What is a Paywall?

Why am I being asked to pay to read an article?


The term “paywall” is self-explanatory. It is a service to restrict online content, requiring visitors interested in accessing the content to pay for it. In easier words, it is a paid subscription for any form of online content. Likewise, paywalls are a method to monetize content published on the web that holds credibility.

Companies and individual users use paywalls for various purposes, be it an alternative to an advertisement-driven business model or a premium subscription to focus on quality content rather than relying on clicks.

In a subscription-based business model, paywalls require interested users to pay a monthly fee to access certain content online. By subscribing, users can access “quality content” or an ad-free experience on a publishing website.

Paywalls have become increasingly popular among fairly-sized publishing companies posting credible information on the internet. Consequently, these companies have busted the myth that it is not fair to pay for content on the internet. Users pay for OTT subscriptions, music services, and whatnot, so why not for “credible” or “valuable” content?

In the age of modern journalism and content creation, the quantity of content has increased severely. Therefore, publishers that believe they produce better content than others or quality content set up paywalls.

How does Paywall work?

The ideology behind paywalls is simple: you pay to get access. However, there are different types of paywalls that publishing websites can set up. To get a broader perspective on the same, here are its types:


The hard model blocks all content on a publishing website. Users will need to log in to access the website to view any content, provided they have a subscription.

This model does not provide any content for free.

Soft or Porous

This is a freemium model. For instance, it provides free content on a website with premium offers. Users can access the majority of the content on a website but need to subscribe in its entirety. However, individual articles are considered premium content and cannot be accessed.

Hence, soft paywalls provide free content partly.

Metered and Dynamic Paywalls

These models adapt to the website’s users. All the content visible on the website is essentially free for first-time visitors but has a cap. Likewise, it tracks returning users by analyzing how often they visit the website, their reading habits, and the type of content.

After a specific limit of several visits, the paywall prompts users to subscribe to access all the content. Hence, while it does offer content for free, it has a limit.

If you like this simple explainer, check out our Short Bytes section. We take complex tech topics and break them into short, easy-to-understand articles.

Siddharth Dudeja

Siddharth Dudeja

An engineering student with a keen interest in most aspects of technology. Likes to write about Microsoft, Apple, Laptops, Gaming, etc.
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