Writers and subscriptions

I’m excited about Automattic’s acquisition of Atavist, a platform that lets anyone create a website offering subscription-based content:

Automattic, the company behind WordPress.com, WooCommerce, Longreads, Simplenote and a few other things, is acquiring Brooklyn-based startup Atavist.

Atavist has been working on a content management system for independent bloggers and writers. With an Atavist website, you can easily write and publish stories with a ton of media.

You might think that this isn’t particularly groundbreaking as anyone can create a website on WordPress.com or Squarespace and do the same thing. But the company also lets you create a paywall and build a subscription base. …

While WordPress is probably a much more solid CMS than Atavist, it could mean that Automattic wants to start offering subscriptions and paywalls. You can imagine WordPress.com websites that offer monthly subscriptions natively. …

Subscriptions on WordPress.com is good news for the web. Medium abruptly canceled its subscription program leaving many independent publications in the dust. So it’s hard to trust Medium when it comes to providing enough revenue to independent writers.

Automattic could create a seamless portal to manage subscriptions to multiple publications. And this could lead to less advertising and better content.

Services like Patreon and Memberful and WooCommerce have offered subscription-style support for creators for years now. But Patreon is trying to be a platform in and of itself which risks leaving anyone who builds a following there in a lurch if the company changes directions like Medium has. And Memberful is a bolt-on solution that could disappear just as quickly if their developers lose traction or interest. WooCommerce is neither simple nor intuitive for memberships/subscriptions.

It’ll be a good thing for all sorts of writers (and creators of all types) if WordPress can launch a simple, intuitive way for anyone to pay to subscribe to a website—writers, journalists, bloggers, painters, musicians, social entrepreneurs, and many others will be able to obtain direct patronage and support in a way that’s been difficult-to-impossible.