(This article is unlocked and won’t count towards your meter)
Firstly thanks to everyone for bearing with us as we switch to the metered member model. Very few of you experienced any problems signing up or getting access, so that’s a good thing. There have been some hiccups in regards to ads showing for pay readers and some trouble accessing it on mobile devices, but not for the vast majority (and rest assured, we’ll fix if for those who have had problems).
Predictably some readers haven’t been very happy about paying for unlimited access to the site. This is completely understandable and we knew this going in. This was not a decision we took lightly so it was to be expected. Nevertheless, it has affected morale with the team at Banter and we’re all feeling slightly uneasy about the drop in traffic and some of the complaints we’re receiving. When you spend several years carefully building an audience and creating a real sense of community, it is painful to hear negative feedback for what you are doing.
A (very) small minority of readers sent comments like this our way:
.@thedailybanter just sent another email. 3 days till the meter kicks in. Seems braggy, like they don't know it's step one into obscurity.
— KΞNNΞT (@_kennet) November 1, 2014
Any suggestions for good liberal blogs with smallish communities now that @thedailybanter is behind a paywall?
— Razor (@YearOfHorror) November 3, 2014
I’d like to say these didn’t affect myself or the team, but they did. All of the writers at the Banter have expressed worry that our influence is declining because we’re restricting access to our content. That coupled with the decrease in page views has led to some serious soul searching. Did we do the right thing? Will anyone care what we have to say? Does this all end in tears?
To be completely honest, we don’t really know yet.
But – and that’s a cautious but – despite our traffic slowing the week we launched the meter, it picked up again shortly afterwards. We are also getting a steady stream of readers signing up to get unrestricted access to the site, and it isn’t stopping. We’ve received incredibly kind comments and emails like the following:
You know I think I’ll go for it. This is one of the few media sites I trust when it comes to news and aren’t willing to bow to corporate overlords. Time to unfuck the internet less.
I’m happy to support TDB. I think the writers are producing high quality work for us, and the new video mail bag alone is worth the $5.99 (to me, anyway). I like having some “face time” with the editors, even though they don’t see us. Plus, the conversations usually take an interesting turn. I have full faith that it’s only going to get better, so I encourage anyone who’s on the fence to at least give it a try for a few months.
I was an early adopter and am very proud to be one of your supporters. You have a strong friend in me as long as you employ Chez (you too, Bob and Tommy!). I also think that twelve articles per month is a great offer of free content, and if people want to read more than that then it is perfectly reasonable for you to ask them to pay for it.
Over the past 10 days, the average amount of revenue we have generated from subscription is significantly higher than what we make from the awful banner ads we’re forced to run – not close to what we need to be sustainable, but a very positive step in the right direction. Subscriptions are rolling in, slowly but surely and importantly, at a steady pace. We’re monitoring it all very closely to make sure we’re getting the balance right, and we will be making some adjustments going forward.
For example, clicking on the home page will now never count as a metered view, and neither will traffic coming in from other sites. We’ve also adjusted the meter so that non paying readers can come back to articles they’ve read for free (so they can continue to engage in discussions in the comments section).
As far as the content goes, the Banter Video Mailbag has been kept for members only, but that will change going forward. We’re going to make it free for everyone, and it won’t count as a metered view either. There will however, be a (very NSFW) mini mailbag for members only.
We will also be redoubling efforts to do more thoughtful long form pieces and original journalism (like this and this) because that’s what makes it all worthwhile. We won’t ever do shitty viral content, and we won’t ever take orders from advertisers, so your subscriptions directly help fund quality content. Being less reliant on hunting page views to generate revenue is a big relief, and we aim to take advantage of it.
We will also be making some exciting announcements about new member benefits soon, and other projects we’re working on behind the scenes.
So if you’re not a member already, sign up now, find out first, get unlimited access and help us make the Banter more fucking awesome.
Ben Cohen is the editor and founder of The Daily Banter. He lives in Washington DC where he does podcasts, teaches Martial Arts, and tries to be a good father. He would be extremely disturbed if you took him too seriously.