The Impossible Economics of Freelance Blogging
Sullivan decided to shut down his site permanently and not have it continue without his name.
This sentence struck out to me:
“We’re a tiny team, already stretched beyond any sane life/work balance, with no financial backer, and a work ethic that might be alternately described as manic or masochistic.”
Sullivan railed against sponsored content for years because he thought the ads were misleading and it could compromise editorial and journalistic independence. Personally, I have never unwittingly clicked on a sponsored content story. Sponsored content always looked well-marked in my eyes and this was true across all sites. He was a big proponent of his low cost subscription model but I always had my doubts. I can see how you can get an initial rush of subscriptions but after that rush, it just becomes harder and harder to get more subscribers or people stop subscribing after a year or two. Newspaper and Magazine subscriptions often seem like they are below cost and profit as well and when I pay for my New Yorker and New York Times subscriptions, I get a lot more original content than Sullivan ever puts up. Most revenue for newspapers and magazines came from advertisers. The advertisers first dried up with the advent of television. They dried up even more with the advent of the Internet.
It looks like sponsored content is going to be the only way for on-line only Magazines to make money. Slate plus comes with extra content but the extra goodies never seemed good enough or interesting enough to make the 50 dollar subscription worthwhile.
Blogging looks like it is going to be a side-gig or hobby from now on unless someone can attach themselves to a larger media organization.