Monetization for Publishers: 8 Tactics Guaranteed to Work

Esra Celebi

Whether your business is a large for-profit media company or a nonprofit weekly newspaper in a small town, you simply can't afford to rely solely on your existing revenue streams.

To survive in today's marketplace, publishers large and small must constantly innovate themselves.

Whether your organization is a large for-profit media company or a nonprofit weekly newspaper in a small town, you simply can't afford to rely solely on your existing revenue streams.

It's no secret that creating great content is difficult. However, it's even harder to write great content and run a successful media company at the same time.

However, for many publishers, there are still many untapped opportunities to generate revenue - you just need to know how.

In this article, I'll share 8 monetization tips to help your publisher generate revenue and secure your long-term future.

Here we go.

1 Paywalls

Handelsblatt's extremely tough paywal

In the last ten years, the publishing industry has seen a large increase in paywall-based services - seen, for example, at Handelsblatt.

Significant revenue can be generated with a soft paywall (freemium), where access to articles is provided in exchange for the email address, or a hard paywall, where a paid subscription is required.

Other options include metered paywalls, which allow a certain number of articles to be read per month for a set fee. Data-driven paywalls, which use A/B testing to ensure that readers are shown the most appropriate content, are becoming increasingly popular in this regard.

With the right combination, you too can incentivize your readers to pay to read your content.

Another advantage of paywall models is that the content offered is increasingly seen by readers as exclusive and of high quality. However, paywalls are only one effective monetization option.

2 subscriptions

Image and the power of video

Another channel through which you can generate revenue is subscription services, which allow readers to access your content for a regular fee. Subscriptions as an umbrella term include various models, each with its own benefits. These are primarily:

Fixed subscriptions: this subscription model is probably the most common and involves a set monthly fee that allows the subscriber to access as much content as they want. Incidentally, this is also the model used by platforms like Netflix and Spotify.

Micropayments: Another promising subscription model is micropayments, where readers pay only for what they read. After adding funds to an account, your subscribers read the articles they want.

Historically, news has been viewed by readers as something they are not willing to pay for. However, times have changed in recent years, and subscription models - and there are many more of them - are becoming more popular with publishers and readers alike.

3 Digital advertising

Native advertising can be really profitable for publishers

When the Internet was young in the early 2000s, banner ads were everywhere because they were an effective way to sell products and services...back in the day.

Nowadays, readers find banner ads irritating, which means you're not only wasting your advertising budget, but also annoying your readers.

Modern publishers can still use digital advertising, of course, but you should do it a little differently these days. More appropriate digital advertising options are:

Content recommendations: An effective way to encourage your readers to read more is through content recommendations based on metrics such as your previous reading topics, authors, and genres. With platforms like Outbrain, Taboola, and Revcontent, you can direct potential readers to the exact articles they like to read.

Native Advertising: Another modern format in the online advertising world is native advertising, which can be very profitable if used correctly. In this scenario, an article is usually created, paid for by the advertiser and presented as an editorial. But pay attention: Show your readers that these are native ads, or they will come across as disingenuous.

Digital advertising is steadily gaining popularity. In fact, spending on digital advertising in Germany increased by 10% in 2019, to name just one figure.

4 events

Monetization for publishers via events

The next monetization tip on my list involves events like industry conferences, mastermind meetings, and award ceremonies that are exclusive to your existing subscribers as a sort of bonus.

This makes your subscribers feel like they are part of a community and prompts others to subscribe with you.

An example of what I mean by exclusivity: Offer your subscribers early bird discounts or guaranteed seats at certain seminars or events. Whatever your readers are interested in is suitable - be it a webinar or a physical event. This kind of exclusive access can help increase your subscribers and thus further increase your revenue.

Of course, due to the ongoing Corona crisis, events are not an option right now. Nevertheless, in the medium term, they will most definitely become an integral part of your monetization strategy again.

5 E-commerce

Monetization for publishers through e-commerce

Another often forgotten potential source of revenue is the marketing of archived issues and prints of popular covers. Whether for sentimental, personal or business reasons, many readers greatly appreciate the iconic nature of certain covers. Condè Nast'sNew York store can serve as a great example here.

The British music and fashion magazine The Face is also an excellent example of the sentimental value placed on images and stories from years gone by. After nearly going bankrupt in 2004 due to poor circulation numbers, the magazine was relaunched online, marketed via Instagram, and has been successful ever since.

The Face has certainly shown that it still has its finger on the pulse, which I think has undoubtedly contributed to its renaissance.

However, this is not the only revenue stream that the magazine's publishers have created. There's affiliate marketing, for example. With affiliate links on the website, you too can earn a considerable additional income.

6 podcasts

Podcasting is a phenomenal monetisation tactic for magazine and newspaper publishers

Podcasts are a popular modern phenomenon that adds value for many advertisers. Not only do your listeners get to hear interesting topics of conversation, but you can also get exclusive discount codes and offers.

You can include advertising, messages from sponsors, and as many call-to-actions as you see fit.

7 Newsletter

Newsletter is great for monetisation

While a newsletter still seems like a communication medium from the past to many, it has experienced a second spring in recent years. Believe it or not, newsletters can be an extremely effective monetization tactic for your publisher.

Much evidence suggests that far from being an outdated communication medium, regular email actively encourages your readers to visit your website more often, increasing revenue.

It's also a medium you can analyze and perfect for best results. Open rates, click-through rates, and unsubscribe rates - are all elements that can be optimized.

Again, by A/B testing and adjusting your email newsletter strategy, you can ensure that you're publishing exactly the kind of content that will excite your readers.

8 Research and analysis

Monetisation: Publishers can make money with reports

I believe that while the core business of publishers is content, their true power lies in their relationships with their communities. That's why the last monetization tip on my list relates to a just emerging revenue opportunity.

Established media companies like Skift, Business Insider and The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) produce in-depth reports that can be purchased or viewed as part of a subscription. For many readers, professionally prepared studies of trends and developments within a particular industry are very exciting.

This means that significant recurring revenue is possible. Provided that the reports you create are in demand. This type of report also allows you to demonstrate your expertise to your target groups.


You can't afford to rest on your current revenue streams. Unfortunately, the ongoing changes in the media industry can quickly cause your business to lag behind and your readers to turn away from you.

In this article, we've taken a closer look at 8 of the most important tips for monetizing your publishing business. While there are certainly more opportunities.

You can learn more about the top strategies for monetizing your apps here. Want to test a new revenue stream without much effort or risk? Find out about our content intelligence tool and affiliate link automation.

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Kevin Kallenbach
Head of Sales