by John Hawkins | January 24, 2011 7:42 am
Right Wing News has been around for a full decade now and during that time, I’ve raised money for politicians, for charities, and for people who I thought needed it. RWN led the first major blogger fundraising drive for Republican candidates back in 2006. We raised close to $300,000. In 2008, RWN was on the board of Slatecard which raised over $650,000 for Republican candidates. Toss in the amount raised for charities and individual candidates and I’m pretty sure that RWN has played at least some small part in fundraising drives that have helped bring in over a million dollars for good causes.
That brings us to the present. RWN is not a cheap enterprise to run. Because of its size, the page needs expensive private server hosting. I’ve spent north of $3,000 on coding in the last two years for all the websites in the RWN family (RWN, Linkiest, and Viral Footage). It costs money to have interviews transcribed. It has cost marketing money to build a 73,000 person Twitter account. Now, I’ve hired a professional firm to do a new design. This is also not going to be cheap.
So, with all that in mind, I’ve decided that I need to up the revenue that RWN is bringing in. The simplest and easiest way to do that would be to start running more obtrusive advertising. I’m referring to auto-play video ads, pop-unders, and interstitial ads. These ads are becoming more prevalent on the web — including on political websites — because they pay a really good rate per view. I have talked to firms that sell these ads and if I want, I can have them up and running on RWN within the week.
Still, if I’m being perfectly honest, I have to admit that I find those ads to be annoying. Yes, I still go to websites that run ads like that, but it’s irritating to have a video start playing the moment I get on a site. I also don’t want to shut down a browser window I didn’t open in the first place — or try to find a “close” button that’s stuck in an odd location so that I’ll have to look at the product ad for a longer time. Those things detract from the viewing experience of the website.
Rather than go that route, I decided to try doing a fundraiser instead. This is not the least bit unusual on the Right. Show me a conservative think tank in this country and I’ll show you an organization that relies heavily on donors. Websites like National Review, Lucianne, and Free Republic do fundraisers every year. Additionally, given that roughly 65% of RWN’s readers make more than $100,000 a year, I guarantee you there will be a number of you who will give multiple politicians $2400 for the primary and then $2400 more for the general election during this cycle — and guess what? Some of those politicians will lose, your money will be wasted, and you know that going in. Why not put your money somewhere you know it will make a difference instead?
Furthermore, we’ve all heard people complain that we can’t get donors to support bloggers. So, there isn’t going to be a sugar daddy who shows up and funds everything or a think tank that pays for RWN’s hosting and web design out of the goodness of its heart. If it’s going to get done, the people who read and enjoy RWN are going to have to be the ones to do it. That means YOU.
So, here’s what I’d like to see happen: I’d like to raise enough money to cover the web design costs of RWN, the coding I’m going to need for the rest of the year, and the money I’m going to need for marketing, paying for interviews, the occasional grunt work I’m going to hire out, and a few other odds and ends.
Here’s what you get in return for helping to make that happen.
#1) A newer, cleaner, better looking, faster running Right Wing News. If you chip in money, even if it’s only $10, then every time you look at the page you can take pride in knowing that you helped make it possible.
#2) Your money assures that there aren’t going to be any auto-play video ads, pop-unders, and interstitial ads on RWN. In other words, not only are you getting the new design, you’re making sure that you’re not going to have any annoying ads on it.
#3) I’m going to contact everyone who gives $10 or more and use them as a representative group of people to consult about the page. I figure anyone who’s at least willing to give $10 must be a regular reader and care about how well the page does. Isn’t it better to consult people like that about the comments section, new features, and what they like or don’t like than the general public?
#4) I’ve had a number of requests to bring back Q&A Fridays where I answer questions posed by RWN’s readers once a month. If we raise the money, not only am I going to do that, I’m going to kick things off next week with a special Q&A Friday. Why is it special? Because the people who contribute $10 or more will be the only ones allowed to ask questions on the first Q&A Friday of 2011.
Folks, a lot of people talk about wanting to support independent conservatives and bloggers. This is your chance to actually DO it. I really hope you’ll step up to the plate.
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