By John Gruber
Plan your novel, finish your dissertation, launch a product. You need Tinderbox.
I get a fair amount of email from kind-hearted readers asking how this whole “writing Daring Fireball as a full-time job” thing is going. The answer, in a nut, is “pretty good”.
The longer answer is that I’m on pace to make it, but I haven’t made it yet. That’s pretty good, considering that average monthly revenue was only at about 50 percent of breaking even — where by “breaking even” I mean “minimum amount of income to support my family” — when I made the jump back in April. Revenue is split almost exactly 50-50 between two streams: advertising income from The Deck, and membership and t-shirt sales directly to readers.1
My goal is to get to that break-even point by the end of this year. One way to do that is to add a few additional revenue streams; there are a few good ideas cooking here in the DF labs, and I’ll tell you about them soon, when they’re ready.
Another way is to convince more of you to become members.
I love everything about The Deck: the quality of the advertisers; the size and design of the ads; the one-ad-per-page and no-animated-ads policies; and the fact that all of the other sites in the network are just terrific.
As a businessman, I ought to be thinking that every dollar is as good as another. But I’m not a businessman, I’m a writer, and as a writer there’s something indescribably satisfying about support that comes directly from my readers. It’s no longer all that novel to “go pro” with one’s weblog, but there aren’t many who are doing it based so significantly on voluntary contributions from readers.2
To everyone who has joined, thanks. To everyone who joined over a year ago and renewed, thanks even more. I wouldn’t be able to do this without support from readers like you.
The one thing (at least for now) that members get that non-members don’t is access to the members-only RSS feeds. This has proven to be quite popular — around 80 percent of current members subscribe to at least one of these feeds.
So, here’s an idea: For the next week, I’m making all three feeds available to everyone, free of charge. The free versions use different URLs than the regular, password-protected versions:3
Go ahead and subscribe to them, no strings attached. They’ll work until Thursday, October 26. Think of it like when there’s free HBO for a weekend — if you like the shows, you pay to subscribe when the free period is over. Or, think of it like when a drug dealer gives out a free sample to get you hooked. No, wait, don’t think of it like that.
One last membership tidbit: I’ve arranged “site licensing” deals in a small handful of individual cases, but I’ve never mentioned it here on the site. If you work somewhere with five or more other Daring Fireball readers and would like to join under a group membership on the company’s dime, send me an email and we’ll work out a deal.
Those of you working at YouTube, I’m looking in your direction.
And I mean almost exactly: so far for 2006, it’s 50.2 percent from The Deck, and 49.8 percent from membership and t-shirts. ↩︎
It’s worth noting that because these free feeds don’t require a username and password, unlike the regular members-only feeds, they will work in feedreaders that don’t support HTTP authentication, like Google Reader. ↩︎