It’s a well known fact that news organizations over the world are discussing when and how they should start using a paywall, if they already haven’t.
Certainly inevitable if you look at the trends in newspaper industry, where revenue from readers is starting to be higher than the from ads. But there are lot’s of different ways to go, from a rigid wall to an open approach where all material is available with the possibility for readers to pay for what they like.
A global payment solution
It’s becoming quite a hassle to read news online. All news sites are implementing their own walls and subscription plans. The problem is of course that we don’t consume content in silos. Never had, never will.
If your news company isn’t The New York Times it’s highly unlikly that readers outside your absolute proximity sign up to read the one article they were referred to by a friend or that is the talk of the web.
Here’s how Flattr can be utilized on news sites
There are a lot of ways in which Flattr can be used by news sites. The obvious way is to embed the Flattr button next to the articles, as Taz.de is doing.
The fly out
To increase clicks, the button can be featured in a fly out that appears when the reader scrolls down towards the end of the article:
“Hey, it seems that you like what you read. Show the writer your appreciation with a micro payment!”
The auto flattr
Why not build a solution that much like Grooveshark’s Flattr integration where you just “Listen to Flattr“? News sites can enable readers to automatically flattr articles they’ve finished reading, by measuring how long they’ve scrolled the page.
A soft way to lock content is to allow readers to read a part of text and flattr it to read the whole thing, or Flattr to read exclusive material, insights from the author etc.
The “nag screen”
For sites that want to force people to pay but believe that it’s better to be a part of a payment system that works all over the web, Flattr can be used for that as well. By using Flattr in a nag screen you can find a the perfect balance between completely open and completely closed by asking your readers to flattr after reading one or many articles to forcing them to flattr before reading an article .
A full paywall, forcing people to flattr to read, isn’t something we recommend, we believe that it’s smarter to make let the payment be voluntary and have good arguments to why people should support the work they’ve consumed. But, if you really want a wall, you can absolutely use Flattr as the gate opener.
Tell readers why they can read your articles and why they should voluntarily pay
The more articulate you are with why you need your readers money, how much better quality your journalistic work will have etc, the bigger the motivation for readers to pay you will be.
This is a big part to the success of crowdfunding platforms like Kickstarter. The first thing you see is a video and text describing why the creator wants you money and what he or she will use them for. We all need good reasons to buy. Good quality needs to be proven, the best way to let it show is of course to let readers read first and pay second.
The big German news outlet Taz.de is a good example of this. In the sidebar they give readers a prompt to pay. If you read further they say:
“With a few clicks you can support the journalistic independence of the taz and the free access of taz.de – regularly.”
And they’ve made a nice video
Our mission is to get people to value all the amazing content we get on the internet every day. Think about it! We are giving creators a way to say yes to money and supporters a way show appreciation directly to the creators.
The idea that everyone have to pay doesn’t apply to a digital environment. Rather it’s its best advantage to the physical world. A copy doesn’t cost anything and you can increase reach and monetize at the same time. The idea of freemium is very common on the web. “Some pay, the rest get it free”. It’s a proven concept to increase the number of paying consumers. The real quest is to create a solution that makes the most people possible pay. It’s a case of changing the way we pay to be in line with our online behavior. Consume first, pay after.
It’s not about getting everybody to pay for everything, it’s about enabling all that finds specific pieces of content valuable for them to pay.
We believe in an open internet, where as much awesome content as possible remains open. To make that happen, think outside of plans for single site paywalls and get the readers to pay you voluntarily for the content that is valuable to them.