The coronavirus pandemic has decimated digital advertising and news organisations are still searching for alternative revenue streams. Memberships are widely seen as a way to not only plug the financial hole but also to retain readers who supported your journalism during lockdown.
For independent online and print magazine gal-dem, the sudden loss of ad revenue was made worse by the trauma of police violence during Black Lives Matters protests. As a publication which offers a platform to women and non-binary people of colour, these events had a huge impact on the readers and the editorial team. The two factors had a compounded effect: commissioning budgets were being slashed at a time when its coverage was needed more than ever.
Fortunately, it had a membership model ready to launch in March which had been in the pipeline for two years - and the sign-ups exploded. The publication hit its end-of-year target six months early and currently counts more than 2,000 members. This allowed it to resume the coverage its readers desperately needed.
In this week's podcast, CEO of Mariel Richards reflects on the journey and what the success of the membership programme means for the news organisation, with one eye on a future without having to rely on brand sponsorships and advertisement revenue.
This article was updated on 16 October 2020 to recognise Mariel Richards' new position as CEO of gal-dem. At the time of recording, Richards was head of partnerships
We’re launching a membership!— gal-dem (@galdemzine) March 23, 2020
It's been months in the making but this time of uncertainty that we’re all currently moving through has emphasised our need to future-proof this platform that we’re so proud to have built & we need your help to do it >> https://t.co/7yfWVfh2M1 pic.twitter.com/Pmt7YOixNl
Free daily newsletter
- John Crowley, freelance journalist, on working from home - or is it living at work?
- Death of student newspapers could thwart efforts to diversify the industry
- Top experts publish 250 recommendations for fighting the 'infodemic' on social platforms
- Lucy Kueng, senior research associate at RISJ, on leading digital transformation in an age of disruption
- How The Independent and Dennik N drive subscriptions with reader-centric metrics