A local news website has picked up 3000 subscribers in just a matter of months – and is making revenue despite having no online display advertising.
www.eastwoodmercury.co.uk caters for the middle-class Glasgow suburbs of Newton Mearns, Clarkston and Giffnock and is the brainchild of Tom McConigley, editorial manager of Clyde and Forth Media.
The impressive subscriber list has grown by offering specific content for free, such as school class digital photographs, street-specific crime reports and property price guides.
And the reader is also kept up-to-date each week by an email of just one big, local story.
The Eastwood Mercury was a well-established newspaper for many decades in the area before going out of business in the early 1990s, so brand awareness is already high too.
McConigley said: “We don't charge for any content, but we build up a knowledge of the subscribers – for example, we know their geographical location through their school catchment area when they request the class pictures. We are also in the process of finding out what they're interested in. It's not a paywall, but it is a kind of wall, because you can only join the 'Mercury club' if you live in the area and sign-up to the site.
“Every week we only email out premium content to our 3000-plus subscribers, strong stories which would be splashes in newspaper terms. You can't abuse the privilege of having someone's email address. The stuff you send out by email must be wanted by the reader. All the other smaller stories are available to read on the website.”
Despite the obvious temptation to charge businesses to access the subscribers list, McConigley has opted for a different, and, thus far, successful alternative revenue-generating source.
He said: “We have two spin-off products coming out in the next few weeks which are already making a profit. One is a magazine and the other is an event. Our loyal subscriber base has ensured that these products have been a success.”