UPDATE: We often get emails and comments asking exactly what is we do here at The Daily Banter, and this purpose of this article is to try and explain that and why we need your help to stick around. Enjoy!
Recently, Digiday published an alarming article on the ‘Winter of Discontent’ facing small digital publishers. “The sunny days of hot growth for digital publishers are fading into a memory as many now face a long, dark winter,” writes Ricardo Bilton.
“Many venture-backed publishers are coming up to the limits of scale. Their models were based on eye-popping audience-growth figures and the presumption that business would follow. That’s not always the case. And traffic growth inevitably hits a ceiling.” This ceiling means the end of the road for publishers funded with VC money who look for huge returns on their investment. If the site hasn’t delivered its promise, funders will look for an exit or simply cut and run. The article continued:
Just before the holidays came news that Mashable has been shopping for a buyer, hoping to fetch as much as $300 million. Atlantic Media is reportedly interested in selling off Quartz, its buzzy global business news publication. That’s after a year of publishing consolidation, headlined by Business Insider’s sale to Axel Springer for $343 million.
“If you’re one of these companies and you can get out now at a valuation that is acceptable, now would be a very smart time to do so,” said Seth Alpert, managing director at advisory firm AdMedia Partners. “If I was invested in one of these businesses, I would want to exit in 2016.”
This ‘exit’ basically means a huge round of layoffs for journalists and content creators — a professional niche that has already been decimated by internet publishing and the evaporation of the print industry. The gloomy prospects for the digital publishing industry got me thinking about what we are doing here at the Banter, and how we need to find a way through the twists and turns of a business that has essentially gone mad.
Thankfully, we are not susceptible to the whims of bet spreading venture capitalists who care for good content as much as Wall St does for families in foreclosure. The Banter is completely independent and reader funded, so we survive in one form or another regardless of the trends billionaire investors follow religiously. That being said, we are still engaged in a never ending battle to survive and grow without succumbing to the nonsense many other outlets in the industry do to generate revenue.
Much of my day is spent reading blogs, news sites, and my facebook feed for interesting articles and opinions. I do this in order to filter out the unimportant and synthesize what I believe to be relevant topics that Daily Banter readers will find interesting.
Sometimes, I can scan for hours and I find nothing that motivates me to write anything. It isn’t that what I’m reading isn’t interesting — more I don’t find it interesting enough to write about. Writing can be mentally exhausting if the topic doesn’t motivate you, so for the most part, I have learned to avoid issues I can’t offer any interesting insight on. This is basic protocol for all writers at the Banter — the team is under strict orders to write about things they are passionate about at all costs. Inevitably this means volume suffers — we don’t publish 20 articles a day and cover the relentless stream of “this person said this” you see on the major news sites and blogs. And of course, this means we don’t do the traffic numbers of a Vox Media, BuzzFeed or Huffington Post.
As a business model, we are basically doing everything wrong — we don’t publish content for cheap clicks, don’t try to game facebook for sharing, and don’t follow trends in order to capitalize on potential traffic (unless of course we have something interesting to say about it). Yet somehow we are still here, growing quietly, and publishing away in the midst of an industry morphing and changing at an unfathomably quick pace. Of course we are changing with the times to (more about what is in store for the site in 2016 here), but our core principles will stay the same. We will continue to publish original, thoughtful content, and will banter unapologetically until someone physically pulls the plug on our servers and laptops. Hopefully that day will never come.
All of this is basically to say thank you to those who have supported us through the months years. Our member base is relatively small, but it has provided us with a source of stability that has enabled us to survive — which is apparently rather rare these days.
And of course, I’d like to take the opportunity to pitch for new members: we really do rely on you to keep going, so if you can spare a few dollars a month, you will be helping enormously. Members get access to our beautiful long form digital mag every week too, so we think it is well worth it 🙂
Become a member here, and again, thank you!
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.