Paying For Content: The Increasing Use Of Paywalls [Infographic]

There are around 450 million “active” English blogs on the Internet, and somewhere around 100 million non-English blogs. It’s safe to say that there will never be a shortage of content being created and shared. As we all know, the content that bloggers put together, whether it is personal or for other purposes, is usually free. Free is a concept that the Internet was founded on, and that is why we have advertising outlining many of the blogs out there. It is a way to make sure that the people behind the blog are able to keep their free content service available to the masses. But recently, more and more websites have started charging for their content. They have simply incorporated a paywall which requires readers to pay in order to get through to the content.

The New York Times was initially criticized for that move when they put up their paywall back in March, 2011. It’s a move that lead to many readers abandoning the online version of this highly popular newspaper. But more and more online publications are finding refuge by requiring readers pay for their continued services. A publication is an organization like any other with expenses that have to be paid. There are servers, upgrades, maintenance, salaries and everything else that goes into the daily operation of a company.

Is it a good approach? By the looks of things, it has become a pretty good solution to make up for the dwindling revenue from print and even online ads. Online ads are particularly hard to sell since advertisers have gone from focusing on being seen to getting as many clicks as possible. These two things usually don’t go hand in hand. You can have a site that welcomes millions of visitors a month but doesn’t get many clicks on their ads. There are of course a bunch of different reasons for that result. However, being seen is many times way better than getting one more click.

As ad revenue goes down, publishers have to find alternate ways to make up for the lost revenue. Since the launch of their paywall back in March of 2011, The New York Times has managed to enroll over 454,000 subscribers. It’s a number that I think anyone would call a success. But will it work for less known publications online as well?

If you have a look at this infographic presented by Best Colleges Online (design by NowSourcing), you will see that putting up a paywall isn’t always the best decision. However, as always, it comes down to what content you are offering behind that paywall. If you change the concept of your publication, just like Variety did back in 2010, you will find that it’s a move that can potentially bring your entire company to its knees. Be smart about your decision. Make sure you know the reasons why you would put up a paywall, and don’t lose track of what content you make available to your subscribers. Another thing to remember is that with a paywall, you also increase the pressure when it comes to the quality of your publications. When people are paying money for something, they want content that matches their subscription fee. The one single question you will have to ask yourself is, “Do I have content that people would be willing to pay for?”

The Truth About Paywall Content

(Click To Enlarge)