Publishing Platform Verst Introduces New Tools, Pricing

Publishing platform Verst, which launched in February, has introduced new features in an update unveiled this week, which includes a homepage builder and paywall support.

CEO AJ Frank told TechCrunch his goal was to create a blogging platform with optimization and analytics already built in. The homepage builder allows users to create a front page to their site, making Verst less of a blogging platform and more of a website builder.

Frank stated he was excited about the release, given "the emerging paradigm shift toward subscription revenue and other forms of direct monetization as a core component of all content creators' businesses.”

The paywall feature allows publishers to determine which articles are available for free and which are only accessible to paying subscribers.

The first users on Verst include Gen Z-powered global news site Shout, mental health community Stigma and Canadian political analyst Ian Capstick.

Frank added the company's vision is to "democratize these powerful monetization mechanisms by radically simplifying the setup and management involved." Verst wants to "empower creators to focus on what they do best: growing and differentiating their brands by creating compelling content."

A subscription to Verst costs $29 per month. This latest update introduces another option: a $12 plan that includes all the core features of the Verst platform, but does not include monetization tools, such as support for advertising and paywalls.

Verst lets creators keep their domain from other online publishing platforms, like WordPress or Medium, if they move to Verst’s platform.

Verst’s updates come in the same month nonprofit news site ThinkProgress announced it is moving its content back to the WordPress platform less than a year after it migrated to Medium.

Since Medium shut down its advertising services early this year, Pacific Standard, The Ringer and Film School Rejects have also left the platform.

Separately, startup Insticator has raised $5.2 million in Series A funding, led by Associated Venture Management and Mintz & Co. The startup allows online publishers to add quizzes, polls and other interactive features to their stories through a widget that can be created by Insticator or the publisher. The widget also runs ads and is designed to increase engagement for publishers, as well as serve as an integrated, visible ad unit.

Publishers that use Insticator include Warner Bros., Ancestry.com and Tribune Media. Insticator has now raised $8.7 million in total. In a blog post, Insticator said it will use the funding to develop its support, engineering, sales and marketing teams, while also growing its data business.

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