Arkansas Times digital membership so far

Posted on October 1, 2013

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Posted by on Thu, Sep 12, 2013 at 4:28 PM

Daily papers all over the country have adopted paywalls. The majority of the biggest papers in the country now have them. But as far as we know, there are no other free weeklies who’ve put part of their website behind a metered paywall (10 free views of the blog per 30 days). That’s why, when we launched, we framed the introduction of digital membership as a grand experiment. Six weeks after we turned the meter on? So far, so good.

*We have 600 subscribers, nearly half of whom paid for annual access. Thanks to all who’ve subscribed!

*Since launching, we’ve added at least one new subscriber every day.

*We haven’t lost any web advertisers because of the paywall.

*In fact, 13 percent more people read the site last month than our average monthly traffic this year.

(More explanation and numbers on the jump.)

Like we said in the rollout, the introduction of digital membership was a proactive move. The Times is on solid financial ground. We did this hoping that reader support could help us to do more — more coverage, deeper reporting, more content about more subjects in more places…more (and better!) everything.

In the last few months, we’ve written more than anyone else about the fight for marriage equality in Arkansas; the aftermath of the Mayflower oil spill; health care expansion in Arkansas, and the political, ethical and legal failings of the likes of Paul Bookout, Mark Darr and Martha Shoffner. Max has been working harder than ever (he’s taking a well-earned long weekend in New Orleans today). Our food guys have given us reason to cheer time and time and time and again. Without Rock Candy, how would you know Mavis Staples is playing Christ Church in Little Rock, or how awesome the Hot Springs Documentary Film Festival line-up is this year? And as always: all the stories, from big to small, that make Arkansas what it is, from pig farms and protests to body art and busty waitresses.

If you value any of that and want to see more like it, we hope you’ll consider becoming a digital member.

Questions? Concerns? We’ve covered a lot of them here. But please don’t hesitate to holler at me with others. 501-375-2985 or lindseymillar@arktimes.com

*In August, we had more unique visitors (the number of different browsers that visited the site, i.e. the closest approximation to people in web analytics) on the Arkansas Blog than any month this year.

*Pageview traffic was down across the site about 15 percent. That’s pretty typical. Considered in relation to our unique visitor numbers, it likely means that some of our readers who read or commented a lot pre-paywall haven’t become digital members. But they’re still reading.

*Our conversion rate, i.e. the percentage of readers who hit the paywall and actually pay, is 8.1 percent. The industry norm is 2 percent. We expect to see some regression to that mean, but it’s definitely a strong start.

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