Soft Paywall vs Hard Paywall

Successfully monetising your Community is a big step and there are a lot of different options at your fingertips. This guide will take you through the differences between a Hard and Soft paywall and highlight when to use them.

Let's dive in - What is the difference between a Soft and Hard Paywall?

Although both paywalls are charging your Community for a subscription they actually create a very different member experience. 

In the Console you can choose between Soft Paywall and Hard Paywall, these models can also be referred to as Freemium (Soft Paywall) and Premium (Hard Paywall). 

- Soft Paywall(Freemium) - Free to join the Community with paid for content and features once inside. The user will interact with the paywall when they try to access specific areas of the App.

- Hard Paywall (Premium) - A subscription is required to access any of the Community. If you have multiple plans, you can control which areas of the Community each plan can access once someone subscribes. The user interacts with the paywall when they first sign-up to the Community and before they get access to the Community.

You can set both Freemium and Premium models alongside a Multi-tier subscription model.  

So which paywall is best for me?

When choosing which Paywall model to use for your Community there are a few things to keep in mind. 

  • Do you have an existing Community?
  • Am I charging for a product or for Content?
  • How much am I planning to charge?

Depending on your answers, this will determine what Paywall model is best for you. 


Hard Paywall

Let’s say you have a large existing Community offering access to professional guidance and connection to a wider industry at a price of £25 a month. This is the perfect example of where a Hard Paywall will be best. This is due to the entire Community being a premium product offering. Due to this your members will be paying to access services or advice that the Community is offering. The Paywall will be displayed once the Member has signed up to your Community. They will not be able to access your Community unless they pay for a Subscription. 

If you are offering more than one subscription plan, you can also further segment your Community to suit individual topics or expertise levels based on your plans. Subscribing to any plan will get a member into the Community, but the groups, folders and content they see once inside the Community is based on the plan they pick.


Soft Paywall

If you have a smaller or new Community, offering Fitness content such as Videos, Guidance and programmes at the price of £8 a month. A Soft Paywall would be best here as this is a Community with a smaller following that is offering Premium content on top of the Free product offering.

A Soft Paywall allows Members to join the Community for free and get a taster of what this Community offers. Once the member is invested they can then pay to access a greater range of content and potentially open up new areas of the Community. This means that if a customer selects a piece of Premium content then they will be shown the paywall. From here they will be able to go through the paywall and purchase a subscription. This will then give them access to all the subscriber only content allowed for their plan.

If you are offering multi plan subscriptions, then your free members can pick from different plan offerings on the paywall. How you decide to construct your plans is up to you, but you can offer up to 3 differentiated plans on top of the free access with a soft paywall. 

Making a decision

Although it's important to think this through, this is only a guide. You're in control, and you can change your paywall model at any time in the Console to best suit you and your Community! To find out how to do this you can read through our guide on How to set up Monetisation.

How do I manage my subscriber only content?

Hard Paywall

If you have set up a Hard Paywall with only one plan, then you won't need to manage any content restrictions within your Community as the entire Community will require payment to access and everything will be available to your single plan. 

If you have opted for multi plan subscriptions, you will need to decide which content is available to each plan and set restrictions up accordingly using the Console controls for each content type. If a member subscribes to any plan, they will be able to access the App, but they will only be able to see the content or areas you have made available for their plan. Other plan content will appear, but will not be accessible to them. 


Soft paywall

If you have set up a soft paywall then you will need to choose what content you want included in your subscription. This can be done through the Console where you have the option to make Folders, Content, Groups, Posts, Articles, Livestreams and Event button links Premium. These can be edited at any time in the console, so you can change your subscription offering at any time. To find out how you can manage your soft paywall and create Premium content you can read our guide on How to manage your soft paywall.

This is also broadly the same whether you have a Single plan, or Multiple plans - for each content item, you choose whether it is restricted to subscribers, and which of your plans can access it.


As always, if you need any advice, your friendly Customer Success Manager will be more than happy to help!