March 15, 2017 andrewmangan

Second Captains and what is the value of a fiver?

I have been delighted to see the response to Second Captains decision to move away from the sponsorship/advertising model, to content that’s paid for by the people who consume it.

Whether that was their plan all along is another question. Quite why the Irish Times didn’t want to continue with what was clearly the most best and most popular ‘Irish’ podcast begs questions of their digital strategy, but that’s really beside the point.

Full disclosure at this point: I know the Second Captains chaps some, I’ve appeared on the podcast, I enjoy what they do, and they’re all sound blokes.

As someone who started podcasting on arseblog.com in 2006, and who only really started making any money from it in the last 12-18 months, it’s great to see that fans of shows are willing to support that show financially.

Not simply because it allows Second Captains to continue and add to their already excellent work, but because it shows that the line between the money you have in your pocket and the money you spend online is closing.

€5 a month is not very much at all, but the Internet as most of us have known it has been based on an everything for free model. We have become so accustomed to getting everything for nothing that being asked to pay for anything becomes anathema.

In recent years that has changed somewhat. The success of iTunes came at the expense of the free download Napster etc model which many had grown used to. Apple made it simple and easy to buy music, so people did.

Movies and TV shows are still downloaded via Torrents and file-sharing sites, but the advent of Netflix and other streaming services mean that the average person will choose the convenience of that over downloads, RAR files, and all the rest.

When it comes to written content, and podcasts through, we’re still not quite there. Having run Arseblog for 15 years, it’d be fair to say that by any normal standards our business model is pretty rubbish. We make content seven days a week then give it away for free – although it is, of course, ad supported.

That means writing a 1000 word blog seven days a week, 365 days a year (that’s about four novels worth of writing each year from the blog alone). That’s match previews, match reports, stats, player ratings, news, transfer gossip, focus on the youth and ladies teams, columnists, opinion, tactics, analysis, interviews, and everything else distributed via our website, social media or our apps. All free, all the time.

And if we decided tomorrow to go behind a paywall, a lot of our audience would probably not come with us. Not because they don’t like us, but because there’s still so much other free stuff out there to fill the gap. Yet, with the increase in ad-blocking technology – in part fueled by advertisers who resort to more and more nefarious methods to counter ads that are already being blocked – we may have no choice in the future.

We have strict guidelines about the kind of advertising we run on the site, to ensure that readers are not inconvenienced or annoyed. These include:

  • No pop-ups
  • No pop-unders
  • No auto-play videos
  • No interstitials
  • No ads that obscure content in anyway
  • No full site takeovers
  • No native advertising/branded content

That really just leaves us with basic display advertising*, and we do urge readers who use an ad-blocker to whitelist us if they can, but we’re aware that for many the only good ad is an ad you can’t see.

My prediction is that blocking will become more and more commonplace, and ultimately the only way forward will be some kind of subscription based model. That’s why it’s encouraging see to Second Captains get the support their content merits. The challenge for other small/niche publishers, is to ensure that readers/listeners etc can see the value in that support.

I recently gave a talk in DIT about web publishing etc, and when I asked for a show of hands from people who had a favourite website/blog/podcast, it included pretty much everybody in the lecture. When I asked how many people would be willing to pay a monthly subscription of €5 for the same content, I’d estimate there were 15-20% of the hands left in the air.

I then asked how many people had bought a coffee that day. 80% of the hands went up. How many would buy a coffee tomorrow? 70%. How many bought a coffee every day? 50-60%.

So I did some maths for them – let’s say a coffee is €2.50, you’re spending €12.5o a week on that, maybe €30-50 a month in total. You don’t notice that money going out of your pocket on a daily basis because you’re spending small increments, so in that context a fiver for a website you love isn’t outrageous by any means.

Quite a few said they’d never thought about it like that. Spending €5 in the ‘real’ world is easy, but people seem to consider that a lot of online money, even if it’s going towards something they consume every day.

€5

It’s less than a pint of beer. It’s half the price of a packet of cigarettes (for those of you still on 20 a day you’re spending €300+ a month on that, what’s €5 in the grand scheme of things?!). A burrito is more expensive. You can barely get a sandwich. Some bottles of craft beer in the supermarket are almost a fiver. A bus journey in and out of town. A cinema ticket for two hours entertainment costs €10+, so what’s half that for seven days a week of well produced content about a thing you love?

There are countless things that you spend more on every week without even thinking about it, so if more people applied to same standards to what they’re willing to spend online it would change the landscape considerably.

Two final points.

1 -* We do events, publish books etc, so advertising is not the only income source, but it is the primary one.

2 – The most obvious consequence of the Second Captains move to Patreon for me isn’t simply that people are willing to pay, it’s that it has enabled them to produce more interesting and varied content than they did previously. So people are getting value for their money and also enabling talented people to give them more for it.

AM15.03.2017

ps – I know the coffee thing is a bit worn now, but it really is a great example of something people spend money on every day without much consideration.

Tagged: , ,

Comments (96)

  1. carmelo madrigrano

    Dear Andrew,
    I entirely understand your argument concerning paying for content. It is more than reasonable even though the temptation of ‘free’ is hard to resist. May I make a suggestion. I and I guess quite a few other folks, listen to many podcasts in a week on all sorts of interesting subjects and should I have to pay for each individually it could become quite onerous. I don’t speak pounds but rather dollars, specifically Canadian dollars (which doesn’t compare well with any of the major currencies) paying for all my pods could be rather costly. Would you consider getting 2,3 or 5 podcasts under 1 umbrella and make a single price so that we could afford to subscribe. I understand that this could cause problems but perhaps you could offer both ie 5 pounds for your pod or 10 for yours and 2 (or more) others for instance? In my case I cannot afford the equivalent of 100 to 150 pounds per month.
    Love your pods, as well as the second capn’s as well as the Ramble and many others so once again, thanks.

    • andrewmangan

      Hi Carmelo, at the moment I’m really just thinking out loud, no plans to introduce a paid model yet, but I do understand your point of view!

      I think there’ll always be some free content so don’t worry.

      • Frank from Vienna

        Personally i don’t like sites who have free and pay-walled content. I feel they are like click-bait and then pushing you away. Because i’m not overly clever with computers the i-tunes model works fine or i buy cd/shirt directly from the bands. Also i like the event of going to the cinema so streaming films is not for me. I’m surely no modern guy in that case and at 44 with two little boys i only have time for my favourite 3-4 sites and 2-3 apps daily. But let’s say 1-5€ monthly subscription for arseblog is definitely ok for me (if thats enough?), even in these grim days for a gunner your content makes me smile every once in a while. Thanks a lot! Frank from Vienna

      • Sony Toprano

        Have you considered setting up a Patreon for people happy to donate as is? Rather like Sam Harris does and explains, it’s just a way for us to support something that we love.

        • andrewmangan

          Not yet, but I will think about it closely over the next little while

          • Chris

            I think you should consider it. I have loved and listened to your show for years and would like to contribute but can’t. I’m trying to do some podcasting myself just for fun and I’ve been thinking of doing a series of podcasts on podcast where I would chat to people like yourself about the whole process of starting and running a successful podcast. Let me know if this might be something your up for. Either way a massive thank you. Your calm, thoughtful but still passionate way of talking about Arsenal is a massive help in this difficult time. A fellow Gooner for life

          • andrewmangan

            Sure, always happy to help others out with podcast stuff

        • Hamosh

          Ditto. was also thinking if Sam Harris as an exponent of the expected subscription too. Great minds…listen to Sam ‘are you really real’ harris

  2. Krishna

    However, the coffee analogy works only for one website. If I want to read the New Yorker, etc, every website you want to go to adds to your pocket. I am not saying we shouldn’t be paying for content on the internet (we should), but with the amount of varied content and the quality ones in that make the pocket a lot lighter. I personally would encourage people to pay for websites they like, but it doesn’t always resonate.

    • andrewmangan

      Fair point. Which is why when I asked those students, I asked them about their favourite site specifically.

      • A top article Andrew. To the general point about paying for every site I think it is going to be addressed over time. Blendle is a clever example of pay as you go for content and it seems some convergence is likely if niche publish will survive and we aren’t all Ben Thompson

  3. Great piece Andrew,

    I think, there has been an argument that people have always been willing to pay for good content, so long as it is as (or more) convenient to access. Further to your point about the willingness to spend €2.50 on a coffee; compare the €5 per month cost to that of a Sky Sports & BT Sports subscription. The lads are producing better content on the same theme and charging a fraction of the money.

    Anyway, it is very interesting to see what they have done. I hope they have great success with it because the certainly deserve it.

  4. Jeffrey Essey

    Hi Andrew.

    First off … I’ve always liked your blog – but love the Arsecast infinitely more and tune in faithfully. Your point of view resonates with mine, and I’m not sure that’s why I find you so easy to listen to … or that you’re just off the leash and speak your mind when others are too afraid to tell is like it is. Having James on the Extra is just brilliant, and it’s my absolute favourite thing to look forward to on a Monday. Would I pay to listen to the Arsecast? Absolutely.

    I think that you are correct in the assumption that a paid subscription would chase some away, but why not just have a PayPal donation link on the page? That way, no one feels that they feel obligated to pay a set rate and can dole out what they wish, whenever they wish. You may be surprised what that alone equates to … especially when listening with a few pint.

    Bang up job, Blogs. I wish you continued success and that it may trickle on down to our beloved Arsenal.

    Cheers.

    • andrewmangan

      Thanks Jeffrey! Donation and/or subscription is probably the way things will go eventually.

  5. Brendan reilly

    I’d pay 5 per month for arseblog/ arsecast. I havent done so yet for second captains because well i dont want to pay to listen to an anti arsenal sentiment 50% of the time. Its not focused enough for me to pay for it.

    Your fan, Brendan from NY

  6. Hi Blogs

    Big fan of the site. Listen to all the podcasts and have come to the live events when I can. If you were to charge £5 a month I would pay in a heartbeat.

    A model you may be interested in is Pwinsider.com. It’s a site about Pro Wrestling ( don’t laugh). The owner is a chap called Dave Scherer. He runs a free site with adverts and has a paid site called Pwinsiderelite.com which is ad free and contains all the audio content. There are no ads in the audios though. You can pay roughly £5 a month or buy a year or two years subs at a discount. Its been running since 2004.

    Anyway thought that might be of interest. Dave is a food guy so if you were to reach out to him Im sure he’d be open to sharing more info with you.

    Cheers

    Jon

  7. Paul

    Hi Andrew, I think vis a vis your coffee pricing argument, I never realised the volume of content that you put out was to such an equal as almost four books. Maybe people have taken the site for granted, it’s possible. Of course you should charge. Best of luck. I will certainly be subscribing. On a side note, we are in for one tumultuous summer of upheaval. Maybe a little scorched earth will enable some sort of renewal. Le Boss will stay, I’m sure of it now. For a man so concerned with the Arsenal legacy, he wouldn’t leave us like this.

    • andrewmangan

      We’ll see how it goes, but yeah – there’s a lot of writing. And that’s just the blog itself. Not taking into account the columnists or the news site at all!

  8. Marcus Hawkins

    What an excellent article. V educational too – I didn’t know half that. For what it’s worth, Id subscribe to Arseblog for a few quid 🙂

  9. Interesting article Andrew. Don’t be too worried about the coffee analogy being tired, it was the first time I’ve heard some it.

  10. Svaborg

    Andrew

    How about a Wiki / Guardian model for Arseblog? A periodic nudge to support the site voluntarily. Will probably only work for a segment of the users – but could turn into some real £. Would certainly work for me personally – read it pretty much every day and love the content.

    Think you’ve got c.1-2m visitors per month. Say 50k unique visitors (not sure about the number). 10% willing to contribute – that’s 5k. £10 per willing contributor per year turns into £50k. Not enough to run the site but at least something.

    My 5 cents.

    Thanks for the site by the way – IMHO it’s outstanding.

    Svaborg

    • andrewmangan

      Certainly an option. I think we’ll have to consider a range of options.

  11. Wazzab

    I already donate £2 A month to a few sites that need support and which I get a great deal of enjoyment from. If you initially introduced a £3 A month option to have no ads subscription service I’d be signing up quicker than Kieran Gibbs on a year deal extension

  12. Vivek

    Hi Andrew

    I agree with the suggestion that a donation/support method would be a great way to start.

    Personally, I’ve come to realise that I actually have very little content that I can’t ignore no matter what. When the Telegraph asked me to pay, I didn’t and not reading it didn’t affect me. But I’ve voluntarily supported the Guardian because it’s become so integral to my daily life. So too with Wikipedia. And I am pretty sure Arseblog and Arsecasts are in there too.

    I’ve listened to Arsecasts I’ve missed even after two weeks because even if as you say the content becomes outdated when Arsenal play the next game, it still is a fantastic product worth listening to. So if there was a way to support the blog or the podcasts, I’d do for sure.

    Hope you figure out what’s best for the website. All the best!

  13. I use the Coffee analogy all the while. I own a printing company and often customers will question the cheapest of prices but as you explain happily pay a disproportionate amount on a coffee and flap jack (printing machine = £150,000 – coffee machine £5,000). I guess it boils down to the fact that Costa’s marketing team is better than mine. There is little value attached to a persons time when this is the most valuable commodity of them all. I would happily pay for a service that I felt was value for money, I do suggest I am in the minority though, my experience is that ‘average joe’ wants ‘it’ for at little as possible and ideally at no cost at all.

    • andrewmangan

      “There is little value attached to a persons time when this is the most valuable commodity of them all.”

      Great point this.

  14. Peter Akers

    I’d pay a subscription for arseblog, I already pay for some of my podcasts in the form of patreon donations. You might not get a fiver a month from everyone but patreon is a good option if you want to keep doing things as you are but get a bit more cash for it.

  15. Jan

    I’ve been asking about this for a while on Arseblog. I feel like I really want to contribute as I listen and read so much content that you and your team work so hard on every single day of the year.

    The Guardian just announced 200,000 subscribers and their model is voluntary membership, so there are people willing to pay for content they consume. Not only does it help the content creators, but it also increases the adoption of paying for content again and that can only be a good thing. How you use the funds is totally up to you, keeping the lights on, doing new things you haven’t had the finances for previously, exploring new ideas etc. I think many of your listeners will be totally behind you.

    I agree a paywall is not the way to go, but either voluntary payments or in the long run, premium content for paying members makes the most sense. The big thing is the subscription price but in the short term you could allow people to donate whatever they feel is a fair amount and see how that goes (like Radiohead did).

      • Jan

        You could have both a regular subscription amount that you think is the right price AND a pay what you want option. The results would give you an idea of what your listeners are willing to pay. And it’s totally voluntary.

        Personally I would feel much better about donating a small amount on a regular basis since I prefer to block all the ads on the site. You have your ad revenue, you know the number of visitors to the site and you may have an idea of how many people listen – do the math and tell us how much you make per user (doesn’t give away your revenue or user numbers – I’m expecting it to be miniscule but I have no idea). How can anyone argue with paying that same amount or more if they wish, and not seeing the ads. People who want to see the ads can contribute by unblocking your site and clicking a few of the ads.

  16. footy_si

    A very interesting article. It would be nice to do the “show of hands” experiment for different monthly sums. If only 15%-20% would pay €5 a month for their favourite, I wonder how many more might pay €2 a month? Perhaps 50%, or more?

    Setting the fee level will be key, if people are asked to pay €5 per month, and they have 3 or 4 “favourite” sites, this is probably too much.

    For comparison, I pay £2.49/month for The Guardian app on my (Android) phone to keep it add free, and this seems like very good value as I read it every day, and it has a lot of content.

    Good luck with it all.

  17. Richard Keefe

    Andrew

    I pay for a digital subscription to a car magazine and I have forgotten how much it costs because
    – I pay once a year
    – it automatically renews

    The pain point is the requirement to pay so I would be very reluctant to pay per view, but after a year’s superb written and audio content, when the annual renewal popped up I would ask myself “do I want another year of this?” and then I would renew in a heartbeat.

    • andrewmangan

      Yeah, it’s about ensuring people feel like what they pay for is good value.

  18. Danny Cummins

    Hi Andrew,
    I’ve thought about dropping you a line on this subject for ages, but never got around to it. So now seems to be an appropriate time to do so.

    Like thousands of people, I have been reading your Blog for as long as I can remember, certainly over 10 years. I read it every single day. I listen in to all your Arsecasts. It is funny, interesting and cheers me up (a bit) when we get spanked by Munich. Without sounding too creepy (get that bucket ready) Arseblog is part of my daily life.

    So, very simply Andrew, I would be very, very happy to pay a yearly fee for all that you do (Auto renew it each year) – I’m sure many people would as well (see the comments above). I don’t want my name on a plaque or a special mention, just pick a number, send a link to subscribe to Arseblog and I’ll happily sign up.

    All the best from Switzerland – Danny

  19. Ben

    I’m sure you’re much better placed to judge but I’ve seen quite a lot support for content creators that offer some form of donation availability. The thought that you have to pay come rain or shine or you won’t have access to content doesn’t sit right with many people but offer them the chance to donate if they can and many will.

    This guy on Youtube (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xIUMEaJUn1Y) makes really high production, daily videos about that Pokemon game everyone was playing last year and asked for $1200 to fly to Japan on GoFundMe. He received over $18000 and had to give $15000 to charity because he never expected that level of support. A channel I watch where a couple sail around the world make $8000+ per month just from Patreon.

    My point is that if people like you, appreciate your content and can afford to pay a one-off or annual donation I think you would be surprised how many would. It mightn’t sit as well with the creator to ask for donations over being paid a wage but it sits much better with the viewer/reader.

    Just some food for thought.

  20. Nikki

    As a South East Asian consumer of Arseblog from my teenage years, I always appreciate and love it if the site and its owner prospers. I just want to give a different perspective, for me personally, I think there is a generalitation of thinking when we’re talking about paying contents on the internet. I think that there is a bit more difficulty when you consider under developed or semi developed country consumer having to pay, even for a quid, for content of a site. Unlike people from USA, England or other developed country, I think people like us is harder to spend for some luxury content in the internet unless we definitely get something worth it in return. If it’s music, it has to be music that we will listen and musician that we probably spend money when they have a concert in our country.

    I mean that if there’s at most 50-60% people who would pay content in the internet according to your calculation, there probably more than a half less people (5-20%) who would be willing to pay in country from where i came from. It’s sad when I think that there could be no more teenagers like me in the past that could get access to Arseblog anymore.

    I suggest a model, like gaming app these days, a content that is free to get, but some benefit when we do want to pay. You probably already know models that makes free of ads when you pays, but what if there’s other benefit from people who pays, like get a chance to be in the podcast from time to time (like you did in the podcast few weeks ago) or enable commenting to arseblognews article and live arseblog.

    Finally, if I need to pay for Arseblog content, I probably will pay for it, but there should be a model that would still not restrict less able people (teenagers or people in a country where luxury content is actually luxury) from accessing Arseblog. That way, when those people could get to the point where they could pay for content, they would pay it.

    P.s: I know I contradict my statement when i say that you should not generalize people and I, then generalize people from under developed or semi developled country. It’s just my personal opinion from my experience living here and looking at the tendency of people from my country.

    • andrewmangan

      Yes, I’m aware that some people simply can’t pay – which is why it would have to be voluntary subscription/donation. Thanks for reading!

  21. archie

    Andrew,

    What do you think of the UK-based Daily Telegraph online model? Split content. Some free and some premium that requires a subscription. All accessible from the same site. Anyone can read the first 100 words of a Premium article but then need to subscribe to read the rest. Then provide some free stuff.

    As an example of how you could manage this, match reports could be free on the basis that there’s a match report around every corner, but the analysis, Tactics, Tim Stillman, etc could be premium content.

    Just a thought.

    • andrewmangan

      Maybe. I think people get irked when you take stuff away from them though. MY gut tells me that premium content should extra to what’s already on offer.

      • Shamarke

        People like the idea of being a member of something rather than just another consumer.
        Perhaps a membership fee of £5 a month which provides access to the arsecast extra and arseblog news site.

          • Hap Bryant

            The membership model is a compelling one for a lot of reasons and, I think, reinforces the community idea you have so successfully championed. It represents a small piece of resistance to the transactional culture we now suffer from — a resistance I would gladly join under Arseblog’s standard.

            Possibilities member benefits include call-in shows, premium newsletters, events, web conferences. People with more active imaginations than I have can provide more.

            The point I would make is you have landed, either by design or good fortune, on a strategy that focuses on fostering a community of like-interested and -minded people. The membership model aligns perfectly with that. I’d be a charter member, that’s for sure.

  22. Kristoffer Johansen

    I’ll defently pay for my daily arseblog fix. I’ve listen and read almost all you done on arseblog since the start. I rekon i owe you 900 €. If you charge 5 € a month I think you have no trouble getting people to pay for all the content you produce. I pay for several tv streaming sites. And when it’s a small montly fee you don’t even notice it.

  23. I didn’t realise the full extent of the content you’re putting out over the Arse each day/week. If you’re even just thinking about considering the possibility of one day maybe talking about a subscription model, talk to your readers about the value of, say, a €5 payment. ‘This article is just one of 28 this week. On a €5/month subscription, that’s just under 5 cents for everything you’ve read’. Add your daily coffee analogy after that.

  24. The donation model is an interesting one – I had a pop up recently from Wikipedia asking for £2 (if everyone have £2 we wouldn’t need any more fundraising, etc).

    I feel the Arseblog following are a loyal bunch (I don’t personally read any other Arsenal blogs!) and would be happy to give a one off donation. Appreciate not everyone can afford it, but those who can would do so to allow others to continue to enjoy it. Or that’s what the socialist in me is saying!

  25. Ray

    Open up a Patreon and I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised how many people love your stuff and are willing to give a little! Arsecast extra has become my therapy on Monday commutes, good results or bad. Thanks for everything Andrew! 😊
    Ray

  26. Matt K

    Andrew, I don’t know the margin that Patreon takes from you, but there are some interesting things about their model that you could borrow,even if you don’t use the Patreon service.

    First, fundraising levels… if we raise $___ per month (sorry, €___), we’ll do this… (extra show, special guests, etc), €____ we’ll do a monthly call in show…

    Payment tiers… if you pay €___ you get a sticker if you pay €___ you get a t shirt/ questions answered on the podcast if you pay €____ you can be on a monthly google hangout sign Andrew and James….

    I’m a woodworker and I support a few podcasts on patreon. Check wood talk as an example. That’s the most popular woodworking podcast – they only recently started on Patreon and probably priced things too low! (Prior to this they just had a donations page)

    Also, many Patreon podcasts announce the names of new subscribers each week or their top subscribers each week. You do so many fun/silly interstitials, you could make that hilarious and better than just saying names.

    • andrewmangan

      Thanks Matt, I’ll check out that example. Also love that there’s a woodworking podcast scene!

  27. TheProdigy

    Charging will decimate your audience. Lose your audience, and in turn you lose relevance and the ability to monetise through other channels (such as books, events and the like). A paywall will result in a short term revenue boost, but it will ultimately kill the site in the long-term.

    I’m not convinced by the examples you use above. iTunes is losing market share to streaming services. I can listen to practically any record ever made through Spotify for a tenner a month. Netflix offers access to thousands of movies and TV shows – including original programming – for the same. These are pretty strong value props, and doesn’t make €5 a month for the Arsecast sound particularly compelling (as much as I enjoy it!).

    Patronage is, imho, a more interesting way to go than full on charging. Crowd-funding through sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo has shown that there is an appetite for people to support things they love. It offers an additional revenue option without having to sacrifice audience. You should give Patreon a go.

    You could also try creating video versions of the podcast. This would allow you to distribute it on YouTube as well, which is a well monetised platform. It may also widen your audience.

    Also, have you looked into producing Arseblog merchandise? You’re not going to get rich of it, but your audience seems big enough to at least make it a profitable thing to do. And lots of small revenue streams can add up to a decent income.

    If you haven’t already, you should read a book called The Curve by a guy called Nick Lovell. It’s a really interesting read, and addresses exactly this topic.

    You say “by any normal standards our business model is pretty rubbish” because you “make content seven days a week then give it away for free”. Rubbish? I couldn’t disagree more. Your business model is amazing. You have almost half a million fans on Facebook, quarter of a million followers on Twitter. You have an active readership that’s likely in the hundreds of thousands. You have me typing a comment into your site when I should be working. I expect that having this audience has opened other doors for you. All thanks to the power of free and the internet. If it hasn’t, the issue is a failure to capitalise on this audience rather than a failure to charge for content.

    Anyway, don’t take that the wrong way. I really like your work and hope you get rewarded 🙂

    • andrewmangan

      Cheers. I don’t think a hard paywall would work at all, as you say it would wipe out most the audience. Finding the right approach and balance will be key.

      • Michael Rothwell

        Totally agree with TheProdigy above. My view is that Podcasts would sell their souls for the following you have, but the common denominator is that you all need to earn a living.

        Tropical MBA covered this when they interviewed Jerry Harbinger, who is one of Podcasts v.early adopters. He did it for free and had no thought to earning money until they started selling articles to their audience.

        If I’m right, you have a very loyal audience, of which I am one. Problem is I listen to 10’s of Podcasts per week/month and I can’t see how I could end up paying for the varied content that I “subscribe” to.

        I don’t want a t-shirt, but I bought your book! I trust your content and believe that if you did another, i would buy that as well. You speak my language, in a way that I could never, and I love your approach, which is to not get carried away when all around you are screaming for Wenger/Gazidis/Rioch/Houston/Graham/Howe/Neill’s head (delete or add as appropriate).

        Keep up the good work, I read your article every day, almost.

  28. Jason

    Merchandising? Are there enough people like me who’d rather see adds for your Goonered-up merchandise and buy some out of a desire to support your efforts as much as having it to make it worthwhile? I buy a new strip directly from The Arsenal every season to give suppprt – I’m an expat – more than because I feel I need the latest one.

    Geldofian messages of “Give is yet ferkkm money” to go along with it?

    • andrewmangan

      Merchandise is either time consuming and requires a big investment, or you do it through a third party and get a small amount for each sale.

  29. Iain McCulloch

    I would happily pay $5 per month to listen to the weekly Arsecast with yourself and James from Gunnerblog. (I chose not to listen to the other weekly podcast as it doesn’t interest or entertain me to the extent that yourself and James do) I do however think the written content on the Arseblog site should be available for everyone to view. I especially adore ‘Arsenal Gent’ and was nearly devastated by your recent ‘fake’ announcement of it’s ceasing. Erm…the vids that you put up are clearly not all from free to air sources, do you have to pay royalties to host these?

    • andrewmangan

      Yeah, we’ll always keep things free, but add extra value for those who want to subscribe.

  30. Robert

    I would pay a yearly subscription up to £50, like you would for a magazine, to have access to a completely advertisement free Arseblog. More than willing to pay for quality content, which Arseblog delivers every single day.

    • andrewmangan

      Yeah, subscription in return for an ad free site is one of the most obvious moves. It’s something we’ll do for sure.

  31. jacksomnambulist

    I’d like to second what many have said. I’d gladly pay a monthly or yearly subscription or donation for Arseblog.

    As a relatively new Arsenal supporter (less than 10 years) from the U.S. Arsebog was my window into the “community” aspect of the clubs supporters. I don’t know if I would have fallen so hard, so fast into my love of Arsenal without that. It has always amazed me that you do all of this for basically free.

    I follow a lot of illustrators (I own a comic book store) and I am always pleasantly surprised to see how much they are supported by a dedicated community of like minded folks. The followers that know and understand the struggle to get paid even a little bit to do the thing you absolutely love know that it is worth the donation. And I think you might be surprised at the support that would flow in if you just said to readers, “Hey, could throw a little money our way?”

    Thanks for the blog. So many of us really, really appreciate it.

  32. vino

    I have a theory about the whole coffee irl and online subscription thing. In the real world, you’ve either got cash on you- or you pass a card over a machine to instantly pay.

    But unless you’re ahead of the curve- you will be typing your details in or logging in and out of Paypal. It doesn’t ‘feel’ good doing it, for *anything* really. It’s not as easy to spend money online, literally.

    Laptops and phones are beginning to arrive with various types of ever advancing biometric sensors, possibly the key to opening it all up for good. It’s surprising it’s taken this long considering the potential benefits economically, it could still be years before it’s the norm. You can do it now if you pursue the option, but the majority don’t. It will need to be common practice for technology and banks, and I think it will. It’s surely inevitable.

    I still think many will be reluctant to pay for all the other reasons people talk about, but making online transactions as easy as pressing a button may well shift things. Not simply the option to press a button or have your iris scanned- but it being the established method.

    Press here to pay €1 to listen to this week’s podcast. Would that be a game changer?

    As for people like me from way back in the Oleole days, there’s no question. Couldn’t live without.

  33. Mike Tingay

    Given that I spend nearly £900 on Sky/BT Sport and £3,000 plus on two Arsenal season tickets per annum, the prospect of paying €5 a month for Arseblog is positively outrageous! 😉

    Seriously, I would happily pay this amount, and actually I would prefer to pay this amount to a) contribute, and b) make sure that I can continue enjoying Arseblog (and all it’s content) for years to come.

    Sign me up, make it so – even if it’s an optional subscription.

  34. Agree with the hard-core followers. Read your blog every day, listen to both podcasts, willing to pay $5/month.

    I think the business issue is how do you generate new readers/followers? I suggest you always offer something for free. Example – one can read up to 10 articles on the New York Times for free each month. I began as a casual reader (just articles that jumped out to me). I am now a monthly subscriber.

    I have a 6-book series and the first (which won a national award) is periodically offered for 99c or free to entice new readers. It breaks my heart – I put so much into it – but I understand my publisher’s concern to get people initially interested. Other authors have a series of short stories or novellas for free.

    It is always important to generate new clientele.

    Good luck. I believe you’ll get it right.
    Alon

    • andrewmangan

      I understand that, especially re: the books and the 99c thing. Anyway, I’m sure we’ll find a good solution.

  35. Tony F

    As always, thanks for your wonderful site, which like the team we support manages to both change but stay the same year after year( thankfully in a more positive way). My feelings are as follows. To pay money and feel one is doing so as an act of support rather than payment is a rare thing these days, I suspect many of us would be more than will be willing to do so. I think the key is for people to feel they are supporters and members of Arseblog in some small way even if its pretty much nominal. I’m not well versed in the practicalities of this sort of thing but would it be possible to offer members an email address from your domain – I don’t think I’d be alone in relishing an Arseblog email address and it would give us a simple but nice way of demonstrating our status as supporters of your site. Best of luck with this and I’m glad you raised it.

    • andrewmangan

      Cheers Tony. We did do the email thing back in the day, but it became difficult to manage!

  36. Jon McClintock

    Andrew, one thing I would suggest is getting rid of the daily mailing of Arseblog as I am often too lazy to open up app first thing. I worry that the “fiver” system would yield an initial windfall, but show diminishing returns, especially off-season and during the interlulls. Likewise, when the team does it’s predictable swoon at some point, I think people are inclined to not bother investing a motion. I know that sounds shallow but I think you know what I mean about Arsenal – induced depression!

    I do like the wiki/guardian model and have given to both regularly, even from the US. There’s a way that they frame the bagging that makes me feel better for responding.

  37. Dom R

    Similar comments to Jeffrey Essey and Dan Cummins above. Have read/listened to your blog daily for over 10 years. Never commented, but it’s part of my daily routine. Don’t know the intricacies of the online funding mechanisms available but I would absolutely pay for the service in some way. I only visit the BBC more often! Appreciate that not everyone can pay though. Most important thing is to keep the inclusivity and different perspectives. The fact that you get other contributors like Harry Hotspur, various journos, the AFC club photographer, Ken Early, Jon Ronson, etc means you create something unique which transcends ‘just’ Arsenal. The offbeat stuff on Mondays with James is brilliant, including all the out-takes you deliberately leave in. The live phone-in you did recently was incredibly ambitious and worked well. I think just keep doing what you are doing and plenty of people will be willing to cough up to make it viable (and ad free). Perhaps a donation is the sensible answer? Anyway, thanks for all of it!

  38. Hi Andrew

    Here’s my five pounds worth

    You could offer a recurring subscription of £60 billed annually, for 12 months access to everything, £30 for blogs only etc.

    You could also offer a pay monthly option at say 9.99 a month ongoing

    You could also offer individual blogs at 49p and arsecasts at 99p

    You would then do one off freebies so people can still be introduced to you.

    All of which can be easily put together.

    As you say people spend more on stuff that is less used.

    I think you will have no problems at all with this. You’ve got the base and the quality of your work is defijitely better than anything else out there.

    It’s a no brainier in my opinion. Happy to chat about it (we run a sass service!)

  39. Gio

    “I then asked how many people had bought a coffee that day. 80% of the hands went up.”

    100% of the hands would have gone up if you’d then asked how many people knew where you were going with this. I kid! I saw that you addressed it already. (I do very much agree with the point however.)

    As others have said I think a donation system would be great. A lot of my other favourite podcasts have been doing it successfully, and on a personal note I’ve been willing to help out every now and then too, depending on my financial situation. It doesn’t force me to pay on a regular basis and I am still able to donate when I can afford it.

  40. keith

    Andrew,

    Re-iterating others notes here; I would like the option to contribute to subsidize (which I would). I would because you are a professional and you produce content that is of a high standard, reflecting the professionalism you posses. It’s a real horror show for me to imagine a Monday during the season w/o the ArseCast Extra. When I worked in the music industry the days prior to Napster, et al, there was a study done by one of the major music publishing houses here in NYC and their conclusion was that the Napster threat was real to the labels and countries that do not enforce copyright protection are countries that don’t create art — there is no way an artist can be rewarded in that system. Vast parallels here. You create content (of a very high standard, for me) and should be rewarded for that.

    If there is a silver lining of all this, it’s that Phil Collins is making way less money now than he was 20 some odd years ago.

  41. Andrew,

    I have been an avid and well-entertained reader of the Arseblog for the better part of the fifteen years of the site’s existence and a listener to the Arsecasts since their inception. The blog has been unwaveringly well-informed and balanced about all things Arsenal during that time, with a smattering of off the wall lunacy that helps to deflate the negativity that can descend on the club and it’s fans when things are going through a sticky patch – as they currently are. The Arseblog genuinely is, in my view, one of the most interesting destinations on the interwebs. And a big majority of my Arsenal mates hold the same view.

    I can understand your point that introducing a universal paid-for subscription model may appear as taking something away from the people who have been used to free content over many years. And it’s good , and generous of spirit, that you think that way. But it also seems from sampling the various comments whenever this unavoidable subject is raised that there are a decent number of people who say they would be happy to pay a small monthly subscription around the €5 pcm figure you have flagged.

    For myself, I would absolutely be more than happy to pay a monthly / yearly subscription fee of somewhere between €5-€8 per month. For the Brits who follow the site , €5 a month works out at less than 15p per day , so it’s a very small outlay by any measure.

    If there was a concern to provide something extra for paid subscribers, maybe you could favour a slightly-higher-than-€5 per month rate and send subscribers a limited edition T shirt with Phil Collins riding a dolphin on the front. And a towel to clean up the vomit.

    I’m not sure if that would qualify as a bonus, but Arsène would know.

    Anyway, more power to your elbow mate. The Arseblog is straight out of the top drawer in terms of the quality of the content that it provides and is an essential part of my daily routine , as well as that of many thousands of others. Hence I would be more than happy to send the odd farthing or groat to the Arseblog coffers to see it go from strength to strength.

    Happy St Patricks Day. Keep it tidy.

    Up the Arsenal

  42. Ed Markham

    Without rehashing the comments already made, the biggest issue even with a nominal payment will be the likely large tailoff in readership and issues over time as the casual or new reader doesn’t get draw into the [great] content. My own two cents worth would be to keep the blog free of charge to ensure there is a large base following but then a supscription based model for extras such as the podcast. Having read/listen to the site for many years it’s clear that this is a passion rather than a money making exercise, but I think anyone would realise that there are costs involved in production and earning a living wage. Working back from the number you need to sustain these and keeping the costs as low as possible for the users I imagine would be the best model… probably a question for you and what these numbers need to be, but for example £10-20 a year (an almost derisory number) with 100k subscribers starts to get to a reasonable income while still maximising listeners. This could be supplemented with a £1-2 charge for the more casual listener (after a big game for example).

  43. Olegluzhny

    Have you thought about spotify? They seem pretty open to pods now. Contact on twitter seems to be a good route i have seen for other podcasters. Even Distrokid can help. You have the listenership, could be worth it.

  44. Brian Gentles

    Willing and ready to pay Andrew, just produce the invoice! keep up the good work

  45. Angus C

    Hi Andrew,

    I’m a long time arseblog reader and while i tend to clear my mind of Arsenal related things when it’s going badly (i.e. now) I do read on at least a weekly basis and the news site, because of its reliability, is pretty much my only Arsenal news source beyong the guardian (it’s eliminated my reliance on NewsNow, thankfully). I used to listen to the podcast but very rarely do now (it just takes up too much time for me).

    I subscribe to Howl for WTF with Marc Maron, as it offers a base level of free content but also a huge amount of good quality content in the archive (which is the paid-for part). But Howl also comes with access to other podcasts. I don’t listen to them but it’s nice to know they’re there and it adds to the value.

    I recently subscribed to the new york times, it’s about $2 Australian a week, which is nothing, but the paper has a staggering amount to offer. the coffee analogy works to an extent but what if you’re also getting a muffin, and maybe a banana, and a bottle of mineral water, and maybe you actually want a double shot in your coffee instead of just one? All these things add up – and also if it becomes too much, maybe you get rid of the muffin and the banana.

    I guess what I’m saying is, as much as I’d like to subscribe to arseblog if it went in that direction, I’m not sure if I could justify it when there are an increasing amount of subscription services as part of the online middle class’ ~content diet~. However, if arseblog belonged to some kind of syndicate of online football websites, say arseblog and second captains (when saturday comes? you get the idea) and maybe some other partisan (but not mental) club blogs, that were all of consistently high quality and had some interesting perspectives, then I would definitely consider subscribing to that – but I guess the downside for you is that you would have to share the money, but it may still be more viable than the ad-only model.

    All the best,

    Angus

  46. Adib Bamieh

    While the internet money vs real world money doesn’t resonate with me (I spend 70% of my money online, thanks Amazon). I am starting to feel the need to pay for the digital content I consume if it means better quality.

    I no longer look for free apps because usually for a few pounds I will get a significantly better quality one. This is now starting to look true for news content.

    I have the time in the day to listen to 1 podcast and read a couple of blogs. They vary in quality and I listen to lesser quality ones simply because they are free and wouldn’t bother with them if they weren’t free.

    So paying $/£/€ 5, for 2-3 podcasts of great quality would be very welcome if I’m getting the content that goes with the price. In the case of Arseblog, I get so much value that I don’t really look for football content anywhere else. I don’t have all day to browse the web, I want quality curated content and I know you provide it.

    10-15 years ago I would buy a magazine every week, £20/mnth and a newspaper every day £40/mnth. With inflation, I should be willing to be more than twice than now for the content I consume. I’m not, but I would certainly consider £20-30 for my total monthly consumption.

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