Your humble blogger is embarrassingly late to thank all of you for what in the end was a successful fundraiser. You may recall we had to hit the panic button because donations were so far behind where they needed to be that it put our ability to operate in question.
Fortunately, and very gratifyingly, readers rallied, and donations rapidly got back on track. But that recovery came about because many of you gave generously a second, or even a third, time. We would greatly prefer never impose on your generosity this way again!
We don’t want to have to go through, and put supporters through, a roller coaster like that. One of the reasons our donations had been down is that some of our big donors didn’t contribute as much in 2023 (two had made exceptional gifts in 2022; sadly, a very loyal and generous supporter, Sarah Henry, died in 2023). So the short version is that in recent years, while our fundraiser totals were more or less keeping pace with inflation, it was happening by virtue of higher average donations on a smaller total donor numbers. So when some big donations didn’t come in, it has an even bigger impact.
So this is a long-winded way of saying that we need to attract more readers, and hopefully some over time will become contributors. But as most of you also know very well, that’s become vastly harder over the years as Google (and most search engines use Google or Google-like plumbing) has been optimized for shopping, and has also systematically downgraded smaller sites, particularly independent news and commentary sites, in search results. Serendipity on search used to be a source of new readers. No more. And, so far, we have managed to evade the attentions of the Censorship Industrial Complex (save our early dust-up with PropOrNot), but that may not continue.
So what to do? One friend of the site weighed in with a lot of McKinsey-sounding ideas. The problem is even if they’d be beneficial, they’d take time and resources we don’t have, meaning site content and frequency of moderation would become casualties. Or in the words of the philosopher Pink:
L.A. told me, “You’ll be a pop star.
All you have change is everything you are.”
We appreciate that many of you have promoted Naked Capitalism to members of your circle. But not surprisingly, we have been told they are regularly PMC or Dem-adjacent, so uptake has not been great. The problem is our market segment, or if you prefer, tribe, does not fall along demographic lines (demographic segmentations are the norm). Ours is what is called psychographic, so it is genuinely not trivial to find the like-minded.
So here are some of the things we are planning:
Greatly revising newsletter to appeal to broader audience, particularly other writers. Readers who volunteer how they found us say most often from another site, as in a link from the proprietor, like Calculated Risk (back in the day of the sainted Tanta), Barry Ritholtz, or by being on Harry Shearer. We also put out a lot of content across an unusually broad range of topics, so it is easy for sites that are more narrow to miss relevant material from us.
Given that writers who might be (or sometimes have been) interested in our content suffer from the same information overload that we do, it’s easy for them to miss posts of ours that they would deem valuable, we are thinking about going to a weekly, shorter, more easily scanned newsletter. If you have any models you like, in layout and ease of scanning content, please send that on.
Our current newsletter is a friends and family-product, intended to bolster reader loyalty. We need something more frequent, ideally weekly, more professional-looking, and more telegraphic. It would also feature posts and (sadly) not much comments, since most people in our target audience are hoovering up information broadly but not deeply. We have a couple of models we like. If you have any to recommend, please pipe up in comments. Better yet if you have layout expertise and could help (Lambert has a background in print publication and so can do a reasonable job of working off a model, but help with fine-tuning would be very much appreciated).1
Beefing up our mailing list. We have lots of allies who probably would not mind being put on a list (if you are in this business, you wind up on all sorts of publicists’ lists, which once is a great while prove useful). I can go through my address history for previous correspondents, and there are journalists whose are on some of the beats we are on (like private equity) who have public e-mails and therefore should be useful. Given that we are now more international in our coverage, there could be some important non-US writers who should get missives from us. Putting together this sort of list is actually a big task, so if you can send us e-mail addresses of candidates (who have public e-mail addresses), it would help considerably. Please send them, with the subject line “Newsletter e-mails” to yves-at-nakedcapitalism-dot-com.
Producing more book reviews. Readers remark that they sometimes find the news overwhelming and so some broader fare could be stimulating in and of itself as well as provide a break in programming. Of course, these could also be a point of entre for new readers. We could also consider having readers review and comment on classics of various sorts.
Having our tech guru Dave engage in selected fixes to appease the Google gods. We do not do SEO, which we regard as snake oil. But Google sometimes sends missives about what they’d like fixed and we can address that on a more punctual basis.
How you can help. In addition to providing public e-mail addresses of pundits, commentators, and journalists who ought to be receptive to our work would be for readers who frequent reader-comment-driven sites to link to articles germane to the discussion (when there is a fit!). Prime candidates here are Reddit, Ycombinator/Hacker News, and Slashdot.
While these ideas may not seem inspired, we have limited bandwidth and it seems best to focus on activities with reasonable odds of getting more readers, and importantly, links from like-minded sites and writers.
Thanks for your help and support!
1 One reader (rather insistently) suggested we install a pop-up to solicit sign-ups for the newsletter. Lambert and I both rejected the idea vehemently. We and many readers hate popups, they can generally be suppressed, and what we think we need to do is outreach.