Why Automattic’s Purchase of Atavist Is Good for Bloggers

Last month, Automattic purchased Brooklyn-based startup Atavist.

Launched in 2011, Atavist is a content management system for independent writers and publishers to more easily create beautiful stories, and since 2015 has offered the ability to add free and paid subscriptions to readers.

With the purchase, Automattic is showing its continued pursuit of supporting quality journalism. Four years ago, it purchased Longreads, a website that features and produces long-form, in-depth investigative pieces, profile interviews and more.

30 percent of the web runs on WordPress, which at its core is a blogging platform. Adding the ability for content creators to natively offer paid offerings for subscribers couldn’t come at a better time. Medium, the popular online social publishing platform that launched in 2012 and added paid subscriptions in 2015, abruptly canceled its subscription program earlier this year.

Until Atavist’s software is incorporated into Automattic’s existing bundle of tools, small publications and independent writers will continue to rely on third-party paywall and subscription offerings that can be expensive and tough to manage if they want to incorporate the payment platform within their website.

Currently, paid tier options offered through Atavist allow users to create paywalls, collect subscription fees, and even sell individual stories.

In a world where there appears to be a subscription offer for everything, there are strong signs that readers are still willing to pay for great content. One of the first to join the Medium paid platform was the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism, which in the first few weeks, had members pledging $6/month on average, which was double what they were suggesting.

Patreon, a popular membership platform, has given users the ability to pay what they want to support content creators of all sizes, often with tiers for different levels of access, but written work must either live in the simple posts available on the site or on a separate platform. The purchase of Atavist will allow WordPress users already familiar with the powerful blogging platform to add subscription and membership options.

An integrated or first-party solution allowing readers to financially support a new group of content creators who otherwise wouldn’t have the resources or ability to incorporate it themselves should mean an increase in high-quality content and a decrease in annoying and obstructive ads. Who wouldn’t want that?