As I noted recently, my lack of a job making a television show has been good for Public Address. I've been able to spend more time on the site and our traffic in the past month -- Analytics says 215,000 pages served to 67,000 unique users -- has been nearly double what it was in some months when I was busy with the telly. Even given that "unique users" is basically mysterious voodoo, I'm quite pleased with that.
I've been enjoying it too. I can honestly say there is no audience I would rather write for than you. (Okay, yes, if the New Yorker got in touch, I'd be quite thrilled.) And in a week when Popular Science killed off its online comments facility on the basis that it had become "bad for science" -- and when some people hold that internet comments may be unfixably broken -- it's not lost on me that the culture here at Public Address is a rare and valuable one.
It's not just that our discussions tend to be well-informed and respectful, but that this has become a safe place for people -- in both posts and comments -- to be open and honest about important aspects of their lives. I have a guest post due next week that comes right from the heart of the author; the kind of thing she might have found hard to publish elsewhere, certainly in a format where it could be publicly discussed. I'm proud of that.
Part of that is down to a great group of regulars who understand the culture and part of it is a matter of me being here a lot.
That wasn't going to be the case. I actually took a modest job that would have taken me through to the end of the year, and if I'd worked pretty hard outside that, I'd have possiby kept up my overall income. What happened is that I worked two days and then had to explain to my new employer that it had been a mistake. It was a good gig for a more junior journalist, but not for me -- and more to the point, it meant me walking away from all the cultural capital I've built up. My only regret about the decision is the short-term inconvenience it caused to some perfectly decent people.
Which just leaves the bills to be paid. And as I explained in my ANZIAs speech last week:
Independent local publishers – and I’m one – have seen not only current banner advertising income but any prospective revenue shrivel up and die.
So I'm getting some good freelance jobs and working on some longer-term proposals, but I don't have a weekly income as such. So my plan is, I do some work for you, boss.
The proceeds of whip-rounds past have very largely gone toward the debt I owe to our wonderful developers, CactusLab, and I intend to spend a bit more with them. But this time, it's more about sustaining me: in tidying up the site a bit, in posting frequently and being here a lot -- and in doing some more actual reporting for you. I have a few ideas for the latter, but I'm also open to your suggestions.
So if you like and value what happens here, and you can spare a few dollars, I'd be very grateful if you felt able to make a donation, either by bank credit or via the PayPal button below.
What I am pleased to say is that this might be the last time I need to ask this of you -- at least in this way. As I also said in the ANZIAs keynote:
But there is another model. The subscriber radio model. My readers don’t actually need much persuading that the argument for paying so that everyone can have nice things is a strong one. In the past two years, I’ve made more from asking them for a contribution than I have from advertising. Keith Ng has also had some success in asking readers to crowdfund his stories – after he’s published them.
But this needs a permanent structure, and it needs to work for all of us. One solution I see is this: a simple, voluntary subscription system which can be joined by any New Zealand website or blog at one end, and any reader at the other. In concept, it’s simple. There would be some regulatory hoops to pass through.
But I’ll talk to anyone who thinks they can help do this. Because these are tough and even troubling times for journalism and the arts.
I'm pleased to say that I am talking to some people. There would be a long way to go towards delivering on the idea, but I feel more hopeful about it than I ever have before. One of our long-term partner sites also has some good news coming. I think we can clamber out of this hole we're all in.
But for now, if you feel you can chip in, please do so. All proceeds will, as usual, be declared as income. You can do it via this PayPal button (oh, and it will be a glorious day when I don't use PayPal any more, but for now ...):
Or via a credit into the Dubwise Arrangements Limited bank account. If you identify your payment as "Public Address", that will help us identify them:
030255 0166635 00
Righto. Have at it in the comments as ever, you lovely buggers.
ALSO: If we're basically dead to the conventional advertising industry, we do still have access to a sophisticated ad-serving system and plenty of page impression to play with. If your business might benefit from advertising here, please do feel free to get in touch and we'll do you a very good deal. The creative specs and positions available are listed here. Click the envelope icon below to get in touch.
AND: I've been holding back on the very popular food blog posts in the hope of attracting a sponsor. A beverage sponsor would be ideal, as Im looking for a modest weekly cash commitment plus product, which would go to guest bloggers, but other products or services would work too. I can offer a very good package, including complimentary advertising here and in other media. Click the envelope icon below to get in touch.