How Taegan Goddard built a thriving paid membership for Political Wire
He already had a robust advertising business, but he wanted to foster a deeper connection with his audience.
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Most publishers that launch some kind of paid subscription product do so out of economic necessity. Subscription models are born out of a media company’s recognition that the online advertising market, as it currently stands, is not sufficient in its ability to fund quality journalism, thereby requiring the company to rely directly on its readers to close the revenue gap.
Taegan Goddard, however, contends that Political Wire, the aggregation and analysis site he founded and runs, was perfectly sustainable when he rolled out his paid membership program a half decade ago, and that he only did so to provide a way for his most loyal readers to bypass the site’s ads. “I found with programmatic ads that the incentives that exist between the publisher, the reader, and the advertiser are broken,” he told me. “The great thing about print newspapers was that the publisher would have to make sure that they were servicing both the advertiser as well as the reader in order to keep the business intact. And what happened with programmatic advertising was all of a sudden the advertisers had no idea that their ads were even being placed on your website.”
By launching a membership program, Goddard was able to forge a more direct connection with a readership that he’d spent the better part of two decades growing. I recently spoke to him about his early monetization strategies and how he expanded into paid memberships.
Let’s jump into my findings…
Establishing an initial business model
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