Launch your subscription
Explore different subscription models and what’s right for you
Are subscriptions right for me?
80% of news organization leaders said subscriptions and memberships were their top revenue priority (2022).
Subscriptions are a reader revenue model where your audience makes recurring payments to access some or all of your coverage.
Are subscriptions right for me?
- If you offer a print subscription, you might earn more from a print subscriber than a digital subscriber. Combining digital access with print subscriptions can help transition your audience from print to digital.
- If you're a non-profit, independently owned, or serve an underserved topic or audience, a donations model might be a better fit.
- If you rely on ad revenue but have a loyal, returning audience, subscriptions can help you diversify revenue. See how loyal your audience is with News Consumer Insights.
💡Best practice: Estimate how much revenue you could earn from subscriptions with our Reader Revenue Calculator.
Who pays for news?
According to The American Press Institute, there are three types of news subscribers:
- Civically Committed
- Thrifty Transactors
- Elusive Engagers
Civically Committed subscribers are
- Subscribed to multiple news sources
- Very loyal and highly willing to pay
- Motivated by missions, initiatives, and organizations that reflect personal values
- Donors and volunteers of news organizations and other causes
Thrifty Transactors are:
- Subscribed to a few news sources, including one interest-based publication
- Loyal to a few and price sensitive
- Need to feel like their purchase is high value
- Motivated by relevance, utility, practical value, and news about their interests
- Might rely on a news source for its coverage of one topic
Elusive Engagers are:
- The least loyal; their loyalty doesn’t translate to willingness to pay
- Price sensitive and subscription-averse, often use free trials and promotions
- Motivated by utility, viewing news as a “nice to have”
- More comfortable with no-strings-attached transactions
- Most likely to come from Search or social
Types of subscription models
What types of subscription models are there?
News subscription models typically rely on paywalls, which limit access to articles by topic, number of articles, engagement, and more.
- Article limit: A specific number of articles are free. The limit can be set as the same for everyone, or set based on how often they visit your site.
- Premium: Some articles are free, while specific articles or topics need a subscription. This is also sometimes called “freemium”.
- Hard paywall: No articles are free. You need to subscribe to access any articles.
Which subscription model should I choose?
- If your audience engages the most with certain topics or authors, consider a premium subscription for those topics.
- If you target a specific audience, cover a niche subject, or your survey tells you your audience can’t get the same news elsewhere, consider a hard paywall.
Identify news worth paying for
If you’re launching a subscription, how do you know if your audience is willing to pay for your news?
Conduct a survey and ask:
- What do you get from our news that you don’t get from others?
- What topics or stories are most important to you?
- Is there news you don’t currently get, that you’d be willing to pay for?
Learn more at our Lesson on understanding your audience.
Look at your analytics to see what gets the most engagement by:
- Topics or categories
Select your benefits
While your news coverage is always the most important thing you offer, there are several benefits you can add to your subscription:
- Early access to content
- Exclusive newsletters
- Trainings or educational materials
- Digitized archival content
- No ads
- Participate in editorial process
- Chat or text with journalists or editors
- Ability to comment on articles
- Visits to newsrooms
Discounts & Merch
- Discounts on print edition of newspaper
- Discounts on broader set of goods & services
- Branded merchandise
💡Best practice: Ask your audience in a survey which benefits they prefer.
Price your subscription
What does the average news subscription cost?
In North America, the average price for a news subscription is $10-$15 per month. In Europe, monthly fees vary greatly between countries, ranging from €2-€41.50, with the UK at the higher end of the average monthly price of £15.12.
How do prices vary?
Prices typically vary by tier or length:
- Tiers offer different levels of access or products, like an ad-free subscription, or an “all-access” subscription that combines digital and print
- Length is often offered monthly or annually, with a cheaper monthly rate for annual subscriptions
- Test different prices
- Offer three tiers or options
- Offer discounts and trials
Ready to take your subscription to the next level? Continue to our next lesson to learn how to promote your subscription on your site.
Launch your subscription with Google Reader Revenue Manager
Google’s Reader Revenue Manager gives publishers ways to build audience engagement and convert subscribers or contributors, all for free.
Reader Revenue Manager can help you:
- Launch a subscription without developer support: onboard without coding experience
- Get subscribers and contributors with two clicks
- Drive traffic and reinforce your brand value
- Connect with your audience securely: own the relationship with direct access to your readers’ opted-in contact information
- Eliminate paywall frustrations: as your subscribers can log in with their Google accounts