Public Transport publishing

For me, the most exciting facet in the world of self-publishing is the incredible variety of topics and formats of self-publishing projects. From mere fun to serious in depth analysis, from several hours long videos to short form snippets, from texts with thousands of words to short aphorisms or haikus you’ll find anything about everything.

Many of these projects are nothing more than hobbies or simple finger exercises. With others, you can immediately see that they were following a monetizable business idea from the very beginning. For beginning entrepreneurial minded self-publishers, it makes sense to look for such projects, which do have a clearly focused strategy which might be transferred to another area (another geographical or linguistical or topical area).

Let me introduce you to NahverkehrHAMBURG; a site solely dedicated to the topic of (public) transport in the German city of Hamburg. It is published by a single self-publisher.

NahverkehrHamburg currently covers 6 main topics: public transport, cycling, auto-mobility, politics, disruptions and COVID-19. The first four categories are split into several subdivisions. The public transport category eg is subdivided by the several means of public transport, from underground to suburban trains, buses, ferries and intercity-connections. Each of these subdivisions again splits into specific topics, e.g. a single subway line.

The disruptions (“STÖRUNGEN”) section simply lists current problems of the several means of public transport. It is basically a junction of the Twitter feeds of several transport companies.

“CORONAVIRUS” (COVID-19) is about transport-related pandemic issues and will probably disappear again in the mid future.

After nearly ten years of publishing for free NahverkehrHamburg-publisher Christian Hinkelmann installed a paywall some 12 months ago, reports the German business daily Handelsblatt. He offers three kinds of subscriptions:


Screenshot of NahverkerhHamburgs' 3 membership schemes

  • Premium (€4.50, i.e. some US$5.30, per month) gives access to all articles, promises less ads and gives a good reason to subscribe: “you are supporting independent local journalism”
  • Premium+extra feature costs €9.99 (nearly US$12). The extra feature is to become part of a closed group on Facebook
  • Premium+honorary membership costs €14.99 (nearly US$18). Honorary members can get a thank you-mentioning on the website and they can invite another person to get free access to all the content and to the closed Facebook group.

Handelsblatt reports, that Christian’s monthly earnings coming from the paywall  are in the low 4-digit area. That doesn’t sound as if NahverkehrHamburg is a self-sustaining business yet. Bur it might grow into one, I think, and having an additional monthly income in the thousands of dollars region after only 1 year of monetizing the audience is a great result anyway.

As a ‘paywall’ Christian relies on Steady, a German membership service provider I will write in more depths about in the near future.

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