He Helped Invent NYT Paywall in 2005, Predicts Future of Content


In Episode #278 Nathan interviews Peter Himler, the man who set up the New York Times’ paywall.  Peter’s an experienced PR and media consultant, and the founder of Flatiron Communications. Listen as Nathan and Peter talk subscription vs. native advertising, the growth of content marketing, and the importance of influencers.

  • Favorite Book? – The End of Big
  • What CEO do you follow? — Elon Musk
  • Do you get 8 hours of sleep?— I absolutely do
  • If you could let your 20 year old self know one thing, what would it be?— How to be more assertive with my boss

Time Stamped Show Notes:

  • 01:10 – Nathan’s introduction
  • 01:30 – Welcoming Peter to the show
  • 01:55 – Peter helped the New York Times launch their first paywall
  • 02:45 – What can agencies do to make sure they retain talent?
  • 03:00 – Large agencies have invested in digital strategies
  • 04:00 – Flatiron create content marketing for their clients
  • 04:35 – Content sites with a paywall are a growing trend
  • 04:50 – How did you execute the NY Times paywall?
  • 05:10 – The first paywall was unsuccessful – ‘Times Select’ in 2005
  • 05:50 – “It was premature” – focused on driving advertising revenue
  • 06:20 – When they fully embraced the paywall model it became more successful
  • 07:45 – “The Times is a very strong brand in a sea of online content”
  • 08:10 – “The voices of true journalism are fewer and further between”
  • 09:40 – Do content paywalls cannibalise revenue from native advertising?
  • 10:35 – Some paid subscriber sites provide a very targeted market for advertisers
  • 11:40 – Are paywalls feasible for people who aren’t big brands yet?
  • 12:41 – A trend of hiring influencers to create branded content
  • 13:31 – A company called Niche matches brands with influencers – bought by Twitter for $20 million
  • 14:24 – Flatiron has a team of 4 people
  • 15:30 – Charges retainers of around $7500-12,500 per month
  • 16:10 – Connect with Peter on his site or on twitter
  • 17:55 – The Famous Five

3 Key Points:

  1. Subscription models can coexist with targeted advertising: be creative about how you’re generating revenue from your content.
  2. Be prepared to create a lot of free content in order to build your brand.
  3. Be assertive…and once you know what you’re doing, be prepared to strike out on your own.

Resources Mentioned:

  • Freshbooks – The site Nathan uses to manage his invoices and accounts.
  • Host Gator – The site Nathan uses to buy his domain names and hosting for cheapest price possible.
  • Leadpages – The drag and drop tool Nathan uses to quickly create his webinar landing pages which convert at 35%+
  • Audible – Nathan uses Audible when he’s driving from Austin to San Antonio (1.5 hour drive) to listen to audio books.