We need your help with changes at Credit Writedowns

Credit Writedowns started in March 2008. When I got into blogging three years ago, I was using it as a way to hone my thinking about the subjects which most interested me and most affected me in my professional life. I never really intended to be a semi-professional blogger. But somehow I got hooked. And here I am still plugging away. I hope you have enjoyed the writing and learned a ton from our site.

Over the last couple of months, we have been putting out some great material at Credit Writedowns as events in Europe have reached a critical state. I have been devoting more and more of my own time to blogging as a result. I think you readers have enjoyed it because I have witnessed a pickup in the comments on our site. So, despite the troubling times, I have enjoyed it all, especially because of the intellectual exchange with readers.

This has been taxing and I don’t think it’s sustainable any longer. I am the major contributor here on the editing, writing and technical side because we have no dedicated day-to-day staff for either design or technical support. I wish there were more than 24 hours in a day! It reminds me of the sign of the corner market on West 43rd Street where I once lived that proclaimed “Open 25 hours”. That’s how I want to be!

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But I can’t be like that. So I now face a choice (brought to a head at the behest of Mrs. Harrison!): either give up the blog altogether or find a way to integrate it sustainably into family and professional activities. I have decided to go with the latter and, to do that, I need your help.

Here’s what I have decided so far and where you can help me figure out the important bits. What’s clear is that I can no longer sustain the free blogging business model and devote the energy to it that I have. Credit Writedowns gets some advertising revenue but its no great shakes. You, the reader, get everything we offer here for free. I like it that way and so I want to keep it like that. However, the conundrum then is how to keep the site free and still devote enough energy and resources to maintain its quality. My solution is to run a fundraiser and to start a weekly newsletter.

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My thinking at this point is this: I will start spending more time on the site but I will take a page out of Yves Q. Smith’s book. She has been running a fundraiser for Naked Capitalism for the past few days for many of the same reasons I need to. And the results have been encouraging. My hope is to help defray the costs of running the blog and to pay for things like dedicated technical support to free up my time. I will put up a dedicated Tip Jar button in a few days, so look for it. But i also think Yves’ idea of a dedicated campaign makes sense.

I also am going to start a paid weekly newsletter. This product will go above and beyond what I write here on a daily basis and look at key global macro events and their likely future impact on business and investing decisions. The goal is to focus on contingency planning for businesses and investors as well as people just interested in figuring out how all this will affect them. I want this newsletter service to also feature a forum where we can exchange ideas and debate specific topics that users have. I think this is important because some readers would much prefer to discuss these issues in a private forum away from the prying eyes of search engines and the entire internet! I think a newsletter, editor and user generated forum would be a huge plus for getting a better grip on what these global macro ideas mean.

Here’s where you can help me. I am pretty certain this is the way I am moving forward, fundraiser and paid newsletter. The question is about how to do it. I want this transition to add value. So I need your input. Where are you getting the greatest benefit from Credit Writedowns? How do you most like to consume our content? How often would you like to get a newsletter? How much is it worth to you? What’s missing on this site that you would like to see?

Anyway, those are my thoughts. I hope to start making this transition in the next few days. I am excited about it, and a little nervous. And I am looking forward to hearing from you about what would work best for you. When I get your feedback, I will update you on next steps.

Many thanks for making the last three and a half years so enjoyable.

P.S. – I forgot to say that you should feel free to email me directly at edh@creditwritedowns.com. And for those of you who are so generous to donate to the blog, you will get that money rebated when you sign up for the newsletter. Thanks again. I am pretty excited for the next chapter here. Do give me a shout.

Edward

Oh, one last thing. I want this site to be fun, entertaining if you will. I know this is an odd way to look at financial news, especially in these difficult economic times. But, I enjoy this stuff and I want you to enjoy it as well. That’s my number one goal. So when you tell me what changes you would like to see and which ones you are willing to pay for, also tell me what does make this site fun. That would really help. Cheers.

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13 Comments
  1. Gary Ebendorf says

    Ed your blog is great. What a super headache to have in this type of economy.

    I think both of your ideas are valid. I would recommend pulling in more advertisers from the precious metal sector. Also, incorporate some of their views like King World News does. Short blips that are very timely and from professional people in the field.

    You would be tying in both far opposing views, credit versus ownership of Precious Metals.

    At any rate, your blog is awesome.

    Gary

  2. MisterMighty says

    I’ve been a regular visitor for the past year. I stop by every couple days and read an article or two – via my iPhone.

    Good stuff and good job.

    But…a pay model will just force me elsewhere.

    One thing I would like to see is ads on your smart phone interface. That’s typically how I support sites I like….follow 3 or 4 ads every time I visit.
    By driving up ad revenue, that might help.

    More ads on your site is fine in my book. I have no problem doing a couple bucks in clicks for this content.

    Since I’m not an investor and am just interested in the economy in general…paying for a newsletter falls outside of what I’m willing to do to support this site.

    More ads on smartphone version and Ill click you up $50!

  3. Dan Ebbelwoi says

    Also das tut jetzt weh! Will try to support one way or another.

  4. Mark Harrison says

    Awesome work you’ve been doing!

    I’d be happy to pay for a newsletter. Suggest you price it around $15 to $25 per month. If the newsletter is weekly there could still be a good role for the free blog in providing quick coverage.

    It will probably take time for subscription numbers to really grow on the newsletter, but if you can keep the blog quality near where it has been, it will be excellent advertisement for the newsletter.

  5. Yohay says

    This is a great site indeed, and I’m sorry I discovered it only lately.
    Since we share the same WordPress theme, I certainly think that you can increase the amount and efficiency of advertisements without scaring readers. That’s easier to implement and test than the options you’ve mentioned.
    If you need more advice, I’ll be glad to help.

  6. Namazu says

    I use an RSS reader to keep up with your blog and a hopelessly large number of others. I therefore derive the greatest value from your own lengthier posts, relatively less from posts that are largely quotes from others, very little from re-posted blog entries (which I’m likely to see elsewhere), and almost none from your Web site (which I’m unlikely to visit). If you were catering to readers like me, you might consider stripping down the site and focusing it on your own writing. As for the viability of various business models, I can only suggest letting people like Yves go first and see how it goes for them.

  7. Royal_Arse says

    Hey Edward,

    Your content is great and I enjoy the reads regularly. I am prob 50/50 from Reader/Website when it comes to personal viewing.

    Newsletters are tough, as I speak for the 26-35 demo: I won’t pay for anything online, because I can probably find similar elsewhere. Even things I know I would enjoy I dont pay for (odd, I know!), so the newsletter model may be tough to sell unless you have actionable research/insight (think stock tips etc, which I know is NOT your style).

    I rarely click ads but recently (as my personal cash flow has improved) I have been using iTunes to buy songs directly from small bands I love, and feel this is a sort-of donation. The radiohead model (give it away, ask people to donate what they can) I think is the best route to go for someone like you. Make it EASY & SIMPLE to donate a few bucks and they seems like the best route given the expertise your provide.

    Good luck!

  8. A Reader says

    I am an investment advisor and a blogger as well. I understand your conundrum as I don’t make (real) money from blogging. The blog is more of a way to clarify my thoughts.

    I also pay for research. However, what I require is that there be actionable ideas if i am going to pay. I would not pay for a macroeconomic forecast.

  9. geerussell says

    Is the technical support aspect of it large enough to benefit from sharing a platform with other bloggers to spread the costs of generic tech stuff? Are there other economic benefits of blogging partnerships?

    You and Yves Smith, for example, under the same banner would be a big draw in my opinion. Greater than the sum of the parts.

  10. David Lazarus says

    Why not have the newsletter available as a newspaper from the iOS Newsstand? They can deal with the subscriptions as well, which saves on that aspect even if you have to pay the Apple margin. Price it sensibly and you will get far more readers. If you do it as that you might even be able to sell ads within the newsletter. There is a free newspaper on the Apple Newsstand that is free as it is on the streets. It has big ads with links in which could be valuable to some corporation. As it is free, to me I read it daily, even viewing the ads. With the free for a while subs I have stopped reading because I do not want to trigger a sign up and the associated cost.

  11. Dave Holden says

    If you’d done this a few months ago I’d be in on a subscription but Steve Keen got there first for my limited funds, as the only economist I know all over the real problem – horizontal money – it’s just a gesture of support from me. That said and on Steve Keen if you do do a subscription he’s done several levels of subscription for different types of access which may be worth considering. He also uses something called http://flattr.com/ a micropayments system for content although I’m not sure how effective that is for him.

    If I’m feeling flush one week I’d certainly be willing to contribute to a tip jar as along with giving some of the best analysis on the web (well IMHO) it’s one of the few sites I know that doesn’t let a personal agenda influence the analysis.

  12. Douglas says

    I like the site as is and visit it daily. More advertising is fine. I will contribute now and then.

    Subscriptions for me are based on utility. I invest for a living and subscribe if a subscription will help me make money. My one exception is the NY Review of books.

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