publishers.If you’d like to contribute, you can ask questions that you’d like to know the answers to, or submit findings from your own newsroom.

“Not only can membership save journalism, but will do so by helping it evolve”: Why publishers are looking beyond subscriptions

“Reader revenue has freed us from the shackles of others we can’t see or who don’t care.”

Apple News hits 125 million monthly active users

“During the pandemic crisis, active users of Apple’s news platform hit an all-time high.”

The UK fast-tracked scrapping VAT on e-publications

“Plans to scrap VAT on e-books and e-newspapers have been significantly fast-tracked in a boost to readers and publishers during the coronavirus outbreak, the Chancellor announced today.”

Tribune Publishing sees a 293% increase in digital subscriptions during the pandemic: How they achieved it and what’s next

“Tribune Publishing signed up 334,000 digital-only subscribers in 2019. This was a 34% increase compared to the previous year. Subscription revenue grew about 60% during the same period, according to its CMO Mark Campbell”

✍️ Modern journalism

Are journalists on autopilot when they’re determining which sources (or what information) to trust?

“Who and what journalists trust determines a substantial amount of what makes it through the journalistic filter to audience — what leads they pursue, who they talk to, how they frame a story. But given the importance of trust, we know relatively little about why journalists trust certain sources or information.”

“Growing a web publishing business from a small starter loan and your own profits "toughens you” in ways that are different than venture-backed media according to Digital Trends CEO Ian Bell.“

Journalists’ union seeks tech-giants tax to ‘rescue’ industry

“To mark World Press Freedom Day on Sunday, the NUJ released a wide-ranging rescue plan for the media industry which it said should be central to government formation talks.”

[Podcast] The Atlantic International Editor Prashant Rao on bringing the publication to a global audience

The Media Voices podcast catches up with International Editor Prashant Rao about taking The Atlantic’s voice to an international audience, the importance of diversity in writing stories for that audience, and their recent surge in subscriptions.

👩‍💻 Technology

UK ad market to contract by £4.2bn this year

“Ten years of continuous ad market growth peaked in 2019 at £25.36bn, but the COVID-19 outbreak will wipe more than £4bn from the total for the current year, according to the latest Advertising Association/WARC Expenditure Report.”

🤷 WTF?

Virtual rate cut forces Nintendo gamers into riskier assets

The most popular game during the coronavirus era mimics global banks by making cuts to interest rates within the game.

#98 — Huge growth in subscriptions for digital news and media

#98 — Huge growth in subscriptions for digital news and media

Hope you enjoy this week’s curation of the top stories in independent publishing.

As always - hit reply to let us know what you thought of this issue, and let us know what you want to see in future issues!

💯 Top picks

Huge growth in subscriptions for digital news and media

According to a new subscription impact report from Zuora, 22.5% of companies are seeing subscription growth, while 53.3% are seeing no change. It goes on to look at the advantages of the subscription business model and is summarised nicely in this post!  •  Share

💸 Business models

Be nimble with subscription messaging

Explaining your “why” and your “how” succinctly can help to build trust and grow subscribers. Jennifer Hefty explores how the Coloradoan target their “middle of funnel” audience group with subscription messaging.

How newsrooms can begin making data-informed membership decisions

“We’ve launched our membership program. Now what? What do we need to know about our audience? How can we develop and implement a data-informed strategy for growing our membership program? And how can we do all this in a small newsroom without a dedicated audience specialist?”

Stuck at home with little to do, news consumers are surging toward hobbyist magazine

“Health, food, and home and garden titles, among others, have seen an abundance of readers and social media engagement amid the stay-at-home orders.”

✍️ Modern journalism

Where does good news fit in the coverage of a pandemic?

“Coronavirus news has crowded out almost every other story. And it’s almost all gloom and doom. Should journalists try to report some good news?”

Reuters Institute digital seminar: The business and practice of journalism

Guests include Sarah Sands, Clara Jiménez Cruz, Dorothy Byrne, Matthew Caruana Galizia and Prashant Rao.

[Podcast] Conversation with Dr Claire Wardle (First Draft) by

A conversation between Buzzfeed’s Craig Silverman, the editor of the new verification handbook, and Dr Claire Wardle, the executive director of First Draft. The pair spoke about how the misinformation landscape has changed.

👩‍💻 Technology

How 4 publishers are approaching the first-party data shift and forging new relationships with advertisers

“In January, first party data is set to become the dominant currency in the digital ad market.”

Publishers look to cheap Facebook ads to increase subscriptions

“Over the past seven weeks, many publishers have welcomed a coronavirus bump in subscribers as news consumption rises. That bump has been helped along by a significant acceleration in Facebook ad spending.”

🤷 WTF?

The history of email

“The ancestors of the Internet were kind enough to give us a communication standard which is free, transparent, and standardized. It would be a shame to see the tech communication landscape move further and further into the world of locked gardens and proprietary schemas.”

#97 — Designing a platform for indie writers who want to monetise their content

#97 — Designing a platform for indie writers who want to monetise their content

Hit reply to chat with our team and let us know what bought you to this newsletter.

💯 Top picks

Designing a platform for indie writers who want to monetise their content

Our very own CEO—John O'Nolan—was recently interviewed by Simon Owens on The Business Of Content podcast. Read the edited transcript, listen to the podcast on your favourite podcast player or skip straight to the YouTube version.

💸 Business models

5 guiding principles for your newsletter strategy

Publishers are using email to retain existing subscribers and convert new subscribers. Here’s 5 tips for success during these times.

The Dipp, a subscription-only entertainment news startup, is springing to life despite the pandemic

Former colleagues of Bustle have decided to take the plunge and start their own company called The Dipp — describing itself as a “personalised subscription website for TV’s biggest fans.”

Netflix has biggest quarter with nearly 16 million new subscribers signing on

“Netflix Inc. revealed Tuesday that it added more than double the new subscribers it expected amid the spread of COVID-19 for record growth.”

Amazon slashes affiliate commissions: What’s next for publishers?

“Earlier this week, Amazon announced it will be cutting commission rates for members of Amazon Associates; its affiliate programme which a large number of publishers are a member of.

✍️ Modern journalism

Aligning the user data that websites and apps collect with what consumers expect

“Consumers are relatively comfortable with their data being collected to offer a safer, more customised experience. But selling that data or reusing it for targeting on other sites? Not so much.”

A wake-up call to close the digital divide

“Congress should invest up to $2 billion for emergency broadband service to ensure low-income families have connectivity.”

The #CoronaVirusFacts Alliance

“Led by the International Fact-Checking Network (IFCN) at the Poynter Institute, the #CoronaVirusFacts / #DatosCoronaVirus Alliance unites more than 100 fact-checkers around the world in publishing, sharing and translating facts surrounding the new coronavirus.”

👩‍💻 Technology

Google offers fee relief to support news partners

While Amazon are slashing affiliate revenues for publishers — Google are waiving ad serving fees for news organisations globally to support their business during COVID-19.

No commuting, no problem: Podcasting ad revenue continues to grow

“With commuting on hold and everybody Zooming all the time, podcast consumption has taken a bit of a hit as listeners look for new ways to fit shows into their daily routines.”

500 free courses from the world’s top computer science universities

If you’ve already binge-watched your favourite TV and movies and are looking for other ways to spend your time during quarantine, check out this huge list of completely free computer science courses.

From Skype interviews to wire-service video: How NowThis has adapted to remote production

“Video-first publisher NowThis was built around a partially remote team and content curated from other sources rounding out original reporting, so the move to remote operations was not the end of the world.”

🤷 WTF?

A 72-hour live stream brings Earth Day online

“Environmental groups originally planned a massive climate strike to mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22nd, 2020. The novel coronavirus forced their activism online.”

#96 — What you can learn from the top 8 paywall models

#96 — What you can learn from the top 8 paywall models

Get in touch by hitting reply — let us know what bought you to publisher weekly?

💯 Top picks

Top 8 paywall models: What you can learn from Wired, Bild, The Athletic and Co.

Take a look at the subscription tactics these eight publications offer, and how they have created a successful business model by dedicating time and resources to some interesting experiments.

💸 Business models

I couldn't find startup-focused YouTubers. So I turned myself into one!

This IndieHackers interview with Will Kwan is a fascinating read. Will launched a self-titled YouTube channel that now makes $3k/month by sharing stories about being a startup maker.

How publishers worldwide are using different business models to grow revenue

What’s New In Publishing summarise the latest Innovation in Media 2019-2020 World Report from FIPP’s (paid access) which explores the different business models publishers are using worldwide.

How the Daily Beast is accelerating revenue diversification

The Daily Beast CRO Mia Lehmkuhl Libby explains how the Beast is seeing 30% declines in programmatic ad revenue since the coronavirus crisis began, but has managed to offset this decline with with “three digit” increases in subscriptions.

Will publishers be able to retain all their new "crisis" subscribers?

Twipe take a look at what happens when publishers stop acquiring new readers at record pace, and how to retain subscribers in the face of economic pressure and news fatigue.

Magazine publishers are reporting booming subscription rates and higher digital content audiences

“During difficult times, the majority of people claim that focusing on their passions helps them cope. So it’s no surprise that right now many magazine publishers are reporting booming subscription rates and higher digital content audiences.”

Disney Plus surpasses 50 million subscribers

“The international rollout of Disney Plus in a number of countries has helped it roll past the 50 million subscriber mark, the company has announced. To compare, Netflix has 167 million subscribers worldwide.”

✍️ Modern journalism

What’s the point of a fashion magazine now?

“Glossy magazines sell fantasy. Now they have to reckon with reality. It’s complicated.”

In an uncertain time, The Week Junior informs children without scaring them about the world we live in

“It’s our mission to bring the news of the world to children every week, no matter what’s happening in the world.”

👩‍💻 Technology

Coronavirus seems to have made podcasts more of an afternoon thing than a morning thing

Find out what is happening in the world of podcasts in the latest Hot Pod newsletter.

🤷 WTF?

Over 500,000 Zoom accounts sold on hacker forums, the dark web

“Over 500,000 Zoom accounts are being sold on the dark web and hacker forums for less than a penny each, and in some cases, given away for free.”

#95 — Member-driven organisations are learning how to adapt

#95 — Member-driven organisations are learning how to adapt

As always, slide into our inbox to start a conversation. We’d love to hear more about what bought you to this newsletter.

💯 Top picks

Here’s how 15+ member-driven organisations are adapting during coronavirus

“Here’s how 15+ newsrooms around the world have adapted their membership appeals, in-person events, and roles as community connectors in order to respond to coronavirus.”

💸 Business models

It’s good business (and smart marketing) to support quality journalism

“If corporations truly stand for something – and nearly all of them claim to nowadays – the time to prove it is right now, as the crisis deepens and consumers look to corporations to step up and lead. Companies that wait this crisis out will learn – quickly – that once loyal customers will readily turn to competitors who made it a priority to be in service during this extraordinary moment.”

We're starting to get real numbers on COVID-19's impact on advertising and subscriptions

“If the pandemic lasts for another three months the total loss to news brands is expected to be £50 million.”

The Atlantic is rewarded with a huge surge of digital subscriptions

“A focus on big-swing stories and ‘high-intensity, highly fraught journalism’ let the magazine put up traffic and subscription numbers more expected from a top national newspaper.”

How to market in a downturn

Harvard Business Review have studied the marketing successes and failures of companies who have navigated recessions from the 1970s onward, and put together their summary of patterns in consumer behaviour.

[Tweet] "Interesting: I just hit a registration wall on the @guardian for the first time."

But you can still click through and read the story you intended to find.

✍️ Modern journalism

“Engaged journalism” is taking us back to the “public journalism” debates of the 1990s

“Plus new research into algorithmic polarization, computational news discovery, gender differences in political news, and more.”

Healing words: how press freedom is being threatened by the coronavirus pandemic

“Journalists are writing the first draft of history, frantically typing out their stories on what it means to have societies go into lockdown, as governments use the crisis as an opportunity to clamp down on the press.”

👩‍💻 Technology

Tips: How to host a successful virtual event

Some tips from Hootsuite about running virtual events of all descriptions.

It’s the disappearance of the morning commute that seems to be hurting podcast listening most

The latest issue of Hot Pod dives into how Podcast listening has changed in recent times.

A guide to living your best quarantined life

Morning Brew put together an expansive list of ideas for dealing with quarantine. From staying in the know to ideas for how to spend your time. If you enjoy this, you can sign up for their evening newsletter.

🤷 WTF?

Zoom faces a privacy and security backlash as it surges in popularity

Zoom risks becoming the victim of its own success as it faces a privacy and security backlash.

#94 — Subscription economy has grown by 321%

#94 — Subscription economy has grown by 321%

In this weeks roundup of indie publishing news we hear of more publishers gaining more subscribers than ever, and enjoy a really hot take on Twitter about the need to build a new decentralised media, staffed by citizen journalists.

We just hit our first 1,000 subscribers ❤️thanks for joining the community and for all of the replies, contributions and feedback over the past year!

💯 Top picks

"Subscription Economy has grown its revenue by 321%": Highlights for publishers from 'The Forever Transaction'

Zuora’s Q4 2018 Subscription Index report states, “an average company in the Subscription Economy has grown its revenue by 321% since the launch of the index in January 2012, a compound annual growth rate of 18.1%.”

💸 Business models

'Opening the paywall is not an option': Schibsted sees subscriptions mini-boom

Nordic publisher Schibsted have sold twice as many daily subscriptions to its multiple news brands in Sweden and Norway in the past few weeks. But with monthly, three-monthly and annual subscriptions - it's hard to know if these new readers will stick around, or churn out when times are less uncertain.

From $100M in debt to 98% growth in digital revenues: Lessons from Trusted Media Brands

“Trusted Media Brands, the publisher of Reader’s Digest, has gone from being bankrupt twice (2009 and 2013) and struggling with 100M in debt, to becoming profitable again. Its digital ad revenues are now growing, and the company is diversifying into direct-to-consumer products and membership programs.”

Local news outlets drop paywalls but gain digital subscribers anyway

“Even though many local news organisations have moved their COVID-19 stories outside their paywalls, several are seeing encouraging boosts in their digital subscriptions during the crisis.”

Podcasts drive loyalty and engagement between journalists and listeners

Publishers like The Telegraph are finding ways to tell stories differently using audio, to reach new audiences and build loyalty.

✍️ Modern journalism

[Thread] "If the penalty for just-a-joke is getting fired, what’s the penalty for just-the-flu?"

“The media should not be “guardians of democracy” nor “enemies of the people”. Neither guardian nor enemy, just the people. All citizen journalists.”

How to report on the digital divide & COVID-19

“Getting and keeping people connected is a life-and-death issue right now. As part of this effort, reporters can play a crucial role in telling community stories.”

How to manage a community during the pandemic

Online community managers are seeing an increase in emotional intensity, here’s how to manage this.

👩‍💻 Technology

Tips for making the best videos on your phone

Some simple tips for shooting decent video on your phone that were sent to BBC staff!

Firefox and Scroll team up to test a new revenue model

“A cleaner web experience for users, yet one that is profitable for publishers… that’s the idea behind a new initiative launched by Mozilla and Scroll, the Firefox Better Web with Scroll. It combines the tracking protection built into Firefox with the ad-free browsing experience offered by Scroll.”

🤷 WTF?

Advertising is now just making Zoom backgrounds

Pixar, Paramount, CBS, Starz, and others are making Zoom backgrounds to promote their TV shows and movies.

#93 — Coronavirus has shown us that the news industry needs to change

#93 — Coronavirus has shown us that the news industry needs to change

The last thing we want to do is add more unwanted noise. But since the subscribers keep growing every week, it feels like we should continue sharing our curation of the most relevant stories about the future of independent publishing. We hope you find it helpful.

Remember, you can always hit reply to start a conversation and let us know what you want to see more of.

Stay safe & take care! ❤️

💯 Top picks

More valuable than ever, but less revenue: Coronavirus has shown us that the news industry needs to change

“The value of news to its primary audience is highest, but the ability to generate revenue to news publishers is at its lowest. How can we fix this?”

💸 Business models

Slate launches a metered paywall to draw more membership revenue from readers, not just listeners

“Up till now, Slate has provided almost all of its written work for free. But going forward, we think the way we will truly thrive is by continuing to diversify our revenue — by asking readers like you to support us more directly.”

Launching a membership model “at a time of reckoning for the media industry”

gal-dem started as a voluntary organisation almost five years ago - but they have now asked their audience to give back for the first time with a new membership model.

More creators than ever are sharing their work on Patreon

Patreon’s data science team share some insights of a platform-wide behaviour change starting on Friday March 13th, with a record amount of new creators joining the platform.

“In short, this moment in time is one of the strongest influxes of memberships that we’ve ever seen. And the message from the data is clear: membership works.”

What publishers can learn from The Independent’s growth story

“The Independent is now one of the most profitable newspapers in the UK. It’s a significant achievement for a company that had to stop print and go digital-only in 2016, to survive.”

Despite relaxing paywalls, publishers like Bloomberg, WSJ and The Atlantic see subscription spikes

“Publishers are seeing a spike in subscriptions over the last four weeks in the U.S. and Europe, fueled by readers’ appetite to stay as informed as possible during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.”

✍️ Modern journalism

What will the coronavirus pandemic mean for the business of news?

“A lot of news media won’t make it but this is an opportunity for some” – Reuters Institute Director Rasmus Nielsen explores what the coronavirus pandemic means for news in the long run.

Do news sites have an ethical duty to remove paywalls on coronavirus coverage?

“News organisations have spent years trying to get audiences to pay for news. Do they have a duty to offer COVID-19 coverage free for the public good?”

What do sports journalists do when there are no sports to cover?

From high school to the pros, the games that filled sports sections have nearly all been called off. “We don’t have a guidebook on how to cover sports when sports aren’t being played.”

👩‍💻 Technology

YouTube to limit video quality around the world for a month

To ease internet traffic while many people are staying at home, YouTube will now play video in standard definition by default.

Big tech could emerge from coronavirus crisis stronger than ever

“Amazon is hiring aggressively to meet customer demand. Traffic has soared on Facebook and YouTube. And cloud computing has become essential to home workers.”

How journalists can work from home securely

“When journalists are forced to work from home, there’s a lot the newsroom can do to support them. Likewise, there’s a lot that indiviudal journalists can do to upgrade their personal security posture when working remotely.”

#92 — Major news publishers take down paywalls during times of crisis

#92 — Major news publishers take down paywalls during times of crisis

It’s been a long week for everyone, hasn’t it? Despite these confusing times we’re continuing to put together the most important stories about independent publishing, including the headlines about how publishers are handling coronavirus coverage, alongside your regular weekly roundup of stories about business models, tech & journalism.

Stay safe & see you next Sunday.

💯 Top picks

Major news publishers take down paywalls for coronavirus coverage

Most major publishers have made some, if not all, of their coronavirus coverage free - even those who have recently installed a paywall.

💸 Business models

"Publishers get anywhere between 30% to 70% of their traffic from newsletters," the unsung hero of subscriptions and traffic acquisition

“Newsletters not only give publishers an additional touchpoint with their readers which can help them stay top of mind in an increasingly competitive environment, but they also deliver the most engaged users i.e the highest revenue-generating users.”

The Dispatch surpassed $1 million in revenue by being newsletters-and-podcasts first and taking it slow

The conservative politics site has nearly 10,000 paying subscribers a month after putting up its paywall. “We don’t want the outrage clicks. We’ve said from the beginning we’d like to slow the news cycle down.”

Spanish podcast Radio Ambulante built a devoted audience - here's how

“With a little help from NPR, the podcast creators went from not taking a salary to skyrocketing growth.”

John Paton interview: Making quality journalism pay at The Independent

The Independent was the first UK newspaper that went digital-only, with 100 journalists losing jobs, and the remaining 60 facing an uncertain future. Here’s how they’re making digital revenue work for them.

✍️ Modern journalism

Online news traffic has surged during coronavirus

“The traffic surge really took off on March 12, the day after Trump’s address, the suspension of the NBA, and Tom Hanks’ announcement he had tested positive.”

'But I'm still on deadline': How remote work is affecting newsrooms

“Safety concerns in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic are quickly creating a new normal for media workers.”

What makes an award-winning podcast?

“Production values, sound design and innovative approach to interviewing can make or break your chance to win the next Publisher Podcast Award.” explore what the world can learn from this year’s podcast award winners.

Q&A with Simon Rogers

Learn more about the future of data journalism with Simon Rogers, data editor at Google News Lab.

👩‍💻 Technology

This beautiful library in ‘Minecraft’ lets people access the work of censored journalists from anywhere

“You might not be able to find accurate info in the press in countries with oppressive regimes, but you can at Reporters Without Borders’ Uncensored Library in the game.”

WhatsApp unveils $1M grant info hub to fight coronavirus misinformation

“WhatsApp has long grappled with its platform being used to spread misinformation. In the latest move, today it announced two initiatives to fight specifically against fake news and other misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

🤷 WTF?

Now you can watch Netflix online with your friends

“Everyone knows this: the need to socialize is a primal part of human nature, so while the world practices social distancing, it is important to fill that void. Luckily, there is a Google Chrome extension that allows you and your friends to watch Netflix together without having to be in the same room.”

#91 — Subscription strategies for publishers

#91 — Subscription strategies for publishers

As you know, the media is understandably consumed with Covid-19 in these uncertain times. Most IRL events have been cancelled too - which makes continuing conversations and sharing knowledge remotely even more important. There’s still plenty of great stories out there, so in an effort to retain some normal routine and share useful insights, we’ll be sending your curated news as scheduled.Take care of yourself and each other!

💯 Top picks

Is climate change coverage worth it? And the problem with covering COVID-19

“Climate change coverage should be a main focus area for publishers, and we need to be smarter about COVID-19”.

💸 Business models

Digital subscription strategies: the seven questions you need to ask

A really succinct list of strategic questions publishers need to be asking when pivoting to subscriptions, or building subscriptions from the beginning.

Case study: How "members getting members" brought Zetland financial sustainability

Danish news organisation Zetland grew to over 10,000 subscribers, but had to face a difficult truth in 2019: they were still not profitable. So they decided to combat this with a new ambassador program.

The Washington Post's homepage redesign is designed to fight subscriber churn

“The Washington Post knows that people who visit its site homepage are more likely to become subscribers, and that subscribers who visit the homepage are less likely to churn, so it overhauled the homepage in an attempt to lure more readers to it.”

How the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel drove subscriptions by asking journalists to promote the value of their work

“Here’s an idea to steal and adapt: Ask the journalists in your newsroom to tell readers about the value of their work and be ambassadors for digital subscriptions on social media.”

At Slate Plus, behind-the-scenes content wasn’t a big draw for members — but bonus podcast episodes are

“The other thing that surprised us in the beginning was the extent to which people would sign up just to support our journalism,” not for a specific member benefit.

✍️ Modern journalism

Twitter: Brand communications in time of crisis

A blog post from Twitter full of tips about how to handle your brand communications appropriately during an unprecedented global crisis.“Let’s be clear. This is not a ‘marketing opportunity’ to capitalise on, and we do not recommend brands opportunistically linking themselves to a health scare. However, we want to recognise that this is a new reality and requires thoughtful navigation, from all of us.”

Six ways publishers can develop successful digital products

“Digital product development is an increasingly important part of a publisher’s everyday processes, especially as the emphasis grows on creating value for readers over and above the competition. But it can be a challenging area, especially for businesses who may not be au fait with development methodologies outside of the publishing world.”

3 key ways to reduce news product friction

Focus on clarity, use registration walls and make it easier for users to cancel… read more about these methods of reducing friction.

Why avoiding the news is a social habit

And other highlights from news research published in February 2020.

👩‍💻 Technology

Not a Newsletter: March Edition – A guide to sending better emails

“Inside this edition, you’ll find key questions to ask before launching that coronavirus pop-up newsletter; lessons from Gannett and The Daily Beast about the importance of email in your subscription strategy; thoughts about the Gmail algorithm; and more!”

UK scraps tax on digital editions

“In an unexpected bonus for publishers in the UK, Chancellor Rishi Sunak has announced that the current 20% tax on ebooks, online newspapers and digital magazine editions will be abolished on 1st December.”

🤷 WTF?

Don’t let your obsession with productivity kill your creativity

How can we create opportunities for true creativity when we’re laser focused on getting our to-do lists done?

#90 — Launching a membership program

#90 — Launching a membership program

Enjoying this newsletter? ❤️ Share the love on Twitter or forward to a friend who would appreciate it.

💯 Top picks

Launching a membership program: Lessons from the frontline

“Launching a membership plan is a difficult task, with landmines placed in the form of challenges and skills gaps that few news organisations are equipped to handle. And once you wade through the marathon of finally launching the plan to your superfans, you then have to growth hack the world out of every marketing resource available to you.”

💸 Business models

Building better calls to action

“A well-told story can inspire people to engage with social and environmental issues, but how do nonprofits channel that energy into behaviors that make a difference? Behavioral science can help point the way.”

How publishers are using member-exclusive conversations to add value and originate stories

A growing trend amongst publishers with modern reader revenue strategies is introducing group calls or meetups as additional perks for their members. WNIP explore how three publishers are finding value from member-only meetups as a way to connect with their readers and source new stories.

The loss of tracking cookies is fuelling the importance of email newsletters

“Publishers have moved to the acceptance phase of the grieving process over the loss of third-party cookies. The question now is how to move on, and increasingly that means collecting first-party data through registration data. Enter the email newsletter.”

Key learnings from INMA's Subscription Summit 2020

In order to succeed with subscriptions you’ll need to adopt product thinking, and heavily focus on customer lifetime value in your organisation! Find out more about the state of subscriptions from the latest INMA event in New York that hosted over 200 news executives.

8 ways to grow digital reader revenue

“The successes of news outlets in the U.K. and Spain provides valuable lessons, according to a new publication from the Reuters Institute”.

Don’t tell me you miss me: 3 better approaches to user retention

“Customers generally stop using (or cease to repurchase) products when they don’t get enough value out of your product to justify the price, not out of forgetfulness or disloyalty.”Check out these tips from the SaaS industry about building more genuine retention campaigns for your business.

Why local news outlets struggle with digital subscriptions

“Comparing the economic health of national news outlets to their local counterparts almost feels like you’re comparing two entirely different industries.”

✍️ Modern journalism

Audio articles are helping news outlets gain loyal audiences

“How Harvard Business Review, The New Yorker, and The Economist use audio to boost reach and retention”.

How engagement reporting is helping ProPublica journalists find their next big story

“There are many more questionnaires on the ProPublica site, including one for general leads that don’t fall into any preexisting category, and they form the bedrock of what the publication calls engagement reporting.”

Why journalism should be unhooked from commercial funding models

“What happens when ad revenues dry up and subscriptions are not enough to cover the basic cost of your journalism?”

👩‍💻 Technology

More than 2billion people will watch videos on mobile this year, and mobile video is projected to account for almost 80% of all mobile data by 2022. Here’s everything you need to know about mobile video ads.

Twitter is testing disappearing tweets!

Following the example of competitors like Facebook and Snap, Twitter is piloting a new ephemeral feature it calls “fleets,” for “your fleeting thoughts.”

Meanwhile at LinkedIn... Stories

LinkedIn are also using ideas from other social platforms and introducing stories.

🤷 WTF?

A guide to doxxing yourself on the internet

A step-by-step guide to finding and removing your personal information from the internet from NYT Open.

#89 — Patreon vs your own indie website

#89 — Patreon vs your own indie website

📬Enjoying these emails? Spread the word on Twitter, or forward to a friend!

💯 Top picks

Real engagement metrics publishers are using to grow traffic, subscription and ad revenue

“The importance of reliable engagement metrics is increasing across the publishing industry.” – Find out how real publishers measure engagement to inform their strategy.

💸 Business models

Patreon vs your own site: Diversifying a membership business

Explore the pros and cons of platforms like Patreon and the same for running your own membership site, as well as some ideas for how you can utilise both together.

96% of companies say they're losing subscribers for fixable reasons

According to a new report, 93% of companies that rely on subscribers know that retaining existing customers is as important as acquiring them, and 96% feel they are losing subscribers for reasons they could solve. One of the biggest retention weaknesses across companies is having no clear strategies in place.

Monetising password sharing: what publishers can learn from Netflix

“Password sharing is something digital media companies such as Netflix have had to deal with for a long-time. That’s why it is surprising to see that a study of publishers by Digiday found that 76% do not take any special steps to stop subscribers from sharing their login info.”

How AI can help predict subscription cancellation and keep readers engaged

Algorithms can help predict the exact moment a reader is most likely to subscribe. An even deeper understanding of reader behaviour can also allow publishers to harness technology to keep people engaged for longer.

✍️ Modern journalism

Audio articles are helping news outlets gain loyal audiences

“How Harvard Business Review, The New Yorker, and The Economist use audio to boost reach and retention”.

Data-Driven Storytelling: How and why publishers use it

“What is Data Storytelling (Dashboards, and Spreadsheets, and Graphs. Oh my!)”

[Podcast] Paul Newman on multichannel publishing strategies

The Media Voices podcast catches up with brand director of Future plc’s home interest brands to discuss home titles, Pinterest and how they’ve managed to increase print circulation.

[Podcast] Time's Keith Grossman on building the brand after '10 years of neglect'

Keith Grossman speaks to the Digiday Podcast seven months into the job as president of Time: “It’s gone through, I would say, 10 years of neglect, through mismanagement, through transition of owners”…

Freelancers resist precarity by sharing rates and organising

“For many workers, openness about pay has helped to make conditions more equitable. Still, they fear retribution.”

How might we reimagine opinion journalism for our digital, polarised age? Reflections from news leaders

“In the age of social media, cable talk shows and fast-moving news cycles, what value does opinion journalism, including the opinion and editorial pages of newspaper publishing, bring to the lives of people in a community?”

Why brand extensions are a great starting point for publishers interested in eCommerce

Find out how BuzzFeed, Trusted Media Brands, Dennis Publishing, Pacific Content Magazines and Culture Trip use eCommerce products as brand extensions.

👩‍💻 Technology

“Big tech is watching you. Who’s watching big tech?” The Markup is finally ready for liftoff

“I’ve heard that we are tying our hands behind our backs, but there must be a way to engage an audience without subjecting readers to a surveillance ecosystem.”

85% of all U.S. digital advertising is programmatic

“Programmatic media buys now account for 85% of all digital ad spending, according to estimates released in a new report from the Interactive Advertising Bureau.”

Add captions to your videos in minutes with this tool

A new tool called Subly aims to speed up transcriptions for online videos to under a few minutes. It’s useful for increasing engagement on publisher’s videos, especially when shared on social platforms.

🤷 WTF?

Find out exactly how much has happened in the days since you were born

This cool interactive info site allows you to plug in your birth date, and shares some cool facts about what’s happened since that date.

#88 — The creators guide to membership sites

#88 — The creators guide to membership sites

Already subscribed to this newsletter? Log in to the site to access the member-only comments area and start a conversation!

💯 Top picks

The ultimate creators guide to running a membership website

The latest resource on the Ghost blog is a full guide on creating a membership website and running a subscription business for independent creators and publishers of any description.

💸 Business models

How publishers can drive subscription sign-ups with paid content distribution sequencing

“In this blog post, we’ll teach you how to use a content-based funnel and paid distribution on Facebook to convert casual readers to loyal members, and loyal members to paying subscribers.”

Get the 2020 email newsletter checklist!

Enjoy all of the latest news about email as well as a 2020 email newsletter checklist from Dan @ Not a Newsletter!

How Axel Springer is adapting its pricing strategy to grow reader revenue

Publisher of popular tabloids is planning to grow reader revenue this year by focusing on adding new subscribers and increasing lifetime customer value!

How to build a good reader revenue model: lessons from Spain and the UK

“As Spanish legacy newspapers embrace digital subscriptions, Journalist Fellow Eduardo Suárez looks at how they can succeed”

Why The Information’s paywall strategy is so successful

What’s New In Publishing dive into the difference between metered paywalls, “freemium” models and the hard paywall… and exactly how The Information does so well by utilising the latter.

“Digital subscriptions doubled globally in 2018-19” – check out these charts about subscription trends in the past couple of years.

When community becomes your competitive advantage

This interesting article from Harvard Business Review explores the benefits of building networks and communities in business, instead of simply selling products - arguing that powerful communities are alive and well, they just look different to how they did several years ago.

✍️ Modern journalism

Google will pay publishers to “support a sustainable news industry”

“First Facebook offered to pay publishers “millions of dollars”. Now Google is following suit.”

To drive daily habits and customer retention, publishers turn to puzzles

As publishers try to increase customer retention, they look towards puzzle apps to encourage people to return more often.

👩‍💻 Technology

Exclusive: News industry to cut Big Tech's safety net

The News Media Alliance trade group that represents thousands of U.S. newspapers, wants to improve change some rules to prevent Big Tech from dodging responsibility.

“Buy applause and show support”: YouTube rolls out a new tool for creators

YouTube are introducing “Viewer applause” – a way for fans to donate to their favourite creators by purchasing a clapping animation.

Facebook make it easier to bypass its algorithm

By adding tabs to the News Feed, Facebook users might soon be able to choose between chronological posts, or posts determined by the algorithm.

🤷 WTF?

Wikipedia is the last best place on the internet

“People used to think the crowdsourced encyclopedia represented all that was wrong with the web. Now it’s a beacon of so much that’s right.”

#87 — How to create a premium newsletter

#87 — How to create a premium newsletter

There was so much to read this week it was difficult to keep this short. Enjoy!

💯 Top picks

How to create a premium newsletter

Our latest article includes short case studies of 11 successful premium newsletters, and outlines all of the steps you’d need to take to follow in their footsteps to create a membership business based around a newsletter.

💸 Business models

1,000 True Fans? Try 100

This article proposes the infamous “1,000 true fans” article by WIRED editor Kevin Kelly, needs to be revisited. It advocates for 100 true fans instead, who are high-paying super fans. The article also offers some recipes for earning $1,000 per fan!

What The Athletic’s success teaches us about monetising local news

“Since its founding in 2016, the company has gone from city to city and lured the nation’s best sportswriters away from their newspaper jobs in exchange for huge salary bumps and even a cut of the revenue they generate through subscriptions.”

Tech In Asia is finally on a path to profitability after a decade of testing business models

“Emerging from a series of painful layoffs, the Singapore-based startup finds its way forward.”

Why producing less news leads to a boost in subscriptions

Publishers aren’t seeing any negative results when they reduce the number of articles they write and according to this report, it can actually lead to an increase in revenue (34 page report, subscription required).

Thrillist diversify revenue with travel packages

Food, travel and entertainment site Thrillist are diversifying revenue with travel packages – a strategy which is becoming more common with travel publishers such as Lonely Planet & Culture Trip.

Forming habits & recurring behaviour is key for publishers to build a sustainable subscription business

A key metric for publishers running subscriptions is how active, or engaged, a reader is with the product. The more people come back, and the longer they spend, the more they’re likely to stick around. So how do publishers (re)create habits like reading a newspaper? Get the full report here.

Maybe information actually doesn’t want to be free

“I’ve said this from the beginning,” she said, “and I continue to say this, but you can’t give away what you expect the reader to find valuable.”Jessica Lessin’s online tech publication costs $399 a year and has no ads. Silicon Valley’s elite is eating it up.

✍️ Modern journalism

The Wall Street Journal joins The New York Times in the 2 million digital subscriber club

“But will the Journal and The Washington Post be able to catch up to the market leader going forward? Or is the Times preparing to lap the field?”

What role will branded content play in the future of news?

“When media organisations and commercial companies work together on stories, it can put experts in the spotlight and offer a new source of revenue - but readers have a right to be wary.”

👩‍💻 Technology

Scoop: YouTube to fund launch of The Young Turks local news academy

“The investment is part of YouTube’s $25 million commitment to news efforts.”

Why the podcast gold rush is slowing down for some publishers

Increased competition for listeners in podcasting is making it more difficult for smaller publishers who need to change their approaches.

Journalists never write about ... Shhh! Yes they do, and this tool can show you

A new tool called MuckRack Trends offers a universal look at what journalists are writing about. It works like Google Trends, except for news articles.

🤷 WTF?

The era of antisocial social media

As young people become more concerned with privacy and safety, the popularity of social platforms with this group is declining, in favour of private Telegram chats. Harvard Business Review takes a look at what businesses need to think about to adapt.

#86 — How to run a sustainable membership program

#86 — How to run a sustainable membership program

Enjoy this issue? Help to spread the word and let others know on Twitter, or forward this email along to a friend.

💯 Top picks

Running a paid membership program — by Craig Mod

Craig Mod openly shares everything learned from the first year of running the membership program Explorers Club. Filled with insights about finances, launching, pricing and more - make sure you give this one a read.

How to make sustainable income from a blog without ads or affiliate marketing

Our latest article on the Ghost blog explores how thousands of independent publishers are generating recurring revenue from their work in a sustainable way & includes loads of tips for how to get started yourself!

💸 Business models

How Morning Brew grew to $13m in revenue with 33 employees

“Morning Brew quickly grew an audience — and its profits — on the back of a single email newsletter. But to keep growth strong in 2020, the business newsletter startup will focus on specializing its sales team as its portfolio of brands continues to grow.”

Publishers are using a Starbucks Wi-Fi program to hunt for new readers

A creative way to get new readers to sign up for your subscriptions is to offer free content when hooked up to the wi-fi in the most popular coffee shop chain!

Readers reign supreme, and other takeaways from The New York Times end-of-year earnings report

“CEO Mark Thompson says "the single biggest reason” behind the paper’s success was the decision to give more autonomy to teams working on the publication’s various digital products.“

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

This report resurfaced this week and we thought it was worthwhile revisiting. Some of the key findings were that people can take a few months to decide whether to subscribe to a news product, and a free trial or a promotion is often what persuades people to pull the trigger.

Reality check: subscriptions are not  going to work for everyone and here is why

This article explores whether we’ve considered if everyone can succeed with subscriptions and offers some nuanced tips about how to get ahead.

✍️ Modern journalism

Publishers are growing audiences by producing less content

“Increasingly, publishers are seeing that less is more when it comes to producing content.”

What product teams should know about working with newsrooms

“As news organisations further integrate technology into their work, journalists are often told to “embrace product thinking.” But is there room for product developers to also embrace journalistic thinking?”

Yes, we still need the news – but it needs to be done differently

Experts share their antidotes and solutions for fixing the news!

👩‍💻 Technology

Poynter researched five CMSs to kickstart your CMS transition

Poynter researched five CMSs to kickstart your CMS transition

Get more information about Arc, Chorus, Ghost (yay!), Newspack, and The News Project. Also check out their detailed guide of everything you need to know more moving to a new CMS.

$15bn/year – YouTube reveals its ad revenues for the first time

“Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai announced the revenues in his first quarterly earnings release as head of company.”

Who should control the internet's .org addresses?

“The group that administers .org domains may be sold to a for-profit company. Critics worry that nonprofits and activists could suffer.”

Google announce new "better ads standards" for videos

Their new standards are based on research from 45,000 consumers worldwide, which found three types of videos ads to be particularly disruptive, and have advised website owners stop using them.

🤷 WTF?

The internet is a toxic hellscape—but we can fix It

“The first step to cleaning up the smog of disinformation? Embrace your anxiety.”

#85 — Find out if you're ready for memberships

#85 — Find out if you're ready for memberships

We’re humbled to see new subscribers joining each week ❤️ Thanks for your continued support of this project!

Enjoy this issue? Help us out by inviting your friends, forward the email to someone who might appreciate it, or catch up on

💯 Top picks

Are you ready for membership? Ask yourself these 11 questions first

Ariel Zirulnick from The Membership Puzzle Project distills some of the biggest takeaways from three years of research into 11 important questions to ask yourself before diving in to memberships.

💸 Business models

[Podcast] Goop: The benefits (and challenges) of a polarizing brand

Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop has been in the limelight this week, getting criticised as ‘pseudoscience’ after the launch of their new Netflix show. Chief content officer Elise Loehnen talks to the Digiday Podcast about sharing information and having a polarising brand.

Politico's new FDA-focused subscription product costs as much as $75k a year

Politico is chasing after more subscription revenue by starting a new B2B membership product covering the Food and Drug Administration. It’s going to be called AgencyIQ, and subscriptions will cost between $25,000 - $75,000 per year.

5 simple tips on how to ask for money

The money conversation can be hard. These are a few guidelines to follow once you’ve identified a funder who could support the work you do.”

Revolutionary? A hit? A miss? In any case, Tony Haile’s Scroll has launched at last

“After more than three years of gestation, including more than one in beta, Tony Haile’s Scroll introduces its open-to-the-public version of the site today.”Scroll offers memberships that unlock ad-free browsing on all of its partner sites.

How The Minneapolis Star Tribune is driving paid digital growth while holding on to print subscribers

“The Minnesota publication is “all in” for growing digital. But there is a twist. It has a strong print base and it plans to keep it that way.”

✍️ Modern journalism

“Google itself has warned that publishers could lose up to 52% of their revenue without third-party cookies. But providing it starts to innovate around its own data, the publishing industry is actually instead on the verge of what could be a new golden age.”

Check out this article for some tips about how to prepare for this shift in digital advertising.

The truth behind filter bubbles: Bursting some myths

“Many voices warn that social media may be filtering out news that we dislike. Here’s what the research says about it.”

Maybe greater transparency can increase trust in news — but readers have to find your transparency first

Three publishers added “explanation boxes” to try and add transparency and improve trust, but the surveys found that it didn’t impact reader trust in any meaningful way.

👩‍💻 Technology

Google’s search engine for scientists upgraded for better data scouring

Google’s search engine for scientists who are looking for information, Dataset Search, is now out of beta. It launched in 2018 and uses open-source metadata tags to crawl data repositories from governments, labs, and universities. New search tools now let users filter information in more ways, and the engine’s corpus now covers almost 25 million datasets.

2020’s new emoji include the transgender flag and more gender-inclusive options

The Unicode Consortium has revealed the 117 new emoji that will be rolled out later this year. There are 62 new emoji characters and 55 new gender and skin tone variants.

Leaked documents expose the secretive market for your web browsing data

Vice investigates a popular antivirus program that was selling highly sensitive web browsing data to many of the world’s biggest companies like Google, Microsoft & Pepsi. They’ve since announced they will stop this data collection operation after this investigation was published.

🤷 WTF?

A new chatroom for 6 participants where all your messages self-destruct

Yap is “an ephemeral, real-time chat room” – the idea is that you share a piece of media with 6 people and discuss it. But each message disappears immediately, so you have to pay attention.

#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.”

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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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