I’ve seen many of my favorite blogs do this. They restrict the quantity of their blog articles you can read without getting a membership. For my absolute favorite marketing blog by Marketingprofs I stooped to the level of letting them have my email address. Yes, this way I can be on their mailing list and yes, Marketingprofs and I have both independently come to the conclusion that an email list is your most potent form of clicks to your blog.
But, how many clicks to your blog do you lose by restricting non-members from reading? You might lose 90% of your repeat traffic and perhaps a lot of retweets on Twitter by making such a restriction. Yes, a serious reader will sign up for your membership. Yes, you will get them on your newsletter which could lead to a long term relationship. But, you also lose many serious readers too. Here’s why. If you have several favorite business blogs, are you really going to sign up for ten different memberships? Most people will choose a handful of memberships for their favorite publications and skip the rest. So, if they like you but don’t love you they might never come to your blog again since you locked them out.
In the long run, I’m not sure how much more you gain by gaining a few emails at the expense of locking many people out. On the other hand, maybe the equation should be more about when you lock people out. If you let people read twenty articles per month instead of five and let them know they can come back next month, you still might be able to get a few emails, but you wouldn’t lose quite so many readers! The goal of catching emails is to have more readers, yet you lose your readers by forcing them to sign up. It is a double edged cyber-sword!