In September 2011, The Day, a 130-year-old newspaper that had already been online for 16 years, decided to put up a paywall and sell digital subscriptions.
A year later, the site is selling about 1000 online subscriptions and generating around $100,000.
What did The Day do that all subscription sites can learn from?
First, they handled the paywall launch and transition well. As The Day’s Director of Marketing & Audience Development Daniel Williams told me, the site saw some reader backlash the first 24 hours after the impending paywall was announced. But then, loyal readers and fans of the site countered the naysayers, inundating the comments section of the site with reasons why it’s important for consumers support The Day’s local coverage financially.
A few weeks after that, Williams and the publisher of The Day hosted a live chat, answering reader questions and concerns. Williams said readers asked fair questions in a civil tone. Thus the site avoided the “ugly tenor” that could have taken place had they launched without notice.
Second, The Day created a member rewards program that offers paying subscribers access to exclusive deals and events in the New London, Connecticut area. By networking with local businesses and offering exclusive deals not found on Groupon and other sites, The Day created a paywall benefit that both readers and advertisers could celebrate.
To discover the types of deals created, as well as the site’s other revenue streams, check out the full Case Study on The Day on Subscription Site Insider.