As we promised from the beginning of the new venture, feedback from readers at every stage:
Something clicked for me with the rollout of your monthly payment option. I’ve been reading the Dish for a thousand years and it’s only now that I can treat it the way I treat NPR – something I depend on every day, but pay for every month. There’s something seriously satisfying about doling it out this way, and it turns out it’s not the free tote bag. I don’t know how many others will have this sort of reaction, but it was a sudden and beautiful solution to a problem I didn’t even know I had. And best of all, I can still feel that smug elitism that comes from knowing I’m one of those people paying for what all those freeloaders are getting for free.
The tote bag would help, though. You know. Just saying. If you have one around. Doesn’t have to be nice, I’m just going to use it for groceries. Just putting that out there.
On the full disclosure front, here’s the impact of adding the $1.99 option a month in the last week:
That suggests to me that we made the right call. We’ve shifted the daily revenue from the $1K range to $2K, and new subscribers from around 50 a day to around 100. That will surely go down in time, and may be distorted by a big news week – but it’s encouraging for now. Another reader:
I’d like to see an economist or finance analyst look at your monthly pricing, but my instinct is that you underpriced it by a dollar.
At $1.99, the person is paying just about the suggested subscription price. Why bother to subscribe – you can graze forever and skip some months etc. I understand you want to nudge people to start paying, but you need a little more pain. At $2.99, the person is spending 50% more than a straight subscription, but the price is low enough to get someone to decide he or she might as well pay for the subscription. Those of us who bought subscriptions are also buying into the idea that you need to pay for web content that is high quality, edited, thoughtful etc. Your pricing should reward the committed, not the grazers (but allow for grazing at a surcharge).
We like the simplicity of $19.99 a year or $1.99 a month (or more if you want to set your own price). Another:
Just read your $1.99 subscription post and it made me wonder if you have an option for us to give monthly/annual gift subscriptions? (I subscribed in February, so I don’t recall if that was an option.) In this day and age when so many of us have way too much stuff and we don’t need one more thing, I have found magazine/newspaper subscriptions to be terrific gifts.
Gifting is definitely in the works. Another:
I think if the Dish really wants to start doing long-form journalism and if you guys really want to be more ambitious you cannot rely on just reader support alone. At this point I would be honestly surprised if you managed to reach 900k by the end of the year. My question is, why don’t you just follow the model of Pandora.com or spotify? Have advertisements for the people who have not subscribed to the blog and none for those who have not subscribed. You’ll generate some revenue and it’s more then fair. The fact is the limit is easy to get around and how many newspapers or magazines have ever been fully supported just by readers? A reader support base is just too unstable to rely upon in the long term.
We have been thinking over that option as well. Another:
Wintery economic conditions, even at the $1.99 level (which I realize with a certain sober fright), have prevented me from joining the “New Model.” As an every day reader and supporter of e journalism with all it’s warts, I fully intend to hand over my money and will do so proudly once my financial outlook seems less dire.
But please STOP saying “this may not work.” As much as I appreciate your candor and humility, I think you often stay the hand with such statements. I wonder if I’m going to be the last dope who pays before the site winds up back on the Beast. Perhaps a little conviction? Burn that bridge. Take off those training wheels.
Or maybe you’d be better off not taking advice from someone who can’t find $1.99 a month to rub together.
I really don’t mean to show a lack of empathy for anyone out there, but I’m pretty shocked that any significant number of your readers – who in general are well-educated professionals on the average – can’t pony up $20 in cash for your site and need $1.99/month. If that is really the reason many aren’t subscribing, may I just say … budget? Check out www.youneedabudget.com for a great program. There’s no reason people shouldn’t be able to come up with $20 for something they want. We aren’t talking about a huge sum here: we’re talking about the price of 2 movie tickets.
(Full disclosure: I have not subscribed. But not because I can’t find the money, I’m still not convinced it’s worth my money right now. I’m sure there are readers who can’t spare $20, and I feel for them; but I also suspect many can’t find the $20 because they’re bad at managing their cash. Budget, people. Budget.)
(Dish readers’ Gmail profiles pics used with permission)