We excitedly launched our Insider service this week, which we have been planning to do for probably near on seven months. Kelly and I decided that this was the right course awhile back.
First, our server is expensive. Our WordPress plugins are expensive. We want to provide the coolest site to people that we can. On top of that, we want to pay our writers and our editors. When you pay people, all sorts of great things happen - deadlines get met, people write better articles, more people are interested in writing for the site, and everyone on down the line takes things seriously.
For those of you saying "just put banners up," ads do not work. You don't click on them and neither do I. Let me give you an example: before we launched this, Kelly ran QS as a blog that got about 30,000 views monthly. He used AdSense, which is a pretty good revenue generator. He was barely able to "keep the lights on" even with that many hits - Adsense generated about $12 a month for QS. The truth of it is that our readers are smart, technically savvy people who have learned to tune out ads of all kinds, if they don't just straight-up use AdBlock. Sites greater than ours, like ArsTechnica, have had to plead with their customers to actually use ads or turn off AdBlock. Every site that you read good, free material on is supported by a store behind it - SCG, CF, Mananation and more. QS doesn't have a store that can bankroll articles that serve as sophisticated marketing tools. I don't ever want to be in a position where we have to shut down the site, nor do I want to be in a position where we cannot pay people for all their hard work.
We have had an encouraging number of subscribers already, and the really cool thing about that for me isn't the money coming in (we aren't getting rich off this) but that these readers clearly see the value in what we produce. When Kelly and I first met, we talked about personal development, which is an internet term for self-help that covers topics from eating better and exercising more to hot to pick up hot babez at da club. In any of these communities, you'll find people who apply what they read and people who are "keyboard jockeys" that are fine to read everything, but don't attempt the risks and work required for true success. So it was good for me to see that many people have already shown us that QS has made them more successful at Magic, whether it means getting better trades or hopping on card trends early. I am very interested in connecting the person who wants to be better at trading with what we offer. I am not so interested in convincing someone who expects everything to be free to make an investment in their cards when they are opposed to paying for any Magic content. I hope that we can one day offer the financial content that will make people who are interested in it, but not subscribing now, to sign up.
In other news, Kelly is about two months away from his round-the-world Magic Trip. He'll be going to London, Europe, Australia, Brazil and more. What's cool about this is that through a combination of corporate sponsorships and Kelly's hustle in the past few months, the trip is paid for (with a free video camera too!) at no cost to our Insiders. Know that this badass trip isn't a junket bankrolled by our most loyal readers! It promises to be the most involved, interesting, in-depth series on Magic around the world that we've ever seen.
And that's worth getting really excited about.