As an editor of a news website, introducing a paywall (I'll explain how ours will work shortly) might feel counterintuitive.
My goal as an editor is to try to get as many people as possible to read our articles. But the reality of the industry is that clicks alone don't pay the bills. If we want to continue to grow as we have done over the last five years, we need to ask readers to contribute directly.
We are working in an environment in which big global companies like Facebook and Google have snapped up a huge proportion of global advertising. We still have some brilliant advertisers, and will continue to value those relationships, but like most other media we also need other, more stable, forms of income.
More and more people are using ad-blocking software, and Facebook recently changed its news feed algorithms so many regular readers no longer see our stories.
Advertising alone can never reliably fund the kind of service we as a company and I as the editor of The Local Italy want to offer you, our readers.
Becoming a Member of The Local means more than just getting more to read. We also want to build a new, collaborative relationship between us and our readers.
Sunny fields in Tuscany. Photo: Depositphotos
We want Members to help guide us on what stories or issues we need to cover and to help us cover them. We'll be feeding back our Members' input into our editorial decisions, to help you determine how we can serve you best.
This will help us get better at bringing you everything from news and practical advice to food, travel guides and language pointers. And we'll be redoubling our efforts to speak up for the international residents of Italy when they need our help.
From my point of view, a major positive of asking readers to pay is that the responsibility will make us improve what we do. What's more, if we can reduce our reliance on advertising we can concentrate on the stories that matter.
Because ultimately, we want to work for you, not for clicks.
How will it work?
Our site will get a paywall that means after a certain amount of articles, readers will be asked to become a Member in order to carry on reading.
That means occasional readers of The Local will be still able to read most articles we publish for free – although they won't be able to read certain more in-depth articles, which will be for Members only.
As for prices, at the beginning readers will be offered a 50 percent discount off the cost of signing up.
In Italy we are giving an early-bird offer that costs just €2.49/month, or €24.99/year.
That also gives you unlimited access to our eight other news sites, including premium content on our French, German, Swedish and Spanish sites.