The future of Post Status

I’m tired. Really, really tired. I’ve been tired for weeks. Those of you who follow this blog closely know that it’s been slow around here. I’ve only published ten blog posts since the beginning of August. For me, that’s three to four times less than normal.

I’m not burned out, but I’ve definitely been on a break from Post Status. I’ve gone days without visiting my own site or even looking at the stats (!!!).

This post is quite introspective; but I figured it was better to tell you what I’ve learned and what I’m thinking, versus act like everything is normal here.

Since 2010 I’ve regularly blogged about WordPress. I’ve had breaks before and this is probably my longest. Since launching Post Status a year and eight months ago, I’ve thought about it every single day of my life. I’ve probably not missed a single week until this last month, even when I took vacation.

This summer I’ve been gearing up for a lot of changes for Post Status, and honestly this break is at the worst time. I’m about 70% done with a complete redesign of the website, and I’ve spent months agonizing on how to direct the future of the blog and planning for a whole new revenue model. I want Post Status to be around for years, and for my own sanity and the long term relevance of Post Status, this break has been mandatory.

Range (the agency I’m part of) is growing and we are very busy. My personal life has been full of travel, obligations, and some changes (for the good!). Things have been nuts.

I knew that I could either slow down or burn out. I slowed down, and I looked at my priorities.

This blog is important. But not as important as job or family.

I love Post Status. I love blogging. I love WordPress. But not as much as I love my family, nor even my job. Post Status is not my primary revenue generator. In its current form it pays for itself but doesn’t really pay me.

While I’ve been focusing on my job and delivering quality projects to our clients, and handling outside obligations, I decided that Post Status needed to take a back seat for just a little bit.

This has pained me. Every time I see news, I want to write it. I still haven’t published my WordPress 4.0 post, something I’ve done every major release since WordPress 3.1 came out. Trust me, I hate this. Fortunately, kind people give me great reminders.

Don’t stress too much, there’ll be plenty of us waiting whenever you’re back

Statements like that one from Ryan McCue remind me why I love this community. You’re forgiving, and kind with your words, sharing, and encouragement.

Part of the future I’m planning is to make Post Status more capable for paying me for my time, and even paying for contributors to help make it great and to sustain the site while allowing me to take breaks like this past month.

When I make this shift to a new model, I’m going to ask you for help. This post should explain why I’ll be asking. I want to keep writing great content, and I want it to be sustainable for the long term. And I want to offer you, readers, great value for your investment.

I’ve said many times that Post Status has far greater value than just monetary. It’s how I’m plugged into the community, follow industry trends, build relationships, and so much more. I’ve even given WordCamp talks about this.

But I also want to make money. I only have so many hours in the day, and I’ve spent four years not making money, preparing to ask for it with your trust ensured.

The future of Post Status is recurring yearly memberships

I’m letting the cat out of the bag that I’ve held onto tightly for months. In the next month or so, I’m going to ask you to become a Post Status Club member, or a Post Status Patron.

These are two steps of membership, both yearly. In complete transparency, I’m considering pricing of $99 (club) and $365 (patron) respectively. For this price, I’ve prepared a number of features for you:

I’m bringing back links.

I loved writing link posts, but Google crushed me for them. Because I have hundreds of “low value” pieces of content, Google devalued the entire site and my SEO has been terrible. I’m moving all links to a protected custom post type, available to members only, and I’ll email them to you each day or week or something. In my ideal world it’d be like Dave Pell’s NextDraft for WordPress news.

New free content.

I’m partnering with some great people, whom I am paying for contributions, to write (or produce) the type of content I’d want to read. This will be free content, supported by members, that we’ll all benefit from. It will also help me sustain new content for times like now when I need a break. I’ll be asking club members and patrons to use their money to help fund more content for all.

New club-level resources.

I’ll be offering club level protected resources. In addition to club-only links and news, I’ll have more evergreen resources available only to members. These resources may take many forms: video, eBook, text. I’ll do everything I can to create and offer valuable content to club members.

There will be a job board.

I’m going to have a job board. Plenty of WordPress websites have tried to do a job board. I’ve opted for a quarterly “Who’s hiring” post, that’s done quite well. People have gotten jobs from it! I personally think I”m well suited to offer a job board; most of my readers are serious WordPress professionals and a great pool for companies to recruit from. The membership will play into the job board in some way, but I’m not exactly sure how yet.

A complete directory.

I’m also building out a method to showcase a complete directory of WordPress companies, people, and products. Think of it as a Crunchbase for WordPress. Aspects of this may be members only, but it will also be used for site organization purposes, connected to news and blog posts about these entities.

Potential deals, bundles and discounts.

One of the benefits I’m considering is a series of deals, bundles, and discounts available to members. This would be through corporate partnerships, where the corporate partner would be able to offer exclusive discounts to members (I’m talking about deals you can’t find elsewhere; not 10% off type of stuff). I’m not sure if you, readers, find value in that or not. I’d love to know.

Do you want me to have corporate partners?

Let’s get radical. I’m just going to ask you. Basically, there is a line out the door of companies that want to sponsor Post Status. I’m so grateful for this, you have no idea.

But I’m also unsure.

In my thinking to date, I’ve considered offering up yearly corporate sponsorships; something every single company I’ve talked to has said yes to without even asking the price. Realistically, I could have about seven corporate sponsors that account for up to about $25,000 in yearly revenue. Of course, these are the type of (invite only) sponsors that make outstanding products that I use and recommend. Just like I do now with The Theme Foundry.

However, I’m not sure if this is the route I should take.

I have questions for you, and need your input.

How independent do you want me to be?

If I don’t do partnerships, I’ll need an additional 250 paying members to make up for that revenue loss. If I do have partnerships, I can offer partner-only discounts and bundles to members. But I’ll also have a fiduciary responsibility to these partners, and that may take many forms: on-page advertisements, sponsored content, tweets, plugs, etc.

Trust me, I want the money, and I will cover the news for the sponsors that support me either way. But if readers overwhelmingly state that they want me to be wholly independent, I’m willing to give it a shot. So, what say you? Would you be much more likely to trust me and become a member if I had no corporate sponsorship? Would you do it either way? I want to know.

Why do I want money and why am I blogging about this?

Well, I have no idea why I’m blogging about this. I just am. I came home from getting coffee this morning and it just hit me that I need to share with my readers what’s on my mind. This is what I do. And hopefully, somehow, you’ll find value in this post as well.

As far as why I want to raise money for Post Status, I guess that’s obvious. But the real question is, “how much is enough, Brian?”

Well, that’s a good question, and at different times my answer to myself changes. When I started this blog, I thought maybe a thousand dollars a month in revenue would be a great long term goal. Now I know that wouldn’t come close to being enough to pay for the level of contributions I want, nor even enough to pay me for the countless hours I spend running the site and writing.

I want to pay for contributors; I want to be able to more freely attend conferences on behalf of the blog; I want to bring home a little extra cash; I want to sustain long term; and I don’t want to use affiliate links at all.

My short term goal is to get 250 members. My long term goal is to get 1,000 members. Given the size of the WordPress economy, I think it’s doable. But I certainly can’t do it alone. I’ll need you to help spread the word, and tell others why you think being a Post Status club member is worthwhile.

Long term, if Post Status were generating six figures of revenue, it would be plenty of money to pay for contributors, travel on behalf of Post Status, and put some money in the bank.

Giving you everything I can.

I was advised not to talk about money or what I want. But that’s just not in me. You can either speculate about it or I can tell you. So I’ll tell you.

To some in the world, the numbers I’m throwing out are going to sound obscene and ridiculous. How could a part time blogger possibly expect this? And those folks are right. It’s completely radical to think a niche news blog could be a six figure operation. But I’m going for it anyway. But it’s not about the money. I’d expect to take home less than half the revenue I make.

I’ll never be able to keep up with the great folks at WP Tavern and others that are corporately backed. But you’ll have me, fully independent, fully me, fully invested.

I will put every ounce of energy I have into creating first-class content and offering the very best benefits I can. If I can think of something that will add value for members, I’ll do it. Every time. Every day. I’ll also always keep long form pieces, 1-5 of them per week, completely free for everyone.

Will you join me?

I had no idea this was the post I was going to write today. I’ve put my entire little Post Status heart into this editor screen. Now I need your feedback. Because if you aren’t with me, then I need to readjust my strategy.

Are you with me? Will you join me? Will you be a Post Status club or patron member?

I don’t care how you tell me. Contact me, comment, tweet at me or Skype me @krogsgard. I just want to know.

Thanks for reading this far. I’m truly blessed by this WordPress community.

If you’re with me, we’ll launch this thing around WordCamp San Francisco.