First, the member program
will officially go live next Tuesday, May 1st. At that point, only members will receive our hand-curated and crafted newsletter, What'sUpNewp Daily Edition, daily at 6 am. All other current email subscribers will receive our RSS fed email newsletter, What'sUpNewp Daily Digest, at 12 pm. While there are some great benefits
to becoming a Member, our member program isn’t just about a newsletter or two. It’s truly about becoming our partners to help us achieve the next level in providing additional quality, in-depth and significant news, event, and lifestyle coverage.
Second, we’ve gotten a great deal of feedback and questions about the member program pricing structure. A lot of people wanted to know if we would offer an annual subscription plan, discounts, or if they could pay by check for an entire year up front. We’re working with our developer to see what other options we can offer in regards to taking annual payments and offline payments. But, at this time, the only way we’re offering access to our membership is via this link where you must provide your email address and you must pay monthly via credit card. The system, and the current way of signing up, simply keeps track of everyone’s membership and billing, while keeping all transactions secure.
Third, if you’ve given to us in the past or have been a subscriber/member of any campaign we’ve previously launched, you’ll be getting an email soon from us with information about how to redeem your membership.
As we’ve detailed before, the decision to start a Member Program for the site, shall we say, was not easy. It was, in fact, one of the most nerve-wracking choices I’ve ever made.
But less than two weeks into this, however, it’s looking increasingly like it was the right move — and one that sets up a promising future for what we do (and what we’re hoping to do) here in Newport County and across Rhode Island.
We have a goal that we would like to hit within three months of the launch of the member program. Ten days in, we’ve already crossed 21% of our membership goal.
Obviously, it’s nice to know so many people out there value the site enough to have hopped on board this early. But I have to say the most unexpected — and welcome — thing about our membership program is how it quickly and clearly it has realigned our incentives in putting together our email newsletter and content for each day. Or, perhaps more precisely, how it has more closely aligned our incentives with those of our readers.
When a publication’s revenue comes solely from advertisers, it is naturally inclined to take an approach that delivers them the most exposure. That is, traffic volume becomes the most important metric, because that’s what gets monetized. That tends to tip the editorial quality vs. quantity scale fairly sharply toward the quantity side. And, whether consciously or not, it’s probably fair to say that’s the approach we’d adopted over the last six years.
But since we’ve announced our membership program, it hasn’t taken long to notice a trend: On the days we publish things about local government, original stories, or pieces about what people truly care about; new memberships spike.
On Tuesday, we hit a big milestone. The amount of revenue that we receive from our membership program exceeded the amount we are paid by our biggest advertiser. Meaning our biggest partner in what we do here, is now our readers.
The fact is, when a community news publication gets a large part of its revenue from its readers, it’s incentivized to cover the things that really make a difference to the community — not to just chase the easiest path toward the most page views.
Our goal is to continue to create a publication based on the following values:
- We believe that an informed community is a stronger community. We want to keep people in the know of what’s happening, new, and to do in Newport County and across Rhode Island. From what local elected officials are doing and why they are doing it, to what’s happening with nonprofits, businesses, events, and the people who live here. Our goal is to provide people who live in Newport County and across Rhode Island with a straightforward look at the issues, news, and things that affect their everyday life.
- We believe in Newport and Rhode Island. One of the things that makes a community a community is a shared sense of pride — about the life it provides its residents, about the initiatives it undertakes, about the accomplishments of its citizens, and about the people and businesses that choose to plant their roots here. We want What'sUpNewp to help foster the social capital that makes Newport County and Rhode Island a great place to live and raise a family.
Many of you appear to agree with those beliefs strongly enough that you’ve made an investment in our continued ability to bring you truly local coverage by becoming a member. If you share those values but have not become a member yet, we hope you’ll consider doing so today
- Stay up to date
- Be part of a community
- Show your support for what we’re doing
Beginning on Tuesday, only members will receive our What'sUpNewp Morning Edition at 12 pm daily. If you are a member, no action is needed. We’ll also be announcing a member exclusive event and more benefits next week.
Beginning Tuesday, all subscribers and members will receive our What'sUpNewp Daily Digest, a simple RSS email, at 12 pm on weekdays. If you are receiving this, no action is needed.
Please accept our sincerest thanks for your time, support, and readership over the last six years. We hope you continue to support our advertisers, share our stories, provide us with feedback, and take this journey with us.
That’s all for now!
- Ryan Belmore