Several days ago, we introduced our pay-what-you-want subscription system. We asked for you all to support us, and we offered a handful of extra perks on the site in return. So far, your response has been overwhelmingly positive and gratifying.
In a short span, we've already received enough subscription funds to improve our bottom line by $1,100 per month for the next year. Even more remarkably, the current average payment stands at over $50 per user.
I don't think any of us here on staff would have predicted an average that high. This is, after all, a pay-what-you-want system where the majority of the benefits are available for as little as one dollar.
So, to everyone who has signed up to support us, thank you very much, from all of us. We appreciate the support and the kind words that have come with it. We built a system that essentially relies on your goodwill, and you have confirmed our faith in you by responding with uncommon generosity.
Of course, the amount we've taken in so far isn't nearly enough to sustain us outside of our usual advertising sales—but this has been an incredibly encouraging start. Not only are we better funded during a difficult time, but we've also demonstrated that a creative crowd-funding system can be an effective supplement to ad sales. Simply knowing that fact makes us stronger, better able to pursue our work with independence and confidence. That's one of the reasons that we took this route. TR has always been about serving a community of readers.
At the risk of lowering the average, I should probably mention something. I've noticed a certain reluctance among folks to make a smaller contribution in order to get a Silver subscription. There's a bit of a "Gold or nothing" mentality, seems like. Let me do my best to discourage that kind of thinking. There is no shame to paying well below the average in order to pick up a Silver subscription. Every bit of support we get helps. Heck, we built most of the good perks into the Silver tier and set the price to "whatever you want" in order to encourage broad participation.
For the perplexed, Cyril made a swanky infographic that maps out the various features of the two tiers in a nice visual format. I have to say, I'm really digging the e-mail notifications when folks reply to my comments.
If you can't afford to beat the current ~$50 average for an annual subscription, one of the best things you can do to support TR is choose one of the pre-set payment amounts and allow your subscription to auto-renew next year. Having that consistent support over time is what will allow us to plan, build, and grow—even if it's a small amount per person each year.
I should also point out something else about how the payment system works. The amount you give is cumulative for your subscription term. If you start with a $25 payment to get Silver, wait a month, and then pay another $26 after your next paycheck, your total amount contributed will be $51. At that point, assuming the average is still $50, you'll have beaten the average, so you'd be automatically upgraded to Gold for the remaining 11 months. I hope that's clear enough. There's more info about how this whole thing works in the FAQ. Also, the slick little predictor Bruno cooked up for the payment page will tell you exactly what you need to pay to get Gold or earn a spot in the top-10 list.
Speaking of the top-10 list, here's how it stands right now. These are some incredibly generous folks. Remember, the top 10 contributors as of noon Central time on March 21, 2014 will get to choose from one of these three things:
- Dinner with a TR editor. If you can make it to our location, you can can dine with either me (in Kansas City or perhaps San Francisco/Silicon Valley, since I visit there fairly often), Geoff and Cyril (in Vancouver) or Jordan (in New York City). We'll pick up the check.
- An appearance on the TR podcast where you can talk tech with the panel for a segment.
- An executive producer credit for one episode of the podcast.
If you'd like to bump one of these guys off the list and grab a spot, you can add to your subscription total at any time. The predictor will tell you exactly what it'll take to get there.