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Dec 7, 2001 05:53 PM

Jim, are you going to sell subcriptions?

  • u


Love the site and depend on it for finding new places around the country - great travel resource for me. I'd hate to see it go.

Asking for donations and selling magnets may bring you some cash, but it's not a long-term solution.

Sell subscriptions already. There's a devoted following who would gladly pay. Your site's greatest value is the postings database. Make the site free for all current postings (< 2 weeks?). Charge something like $25/year or $2.95/month or whatever for access to the database. I'll bet you'll get many many subscribers.

(Btw, F***edcompany uses this model and brings in $80,000+ per month in subscriber revenue. Though the content couldn't be more different, your sites have very similar models -- a niche, devoted audience seeking access to info you can't get anywhere else.)

Forgive me if this issue has been asked and answered. I'm just hoping to be helpful.


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  1. We ARE selling subscriptions! And it's no honor-system do-good thing....we actually send you amazingly useful, high-value reports that cut through the chaos of this site's delirious deluge. We send you.....ChowNews!

    It costs a mere $15 (if you want to pay more, buy some Good Will!), and we'd love for everyone to sign up for it.

    See this posting at link below for much more info.


    10 Replies
    1. re: Jim Leff

      Oh, goody. I'll sign up.

      Pardon my earlier post. Just delete it.

      1. re: Uncledave

        "Just delete it"

        You kidding? And lose a perfect set-up for a sales pitch like that??

        No way, Uncledave!


        1. re: Jim Leff

          And let's tell them what they get:

          There is a separate chownews letter for each of the most active boards: NYC, LA and SF (sold separately).



          Plus there is Jim's tip sheet for those who wish to directly encourage two of Jim's most demanding habits: eating and writing about it.

          I signed up, and glad I did.


          (sorry if my silliness does not communicate or entertain, even at noon it stil feels like early early on Saturday morning)

          1. re: wrayb


            Signed up for my subscription - looking forward to my first issue.

            May I suggest you post a sample issue or an excerpt for people to see - it's very hard to sell content without sampling. Give some houndish reader testimonials.

            Also, if this is your most important product and sales are a business imperative, promote it more prominently on your home page as well as on top of the boards. Give people more chances to see it than the single text link that's up now. I never saw the link until you told me and I check the site regularly. Out of habit, I zip to my favorite boards and no doubt many others do. Chances are, you're missing out on a lot of opportunity.


            1. re: Uncledave

              thanks, unc

              No objection to posting a sample, but since we haven't launched these publications yet, there's nothing to show right now.

              on the other hand, this site's got a solid reputation for high-quality, great info, and integrity. I'd have thought people would take my word for it that these products will be as useful as described; we've never disappointed hounds before!

              As for visibility, yes, there is clearly a problem. But, actually, we:

              1. took everything off the top of our home page and inserted a big red notice with graphic

              2. added "Chowmarket" to our nav bar

              3. spammed every message board twice

              4. sent out a dire email to our entire mailing list (though some apparently didn't get it...we'll send a new one this week and hope they all arrive).

              We're working on a way to insert a message into hotposts. inserting messages into board indexes themselves would take dozens of hours (and we're all pretty overwhelmed here as is).

              Not sure how to make this any more obvious. What works best are big active threads. But my request to have people start threads of this sort on the regional boards went nowhere, so many non-NY/SF/LA hounds probably still don't know about our situation.


              1. re: Jim Leff

                I think there has to be something at the top of the main board, spelling out what the situation is and making a pitch for funds. I would suggest a compilation of the best previous posts on this topic. I only became aware of how dire the site's plight is from Leslie Brenner's post about it. I think you have to keep plugging hard as long as this emergency exists, similar to the way NPR does. Yes, it's boring and annoying but better that than to drop into a bottomless pit simply because people aren't aware of the emergency. I feel as certain as you do that there is great enthusiasm for this site, but people do have to be reminded continually. Such, alas, are the exigencies of fund raising, and not just for this site.

                1. re: hobokenhenry

                  I live in Ottawa, Canada, and don't get nearly enough chances to travel to NYC, SF & LA. Give me your (no doubt persuasive) pitch on why I should subscribe to ChowNews.

                  1. re: Gourmando

                    Nope! You shouldn't! ChowNews is about those regions, and highly useful for those who live or sometimes travel there.

                    But we hope, eventually, to do ChowNews for many other regions. If we get enough sign-ups to NY, SF, and LA, there may one day be a ChowNews for you. So pass the word to your NY, SF, and LA friends (or local friends who travel there)!


                    1. re: Jim Leff
                      Alexandra Eisler

                      But wait, there's more.

                      I just signed up for the Chow Alert, cause no one describes deliciusness quite like the Big Dog...

                      (and gave a gift subscription to the SF message board to my brother in Virginia, such a deal!)


                      1. re: Alexandra Eisler

                        Jim, I best agree with what our first posting had to say ... to charge people for a subscription to the actual site. I'm glad to see that people are subscribing to ChowNews, although I'm not sure how much revenue you'd bring in this way. Is this (even combined with T-shirts and goodwill) enough to save the Chowhound site?

                        Not everyone is as generous as they could be, when they don't have to be. I remember back in high school, in order to join the honor society, outsitde volunteer work was mandatory. Was this an oxymoron? Yes. But was it an effective one? Yes. They made the rule because although volunteering was "highly recommended", nobody was actually doing it before it became mandatory.

                        I'm sure that you'd rather not force people into subscriptions, but sometimes, the situation requires it. I like Uncledave's idea of making the site free for new postings... that way - you would still be making Chowhound available to the public. Also, perhaps you could make subscription exceptions for people with extenuating circumstances, although I think that if they can afford to go out, they'd be doing fine paying an extra few bucks a month.

                        Another suggestion to earn some revenue: try linking up with an established internet site or service provider. They could provide you the server, and you could provide them with increased traffic flow and site appeal.

                        Or perhaps you could try re-negotiating your server fees. With dot-coms bouncing out of business, providers may be willing to negotiate, especially if they understand your situation.

                        Overall, I think that this financial problem needs to be handled on an operations-wide basis. Supplemental sources of income such as T-shirts may help bring in some money, but long-term, your fundamental operations will need to undergo change. Hopefully, that change will not equal the end of Chowhound.