It may sound like the first line of a particularly fiendish piece of spam. But a blogger has now in fact brought in a third of a million dollars in roughly 24 hours all while working from home, presumably at some point in his PJs.
Of course, it helps that the blogger in question was Andrew Sullivan, commentator extraordinaire. It also helps that he's spent the last decade or so brewing his blog, the Daily Dish, into a potent mixture of serious moral analysis, must-read aggregation, and palate-cleansing videos (the "mental health break"). So no, this isn't necessarily something you could replicate at home.
Sullivan announced Wednesday he would be going independent from the Daily Beast, cutting ads and adding what he calls a "freemium-based meter" to the Dish, starting in February.What does that mean? Well, it's less of a paywall, more of a dilapidated garden fence.
You'll be able to read any story on the site for free if you get there via a link or social media. In fact, you'll still be able to read most of the content on the Dish even if you go straight there. Sullivan is merely blocking you from clicking "Read More" halfway down his longer stories. Well, actually, you'll get a certain number of "Read More"s per month for free anyway.
Despite the lack of any real restriction in that setup, 12,000 readers have already ponied up $19.99 or more for a year of content. Some 2,000 chose to kick in an extra $5, though they didn't need to, and nearly a thousand have contributed $50. "On average, readers paid $8 more than we asked them to," writes a stunned Sullivan.
This isn't a pledge drive Sullivan is setting up a for-profit operation, after all, and there are no PBS-style freebies on offer for bigger donors. But it seems enough readers have formed an emotional attachment to the Dish that Sullivan could raise a third of a million from them in a matter of hours.
That puts the blogger and his staff of seven well on the way to their funding goal of $900,000 for the first year. Call it a DIY Kickstarter.
Clearly, there's a lesson here for other media entities struggling with revenue models. Ads aren't the be-all and end-all. If readers love your content, and you ask them nicely to pay, they'll pay no matter how laughably leaky your paywall structure is. Indeed, allowing anyone to link to your stories for free may improve your chances of getting subscriptions.