This April will see the one year mark of when I started Chorus. By and large it’s been the most fulfilling stretch of work in my entire career. It’s been stressful. It’s been intense. But it’s also been extremely fun, challenging, and stimulating. As we come up on this anniversary I’ve been working on the first set of changes I want to make to the website to prepare ourselves for the future. There will be some design tweaks coming shortly, but the first thing I want to focus on is tightening up our supporter program.
Our supporter program has been a resounding success. When I started this project I made the argument that I believed the future of online publishing was going to depend on dedicated readers for websites to continue development and publication. Over the last year I’ve only become more convinced of this direction. And, I’ve been blown away by the first year of support from readers of this website. However, one of the main pieces of feedback I’ve heard is: I love this website, I love what you’re doing and want to help make sure it stays around, but I don’t really want to sign up for a forum membership account, is there any way I can become a patron without needing to join the forum community? My goal was to provide that functionality in the easiest form possible and allow readers to help support our continued existence for mere pennies per day.
If that’s all you need to hear, please take a look at our membership packages and sign up, if you want to be woo’d a little bit more, I’ve a longer pitch for you below.
Running Chorus.fm is my full-time job. I’ve been writing and publishing online for over 15 years and starting Chorus has been the most fulfilling and exciting work of my entire life — I plan to keep doing it for as long as possible. When I first started AbsolutePunk.net, the business model was I write, I sold some banner ads, and the money we made from ads is how I made a living. But publishing and the online landscape has changed a lot over the past few years, and we’ve moved into a world where online advertising sorta sucks. Most publications are chasing a pageview model that leads to gross advertisements taking over your entire screen, tracking you around the internet, and bloating up the pages you are trying to read. No one wins in that scenario. Instead, I want to be completely upfront with how we make money here. The first is through an ad system that respects our visitors while providing value to the advertiser. The second is through direct support from our readers.
I want to always be completely upfront with everyone about how we make money and what our goals are. Right now, we are about one-third of the way to being sustained completely by reader support. Our goal is to pass over the three-quarters mark by the end of 2017. With your help we can be completely self-sustained not long after that. But, we need your help to get there. We’ve put together a few tiers of annual support that range from basically pennies per day to going above and beyond. Most of the packages can be purchased in under a minute using a credit card (or even faster using Apple Pay) and all of your information is completely private and we will never share it with anyone. If you’re a community member we have a special Community Package that is attached to that username and comes with a few other perks.
Here’s what it all boils down to: I love running this website and what we’re building, and I’m committed to making the best website I possibly can for as long as I can. I’d love your help and support on this journey.
My plan to do a little revamping of our ad system in the next month or so as well. I’ve learned a lot over the past year about trying to balance the reader experience, advertiser goals, and finding the perfect mix where readers actually like to see our advertisements. I think we can continue that goal, while tweaking a few minor things, so they can remain beneficial, relevant, and unobtrusive while giving the advertiser the best possible reach to our audience. I’ve got a few ideas for that system that I’ll be rolling out, combined with a few other minor design tweaks to the website and forums, as I keep aiming to perfect this little website.
It’s been a pretty furious 10 months, but I’m geared up for another year here at Chorus. I’m as excited and optimistic about our future as I’ve ever been and I’ve enjoyed the rush, and the close connections with all the readers, that independent publication has once again brought to my life. A huge thank you to everyone that’s continued reading this website each day, all of the feedback you’ve given me on things you’d like to see us do or change, and for your belief in a website like this. It means everything to me. I hope we can see similar growth and gains in the next year, and if so, we’ll be well on our way to being sustainable and independent, and it’ll be because of you. Thank you.