Digital Magazine Latterly to Rely Solely on Subscription Revenue and Donations

“No ads. No clutter. Just stories.” That’s the promise of new subscription start-up Latterly, an organization devoted to quality, long-form journalism. With plans to launch in November 2014, Latterly says it will offer four journalistic, long-form narratives monthly about people who are either facing change or pushing for it with a focus on social justice, diversity and progress. The website says its stories will be case studies on the state of our world.”Because of our unique ad-free, community-based model, we only care about two things: the stories, and our community of journalists and readers. That’s you,” the founders say on their website.Lattery’s goals are to tell original stories from all over the world while setting a new standard for journalism, in a departure from the short, tight, sensational stories that monopolize the current media landscape. Lattery founders Ben Wolford, a freelance journalist, and Christina Asencio, a human rights lawyer, claim the magazine will be different from other digital magazines. It won’t refer to its stories and photographs as content or products, and it won’t care about web traffic, page views or clicks.Instead of a more traditional business model, the digital start-up will be ad-free and rely on subscriptions and donations to run its operations. It plans to pay journalists from the outset, though how much and how often isn’t clearly stated. Anyone can read one story for free. After that, readers must subscribe to receive full access, $3 for one month or $8 every three months. According to Venture Beat, Latterly is creating a Kickstarter campaign to pay contributors, but as of this writing, the campaign does not appear to be live yet.Latterly’s mission and goals are certainly admirable during a time where tabloid headlines and click-bait litter the internet, and our numerous Case Studies have proven that an ad-free, subscription-based model can work. But profitability will depend on the income and expense projections for the company. If Latterly hopes to make gross revenue of $100,000 in year one, for example, it will need 2,778 monthly subscribers at $3 each, which is an ambitious goal for a start-up.Nevertheless, some start-ups, like The Texas Tribune, have seen success in adopting a subscription x membership approach. But smart analysis of user engagement is needed to optimize these models. Hopefully, Latterly’s disregard for web traffic will not cause it to disregard all data-driven metrics that can help the start-up attain financial sustainability.

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