Having run this website for more than 10 years, I’ve tried everything to outpace my expenses. We’ve had a lot of success accomplishing that goal, but it came at the expense of our readers. When you play the game of running an online news outlet, you join the masses that do the same things: click bait titles, hardcore SEO practices, sponsored posts, and a constant shuffle of dynamic add services that promise higher commission. What you lose is control of your website. Your site doesn’t completely look the way you want it to. You may post an article about a new Batman video game, and underneath it will be 6 posts about nude celebrities on the beach. You can get a little more tailored than that, if you can afford it. At the end of the day the articles that are recommended, and the ads that are shown, are not your own content. And therefore readers turn to ad blockers, or if they find your particular site to have too many ads, they bounce or block you.
Well I’ve had enough. Back in May we launched our Insiders membership program. This article is not a designed to pitch that program to you, rather to outline why we did it and how ads specifically influenced this decision. I didn’t enjoy reading our site at time. The ads were intrusive, particularly on mobile devices. And after 10 years we’ve come a long way, having reached an annual readership of well over 1,000,000 unique individuals. In order to hit the next level of revenue, we had to fix a few problems with the site: including site speed, cleaner SEO, accessibility globally, and how to manage simultaneous access by dozens of content creators. These are expensive problems to fix for our little site. We had reached a fork in the road. We could either continue to play the same game outlined above, or we could find a hill that redefined us and declare that we will die on that hill if we don’t reach the goal. We’ve found our hill: a community driven site powered by our community where our growing influence brings monetary value to our community. The plan was simple: we would remove 90% of the ads and will ask our community to rally around us and once we hit 100 monthly Insider members we would remove the remaining ads.
Two months later and we haven’t hit this goal. And I’m OK with that, because it’s reality. I had an expectation and we didn’t quite reach it and now it’s time to pivot. I’ve chosen that we will double down on our trajectory. We have removed the final 10% of the dynamic ads that we had running on the site. You will notice there is one more add up on our banner and another down near the bottom at the home page. This is a curated ad that speaks directly to our community’s interest. We welcome our partners to place these types of ads on our site.
As part of our double down plan we are continuing to find more partners to offer discounts to our monthly members on various comics, collectibles, and video game products. And you may have noticed that we’ve been giving away some pretty cool gear: laptops, video game consoles, and video game console accessories. We will continue to do this by leveraging the income from our monthly Insiders to drive more members. I take pride in this editorial and in the transparency that I’m providing to all of you. The move towards being crowdfunded, either directly through our website or via Patreon, requires transparency. You deserve it.
If you believe in our mission and you support the content we are creating, or if you want to be a part of this content creation, join our discord server and DM me.