Deborah asked yesterday about the pay model that Andrew Sullivan’s trying. He wrote today that the first day of the fund drive raised $333,000, with more than 12,000 jumping in. I wish him well, really I do, but I won’t be one of them. And I don’t see a pay model for NN.c anytime soon, barring catastrophe (job loss, etc.). It will be very difficult to do even under those circumstances. I lack Andrew Sullivan’s towering sense of his own worth.
I don’t read the Daily Dish, and haven’t read Sullivan (much) since 9/11/Iraq war. (Isn’t he the one who came up with the infamous “fifth column” observation? Why, I think he was.) My boss is a fan, and occasionally passes stuff along, and I gather he’s not as much of a douche as he used to be. But the site simply isn’t important enough for me to consider it a cheap magazine subscription. If you read his initial post on this, you know it’s not the entire site going behind the wall, just some longer posts, and even then, you get a few freebies a month before the wall goes up. That will suit my Andrew Sullivan needs for pretty much ever.
Still, I want him to do well. Writers should be paid, and he obviously has lots of readers. I also want to see various forms of pay-for-content schemes duking it out in the marketplace. Maybe one will work for me.
When we were doing GrossePointeToday.com, we were approached by a micropayment site, whose name I forget now — Jingle, Ka-ching, something like that. Here’s how it worked: You designated a monthly amount you were willing to pay for online content, sort of like a public-radio sustaining pledge — $10, $15, whatever, billed to your credit card. When you read something online that you liked, and that site was a Ka-jingle member, you clicked a button. At the end of the month, your ten bucks would be divided between all your clicks. If you only clicked one, they got $10. Two sites, $5 each. And so on. I don’t think it got off the ground, as I have never seen their logo anywhere, but the idea is interesting.
After 9/11, when “warblogs” were all the rage, a lot of them had “tip jars” through Amazon or PayPal, but I could never bring myself to put one up. If I accepted even a dime, I’d feel obligated, and I have enough obligations already. I always tell myself that if this gets to be too much of a grind, I can walk away without guilt. Believe me, there are many, many, many days when I’ve given a little less than my all here. If it bothers any of you, you’ve been kind enough not to say anything.
To my mind, the best free-to-pay transitions will be like Sullivan’s (and Talking Points Memo, which is trying something similar): Most of the site remains free, and premium content is there for paying customers.
No, I’m waiting until I do something else, I hope a book (and not lose my job and tumble into the fiscal abyss). Then, I’ll ask you to buy it, but this joint, for now, is and remains what it’s been since January 2001 — just a little key-clattering for fun, to take or leave as you see fit.
John Scalzi, as smart about balancing the paid-writer/unpaid-blogger life as anyone, mentions just a few of the headaches here:
To anticipate the question of whether I would/should/could do something like this, my short answer is that even if I could – a proposition I consider questionable for a number of reasons — I would prefer not to. Among other things it requires keeping track of subscriptions and handling customer service issues and doing all sorts of other stuff that I already know I would rather drag my tongue across a razor than to do. If I were hard up for cash I would probably put advertising up on the site before I did a subscription scheme. But I would be far more likely just to write something and put it up for sale; that seems to me to be the easier and more effective route for me.
In the ’80s, when I lived in a four-unit apartment building across the hall from Jeff Borden, he made an interesting observation about the party culture of the time. This is when cocaine was starting to appear at parties among the cool set, and Jeff said the ritual surrounding it was interesting and a little depressing.
Marijuana, he said, was a social drug. Light up a joint at a party, pass it around, make some friends. Cocaine was anti-social; you found a buddy or two, maybe someone you wanted to impress, and asked them to meet you in the bathroom for a special treat. You probably saw these duos and trios coming out of a bathroom or back bedroom many times, eyes glittering, noses twitching, expressions smug and superior. Sucks to be you, loser. This site will remain marijuana for the foreseeable future, or at least early ’80s-era marijuana — cheap or free, just mildly intoxicating, a giggle at best, sometimes a headache. Those other bloggers can deal in stronger stuff in their paywall bathrooms. But not here.
This is so outstanding, but be warned, it’s the unbleeped version: “Downton Abbey” cast members mash it up with “Breaking Bad.” Stephen Colbert’s staff are geniuses.
And while we’re on the subject: Vince Gilligan talks about crafting the final season.
Ezra Klein: Good riddance to the worst Congress in history.
A good weekend to all, and the full-week grind restarts Monday.