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Hi, I’m Brad Feld, a managing director at the Foundry Group who lives in Boulder, Colorado. I invest in software and Internet companies around the US, run marathons and read a lot.

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The End of My Paid Subscription Content Experiment

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At the beginning of October, I wrote a post titled New Email Newsletter on Work-Life Balance where I decided to try a new email newsletter tool called Letter.ly to produce a paid email newsletter on work-life balance ($1.99 / month).  I’ve decided to end this experiment and sent out the following letter to the email list tonight.  Of course, because I didn’t tune the settings on Letter.ly it tweeted out the post, which recursively forced you to subscribe to read it.  Oops.  Here it is.


I’ve decided to end my experiment with Letter.ly (and – more importantly – “paid subscription content.”)  I want to thank each of you for being part of this experiment.

I realize there was a cost to it (I think some of you have paid $1.99, others have paid $3.98 to date.)  I tried to refund the money, but there wasn’t an easy way to do this.  As a result, if I encounter any of you in the next year, I’m perfectly happy to reimburse you directly (just ask for the cash).  If we don’t cross paths physically, please feel free to ask me for a favor via email (brad@feld.com) or, if you really want your money back, email me your Paypal account info and I’ll Paypal you $1.99 or $3.98 (depending on how much you paid.)

Now, on to why I decided to stop this experiment.  Basically, I found it incredibly unsatisfying.  As an almost-daily blogger since 2005 (and often more than once a day), I thought it would be interesting to explore paid content via an email newsletter approach.  It was interesting – in that I feel a combination of “strange pressure to produce” combined with “discomfort with charging for the content.”

1. Strange Pressure to Produce: After five years of blogging, writing a post has no emotional content at this point.  I just write.  Sometimes my posts are insightful; often they are just words.  I don’t feel the need to “produce valuable stuff” – I figure people will read the posts if they want.  In contrast, every few days I thought about the idea of writing something for this newsletter.  Ideas would cross my mind, but they were rarely compelling to me.  Yet I felt pressure to write.  Periodically, the following thought would cross my mind: “If I don’t write at least $1.99 worth of stuff a month, I’m going to be letting down my readers.” And then I’d contemplate this. $1.99?  Seriously?  Is this how I’m valuing things all of sudden?  The mere fact that I was thinking about this, especially since there was no practical way that the amount of money I’d make from this would have any impact on my life, seemed like a waste of mental and emotional cycles.

2. Discomfort With Charging for the Content: This is related to the idea that the money isn’t material to me.  Over the past 60 days, I’ve seen several tweets that said some version of “Seriously Feld, you are charging for your content?” of “Feld puts up a paywall.”  While I don’t object to getting paid for content, this seemed like a really strange / retro way to do it.  Whenever I pondered it, I was uncomfortable; whenever someone called me out on it I felt strange.

I learned what I wanted from this experiment – I don’t want to write a paid newsletter, nor do I want to charge subscribers directly for blog-like content that I produce.  With that, the experiment is over. Going forward, I’ll be posting all of my Work-Life Balance writing to my blog at www.feld.com, regardless of whether or not this impacts my book publisher’s view on the content.

As there appears to be no way to delete this newsletter, please unsubscribe.  In the mean time, I’ve lowered the monthly price to $0.10 (the lowest the system will let me charge.)

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