I’ve followed Ricochet since it’s debut. From the beginning, it’s been an interesting site with great content. It’s also got a beautiful layout, which counts for a lot when you do what I do, which is spend way too much time reading blog posts.
Ricochet’s business model is an interesting one: rather than charging people to view content, it charges people for the right to participate in the conversation. It turns out that this business model requires that 2% of Ricochet’s members subscribe to Ricochet. The problem, though, is that only 1% are currently subscribing, and this is true despite an audience that is large and increasing.
With only a 1% pay base, Ricochet is looking at — gasp! — going out of business:
Every month, we get somewhere between 400,000 and 500,000 unique visitors to the site. Every month, we get somewhere around 300,000 podcast downloads. And that’s growing every month. We repeat: Ricochet is growing.
But here’s the problem: only about 1% of those visitors are members. And that’s not enough to cover our costs paying our editors and technical team even the pittance we pay them.
We insisted, from the start, that Ricochet should be a business. We decided we wouldn’t try to cover our expenses by raising money from foundations. We should submit ourselves to the marketplace. That’s the best way to know if you’re reaching people or not; If you’re filling a need or not.
So here’s where we stand: unless we get more members, something closer to 2% of our visitors, we really can’t keep the business going. Our whole model is built on the 2% figure. That’s all we need: 2% of our regular visitors to join up.
In about four weeks, we’ve got some tough decisions to make.
That’s the bad news. The good news is that, for only $29.95, you can get both a year’s membership in Ricochet and, if you’re a new subscriber, a year of National Review Digital. That’s both an incredible deal and a small price to pay to keep a quality conservative site alive. If we care about true conservativism, we must cultivate it for the next few years. If we’re not willing to do that, we should just sit back and wait for the loving liberal fascists to decide that we conservatives are such a miserable lot, we should be gently euthanized for our own emotional well-being.
I’m going to subscribe immediately. I haven’t done so before since the site takes only credit card payments, and I try to keep my politics and my credit card separate. Roughly thirty dollars for a year’s great reading is such a bargain, though, that I’m willing to break my own rules.
I realize that those of us who subscribe now are taking a bit of a risk — after all, Ricochet might find itself going under when Obama raises his hand and swears another oath he’ll ignore. Nevertheless, what’s life without a little risk? I’m sure there are some of us out there who can afford a $30 gamble.