After operating for four years with advertising revenues being our only source of income, Mexico News Daily came to the same conclusion as many other newspapers before us. The model doesn’t work.
Last June we implemented a metered paywall that gives subscribers full access to our content while placing a limit on the number of stories non-subscribers could read in a 30-day period.
The decision was not easy. I knew it would cost us some traffic and, more seriously, some longtime readers but the necessity to do something to generate more revenue was obvious. The previous model was not sustainable and the only choice open to us was to ask readers for their support or shut down.
The most frequent of the questions and comments from readers since the paywall went up have demonstrated that few people realize how pitifully small are the revenues from online advertising.
I was one of those people four years ago. I didn’t expect to make a lot of money, but there was an expectation that costs would be covered and a small profit made once readership reached a certain level.
The level was not established by market surveys and studies but by a rough calculation of the kind often done on napkins. The number was 100,000.
In February 2018 we had 300,000 readers and that number has steadily risen since (spiking to over 400,000 in March).
So we reached the target that I thought would give us financial stability, yet we’ve never had a month where advertising revenues exceeded US $5,000. I like to keep an eye on the numbers so I have a computer screen on my desk that shows me current reader numbers on the site and current revenues from our main ad network, Google AdSense.
It’s one o’clock in the afternoon and we’ve done $24 so far today. We’re a week into the month and the total is $292.
I am reminded of one comment from a reader who declined to pay for his news. He accused us of being greedy.
A reasonable profit is what we want and enough revenues to add more original content to the mix of curated stories we have always offered. Since we converted to a subscription model we have begun doing so.
Another goal was to create a better balance between good news and bad. Relying almost wholly on content curated from Mexican media has sometimes left us with an abundance of stories about murder and mayhem, and little else.
The big question I had before we made the leap to a paid circulation model was the only one that matters: why pay to read our content?
- No other publication offers such a broad selection of news of particular interest to expats and investors in Mexico. (The publisher is both.)
- We don’t pull any punches. Our commitment is to publish news, good and bad.
- Mexico news in one place.
- Context and background: we try to provide both to readers unfamiliar with Mexico’s institutions and its history.
- More than just a Google translation. We don’t simply translate stories from Mexican media. We rewrite them, often drawing on more than one source and building on the stories by researching and providing additional relevant information that is often lacking in Mexican news coverage.
I invite you to join our growing community of readers, most of whom share our passion for Mexico. Please check out the subscription options here.
Tony Richards, Publisher