Hitting the pause button on Delimiter 2.0



hey everyone,

hope you’re having a good day!

I just wanted to post an important site update on a big change which is happening with our premium subscription site, Delimiter 2.0.

After eight(ish) months of operation, over the past several weeks I’ve been carefully reviewing Delimiter 2.0 with a view to what the next steps for the site might be. I’ve looked over all the data we’ve collected, ranging from the site traffic to the monthly and yearly subscriptions, as well as per-article pricing and engagement with our email alerts from the site.

There are two things I’ve come out of that process with.

Firstly, I can confidently say that the paywall model, or web subscription if you prefer, definitely does work, and it works very well. In that eight months, Delimiter saw a substantial amount of people engage with its content, with close to 800 total financial transactions across the site over that period, including a healthy swag of monthly and yearly subscribers as well as an increasing number of per article purchasers. It is gaining financial momentum as people work out the model and as it gains its own audience.

The key victory here was the easy-to-use paywall technology provided by our US-based provider, TinyPass. Once readers bought an article or two, they were quick to become repeat customers, as they realised how easy the micro-transaction or subscription model was to engage with. It’s a very quick two-step process with a credit card or PayPal. On the other side, as a publisher, TinyPass’s platform is great from an administration point of view.

In addition, the content resonated well with readers. The stats show that a growing percentage of people would click through from Delimiter to Delimiter 2.0 and make a purchase. We were writing on the right topics, at the right time, and people were increasingly responding to this deeper level of content.

When I started Delimiter, four years ago, the paywall technology provided by TinyPass didn’t exist in a commercial form for small publishers such as Delimiter, and so I pursued a syndication and then advertising model. Were I starting Delimiter from scratch, in 2014, I would strongly investigate using at least a combination model, and perhaps a paywall model alone.

I want to strongly encourage other small Internet publishers to look at the paywall space. If you use the right technology (I recommend WordPress and TinyPass), paywall sites are viable.

However, this brings me to my second point: Where will Delimiter 2.0 go next?

Over the past several weeks, I’ve realised that the site is at a crossroads. While the paywall model is working, revenue, site traffic and user engagement on the Delimiter 1.0 site is still growing. The amount of effort required to keep Delimiter 2.0 running is substantial, and the return on time investment is nowhere near Delimiter 1.0 at the moment.

Right now, Delimiter 2.0 either needs further investment in time, and to add other external contributors (of which I have sourced several very capable ones), or it needs to be ramped down so that I can focus on handling Delimiter 1.0’s own growth.

The key factor here is my personal time and energy. Over the past eight months, I over-extended myself getting Delimiter 2.0 off the ground. That effort, combined with four years of running Delimiter 1.0, has left me a little tired. I’ve come to the conclusion that I don’t need or want to run two sites at the same time — especially with the deep editorial commitment that Delimiter 2.0 requires.

Taking all the factors into account, what I have decided to do with Delimiter 2.0 at the moment is hit the pause button on the site. Over the next week, it will stop taking new subscriptions, I will cancel the existing monthly subscriptions and refund yearly subscribers the proportion of their subscription which we haven’t delivered (using 28 February as the final day of operation), but it will remain live, with the existing content still available for purchase on a per-article basis.

The conclusion I have come to with Delimiter 2.0 has been a very tough one for me. As a publisher, I want to innovate. I want to try new business models and do new things, and I’ve done a stack of these over the years (ranging from our Reddit clone, Delinker, to our affiliate marketing site, Delimiter Marketplace, to three separate forum implementations and various other experiments). Hell, Delimiter 1.0 itself is constantly being added to or modified in small ways on a daily basis.

Delimiter 2.0 isn’t an experiment. Its model is proven, and it’s a viable slice of the Delimiter business which is expanding. This is in itself a rather large statement. To get the site working I had to work with new technology, develop a new editorial model, and learn a heap of lessons along the way. It’s not been easy, but it has been illuminating and educating. In an age where media outlets have struggled with revenue models, Delimiter 2.0 represents a little bright spot, and I may come back to it one day, at the right time.

However, as with all businesses, I have to face facts and invest my time where the greatest return on investment is to be found. Right now, and in the short to medium-term, that’s definitely Delimiter 1.0. Delimiter 2.0 has the right model, but it’s no longer the right time for me to pursue that model, and it’s time to acknowledge that. This is the key to success as a business owner — constantly iterating, but also knowing when to pull the plug on something.

I hope all this makes sense! I have learnt so much through this process, and I’m glad I undertook it. Again, I would encourage other publishers to test out paywalls as well. I’m happy to share some of the lessons I learnt in the effort, if people want to contact me offline. And I want to thank all of Delimiter 2.0’s subscribers for their commitment to the site and for reading its many articles. Perhaps one day I’ll get back in touch if I decided to re-launch it again :)


Renai LeMay
Editor + Publisher


  1. It was a fun site, an awesome site, so nice to be able to read in-depth articles, but what was even more awesome, was the comments on there, they were much better thought out, applied much more to the article itself, and there were no trolls (that i could see).

    Hope to see it come back, would definitely pay for it a second time round.

  2. Ah, that’s a shame, I enjoyed the “chunkier” articles there.

    Hopefully you can still squeeze one or two articles of that quality into D1 once or twice a month?

  3. Renai,
    I know we had some differences in the past (once upon a time you weren’t a big fan of blogs) and I do recall Delimiter being ad free (vs today) as you first set out.

    That said credit where it’s due: you’ve pushed boundaries, not been afraid to try things, and perhaps most importantly been transparent and honest in what you’ve tried and done, even where that hasn’t worked.

    Your transparency and honesty is a massive positive that does and will serve you well in the future because you’ve not been afraid to tell the truth.

    There is NO better way to build a relationship with readers, and my 2 cents worth is that it can only deliver better things for you in the future.

    Best of luck focusing on the 1.0 site in the future.

  4. Thanks Renai,

    you would be the only local IT journalist I read regularly. I was one of those that just dipped my toe in the water with a PPV access to a 2.0 article. I even managed to do it on my smartphone from the pub! I think you are correct, and the publishing model of 2.0 has come of age. I hope that in the future you can “un-pause” it.


  5. Renai, I’m sorry to hear that you have had to press the pause button.

    As a person in a somewhat similar position to you in a slightly different field, I can sympathise with the constant battle with burnout. You have ideas for new things and want to try them out, but there’s only one of you. As your life accretes commitments and relationships, it seems like there’s never enough hours in the day to get to everything you want to do. You launch things and then can’t do them justice because other events intervene. Burnout is the greatest foe of the sole trader.

    The solution which would seem obvious to those looking in from the outside would be to hire people to grow the business so it’s not just reliant on you. This is harder to do than it sounds, though. Bringing someone else in to inhabit the cocoon-like home that your business has become is emotionally difficult. I have had problems with it because I don’t want to exploit young employees and burn them out on my watch, because I had the experience of getting burned out working on someone else’s publication when I was that age – not sure if you’ve gone through the same process. Nevertheless, expansion through payroll is probably the right thing to do. I am only following my own advice on this very slowly, mind you.

    One of the early lessons I learned in my business is that you have to be constantly looking out for the trap of making the entire business about you and your knowledge base, such that it wouldn’t operate without you. Apart from the dangerous burnout factor, letting yourself fall into this hole means that you can’t sell your business and get out. Reducing it to repeatable processes that can be done by any competent journo who is parachuted in by a prospective buyer is the path to an eventual exit. I’m not there yet, and I’m guessing you’re not either, but IMO that’s the goal we should all strive for.

  6. Thanks for sharing the behind the scenes view Renai. Imagine if we got this kind of transparency from our government and business leaders.

    Will you take this opportunity to restore the daily newsletter from D1? I quite miss those – especially if the weekly update arrives on a particularly busy day.

  7. Renai, I purchased a monthly subscription from you, read a great bulk of 2.0 articles during that month, had a great experience. My subscription had just expired recently, and I hadn’t purchased another one – I was waiting for more articles to become available before I purchased another.

    However I got an email which denounced I had received a complete refund of the subscription fee I paid for your content because of your ‘pause’. Can I just say this was most unexpected, and I would gladly give you the money back, as I feel like I got extreme value for the money – barely more than a week worth of NoiseCorp papers’ cost for, even putting the opinion aside, links to articles I would have never found on my own, posted over a long period of time.

    I personally highly enjoyed reading D2 articles, especially those around the Comms portfolio and would gladly pay again to read more in-depth analysis of the situation at hand. There are not enough people ‘in the know’ writing these kind of analysis pieces and there needs to be.

    Giving back everyone’s last payment to D2 is an amazingly graceful gesture and I respect you highly for it. I hope that it hasn’t put you out of pocket, because you deserve to be fairly remunerated for your efforts, not only for journalism’s sake but for contributing towards the greater good of the Australian communications industry.

    Thanks again, and hope to see you writing more analysis in the future.

  8. I do hope we see the occasional in depth article on D1. I was a reluctant subscriber at first but I saw something I was interested and based on the quality of D1 I subscribed for a month and and read some of the other articles, based on that I kept my sub going and was getting more useful content than most magazines.

  9. D2 was quite the excellent read. I think because it was paid content, you tried that little bit harder to write good content.

    That is not to say D1 remained unloved, just that the focus on D2 meant it was well worth the price of admittance to read.

    I was reluctant, at first, like others. But that remained a short-lived concern.

    I had hoped D1 would see more regular additional contributors, allowing you more time to build D2. Alas I guess that wasn’t to be.

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