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The Best Practices Of Soft Paywalls

Updated: Mar 16

Soft paywalls are used by many websites, media companies and publishers that limit the number of articles the audience can read before being stopped. Readers are then prompted to subscribe or sign up if they wish to read more. Soft paywalls generally allow readers to access a range of dedicated “free” pages or articles. However, if readers wish to read more, they must sign up. This is different from hard paywalls.

Hard paywalls do not allow readers to be able to access any pages without first subscribing.

Previously on Pelcro, we have covered “metered paywalls”, also known as soft paywalls. These paywalls allow readers to read a select number of articles. This number ranges generally between 2-3, before being asked to sign up. Soft paywalls can be very beneficial to websites if used correctly, allowing readers to view a range of pages they like. If the readers want to see more, they can by subscribing. Using this method can ensure that readers, as well as creators, are both satisfied.

How to combine premium content with a soft paywall:

Soft paywalls can be a great way to monetize your website. We at Pelcro believe that by having premium, and informative content behind a soft paywall, it can influence readers to want to sign up to a subscription for your website. By having a soft paywall, readers can get a taste of the content that your website includes before subscribing.

Many websites, which we will show below, use a soft paywall in an effective way. By giving an incentive to readers through the use of premium content, readers will more likely subscribe to your website. Ensure that what you are offering as “free” is of high quality and showcases what readers can expect to see more of in higher quantity when they subscribe.

A subscription pop-up readers get prompted with after 5 free articles.

A subscription pop-up readers get prompted with after 5 free articles.

According to an investigation done by Peter Marsh, an executive of Newscycle, most publishers who have a hard paywall on their website, can hold between only 15%-20% of their audience.

In this same study, metered paywalls are noted to hold an average of 58.8%. In some instances, they can even hold 90% of their audience.

By comparing both paywall methods, it is clear that using a soft paywall is the most beneficial and successful way to ensure that your readers subscribe to your website.

Below are 3 websites that use a soft paywall effectively:

The New York Times:

The New York Times is extremely successful with its approach of using a soft paywall. The newspaper allows readers to view 5 articles for free when visiting the site. A further 5 articles become available once signing up to the free newsletter.

Once readers subscribe to The New York Times, readers are granted unlimited access to all the content found on the site.

This method of using a soft paywall is impressive in its approach. By giving readers access to 5 free articles when they first visit the site, and a further 5 once they sign up for the newsletter, it ensures that the readers are hooked.

By giving 5 free articles as an incentive for readers to sign up, it allows further communication between the readers and The New York Times to be possible.

This easy but successful method can turn occasional readers into avid supporters of your content.

The New York Times was one of the first magazines to implement a paywall.

The New York Times was one of the first magazines to implement a paywall. Source. is another successful site that utilizes a soft paywall. However, what sets Astrology apart from other websites is that it uses Pelcro’s soft paywall technology integrated into the site.

Astrology originally targeted Adblock users with a soft paywall. Astrology later added premium content behind a soft paywall, giving an incentive for viewers to subscribe.

We at Pelcro believe that by using our soft paywall technology, to hide premium content behind, it can have the best results.

One of the most effective ways to draw readers in with a soft paywall is to give them a reason to subscribe to view further content. allows viewers to access 5 free pages before being prompted to subscribe. This is a good number to choose from as it allows viewers to decide whether they like your content enough to subscribe.

Another great choice when using a soft paywall on your website is to use a sign-up prompt for a newsletter. By using this prompt, you can sign up future subscribers and later communicate with them when content is available.

You can also leverage the signed-up users in email marketing campaigns geared towards encouraging them to subscribe. Pelcro also provides the ability to give users who enter their email an additional X amount of free pages in order to increase conversions.

The New Yorker

The New Yorker allows readers to view 6 articles a month for free before being prompted to subscribe. The magazine increases the number of articles you can read compared to the previous websites. It also uses a monthly timer that resets each month so readers can stay up to date with content.

The use of the monthly timer is a great way to keep readers, allowing an avid audience to come back often to view content. By also increasing the number of articles that readers can view, it can entice readers to subscribe. Readers may feel more comfortable after viewing more content.

The New Yorker also advertises itself for having a weekly subscription that is cheaper than a good cup of coffee each week.

Including a cheap weekly subscription price on your website can help readers feel more comfortable subscribing. This is better than having a large monthly or yearly cost and results in higher subscriptions.

An issue of The New Yorker, a magazine in which uses a soft paywall.

An issue of The New Yorker, a magazine which uses a soft paywall.

Using a paywall is important for businesses to monetize their content. At Pelcro believe that using a soft paywall is necessary. Using it alongside premium content can mean the difference between success and not holding a large enough reader base.

If you have any questions about incorporating a soft paywall on your website, please contact us. We would love to help you!

Here at Pelcro, our aim is to help you succeed with content subscription knowledge. What is your favourite way of using a soft paywall? Let us know in the comments below!


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