In the wee hours of this morning Andrew Sullivan and his team completed The Dish’s migration from The Daily Beast, transitioning fully to a reader-supported model. In an article posted to The Verge a few hours later titled Andrew Sullivan’s grand experiment in reader-supported online journalism is now live, Jeff Blagdon describes the challenges facing The Dish as one of the first major websites to become reader-supported:
“Prominent political blogger Andrew Sullivan’s site The Dish is now up and running at its new user-funded home. So far, the ad-free experiment appears to be a success, with Sullivan pulling in $511,000 in revenue over the five weeks that passed since the project was announced — half of the $1 million the writer says he needs to run the site for a year.”
Jeff went on to question the plausibility of The Dish reaching its funding goal in the coming weeks, skeptical of whether or not it was possible. But Andrew has a plan, detailed in The Verge’s piece Andrew Sullivan leaving The Daily Beast for ad-free, reader-supported blog as well as on The Dish’s own site in Migration Explained:
“Starting Monday morning, some posts will have a blue ‘Read On’ button. If you click that button, the post will expand for continued reading, just as in the past. If you’re a subscriber, you will always be able to access all read-on material. If you are a non-subscriber, you will be limited to seven read-on clicks during a 30-day period. If you open a read-on post in a new window, that will also count against the read-on meter. If non-subscribers max out the read-on meter, all content above a read-on will still be free and accessible – but the deeper dish won’t be.”
Striking the delicate balance between a full-on paywall and leaving their content open for anyone to read, The Dish’s segregation strategy fills me with hope for other major websites forsaking ads in place of reader contributions in one form or another. He continues:
“Incoming links from other blogs and websites will never, ever count toward the meter; other bloggers need not fear that their readers won’t be able to see content they link to. I want to personally soothe Dan Savage’s concern on this point.”
While I foresee this becoming a problem, I applaud The Dish’s foresight to create their paywall strategy with bloggers in mind. All in all The Dish has a very interesting plan, one that I hope to see succeed in the coming months.