Update On Our Drive and 2017

I wanted to give you an update on our Prime sign-up drive: How we’re doing, why we’re doing it and what we have lined up for the remainder of 2016. If you’re a regular reader, Prime or not, can you take a moment to read the following? I appreciate it.

We started our drive in July with 10,835 subscribers with an extremely ambitious goal of getting to 20,000 subscribers by the end of the calendar year. So far we’ve added 4,781 new subscribers through this morning, leaving us with 4,383 sign-ups to go to get to our goal and just a bit over 2 months to get there. So it’s a tall order. But we’ve got a few new options up our sleeves that we think can help us get there.

First, next month we’re going to be reintroducing the gift subscription system we’ve been using since we 2013. We call these “subscription credits”. The idea is simple. We have many readers who are either students, seniors on fixed incomes or just people facing economic hardship or unemployment. While we want to build a strong revenue stream from subscription we also do not want any regular readers excluded because they lack financial means. Meanwhile, we frequently get people writing in to say, how can I support TPM beyond the $50 I pay for Prime. A simple solution. We sell gift subscriptions which we then assign to readers who can’t afford the Prime fee. Everybody wins. We allow everyone to get access, TPM gets additional funds to build our reporting capacity.

We will be putting those back on sale next month.

What we’ve never done before is offer what people usually mean by gift subscriptions. You’re a reader and you want to give a subscription to your nephew or your niece. Or you want to buy one for a friend or your mother or anyone else. Over the years people have asked why we don’t have these or why they can’t buy a subscription credit and just assign it to a specific person. That wasn’t possible with subscription credits. But we’re introducing a new product which will make those available by the December gift giving season.

Why are we doing all of this?

Again, two basic reasons. First, we believe – based on my now lengthy work in independent digital publishing – that a robust, independent news site requires a substantial amount of its revenue to come from subscriptions, both for the stability of its finances (subscription dues are highly predictable) and to reduce exclusive dependence on ads. Second, we want to expand our original reporting capacity. Prime does both – in addition to giving you an improved TPM experience, with exclusive stories, limited ads, a faster site, The Hive, the Podcast and all the rest. No one knows more acutely than I do that I’ve pressed this hard in the editor’s blog for three months now. I wouldn’t do it if it weren’t important and if I weren’t personally motivated by, committed to and excited about what TPM can do with an expanding original reporting capacity.

If you’d like to join us now, just click here.