Just as I was looking for an opening paragraph to write this article, I received an email from the International News Media Association (INMA) sharing their latest report.

Interested in its title - Why Media Ad Sales Teams Need E-Commerce - I clicked to download it, only to find out that I needed to be an INMA Member to access it. The price written next to the report (795 dollars) corresponds to one of the subscription offers.

Despite my frustration, I left the website with a slight gain - my opening sentence. How can you monetize reports? 

How can you effectively distribute and monetize your reports to see the ROI of the time and resources spent working on them?

In this example, INMA provides a single option to read the report: paid subscription

But there are plenty of other options…

Today, we’ll be exploring 3 of the best performing options to monetize your reports.

  • Integrating a wall into your website

    • Gated content to download a report: the example of Salesforce
    • Registration wall to get report samples: the example of Juniperresearch
    • Newsletter wall: the example of top-tier publishers
    • Paywall: selling a report, not a subscription

  • Selling your content in a market place just as you would sell a product

    • General marketplaces to sell a report (Amazon, Ebay…)
    • Specific market places to share information products: the example of “digital downloads” from Teachable

  • Using subscription-based websites

    • Content platforms to monetize information products: the example of Medium 
    • Using your report to make a paid newsletter: the example of Substack

Despite economic uncertainty, content teams and budgets are still growing - 58% of content teams expect their content budgets to grow in 2023 according to The Power of Content 2023 report.

Yet, content is only valuable for businesses if it can be linked with revenue goals - whether it be by increasing lead generation, collecting data or providing a direct source of revenue. 9 in 10 teams with leadership buy-in have revenue goals tied to content.

The Power of Content 2023 report

This graph taken out from the Power of Content Report by Wordpress shows different ways to monetize content.

Yet for the content to be monetized, it should provide value to the consumer in the first place.

Information products are content pieces that fulfill this goal - they transfer information and knowledge from one person or business to another. 

The term “product” underlines the primary purpose of content for business: revenue. An information product can be sold just like any other product, because it holds a specific value. 

Some common examples of information products include podcasts, webinars, ebooks, audiobooks, coaching calls, online courses, and reports.

This article focuses on the latter.

1.Monetizing content through a wall

A wall is a powerful tool to monetize reports as your strategy can be adapted to your target audience and market needs

While the paywall is undoubtedly the most famous wall type, there are other ways to use a wall to monetize content without requiring the user to pay. 

I’m still employing the term “monetizing” here, because all wall types can help increase your revenue - walls that don’t require users to pay provide an indirect source of revenue thanks to converting readers into leads, collecting first-party data and building engagement, thus increasing ARPU (Average Revenue Per Reader) or CLV (Customer Lifetime Value). 

  • Gated content

Gated content will enable visitors who come to your website  to fill out a form to gain access to a specific report.

To download this marketing report from Salesforce, I have to fill out a form with my contact details as well as my job title while agreeing to the processing of my data. This will be useful information for their marketing teams and sales development representatives who will decide whether I’m a qualified lead for their product as well as sell my data to partners.

Salesforce' gated content strategy

  • Registration wall

Another way of monetizing your reports may be through a registration wall. Users will need to create an account to access your content and be provided with benefits exclusive to this membership.

The research consultancy firm, Juniper Research, uses a registration wall to entice users to subscribe to their products and services i.e. buy market data online.

Juniper Research membership strategy

Juniper Research membership strategy

As can be seen above, the exclusive benefit given to registered users is an access to research samples.

  • Newsletter wall

If your aim is to develop a longer term relationship with your audience, gating a report through a newsletter wall will allow you to increase content consumption. When using a newsletter wall you state that, in exchange for this report, visitors will also be subscribed to the company’s newsletter. Newsletters are indeed known to help build a consumption habit and increase engagement.

Newsletter wall strategy from publishers

Journal du Dimanche on the left, Euronews Spain on the right. These examples from publishers can be applied to brand publishers or any types of content creators as well.

  • Paywalls: selling your report, not a subscription

To monetize your report, you can also use a paywall, integrating a wall directly on your report and credit card fields to allow the user to pay just for this report.

While websites like MarketResearch.com sell their reports on their website using a check out cart redirecting users to create an account and pay, putting the report behind a wall would reduce friction and increase the attractiveness of the report. Defining the visibility rate of the paywall allows you to provide users with the opportunity to read the opening paragraph(s) - instead of a description.

Market Research information products

If you specifically want to use a paywall, this article can help you build a high-performing paywall

How a wall can help monetize your information products:

✅Reduced Customer Acquisition Cost: generating new leads

Increased engagement in the case of a registration wall or a newsletter wall

Ad placements can be sold at a higher cost because the audience can be targeted thanks to their data

✅Data collected can be sold to external partners

✅Direct revenue in the case of a paywall

Interested in monetizing your information products using a wall? 

Poool provides customizable wall options and customer journeys with a proven ROI. Get in touch with our team of experts to discuss your goals and needs and learn more about the Membership and Subscription Suite.

Book a demo

2.Monetizing a report on a market place

Amazon and eBay are among marketplaces that can enable you to reach a wide audience - reports can be uploaded and sold as digital products. 

There are also more specific marketplaces like Udemy, Skillshare, and Teachable, focused around teaching and learning. 

While marketplaces are good for reaching your audience, bear in mind that you have to pay a commission or a fee. You also have less control and may face unfavorable changes from platform owners.

  • Focus on one marketplace: Teachable

Teachable, is a platform used by 100,000 creators to create and sell courses, coaching and “digital downloads”. Pdf reports can be sold on this platform thanks to this last option.  

monetizing reports through Teachable

For the purpose of the article I created an account (thanks to a free trial) and could have uploaded a report directly onto the platform.

monetizing reports through marketplaces

Pros and cons of selling your information products on a market place:

Target a new audience: Established marketplaces have a massive customer base, which means your report has the potential to reach a vast audience. 

Income stream: Monetize your information products

Fees and Revenue Sharing: Pay a commission fee without any guarantee of ROI 

Competition: Your information products might get lost among other products if sold on a general marketplace 

Platform Dependency: Relying solely on a marketplace for sales means your success is tied to that platform (i.e. to policy or algorithm changes)

3.Using subscription-based websites

When you’ve just published a report or a study, you can choose to distribute it on a subscription-based website. 

Instead of placing it behind a wall on your website, or selling it as a pdf document on a market place, you can choose to create an account on a platform that will monetize your content. 

The two examples chosen, Medium and Substack, offer different approaches to content monetization: while Medium offers a multi-subscription to readers (they can read articles from all content creators on the platform), Substack focuses on a single subscription (readers are only subscribing to a specific newsletter on the platform).

The American publishing platform Medium allows contributors to publish content for free (check out Poool’s Medium Page here) or to monetize their content thanks to Medium's Partner Program. This program allows content creators to earn money when Medium members read their content. Medium pays by reading time, not per read. So the more people read, the more money content creators earn.

Medium is free to use for readers and writers, but a reader is limited to three free stories per month if they’re not paying the $5/mo subscription cost. 

The member-only tag with a star differentiates premium from free content.

Medium's member-only tag

Pros and cons to monetize a report on Medium: 

Free to monetize your content (when eligible for it i.e. for a writer with 100+ followers)

Ease of Use: Medium is user-friendly and straightforward, making it easy for writers to publish their content without worrying about website management or technical aspects.

Built-in community

No data collected from your readers

Ownership and copyright issues: When you publish on Medium, you grant them a non-exclusive license to distribute your work

❌Limited control and reliance on the platform: dependance on the platforms’ policies and algorithms 

Substack is an American online platform that provides publishing, payment, analytics, and design infrastructure to support subscription newsletters.

Another way to monetize your report can be to format it as a paid newsletter, by separating each part of your report into different editions of a newsletter.

Parts of your report could also be made accessible for free to allow the reader to discover your content, a practice that is well-spread on the newsletter platform.

For example, I subscribed to the free version of Next in Media, a newsletter from Mike Shields. I receive regular updates, but miss out on newsletters because I haven’t purchased a paid subscription yet.

Substack subscription strategy

On my Substack account, I have the option to “upgrade to paid” and two paragraphs in the paid newsletter, I’m blocked by a paywall.

Substack's subscription strategy

Pros and cons of monetizing a report through a paid newsletter on Substack:

Free to use for writers and newsletter owners 

Monetization Flexibility: various monetization options, including free and paid subscriptions - the writer can set the subscription pricing

Audience Engagement: the newsletter format allows you to build a dedicated audience

Lead generation: Substack offers analytics concerning readership and engagement, allowing you to target specific leads

❌For paid subscriptions, there’s a commission fee of 10% of what subscribers pay.

❌Due to the amount of newsletters offered, difficult to get an audience (lots of famous ex-journalists starting their own editorial product)

Dependency on the platform: Like with any platform, you are reliant on Substack's policies, and changes to the platform could impact your reach or earnings.