The Independent Dish: Six Months In

We promised to keep you up to date with the new independent Dish’s progress – and six months seems like a good time to summarize. The current number of subscribers to the Dish now stands at 27,349. I don’t think there’s a purely online site (that isn’t money or porn) that has that kind of subscriber base. That’s your achievement.

More to the point, the number of readers who have used up their five read-ons now stands at 28,000. If you’ve clicked five times on the read-ons, you’re one of them, you really are a dedicated reader, and we’d love you [tinypass_offer text=”to sign up”]. If you did, our subscription tally would double overnight – and we’d be set. So if you still think a reader-supported, ad-free site, free from corporate control is worth supporting, please [tinypass_offer text=”subscribe”]. It won’t just help us, it will, we hope, help generate a new model for good online journalism answerable only to its readership – an almost unique oasis on the web right now.

Our traffic, like many other sites, dipped a little this spring, but has stabilized and even up-ticked a little lately:

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Revenue is now at a gross $715,000 – with our stated goal remaining $900,000 for the entire year. It may seem like we’re well on our way, and we are, with 80 percent of our stated annual goal achieved in only six months. The caveat – and it’s a big one – is that the vast majority of our income came in the very first few days of the launch, and, because we didn’t even have our own site then, none of that was auto-renewable:

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From March onward, everyone is on auto-renewal, which gives us much more stability. But we won’t really know how sustainable we are until we see if we can get all our most devoted Dishheads to give the same amount next February when their subs come due. I’m pretty confident we can – but enough of a worry-wart not to declare success until then. Nonetheless, the good news is that when you look at the revenue after that first money-bomb, it has stabilized since April and shows little sign of declining. Last week was our best since April, for example. The weekly revenue from March 1 to July 1 per week is as follows:

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Here’s the conversion rate – i.e. the percentage of readers who hit the pay-meter and actually pay:

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We’re doing slightly better than the industry average (2.5 percent vs. 2 percent), even after the bulk of our most dedicated readers subscribed in January. Two things have helped – our [tinypass_offer text=”$1.99 a month offer”] and the gift subscriptions. If we sustain this trend, we should have gross revenue of around $815,000 by the end of the year, which is damn close to our entire budget in our last year at the Beast. Only this time, our budget will actually be paid for in full by readers.

I’d like to thank all of you who have made this possible from the depths of my heart, and invite all of you who have enjoyed the Dish but not yet signed up to get all of it, to [tinypass_offer text=”become a subscriber”]. It’s only [tinypass_offer text=”$1.99 a month”] or [tinypass_offer text=”$19.99 a year.”] Or if you’re already a subscriber and want to help us some more, give the gift of the Dish to a friend for a year and see how she or he likes it.

We’re really trying to forge a new path here for online media. [tinypass_offer text=”Help us get there.”] Update from a reader:

For what it’s worth, I thought I’d mention that I’m one of those people who has read your blog for years and just reached my click-through limit in the new subscriber format. So I subscribed. But I did it today because of the six-month report you just posted. Absent that, I probably would have kept perusing without clicking through for who knows how many more months. I admire your transparency about this new thing you all are doing.


Great idea in today’s blog: giving someone a subscription as gift. I just bought my 23-year-old daughter, a political junkie like her mom, a year’s subscription. You should post the suggestion more often.


Although a loyal reader for years, I resisted subscribing because I don’t like being hustled, even for the cause, and your meter, to me, seemed somehow unworthy of the enterprise. Sort of like seeing under the bearded lady’s mask. However, anyone who can reference Kenneth Burke and Bobby Bland, two of my all-time picks for “which three people would you like to have dinner with?” (the third being Fritz Perls or JS Bach, alternately.) I admit I am beaten and shall resist no more. I subscribed today.


After telling me about your blog for years, a good friend borrowed my laptop and “somehow” left my browser open to your site. I’ve been poking around ever since. I finally subscribed today because I can now actually afford to do so. Thanks for the various subscription paths, for the transparency of the journey, for the ethics of your workplace, and for the talents of those you’ve hired.

PS. Two words of constructive criticism: More cowbell.

Done. Another:

Reminding people to buy really does work – I just did it! I’m on my married partner John’s computer and subscribed under my own e-mail address. We got married in Provincetown three years ago, so we’re happy that California now joins the club (we live in Laurel Canyon). Thanks for all your hard work on marriage equality. What a long journey we have all been on.