Guide Paywalls — What They Are and When They Should Be Used

Blue Waves Dave
5 min readDec 24, 2020
Paywalls — What They Are and When They Should Be Used

You already know that most blogs use Google Adsense as their main source of monetization. As more and more people are using tools like Adblock to block ads, bloggers are looking for new ways to earn money from their sites. Well, why look for something outside when your content can make you money directly through Paywalls?

It turns out that all content available on the web is not free. Some websites charge if someone wants to consume the content that also helps them make their website ad-free.

In this article, we’ll look at the concept of paywalls. We’ll also discuss when you should use them.

So without further delay, let’s get into it.

What is a Paywall?

In simple words, a paywall is a barrier that stops non-subscribers from accessing your content on your website.

A similar thing happens on TV and print all the time. You might already have experienced it. Think about a website where you can’t watch or read your favorite content without signing up or paying a fee.

We perceive the web as a free source of information. But we sometimes, as web surfers, overlook the fact that the websites we’re accessing are actual businesses. Although there are many non-profit websites out there, the majority of content is put on the web for marketing purposes.

Let’s take the example of an SEO company. First, they put content for their audience for free on their blog. After a while, they’ll start thinking about monetizing it. For most people, it’s Google Adsense. Some ignore it completely because they have their services and products to sell. And for some people, making money from the content with subscriptions.

Now you might think, “Have I been consuming content that was just for marketing purposes?” But if you are a marketer or business owner, you’d understand how much hard work is put into creating each piece of content. So it’s a good idea to put a subscription on it.

Most online magazines and newspapers are common to have paywalls on their websites. A few examples of this include The New York Times, The New Yorker. It’s as simple as having a subscription for their print material — it’s just online.

However, this doesn’t always have to be for making money directly. For example, you can make it necessary to provide their email addresses if they want to consume your content. It will help you with email marketing. Or you can open your content for them after their first purchase. But most sites that use this monetization method require subscription purchases.

Now let’s see when you should use paywalls!

When Should Paywalls Be Used?

One thing you must be wondering during the entire article is the risk of losing traffic and users after setting up a paywall? Well, there are chances of that, but luckily, the following things will help you decide if a paywall is a feasible option for you or not:

  • Time for some bitter truth: Is your content worth charging for? Do you think that your content is different than what’s already available on the web? Even if the answer is no, you wouldn’t want to think of your content as anything less than perfect. So, it’s a good choice to look out for comments from customers and other industry leaders. It will help you decide if it’s worth charging for or not.
  • Or you can perform surveys in which you can ask users if they would pay for your content.
  • If you are not selling any product or service, your site is a better candidate for a paywall. This is the reason why magazines are successfully making money from paywalls.

However, it’s not a good idea to set up a paywall in the following cases:

  • If users can find the same content elsewhere on the internet, they will not subscribe. People are smart, so they research before subscribing to a website. If they can find the same information, let’s say on Medium, or a similar site for free, they won’t pay you.
  • If it’s not offering something unique, it won’t be deemed credible. So forget about charging a fee for it and start improving it.
  • If the user base can’t afford to pay for a subscription, a paywall won’t be beneficial.

The above points will help you decide if a paywall is a good option for your website. Remember this: set it up whenever you think people are willing to pay.

Different Types of Paywalls

Most paywalls can be divided into four categories listed below:

  • The majority of (or all) content will be put behind a paywall in this case. Unless the users pay for a subscription, they can’t consume any piece of content. While this is not a popular model, financial newspapers are a common example of using it.
  • Again, users will have to pay to access the content. But most of the content can be accessed without a subscription.
  • Users will be given access to a certain number of articles for a certain period.
  • This type uses data to make individual decisions on each user’s stop rate. For example, if a user only accesses the site once or twice a month, they may never see a paywall. In contrast, a user visiting the site every day will likely be asked to pay a subscription fee.

While not specifically a paywall, many websites are using donations as their source of monetization as well.

Final Words on Paywalls…

Paywalls can be a good source of income for your website. However, not all websites are built for paywalls, so keep this article as a guide when deciding on a paywall for your website.

What are your views on paywalls? Do let me know in the comment section below!