Monetizing A Free Technology Blog

Thurrott Premium Case Study

HEEDGROUP helped keep audience loyal to a popular technology blog - even post paywall.

It's hard to increase prices in business. Imagine the challenges of taking a free product and now asking customers pay for it. That's exactly what happened when HEEDGROUP was called in to help 

The owners of knew they had a loyal audience and they also knew that in order for the website to continue to do what its readers loved - write news and reviews on personal and small business technology, they needed to monetize it to stay in business. For a little more than a year, the popular blog and namesake of the technology blogger, Paul Thurrott, garnered over 1 million pageviews per month on

It starts with understanding the relationship the audience has with the brand, before asking that audience to change that relationship

Primary Audience Research

We knew the audience was loyal but we needed to understand more in order to develop the new paid blog experience. HEEDGROUP called for loyal readers to participate in a multi-part primary research study in order to gain first-hand knowledge of what they loved about the blog, the primary editor and eventually weighing in on the idea of paying a subscription for blog content. We also knew that on average a blog that suddenly puts up a paywall can expect to lose 50% of the traffic. We needed to work on a solution that would keep the audience loyal

The research was eye-opening as it always is...

Through a series of questions, we had first-hand audience feedback on content features that they felt were of extreme value to the readers. We were able to start to categorize what the audience told us what they would be willing to pay for in order to read. After the primary research study, we we redesigned the blog with eCommerce functionality for subscriptions while at the same time developing a communications plan to rollout the new business model and warm the existing audience to the paywall while at the same time enticing new readers to the blog.


Image 1: The HEEDGROUP team prepared a survey to benchmark sentiments towards different content features.

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Image 2: The HEEDGROUP team redesigned the blog to coincide with the launch of the paywall.
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Thurrott Premium Case Study Brief

Step 1:
Conduct primary research

We understood the audience's sentiments about by talking to them.

Step 2:
Analyze the primary research, create a prototype reflecting research findings and talk to the audience again

Multiple conversations with the audience helped HEEDGROUP and make good decisions on how to introduce a new paywall to an audience that was used to getting the content for free.

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Step 3: Successfully redesign experience and launched a new business model

When we finally redesigned the blog experienced with a new paywall, it was a huge success. Almost no audience was lost, and there was minimal negative feedback because we listened and involved the audience throughout the business evolution.