A chat with The Washington Post’s Karl Wells – Out of Office podcast

Pugpig’s Jonny Kaldor takes a stroll along the West Side Highway in Manhattan towards Chelsea Piers with Karl Wells, newly-apppointed Chief Growth Officer at The Washington Post and a News UK colleague from years ago. It’s definitely worth a listen if you’re focusing on reader revenue right now.

Karl Wells, Out of Office podcast

The latest episode of our Out of Office podcast is out now, and we say this every time but this one’s a must listen. This time, Pugpig CEO Jonny Kaldor takes a walk with Karl Wells, newly-appointed (as of February 2024) Chief of Growth over at The Washington Post.

They chat about subscription strategies, what’s in store for news media in 2024 while delving into Karl’s tenures at both the Wall Street Journal where he headed up subscriptions and The Information, as they stroll along the West Side Highway in Manhattan towards Chelsea Piers. 

Here are some the key takeaways from the episode, but we’d thoroughly recommend listening to the full episode – Karl shares lots use very useful snippets.

  1. Good subscription businesses create content worth paying for and should always give their subscriber base the opportunity to spend more money.
  2. If you’re creating a premium subscription tier, you really need to find differentiation from your regular subscription tier. If you’re simply creating more content and labelling it as premium, consumers are going to question the value they’re getting.
  3. Building a newsletter gives you first-party data on your reader and access to one of the most value pieces of real estate – your audience’s inbox – with very little tech.
  4. Newsletters allow you to build a following and can provide a shop window of what your consumers will get more of when they become a subscriber as well as market things like other products and events. For subscribers, newsletters can almost act like a contents page to read more.
  5. As we go into 2024, one of the things we’re going to see more and more of is publishers doubling down on ARPU (average revenue per user). As an industry, we need to challenges ourselves more on how we make more money from existing subscribers and not just rely on price increases. We need to be more innovative in our product thinking – how do we create products that existing subscribers are willing to pay for to drive up ARPU?