The problem with content paywalls, and the solution in one vertical

From Matter, the long-form journalist startup acquired by Medium:

It’s not only readers who are intolerant of paywalls: other media organizations are, too. When you’re subscription-only, you have to do a lot of legwork to make your stories marketable: the sort of thing that could be picked up by other outlets. We think our stories are, generally, pretty newsworthy… But it turns out that other outlets—from major news outlets to solo expert bloggers, and everywhere in between—are pretty reticent to write about, syndicate, or even link to, paywalled material. We’ve had some good support from partners like The Guardian and The Atlantic, but those relationships are hard to build.

This was a problem that we also grappled with inside Seeking Alpha. How could we create a valuable subscription product without reducing the ubiquitous mindshare we have among investors, and the distribution and exposure which we provide to our contributors?

The solution we came up with was unique to the finance vertical: We’d give our paying subscribers an early look at the best investment ideas in Seeking Alpha, and exclusive access to single-stock articles 30 days after publication. Neither the “early look” nor the archive paywall meaningfully reduce our mindshare or the exposure we provide to our contributors.

It turns out that the archive is extremely valuable to analysts and portfolio managers who are researching stocks — it’s become a must-have equity research platform. And the growth of our subscription business will allow us to pay our contributors more.

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