An Update on the Stratechery Membership Program

Last spring I wrote a series about the future of journalism:

  • Part 1: FiveThirtyEight and the End of Average – link
  • Part 2: The Stages of Newspapers’ Decline – link
  • Part 3: Newspapers Are Dead; Long Live Journalism – link

In the third installment I wrote:

More and more journalism will be small endeavors, often with only a single writer. The writer will have a narrow focus and be an expert in the field they cover. Distribution will be free (a website), and most marketing will be done through social channels. The main cost will be the writer’s salary.

Monetization will come from dedicated readers around the world through a freemium model; primary content will be free, with increased access to further discussions, additional writing, data, the author, etc. available for-pay.

A few weeks later I launched Stratechery 2.0, my perhaps quixotic attempt to put my quite literal money where my mouth was.

That was a little over six months ago, and since that time I’ve gotten questions about how things are going. I tend to be private about such things, so I haven’t replied, and truthfully, I feel a bit sheepish right now. But I think if any number is worth celebrating it is the number 1,000. I passed that number of active subscribers earlier this month.

Back in 2008 Kevin Kelly wrote:

A creator, such as an artist, musician, photographer, craftsperson, performer, animator, designer, videomaker, or author – in other words, anyone producing works of art – needs to acquire only 1,000 True Fans to make a living.

Making a living is about right. I’m not getting rich by any means, but I’m doing ok financially by doing what I love professionally, and that’s pretty awesome. So that’s my answer to all those asking: I’m doing great.

More broadly, while nothing is assured, it looks like I might have been on to something when it comes to the viability of writing on the web. There is a lot of doom and gloom among journalists especially about how the Internet has profoundly disrupted publications built on an analog business model, but I think to focus on what has been lost is to overlook what has been gained. There is a flora of new journalism that is only possible because of the web, and I truly believe we are only getting started.

Most importantly, for anyone reading this who believes they truly have something unique to say, please go for it. It is possible to make it on your own, and the world needs your voice.

The foundation of Stratechery remains free posts on the main blog, and five Daily Updates a week with 12~15 pieces of analysis about topical tech news. You can sign up here.

I did want to share a few important updates about the membership program:

  • I have consolidated the membership program down to one level: $10 a month or $100 a year. Now all members not only get the Daily Update every weekday, but also access to the (very active) Stratechery Forum
  • Speaking of the Stratechery Forum, it has been relaunched as a Stratechery-hosted (responsive) message board for all members, with hundreds of posts in less than two weeks. Relatedly, I am ending on-post comments
  • I have ended the sponsored post program. While I am a believer in native advertising, I wanted to focus my incentives behind the membership program both in regards to post frequency as well as customer service. My thanks to the sponsors who supported Stratechery over the last six months

Now, more than ever, this site and the members who subscribe to the Daily Update are my livelihood (although I do offer strategic consulting). I truly feel blessed and would like to sincerely thank every member who has signed up to date, and anyone who signs up in the future.

As always, I aim to make it worth your while.