A bizarre article in Crikey claims that Andrew Bolt couldn’t make enough money from blogging to earn a living because US blogger Andrew Sullivan could.
Yet he managed to stun media watchers around the world earlier this month by announcing he would take his highly-read blog, currently housed at The Daily Beast, independent. In a seemingly unprecedented move, Sullivan’s ad-free blog will be run under a New York Times-style metered model, with regular readers asked to pay $20 a year for access. Was this the ultimate act of hubris, many wondered, or a sign of things to come?
The experiment, so far, seems to be working. Sullivan is on track to reach his first-year funding goal of US$900,000 after raising a third of that sum within 24 hours after announcing he was going solo.
But even if he pulls it off, Sullivan’s strategy appears unlikely to be reproduced successfully any time soon — especially in Australia.
While it’s true that you can make more money from online subscription publishing in the US than here, it’s not true you can’t make money from it, and Crikey itself proves that point deriving its income from onsite advertising and subscriptions.
Not only does Crikey make money, but its stablemate The Eureka Report, also an online subscription publication, sold last year to News Limited for $30 million, in the process making its founder Alan Kohler a multi-millionaire.
The source for Crikey’s speculations appears to be Tim Dunlop, a pioneering blogger in Australia whose Road to Surfdom had a great name but limited patronage. Dunlop is an opinionated leftie who is frequently wrong, as in this case, but is nothing but dogged in pursuing his ideological biases.
That is no doubt how Bolt got his name into this article. Dunlop is antagonistic to Bolt, and would presumably want to prove in advance that he was more successful than Bolt, and as he hasn’t made any money blogging, then neither would Bolt.
So, put that prediction into Crikey, and it is the closest thing to fact that one can get.
The real question of course is “How many Australians, including Bolt, will do a Kohler?” because the facts of the matter are that the subscription model is the future of online publishing.
Although you do need to offer real value, which Bolt and others can.
On the basis of this article you wonder what the value proposition is for Crikey these days. But then it is the Christmas break. Things may improve when the A team gets back to work.