If you’ve enjoyed The Spectator’s website this year, you’re in good company. Some 22 million have visited our website this year, a record high, and they have read 70 million articles between them. As the below graph shows, this is another record.
The odd thing is that we did not, this year, set out to increase traffic. On the contrary, we have tightened our metered paywall. We offer only a few free articles every month before asking people to subscribe to read more. We judge online success not so much by the traffic total (a figure grossly inflated by one-off visitors) but by new subscriptions. Our aim is quite simple: to grow our family of subscribers and to serve them as well as we can. So while it’s gratifying to see traffic rise, we’re mindful of how easily these traffic figures can be distorted by a few articles that go viral. Our main interest is in those who come back again and again: either as subscribers, or as potential subscribers.
It’s been a great year for subscriptions, now rising faster than any time I’ve been at The Spectator. We saw a surge in people taking out a 12 issues-for-£12 trial subscription this summer, probably drawn by the extraordinary political drama. When the introductory period ended, they stayed with us. Most people who take us up on the 12-for-£12 offer do.
And why? Because to try The Spectator is to love it. Our proposition is quite simple: we offer elegance of expression, independence of thought and originality of argument not to be found in any other weekly. The cartoons, the books section – several parts of the magazine are worth the subscription price themselves. This is why out 12-for-£12 offer is such a success: readers soon find out that life is too short not to read The Spectator.