Now: The Long Nag

Feb 25 2013 @ 1:48pm

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First some great news. Tomorrow will be three full weeks since the meter went into effect on the Dish. Too soon for any serious assessment, but soon enough for some analysis – and for the transparency we promised you. In February, through the meter, we have brought in $93,000 or so in subscriptions. When you add that to all the pre-subscriptions, we’ve reached around $611,000 since we announced the new reader-supported Dish. Our goal – to keep up the same standard and pace of content without massive cuts in our salaries – is $900,000 for the year. To be two-thirds of the way there after less than two months (and only three weeks of full independence) is really amazing. We’re truly grateful. We’re also happy to see that our traffic looks set to be about the same as last month – with Facebook now our primary provider of new readers. So the model works: deep dish readers get what they want; we have a chance at a profit; the site remains largely free to others who are mere passers-by.

So check out the numbers above and on the right. You’ll see that in three weeks, we have had 683,000 people visit the site and click not a single read-on. That’s what I think of as the web’s murmuration, what Buzzfeed tracks so Screen shot 2013-02-25 at 1.13.44 PMeffectively and well. This is the migrating flock of Internet browsers alighting briefly on our page and taking off again – returning with particular viral posts or events, but with little core loyalty.

On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll also see that 17,400 of you have already bought the package and logged in; around 5,000 subscribers have yet to log in. (What’s stopping them? We don’t know. But if you’re one of them, log in! But from the pie-chart on your right, you’ll see that of all those who have clicked read-ons and started the meter, 7.7 percent of you have signed up. 1.1 percent of you have used up all your read-ons and put off subscribing. 91 percent of you are still in the process and haven’t yet reached the moment when that pop-up will appear asking for a subscription of a nickel a day for full, complete access to everything we publish or post.

Of that 91 percent, around 7,000 of you have already clicked on seven read-ons – your total free access every month – and not yet encountered a request to contribute. The next time you do, you will. Those who have clicked four times or more over three weeks now number 21,000. The meter ticks for 30 days – which, because February is a short month will take us a few days into March.

So here’s our ask. If you’re reading the Dish, and are part of that 20,000 group who’ve clicked on more than four “read-ons” in three weeks, you’re a real, solid reader of the Dish. You’ve proven it. And we’re thrilled to have you that invested and interested in the site. But here’s the thing: if you all joined when the meter prompts you or before – subscribe here! – we’d meet our goal, feel totally secure about the long-term and start investing in the future. And we don’t want to nag you or interrupt your reading experience if we can avoid it with those annoying pop-up blocks that every meter needs to have. Of course, nagging is an integral part to pay-meters’ success. They wear you down. If your experience online is anything like mine, I tend to ignore the pay-us boxes until they finally get too annoying. At some point, if what I’m reading is worth it, I say to myself: “Screw it. Just get this over with.”

So that’s what this post is asking for: help us keep you from seeing these pop-up blocks ever again – and subscribe. 21,000 readers are now on the verge of being nagged – and we’re only asking a nickel a day to stop that from happening. If you all decide to pay, we’re truly off to the races, and making history for old-school, honest, transparent, pay-to-read journalism in new media. If you want to tip the balance against the tide toward sites packed with distracting ads or the creeping corruption of “sponsor content” and “native advertizing”, please consider joining us. If the Dish model works, others may follow. And the tide may turn.

You can subscribe here. Stop us from nagging you ever again.