illustration of the number five, representing the five subscription business topics for this column, Five-on-Friday

Five on Friday: Local Ownership, Lead Magnets and Lessons Learned

Featuring Seattle Magazine, Optinmonster, Business2Community and CJR

We’re going to start this week’s Five on Friday by addressing the elephant in the room. This week was crazy – something none of us could have predicted. We had a time change, full moon, Friday, the 13th, and, of course, the massive spread of the coronavirus around the world. In addition, we had our own minor catastrophe. Our hosting provider suffered a crash which forced us to transition to a new website and host before we were ready. We have been scrambling the last few days to get the site back up and running. Thanks so much for your patience and understanding as we try to return to normal.

In this week’s Five on Friday, YouTube will allow a limited number of channels to monetize coronavirus content, Seattle Magazine returns to local ownership with a new benefactor, and news publishers bring down their paywalls to share coverage about Covid-19. Also this week, we share three ways newspapers can grow their digital revenue from readers and five tips for growing email subscribership using lead magnets.

Wherever you are, we hope you and your families are safe, and that we get through this crisis as a united global community. Be well.

YouTube Will Allow Some Channels to Monetize Coronavirus Content

YouTube will begin allowing a limited number of channels to monetize content related to the coronavirus through advertising, reports Tubefilter. YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki shared this information with creators in a letter. Previously, YouTube had demonetized certain accounts who shared content about Covid-19, but has since changed its policy, following creator complaints.

In Wojcicki’s letter to creators, “It’s becoming clear this issue is now an ongoing and important part of everyday conversation, and we want to make sure news organizations and creators can continue producing quality videos in a sustainable way.”

There will be oversight, however. YouTube will enforce its policies and develop new ones to ensure that the monetization and content are appropriate. Additional details will be rolled out in the coming weeks. For more information, creators can visit YouTube’s support pages specifically addressing coronavirus.

YouTube will allow some channels to monetize coronavirus content.
Source: Bigstock Photo

Seattle Tech Vet Returns Seattle Magazine to Local Ownership

Source: Seattle Magazine

In a time where local media organizations are being bought by hedge funds and media behemoths, it is refreshing to see that one popular news outlet is returning to local ownership. The 54-year-old Seattle Magazine, previously owned by Tiger Oak Media of Minneapolis, has been purchased by Seattle-based tech veteran Jonathan Sposato, reports Tiger Oak Media filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in October 2019.

Sposato is the chairman of, a Seattle-based online tech news outlet, and PicMonkey, a subscription-based photo editing app. He is also a Google alum, former director at Microsoft, and former CEO of Picnik and Bitnik.

“I was raised here and watched Seattle transform from a city known for Sasquatch, Bruce Lee, coffee and airplanes, into a world-class metropolis on par with other iconic destinations across the globe,” Sposato said.

“Not only are we home to the most valuable technology companies in the world, this city has also given birth to the most famous musicians, performing artists, business leaders, athletes and, of course, Oprah’s favorite mac ‘n cheese. Seattle is not dying. It’s thriving.”

Sposato made the announcement on his Facebook page on March 2. Here is an excerpt:

“Today I am excited and honored to announce my acquisition of Seattle Magazine, which brings editorial control and ownership of the publication back to Seattle after nearly 30 years in Minneapolis. With help from the great team there, some new hires, hard work and some luck, we aspire to help redefine the conversation about Seattle and grow our city’s definitive monthly magazine to focus storytelling on what is most unique, provocative and worthy of celebration about our city.”

The first issue under new ownership is expected to come out later this spring.

3 Ways for Newspapers to Grow Digital Revenue from Readers

Speed Meter with Red Needle Pointing the Inscription Revenue on the Red Label. Conceptual Illustration of a Dial with Red Needle Pointing to Maximum of Revenue. Horizontal image. 3D.

In his work as a journalist fellow at the Reuters Institution for the Study of Journalism, Eduardo Suarez took a deep dive into what news outlets can do to grow digital revenue from readers. He found that outlets in the United Kingdom, Spain and other European countries had success secrets that other media organizations can learn from. Here are three we found particularly noteworthy.

  1. Newspapers must share their unique selling proposition. As Suarez points out, there will always be some outlets that offer their news for free. In some cases, it will be entirely free. In others, some content will be available in front of a paywall. Either way, newspapers must send a compelling message about the quality of their work to prospective readers. The Guardian has done a particularly good job of this. If you visit any of their website. There is a ribbon at the top of every page asking for support and, at the bottom of every article, The Guardian asks again with an explanation about why their journalism is so important.
  2. Cut out the stories that aren’t working. Suarez said newspapers evaluated the kinds of stories their readers were most interested in. They eliminated those categories that were not popular, which had a two-fold effect. First, the news outlets could devote resources to where they could truly make a difference and, second, traffic increased because readers were getting more of what they wanted and less of what they didn’t.
  3. Develop products that readers can complete. When print newspapers were in vogue, there was a sense of accomplishment when a reader completed reading a section, whether it was daily news briefings, the crime blotter or the sports section, said Suarez. Now readers are inundated with endless stories and, at some point, they just stop reading. The Economist created Espresso, a daily briefing that includes their top five news stories of the day. It has grown to include editions in Asia, Europe and the Americas. It is part of the magazine’s primary app, and it is also available as a standalone app.

To read more of Suarez’s fascinating findings, visit his paper for Reuters online or a summary of his findings for the Nieman Foundation.

News Publishers Bring Down Paywalls During Coronavirus Outbreak

During the unprecedented coronavirus outbreak, news publishers in the U.S. are stepping up to keep readers informed. Columbia Journalism Review reports that news outlets including The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, The Atlantic, the Seattle Times, the Napa Valley Register and the McClatchy papers are bringing down their paywalls, at least for coronavirus-related stories, to nonsubscribers. Readers may still have to create accounts to access the content, but they won’t have to pay to read Covid-19 stories and access important information.

This is one way that media outlets can help ensure that Americans can stay informed about the latest news and provide access to additional resources. It is also a way for publishers to engage readers and perhaps retain them as subscribers later. While some may view this as self-serving, publishers are hurting as much as, if not more than, other businesses. They have more news to cover, often with less staff, and they are losing advertising revenue during what has now become a national emergency. In some cases, they are even putting their own staff at risk to cover important stories.

This is a tough time for all of us, and the only way we are going to get through it, is together. We applaud publishers who are taking this step to make sure people have timely, accurate information.

Source: Bigstock Photo

5 Ways to Grow Your Email List Using Lead Magnets

We probably all have more email than we’d like, but it remains a great way to market to prospects and one of the first steps in the acquisition process, says Christopher Jan Benitez for Business2Community. But how do you get those leads? Benitez suggests using lead magnets where you are essentially giving something to get something. In other words, dangle a carrot in front of your prospects. If they give you their email address for marketing purposes, they get the carrot. Here are five tips to attract email leads using lead magnets.

Hand sketching sales or revenue funnel marketing concept with white marker on transparent wipe board.
  • Free trials. Most subscription services offer a free trial of some kind to give users a sampling of what they can expect, whether it is free access to news content for 14 days, a free trial of streaming video content, or an SaaS upgrade. This is a great way for prospects to try before they buy.
  • Free reports, white papers or ebooks. According to Benitez, reports have a conversion rate of 46%. Put together a package of useful tips, industry data or other information that they can use to improve their own businesses. This shows the prospect that this relationship is give-and-take, not just take, take, take.
  • Quizzes that go viral. Have you seen those quizzes your friends take on Facebook – Which rock star are you? How well do you know your spouse? If you were a color, what color would you be? Trivia quizzes are also popular. By creating a quiz, you are making a positive impression about your brand, learning more about your prospect and gathering contact information you can use later.
  • Checklists. Checklists can be a fun, easy way to create a branded document that prospects will use again and again. Optinmoster gives two examples of handy checklists: a one-page SEO checklist to optimize blog posts and websites a checklist for creating checklists!
  • Templates. Offer prospects a virtual or printable branded template for everything from grocery lists and calendars to email templates and planner pages. These free tools are easy to create and, when used multiple times, they remind prospects of where they got the information.

For more tips to create lead magnets, check out these resources:

5 Killer Lead Magnet Ideas to Get More Email Subscribers

69 Highly Effective Lead Magnet Ideas to Grow Your Email List

25 Lead Magnet Examples That Build Your Email List and Convert

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