Why WOLF STREET is Still Free and Not Behind a Paywall Though You Have to Put Up with Ads and I Make (Maybe) Less Money

A no-brainer gets rejected. This is likely my last gig, and I want to do what I love doing. But the advertising-based model is teetering.

Many readers have suggested to me that they would be willing to pay a reasonable annual subscription fee, and that I should put the content or some of the content behind a paywall. The reasons most often given for it fall broadly into two categories, with the first being far more common:

  1. “I’m tired of the ads, they’re distracting, and I would rather pay a little every year to get rid of the ads.”
  2. “Your stuff is too good to just give away. You should charge for it even if it limits readers to those who are seriously interested.”

I have been thinking about it for years. Ultimately, the way I see it, it comes down to a choice:

  1. An equation expressed in dollars where I come out ahead dollar-wise.
  2. My larger goals in life.

The equation expressed in dollars goes like this:

Once I put WOLF STREET behind a paywall, no matter how intensely I try to persuade my readers to come along with me and pay for WOLF STREET, I will lose the vast majority of my readers. Only a small percentage would make the hop.

So here is the sample math: If WOLF STREET costs $50 a year, and 10,000 readers (a small percentage of my current reader numbers) make the transition, it would amount to $500,000 a year in revenues. That is quite a bit more than I make off my silly, intrusive, and hated ads. So from that perspective, this would be a no-brainer.

But there are several problems with this equation, if it even works. For one, my readership would be gutted. And these readers are who this site lives for.

Then there is “churn.” I would lose paying subscribers all the time, and just to stay even, I’d have to market and advertise the site to get new readers to replace the once who left. And if I start marketing the dickens out of the site, pay for ads on other sites, hire a marketing team, and so on, I might get this to 20,000 readers. And $1 million in annual revenues. Or maybe not.

But here is the thing: I would have to totally change my business model and what I do for a living.

My larger goals in life.

Right now, my business model is this: Spend much of my time researching, mulling over, and diving deep into data and analyzing what I find, and then writing it all down to where it makes sense even to me, and building charts that even I can understand at one glance. And I spend a lot of time communicating with readers in the comment sections – all of which I really enjoy.

And importantly, WOLF STREET is widely read, and I’m having an impact on the debate.

In short, my business model boils down to this: I spend no time on marketing the site. I focus on creating the best articles I know how to create and hope that word gets around. Hope is not a strategy, but so far it has worked, thanks to my readers. And advertising revenue came with it.

Under a subscription model, I would constantly be trying to market a newsletter because subscribers unsubscribe or don’t renew, and I’d have to labor to fill those spots, and then I’d have to labor to get more subscribers in order to grow, and I’d have to bombard inboxes with promo emails that are trying to get people to subscribe to my can’t-live-without newsletter hidden behind a paywall.

And this time spent on marketing and selling a newsletter would have to be subtracted from the time I spend researching, analyzing, stewing over, and writing about financial, economic, and business topics, and communicating with my readers.

Look, I’m not the youngest guy anymore.

This is likely my last gig. I want to keep doing it until my brain freezes over. I feel young, and I’m fit and healthy — knock on wood — so I hope I will have many more years doing what I love doing. And what you see in front of you is what I love doing.

However, at this stage in my life, I really don’t want to spend my time doing what I don’t like doing. I have done enough of that in my younger years. I’ve paid my dues, as they say. I want to enjoy the rest of my life: And hawking subscriptions just doesn’t fit into it.

When I started the predecessor site in the summer of 2011, with this ghastly name…

TP-Title-6-smaller

…I had zero readers. When the first reader somehow found the site, I was immensely excited. I hollered at my baffled wife: “I have a reader!” Then after a while, I had 100 readers a day, then 1,000, wow! I started putting ads on my site. And they started making a few bucks a day – on a good day, enough to buy a nerve-soothing craft brew at a watering hole. And my still baffled wife could never quite figure out why I was working so hard for so little.

It’s called sweat equity. In the summer of 2014, I shed the ghastly name and switched to WOLF STREET, and things have been rocking and rolling since. Now the site is making pretty good money — “beer money,” I’ve come to call it, because I love a good IPA.

So I could probably increase my beer money by a big jump – maybe by multiples – if I switched to a subscription model. I’d have to hire a marketing team. I’d have to pay for advertising on other sites to lure people to a landing page that scares them into subscribing to WOLF STREET so they can find out how they can survive the coming whatever….

No thanks.

Also, some readers’ finances are stretched, and they don’t spend money on subscriptions. With a paywall, I would systematically exclude them. Many other readers just don’t want to spend money on subscriptions. And hiding a site behind a paywall can kill search traffic. These are people who may not know the site but are looking for something to which a WOLF STREET article provides an answer. There is a democratic beauty to advertising-supported publishing: Everyone gets to read it.

But there is a democratic beauty to advertising-supported publishing only if it can function, which is less and less clear.

The advertising supported model is under heavy attack. There just isn’t enough money in it for online publishers. Advertisers (such as Ford or Macy’s) spend a fortune, and publishers get peanuts.

The middlemen siphon most of it out — thick layers of middlemen: The ad agency hired by the advertiser, the “ad tech” companies that have managed to insert themselves layer by layer, Google that runs a big part of the show, other ad exchanges, etc., and then my own ad agencies. And the portion that the middle is siphoning out is getting bigger and bigger.

For many publishers, this just isn’t working out. Though their sites are big and have lots of readers, they aren’t generating enough revenues to fund operations. Layoffs have been ricocheting through the publishers for years, now even pure online publishers. Just so far this year, the layoff reports include:

  • Vice to shed 10% to 15% of its people.
  • Buzzfeed to slash 220 additional people after laying off its entire podcast team last year.
  • McClatchy Company (Miami Herald, Kansas City Star, etc.) offered buyouts to 450 employees.
  • Yahoo, AOL, and The Huffington Post got hit by layoffs, as owner Verizon announced that it is planning to axe 7% of its people at its media companies. This series of layoffs is on top of the buyout program announced last December with which Verizon is trying to shed 10,400 employees by mid-year.
  • Gannett, the giant that owns over 100 news sites, plans to lay off as many as 400 journalists across its properties, after a round of voluntary buyouts late last year.
  • Condé Nast has trimmed staff at various sites this year, including Wired, Glamour, and GQ magazine.
  • The Dallas Morning News cut 43 jobs, half of them in the newsroom.

And it’s just February 18!

So I don’t know for how long the advertising-supported model will continue to provide me with beer money. There may be a day when this model no longer functions for a small publisher like me — when the giants such as Google, Amazon, and Facebook don’t accidentally leave enough crumbs behind for me to feed on.

But that day is not yet in sight. For now, my site is growing, my readership is growing, my beer money is still growing, I’m having a blast doing this, and I intend to keep doing it until my brain freezes over.

Since my podcast team — which consists of me, myself, and I — has not been laid off, here’s my latest podcast: What’s Causing the Subprime Auto Loan Fiasco? Listen to... THE WOLF STREET REPORT

Enjoy reading WOLF STREET and want to support it? Using ad blockers – I totally get why – but want to support the site? You can donate. I appreciate it immensely. Click on the beer and iced-tea mug to find out how:

Would you like to be notified via email when WOLF STREET publishes a new article? Sign up here.

 

  315 comments for “Why WOLF STREET is Still Free and Not Behind a Paywall Though You Have to Put Up with Ads and I Make (Maybe) Less Money

  1. Joe
    Feb 18, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    Wolf,

    I have been reading your amazing work since you cited something my former colleague put together. The quality of your work is as high as a few other subscription-based opinion/analysis sites that I follow. Appreciate that you are thinking about your impact as well as your ability to maximize revenue. Keep up the great work.

    -first time poster; long time reader

    • GuiriCateto
      Feb 18, 2019 at 1:52 pm

      That is quality for you, at many other sites the commentary tends towards the reverse of that.

    • Otishertz
      Feb 18, 2019 at 5:39 pm

      My bookmark still said testosterone pit until recently and I’ve read this site since the beginning. I recommend it often. The research is high quality, timely, and of considerable value.

      The viability issue here seemes to be framed as an all or nothing, either-or proposition regarding ads vs paywall but there is definitely some middle ground. I’ve noticed some new ways people are monetizing media.

      Some podcasts have first hour free and charge for the second hour by subscription. Would a variation on this be possible where special reports are offered for a one time micro sized payment of $2-7, maybe with a yearly subscription for $15-20? They could be summarized and outlined for free with the more gritty details and charts for sale. I would rather sell a special report than beg people to hit my tip jar.

      Here is a company that sells cannabis industry data in a similar manner.

      https://www.cannabisbenchmarks.com/

      Their free weekly reports and summaries are still useful and interesting even without buying special reports, which are very expensive, probably because statistics were hard to come by in the beginning of the industry and there were a small number of customers.

      I could be wrong but I have a feeling that if it was a very small charge applied to the vastly larger potential audience you have that it would pay off handsomely.

      the most clear headed analysis out there

    • Brad Rogers
      Feb 18, 2019 at 7:41 pm

      Wolf, Your observations and summaries are excellent. Please keep it going!

      I regularly visit about 4 or 5 websites on stock market news and activities daily. They all have ads but I simply ignore them as every other type of website also has ads. I do not mind most of the ads except those pop-up ads that block the whole screen and are hard to close.

      If your current model is working for you, I say keep it.

      Brad

    • Old dog
      Feb 18, 2019 at 11:25 pm

      Wolf,

      An alternative to the paywall is to make the Donation button more prominent. Those among your loyal readership who can, will subsidize this amazing site.

      Thank you so much for sharing your immense intellect with us. Please extend my gratitude to DQ and all the other contributors.

      • SaltyGolden
        Feb 19, 2019 at 1:41 am

        Wolf,

        Agree with Old dog on all those points. Thanks for all you think about and share.

        Though public radio’s model is different, you get one of those license plate frames that say “kpbw Member since blah blah” or whatever once you donate some amount. I think for the folks that do it it’s a way to virtue signal, which is fine if that’s your thing.

        Perhaps for a yearly donation of $x one could get a license plate frame that says “Wolfpack member since 2YYY”?

        Thanks again.

        • Leo Salazar
          Feb 19, 2019 at 2:15 am

          Don’t forget the obligatory tote bag!!

      • Kenny Logoffs
        Feb 20, 2019 at 8:19 am

        I agree, bigger donation button, or an occasional ‘please donate’ pop up or something.

        I don’t think I could stretch to paying, but I’d happily donate as I do for many web things I get value from… along with the adverts which I’m happy to have there to enjoy the content for free.

        • K. Logoffs
          Feb 20, 2019 at 8:30 am

          Ah, found the button in a menu, and donated.

          It could definitely be more prominent on the mobile site.

          Keep up the great work!

    • Andrew
      Feb 19, 2019 at 12:17 am

      We love you as you are, Wolf.

      As for ad clutter, I encourage any dissatisfied readers to buy a proper computer. Any Linnux computer delivers innernet with NO ADS.

    • Feb 19, 2019 at 1:02 am

      Dear Commenters and Readers,

      I post this up here so people can actually see it… there are nearly 200 comments. They’re spread over two pages. To get to the newer half, go to the bottom of this page and click on “newer comments.”

      If you cannot find your comment on this page, it’s on the second page. At this pace, pretty soon, there may be a third page.

      THANK YOU EVERYONE for the many, many great and wonderful comments. Warmed my heart.

      Thank you also for the flood of donations. I have not looked at them in detail yet, but the number of donations looks like three or four months’ worth of donations, or more, in terms of the sheer number. That was totally unexpected. THANK YOU!

      I apologize for being late releasing comments that got stuck. There were many comments from “long-time readers, first-time commenters.” All first-time comments automatically go into the approval cue where they wait for me to deal with them. Alas, we went hiking and then to dinner (being a holiday in the US), so I was gone for about 8 hours. When I came back, there were 80 or so comments waiting to be released, most of them from first-time commenters. If yours is one of them, sorry for the delay! And thank you for being patient. They’ve now all been released.

      Many readers have made great and thoughtful suggestions, including making an ad-free version available for a fee (same content but no ads). This is a good idea, and I will try to get something going, but it poses some complexities.

      One of the complexities is that there can only be one comment section that everyone can read, and where all commenters post their comments. So subscribers of the ad-free version (likely an email that you can read in your inbox so you don’t have to log into anything) would have to go to the ad-supported site to read and post comments. This could be done via a convenient link at the bottom of the article that takes you straight to the beginning of the comments… but there would still be ads.

      I cannot imagine having two separate comment sections, one for paying subscribers, and one for everyone else. That just wouldn’t work.

      Another suggestion that I saw several times was creating and selling WOLF STREET coffee mugs, beer mugs, and hats. I’d love to have some myself. So I will give this some thought. But this wouldn’t be anything to make money. It would be like my books, just something fun… and it might work as a little promo when you park your WOLF STREET beer mug on your desk in your office. Definitely beer for thought.

      Many commenters have asked about a “tip jar” or similar. This site has a how-to-donate button. If you’re reading this site on mobile, the “how-to-donate” button is hard to find (click on the hamburger menu). If you’re on a PC, the button is in the menu bar and easy to see. This is the link: https://wolfstreet.com/how-to-donate-to-wolf-street/

      And a big thanks to all of you who have white-listed this site in your ad blocker or deactivated ad blocking for this site.

      Thanks again everyone… and don’t forget there are two pages of comments now, and soon, the comments will bleed over to the third page.

      • Wisdom Seeker
        Feb 19, 2019 at 2:13 am

        Would you consider running “no middleman” ads, directly funded by those who want to put a message on your site? Would take work, but might earn more revenue per ad-space on the pages…

        P.S. I’m in the school that values the carefully curated commentary, which would suffer badly under a subscription model.

        • Feb 19, 2019 at 2:29 am

          Yes, I do that occasionally. And I love doing it. I have some established relationships. And occasionally, something new comes along. It’s cheaper for the clients than paying all the middlemen, and they know what they’re getting, and it’s a better deal for me too.

          But I don’t do enough of it. This takes a lot of time… trying to find clients, working with clients directly, billing, verifying the traffic, etc. I’m a low-tech outfit. None of this is automated.

        • Wisdom Seeker
          Feb 19, 2019 at 2:47 am

          Sweet! I hope you find ways to streamline the direct-ad approach and make it worthwhile. I wonder whether an occasional periodic posting / reminder, to advertise your willingness to handle custom ads, might be fruitful?

          Also, it seems like many regular readers focus on the articles and have no idea that there’s even a menu bar, much less a way to donate. Seems good to have an occasional posting like this one to remind readers how to donate. That seems to work for NakedCapitalism, for instance, as well as public radio and, say, many local charity drives.

          P.S. Staying public provides one additional public benefit – it inspires others with similar interests to contribute what they can, and maybe start their own semi-retirement gigs down the road!

      • Art
        Feb 19, 2019 at 7:02 am

        Wolf, even after you described where your ‘Donate’ link is, I still missed it in the menu bar. As a front end developer (i.e. I build websites for a living). You MUST do something more prominent. Put the standard Orange PayPal donate button right on the home page, not buried behind a menu item. I’m sure you’ll get way more people to click on it! Love your content, look forward to it every week. Thanks for doing this for the rest of us!!

        • Feb 19, 2019 at 10:10 pm

          Yep, what @Art said. Up top, to the right, above the email subscription box, where everyone can see it.

      • kitten lopez
        Feb 19, 2019 at 8:42 am

        –and i’m your art girl if you need it for the stone soup feast.
        (smile)
        x

      • Andy Marino
        Feb 19, 2019 at 6:07 pm

        Wolf, I love the site, been reading for years and recommending it.

        Subscription works very well for B2B verticals, which are doing very well indeed, in contrast to the rest of the media, but you are a B2C site.

        Nonetheless, there is nothing to stop[you opening a subscription section for professionals and specialists while keeping the B2C section free – think of how Politico does it.

        Then, also, instead of advertisers giving you $1 CPM, you would be getting $100 per and running out of inventory space.

        Great article just published here you should read:

        https://medium.com/@jryedinak/why-2019-is-the-year-of-vertical-media-628365fe3b42

      • steve
        Feb 19, 2019 at 6:28 pm

        what if those of us who wish, and I am one, sent in a super modest contribution, say $10 or even wildly up to $20. Would that change things. I have no idea of how many of us read your daily blog, but I do, with eager anticipation, and usually with serious reward. Glad to pony up that kind of money, as I do for a few others. steve

        • Feb 19, 2019 at 8:55 pm

          steve,

          Yes, everything makes a difference. And more importantly, it shows that what I do matters to people. It’s a form of feedback. There is an emotional quality to it for me. It’s very uplifting.

      • MICHAEL BOND
        Feb 26, 2019 at 3:14 pm

        Hello Wolf,

        I am a large consumer of financial news and wade through many different blogs, subscriptions and news sites. Your site is one of my favorites.

        You are not the only site that runs on donations and ads that I visit. After you posted this article I started thinking how nice if all these sites I visit offered another option next to donate where we could subscribe to the ads free version of your posts.

        And better yet the ads-free site offered the capability to sign up (donate) for multiple authors. A one-stop shop for us consumers doing battle with ads and pop-ups.

        I pay for ads-free email and I would pay for this concept especially if I could visit several of my favorite reads in one place.

        I’m toying around with some off-the-shelf software that would allow people to donate to individual authors and would automatically load your articles from your present site when you post them.

        It meets the keep-it-simple concept.

        I think it is important for you to keep your present ads based site. As you said, it allows you to reach more people. Not everyone would make the jump to ads free, but my guess is many would and I have to think the revenue would be better than what I hear advertisers pay.

        I run my own paid subscription site already and have a ads free blog. This idea would be a separate challenge I would be interested in because it fits into some of what I am already doing.

        As for the one comment section, I am sure that could be worked through. I think an ad-free option is worth giving a try. If you are interested in brainstorming, let me know.

        Regardless, thank you for your website and research!

  2. w.c.l.
    Feb 18, 2019 at 12:42 pm

    I don’t mind ads one bit. If it keeps the content free I’m all for it. It’s a minor inconvienence for all that I’m learning from this site. Not everyone has money to pay. Thanks for all your work Wolf, it is appreaciated.

    • California Bob
      Feb 18, 2019 at 1:36 pm

      I don’t activate AdBlock on this site, and I can’t recall the last time I even noticed an ad here. Maybe it’s because I’ve been ‘doing’ the Internet for over 30 years, and long ago trained my brain to not register advertising (esp. display ads). I think I’ve actually clicked on less than a half-dozen display ads in all that time, though I spend a lot of time on the ‘net, and do almost all my shopping on it.

      Now, if we could just get rid of the ‘surveys’ I’m asked to fill out every time I buy a toothbrush …

  3. Tom
    Feb 18, 2019 at 12:46 pm

    I enjoy the content and interactive banter and comments that readers provide. Keep up the good work and I will continue to read and support your work.

    Thanks again.

  4. A
    Feb 18, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    Kudos to you. The Real Deal!

  5. matt
    Feb 18, 2019 at 12:51 pm

    One thing I have found lately Wolf. Sites like yours which are honest and no bs are the ones that continue to thrive and grow. . Always factual and to the point. Any other sites which have the Made up facts and “fake news” are the ones that are dying off and laying off. Keep up what you are doing. We depend on honesty which is had to find anymore

    • Mr JAMES M JONES
      Feb 18, 2019 at 3:54 pm

      Agree 100%

  6. Rick
    Feb 18, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    I’ll be sure and click on a bunch of ads with 0 intention or interest in the company/product. After all, you at least deserve more beer.

    • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
      Feb 18, 2019 at 7:11 pm

      I guess I should click on more ads, especially the more off-the-wall ones. I find the ads entertaining more than annoying.

      A paywall would mean I stop coming here. But then that may be a desirable outcome, as I doubt the readers here want to hear from someone who’s under 65 and doesn’t have a healthy stock portfolio.

      • kitten lopez
        Feb 19, 2019 at 8:44 am

        oh no, brother. i missed you when you were gone. you’re kin. i even asked James if he’d been on that horn site and heard from you (he hadn’t been on the site or heard from you).
        x

        • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
          Feb 19, 2019 at 1:28 pm

          Amazing! Not only did Wolf print my comment but … I’m missed by someone?

          It’s hard to be a busker when there’s frost on the ground. And, I feel that trumpet may be a dead-end for me. Imagine doing a performance that involves tossing a medicine ball for a couple of hours. That begins to describe the amount of pressure needed to play trumpet above the musical staff at all.

          I have no idea who this “James” person is, but he sounds nice.

          I’ve realized that if I can hold out through another 8 years of the low pay that goes hand in glove with electronics, and just survive, I can retire at age 65 and go back where I grew up and where it’s at least a third cheaper than here to live, if not more like half as expensive to live. And if I’m to be homeless, at least the winters won’t kill me. We lose a dozen or so each winter, here.

          But lately, well, I’ve been having more trouble getting paid than in the last several years, so if things fall apart surprisingly fast, as they did in the last crash, I may skedaddle sooner than planned, as I’d rather be homeless there than here.

  7. buda atum
    Feb 18, 2019 at 12:54 pm

    I am a reader who’s finances are stretched and therefore can’t spend money on subscriptions but shamefully gave you a paltry £20 in gratitude for your educating me. It’s a very tiny amount, but only one other site has got me to so appreciate what they do for me to dip into my shallow and almost empty pockets and give.
    Please, when you buy your next IPA, know that I, budaatum, appreciate what you freely give.

    • OutLookingIn
      Feb 18, 2019 at 7:14 pm

      I’m in buda’s boat! Not much “jingle” in my pocket.
      I really enjoy this site you have created Wolf. To ‘lock’ it away behind a paywall would spell the end of my visits. So please don’t.

      I especially like this comment section and how you police the comments. My fellow commenter’s help by self policing odious comments, which I have witnessed many times. It’s this action, along with the high quality of content provided by well informed reader’s, that keeps me coming back.
      Thank you all, and especially you Wolf, for your thoughtfulness.

  8. Coburn
    Feb 18, 2019 at 12:55 pm

    Hello
    Long time lurker; first time poster.

    I thank you for your efforts. The site has been a daily source of insight.

    You have navigated between the naive cheerleading of sites such as the WSJ and the paranoia of Zero Hedge, et al.

  9. Feb 18, 2019 at 12:56 pm

    Consider your assets, you have a pretty good reader base, one that feeds on itself. I was on Garynorth.com for a while, a subscription site, he caters to Christian business people, and he provides plenty of nuts and bolts stuff. The problem is often where a blog develops a narrow demographic, or a culture sets in, and you go even slightly off message, and you get trolled. Dailykos and Zerohedge, by example, and while I like Mish I have no connection with his readers. When Cramer set up thestreet.com he had some great writers, and I made money off that website subscription, and learned a great deal. If you go behind a paywall you will probably have to get some other writers, and that’s a tough choice to make. Good luck either way.

  10. aqius
    Feb 18, 2019 at 12:57 pm

    As a middle-aged man, I’ve used the internet from its birth & watched its evolution over time.

    I’ve also noticed how ads have absolutely ruined the internet .

    I’m not talking about a moderate amount of ads. It’s rare people voluntarily do things in moderation when pleasure / profit is concerned, and money-making ads are no exception.

    I’m sure I speak for most people when I say no one begrudges you a profit. Indeed, we’re happy to see it: you’ve earned it.

    But you miss the point that the ads are intrusive, overwhelming & out of control.
    (Coming from an auto sales background you should be especially aware of the problem of ad-blitzing the customers to death, whereby they just turn off the medium.)

    Newspaper, Radio, TV, and now the Internet. All ruined by incessant ads.

    You have good insightful articles but there comes a point when it’s too much of a hassle to read them when drowned by ads.

    I can fully understand & agree that the time spent pursuing paid customers would greatly diminish the content but also a little time spent pruning ads would go a long ways in keeping / attracting readers.

    aqius

    • Trev
      Feb 18, 2019 at 1:15 pm

      Both my iPad (safari browser) and my PC (firefox) have a reader mode that keeps only the text of the story and removes everything else, including ads. I use it constantly. If ads bug you see if your device has that symbol.

      Wolf-perhaps a voluntary contribution option? I’d pay for this great content but i like it better when it’s a request and not a requirement. Then those who appreciate it can reward you.

      • Jim Shea
        Feb 18, 2019 at 1:46 pm

        A voluntary contribution system is not a bad idea.

        • Jim
          Feb 18, 2019 at 2:13 pm

          First time comment from a 6-month reader of your blog. I would be willing to voluntarily contribute $10 per quarter. Is there a way to do this?

        • Feb 19, 2019 at 11:13 am

          if there is a consumer recession ad revenues will crater

      • curiouscat
        Feb 18, 2019 at 2:34 pm

        If you check the top banner of the site, there is a link on how to donate. https://wolfstreet.com/how-to-donate-to-wolf-street/
        I occasionally send $50 to show my appreciation for the high level of content as well as the high level of comments, which Wolf enforces. In return Wolf sends me an email to express his appreciation. As for paywall, I wonder how that’s working out for David Stockton, who I used to read before he put up his payway.

        • TXRancher
          Feb 18, 2019 at 8:22 pm

          Ditto here curiouscat on both the $50 donation and David Stockman comment.

          And Wolf you are a greatly respected guy with your extraordinary perspective on site funding and, of course, economics.

        • Steven
          Feb 18, 2019 at 8:34 pm

          Thanks for the link. I just made use of it.

        • wapiti
          Feb 19, 2019 at 12:18 am

          Stockton was one of my favored reads before he began demanding subscriptions….now I read his articles posted occasionally on other blogs but never log into his subscription site. Wonder the percent to which his viewership has plummeted. Contributing is voluntary; subscribing mandatory. Myself and hoards of other thinking homo sapiens detest being told what we must do.

        • Joseph T Zamrin
          Feb 19, 2019 at 1:01 am

          I still have a subscription on Stockton’s site. He’s provided some good insight over time. But there is a lot of rehashing of the same concepts and it lacks freshness at times. At some point, I’ll drop that subscription. I have made a couple of donations here and will continue to support this model. I have no problem skimming right over the ads.

  11. TRM
    Feb 18, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    Thanks Wolf. Love your articles and am a regular reader of your blog.

  12. Al Loco
    Feb 18, 2019 at 12:58 pm

    The ads are annoying but not as bad as the typical click bait sites. In this more mature stage of the internet, finding content people are desperate to make money off of versus those whole love putting it out there could not be more apparent. I’m sure you know what category you all into and I hope it doesn’t change. Thanks for keeping it in front of a paywall!

  13. Mark
    Feb 18, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    Hi Wolf, I find myself checking your site every day. Love it. I think I came to you recommended by the only site I pay for GaryNorth.com, $10/month.
    Live long and prosper, Wolf

  14. Eric Petersen
    Feb 18, 2019 at 12:59 pm

    I’d definitely pay $50/year.

    • HMG
      Feb 19, 2019 at 1:06 am

      Count me in for £50 p.a.

  15. Chris
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:01 pm

    Having worked in print media: online ads never came close to replacing lost print revenue. Print ads that sold for tens or hundreds of thousands were replaced with peanuts. It’s a losers game. I suspect that what is seen as a technology story is also an economic story. Readers are broke and would rather not pay for content even if it’s crap. (Not to imply that is true here!) I would also blame (you guessed it): the Fed. With venture capital being thrown at the biz feeds and vices of this world legacy media faces competetion from all manner of non-economic business plans. Same is true with Netflix, Amazon etc. No one is making money. Thanks Ben and Janet!

    • Otishertz
      Feb 18, 2019 at 6:00 pm

      Here’s a Wolf Street classic concerning what the CEO of restoration hardware had to say about online ad spending being a waste of money.

      https://wolfstreet.com/2017/09/11/most-online-ad-spending-wasted-ceo-restoration-hardware/

    • Wisdom Seeker
      Feb 19, 2019 at 2:30 am

      Re “No one is making money” and “Readers are broke and would rather not pay for content even if it’s crap.”

      Wrong on both counts. On the first – Google is minting money off online ads! Just not their content providers, so to speak. One has an effective near-monopoly and the others … don’t.

      On the second – readers are sick of being fed crap funded by corporate ad spend. Plenty are paying for content, just not from the previous print providers who remain beholden to those advertisers and can’t find a business model other than feeding people their agenda-driven crap.

      Meanwhile, there are armies worth of semi-retired amateur journalists, people like Wolf, educated by life experience and with diverse perspectives, whose analysis runs rings around the agenda-driven mass media. And who don’t require corporate paychecks to keep writing.

      P.S. The subscription-based legacy media are not doing themselves any favors by running abusive “roach motel” subscription gimmicks where it takes subscribers hours of effort to unsubscribe. As one of many examples, I will never again pay to read the NY Times after the crap they have pulled on me and many of their other former readers.

    • Feb 20, 2019 at 12:12 am

      Wolf,
      Good discussion here. A random visitor and former occasional poster here….

      @Chris, I’m in the print media biz and also digital magazine biz. A friend with decades in print mags told me this month that their digital magazine beat the printed glossy mag in revenue for the first time in 20 years. A real sign of change in the legacy print world.

      While I’m involved in a regional food magazine, there’s no revenue growth in it due to rising print costs. So I’m heading into digital despite not being a Get X, Y or millennial. Print is too limiting and expensive. While I have decades of experience, it’s translating easily. Digital work gets simpler all the time. Like Wolf, I’m keeping the publishing work easy and, yes, we’ll sell ads. I use an Ad Blocker myself only due to Pop ups.
      Too bad they are so aggressive.

      Keep at it, Wolf, Thank you!

  16. Hkan
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    Honest reporting is rare theese days.
    Appreciate and keep reading your genuine articles until my brain freezes.

    Good job Wolf!

  17. Marianne Curtis
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    Thank you Wolf, we love and appreciate you!

  18. J_Wolfgang
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:02 pm

    You should create a Patron. Could be a good way for people like myself who would be willing to throw a couple $ your way to do so

  19. Angela T
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:05 pm

    You’re absolutely right! Perhaps the greatest impact is on your brain. To build new paid subscribers, you would have to divide your thoughts into saying a little (free) and a lot (paid). I’ll suffer the ads.
    Thank you for putting yourself out there. I really appreciate your work.

  20. Feb 18, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    I would hate to lose your site so whatever you must do then do it. I do donate although it’s not much. I’m, and I suspect countless others, are expert at tuning out ads so that hasn’t been a problem.. . The only complaint I have, and it’s a totally minor one, is I don’t hear well so the podcasts are never opened. I know I’m probably missing something that I wanted to learn but is there anyway a printed transcript could be added? Even just a truncated version? It’s a rare week that I don’t cut and paste one of your articles..

  21. fjcruiserdxb
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    Ads don’t interfere with my reading on my iPad. WolfStreet is my first read in the morning. Please keep the site free. One of the best blog I have found in years.

  22. Ven
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    Dear Wolf,
    please keep up your awesome posts!
    I agree with your analysis completely!
    I dont mind the ads at all… i have learnt to read effortlessly around them. Your posts are a daily “must read” for me, along with the newyorktimes! Btw, have you considered becoming a 501c non-profit? You can then attract tax sheltered grants while paying yourself a salary. Just a thought since you are rendering such a valuable public service.
    Thank you!
    Ven

  23. Howard Fritz
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:08 pm

    If Wolf ever loses his mind he might consider selling merchandise, such as t-shirts, pop sockets, coasters, stickers, bibs, rings, flasks etc.

    It’s not even that difficult companies like tee spring and cafe express handle everything from production to shipping, you just need a logo.

    • Lemko
      Feb 18, 2019 at 3:28 pm

      With his macroeconomics knowledge, intellectual curiosity and IHS Markit Data, he likely will never need to sell any merchandise or t-shirts! LOL

      He has top institution’s trader mental tools along with deep knowledge, I think he’s doing more then fine, and would be surprised if he wasn’t a millionaire

      @Wolf, you can for sure charge institutions for your many Thesis on different subjects no doubt, why do it for free ?

      • Howard Fritz
        Feb 18, 2019 at 8:03 pm

        Lemko, he mentions in the article how he’s not as young as he used to be, I doubt he wants such a drastic career change, besides he’s even been on RT before.

        He’s undoubtedly a millionaire, but selling merchandise could pad his income and allow his viewers to support him in a more direct way.

    • Nicko2
      Feb 18, 2019 at 3:58 pm

      I was about to mention this.

      WOLFSTREET COFFEE MUGS !

      WOLFSTREET BEER STEINS

      WOLFSTREET KEYCHAINS

      WOLFSTREET PENS (retro-cool)

      WOLFSTREET BOXER SHORTS (for the true die-hard)

      • Bet
        Feb 18, 2019 at 5:50 pm

        Um. The boxers might do better with the former website name Testosterone pit. Might buy a pair for hubs….:)
        That being said. I found wolfstreet through a commenter link on zerohedge. Stopped reading that dystopian testosterone pit a couple years back as the info was increasingly
        Useless. I reco this one all the time
        To anyone who cares to listen

      • Howard Fritz
        Feb 18, 2019 at 8:07 pm

        I need a Wolf street mug and key chain if you’re seeing this Wolf make it happen!

  24. Feb 18, 2019 at 1:10 pm

    Hey Wolf,
    I perfectly understand your mood and your choice of the “advertising” model.
    I believe your analysis is correct.
    The work you do is very important and much appreciated. I would not want it to be limited to a small number of paying readers.
    Keep going!
    Just one little tip.
    Highlight the “Donate” button. Top right.
    In addition to advertising revenue, whoever wants or can do it will make a spontaneous donation.

  25. Bankers
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:11 pm

    The worst thing about pay walled subscription would be that the material you produce would slowly but surely divert towards satisfying the customer base, or what you imagine that base to be. That is to say the product would no longer be your own free thought but aimed at a class of people, a small class of people. That truly would be a shame, as we witness this in terms of quality across the msm. Once that profile is witnessed, it provides a point of leverage, a weakness, to the view of those who would try to use your base. To top it off, you would lose the commentary and feedback of those who choose to hold a different view, of those willing to actually provide hard debate – either they would not subscribe to what were then seen as contained views, or your answers would be expected a certain way at point of desubscription, or they would simply desubscribe to be “right” without recourse. Many would not pay just out of ethic – you maybe do not realise just how sensible readers are to even minor changes in presentation, they have a subtle sense of what they are taking part in.

    So stay your own man is all I am able to say, few people are capable of that freedom nowadays, and it cannot be bought – contrary to all we are sold.

    The only suggestions I could make would be to offer an add free choice, as a small one off payment per year . I don’t know how that would work, and I imagine there are barriers to that also of imposed, practical, and technical nature. At the least it would give people “a reason” to contribute, often they need one after the fact of something being already free to justify the payment to themselves lol.

    • RD Blakeslee
      Feb 18, 2019 at 6:47 pm

      I agree – two kinds of subscription: One paid allowing add blocking and one free with ad reception mandatory.

      • Bankers
        Feb 18, 2019 at 7:26 pm

        As long as no obligatory login to access site as this is also a bigger barrier to readership than it seems. I think it is the technicalities that might be awkward, add-free would mean login for people to reset cookies if they clear the browser cache for example. To be honest I really don’t know what is available as solution along those lines , it is very common on phone applications though. Maybe we will get Wolf Street on play store one day, or a dedicated browser platform even that integrates that option smoothly across various websites offering add free /adds . The adds on WS don’t bother, on some sites they make reading an article impossible almost. Add-blockers work also but that is not really the compromise we are talking about . Just thinking out loud.

  26. Brett Austin
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:12 pm

    I totally appreciate your newsletter and the ads are just fine with me and even interesting.
    You hit the nail on the head with writing about paid subscriptions vs free ad backed newsletters.

    I have had several paid newsletter/blogs and have dropped all over the years due to the hype, constant hawking or scare tactics they provide to induce a life time membership, etc. etc. One well know blog produces a stock portfolio where virtually 95% of the portfolio is negative to date; so there is zero benefit. Another one suggested in 2015 that Japan and the European Union would collapse in that order shortly- well, so much for that prediction.

    If you enjoy what you have been doing and I enjoy what you do, try to keep going on. I retired years ago and hated it just over the weekend; so started a new business. Fun, productive and beneficial.

  27. Feb 18, 2019 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks for an understanding wife and thanks for great commentaries.

  28. Jack
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    Thank you for staying free. I truly love reading articles on your sight, as I have stated earlier. Especially when the subject is cars, retirement, and the economy. It is the first “click” every morning with my fresh cup of coffee.
    I am 77 now. I feel young. I feel healthy. I DO have to count my pennies. If you went to a subscription based sight I would have to drop out.
    I love that you have a “huge” and affectionate audience. Everything you write is worth it.
    And I have also come to enjoying your voice every Sunday. Although I got your message this week on Monday AM.
    Be safe and in good health.

    • Jack
      Feb 18, 2019 at 1:17 pm

      Apologize. Sp site, not sight

  29. CanAda
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    I have been following your site daily for quite a few years and, have enjoyed the content and discussions immensely! This is one of the few sites that I have come across where, 1. A discussion is allowed to occur and, 2. The discussions remain relevant and civil. You also do a wonderful job of adding little bits of corrective material to keep the discussions moving smoothly. Would I pay for this site? Probably. That said, if this site was ‘pay to play’, I think something would be lost in the discussions that “so freely occurs. I have often gained as much from the insights of your readership as I have from the articles themselves. The only thing that makes me question you a bit, is your ability to enjoy an IPA!

  30. IdahoPotato
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    I appreciate your hard work, insights and good humor. This is what works for me. I have an ad blocker on and don’t see your ads. I do however strive to make a small donation sometimes.

    “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”

    Maya Angelou

    Keep being splendid, Wolf.

    • Feb 18, 2019 at 6:07 pm

      That’s my practice too, TopNotch potato. Block the ads and donate 25 bucks, now and then.

      And I know the feeling of loving publishing – I do it too – for free – on another blog. I’m 87 1/2 tears old and know, like Wolf, I won’t be doing anything else.

      Best wishes to Wolf and all the disciples.

      P.S. Hope Wolf doesn’t hide any more columns if they are being viewed with an ad blocker on. I have rural wireless internet service and the ads alone, if I let them run, would use up my data limit pretty soon.

  31. Sheila Smith
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:17 pm

    I really appreciate your site. The analysis is always spot on, and I read every post. Thank you so much for making it available. I never thought to donate for all your time and effort, but I will now. Thanks for years os useful insights!

  32. Frugal in the Bay
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:21 pm

    I’m sure you have considered this – but what about speaking engagements or workshops as a source of income?

    Maybe you can supplement your income some. But, it would take time, so maybe not worth it.

    • RD Blakeslee
      Feb 18, 2019 at 7:18 pm

      Poor Wolf appeared on Max Kreiser’s show on RT once.

      Nearly got harangued out the door …

      • HMG
        Feb 19, 2019 at 1:16 am

        I saw the Max Keiser show with Wolf.

        I think Max’s continuing obsession with Bitcoin undermines a lot of his undoubtedly correct insights.

        I’d definitely put Wolfstreet just ahead of Max and Stacey because it’s a bit more objective and less focused on gold and Crypto.

        Mind you both Max and Wolf would be great dinner guests.

        • HMG
          Feb 19, 2019 at 1:19 am

          Wolf, Max and Yanis Varoufakis

          What a dream group of dinner guests !

        • Red Rock
          Feb 20, 2019 at 12:24 am

          @HMG,
          I used to follow Max, before Stacey. He got the MaxCoin going….then it disappeared. He’s fun, wonderfully dramatic but over-focused on the crypto currencies. I agree with you that it’s a limit. I stopped listening since I don’t invest in crypto. Still listen sometimes.

          Ads are good revenue. I think it will be easier to get them as the print world collapses…which it is.
          I don’t like subscriptions much. Did that once for a GoldenJackass Jim Willie. Learned a lot in one year then left.

  33. Escierto
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:26 pm

    How is it that grown adults presumably accustomed to the web are so annoyed by the ads? I couldn’t even tell you what is being advertised most of the time. It just gets tuned out.

  34. Very
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    First time poster here as well.
    Thanks for all your words.

    I can understand your reasoning.
    There seems to be a third option.

    Have you considered the patreon way of financing your work?

    Add a donate button on your site, give people a way to give you a one-time payment or a few bucks a month.

    Maybe give the paying guys an extra once a while.

    If you get enough money that way, reduce the adverts .
    This seems like a win-win for all.

    Cheers from Germany o/

  35. Neil
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    I truly appreciate the analysis that you and your contributors bring to this site, and I hope it does not get hidden behind a paywall. It’s OK to explicitly ask your readers to make a one-time or recurring donation. Not with your own pop-up ad–please–but at the end of the articles.

    I teach philosophy online, independently. I used to ask for a set tuition, which about one-third of my students could not afford. So I would negotiate a lower tuition with them individually. Being very low income myself, I know how it is.

    But I wanted to be teaching, not keeping accounts. Two years ago I decided to abandon the fixed tuition model and just ask for donations, whatever feels right for the student to give, instead. I earn just as much now (still, not very much) and it is easier all the way around. When I receive money from someone, I see it as a sign of their valuing my work.

  36. Dave Mac
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    Yours is the only financial website I visit on a daily basis.

    • Lykos hodos lector
      Feb 18, 2019 at 5:24 pm

      Yep!

  37. Vegas Man
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:27 pm

    I enjoy your newsletter and never had a problem with the ads, Wolf. How about having a link to a “tip jar” on your site?

  38. California Bob
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    You could do like the NYT; you subscribe, then they still blast you with ads (and bitch when you activate an adblocker).

  39. Preston
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:31 pm

    Wolf: Why not simply do a fundraiser for 2-3 weeks, once a year, and let people give you whatever amount they see fit during that time? Ian Welsh does this for his blog an usually makes his goal. I would be happy to toss a few bucks your way each year like we do with Mr. Welsh. It works for him and I suggest it would work for you.

  40. Steve clayton
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:34 pm

    Hi Wolf, as long as the beer money keeps increasing, keep doing that way. I’ve been reading your great articles and throwing in my thoughts also. Great work. Regards Steve, UK.

  41. Joe
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:35 pm

    Wolf – Could you follow the model Lucianne is using? The ads are still there, but for a fee a user accesses the site in a form that comes without ads.

  42. California Bob
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:38 pm

    Wolf, maybe you could do a ‘tip jar,’ like NC does? I ponied up for that once, then realized some of the content comes from WS!

  43. elissa3
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:40 pm

    Here’s a modest suggestion. Twice a year do a fund-raising post with specific time and amount goals. Refer to this goals at the top of each post for the next 2-3 weeks. What amount needs to be donated to reach the goal. This seems to work for some of the other sites that I value.

    Also, I second the suggestion above to make the “donate” button more prominent and “click easy”.

    I personally value your site for a truly unique perspective and original analysis. Keep up the good work.

  44. Millenial
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    Make it free with ads for everyone.
    Make it paid without ads for those who don’t like ads.
    Everyone has an potions, everyone is is happy, works perfectly for my website.

  45. Max Power
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:42 pm

    Personally, I don’t think the ads are that obtrusive.

    That said, the best solution (although I’m not sure if it’s possible given the platform this site is on) might be to have an option to pay a subscription fee for an ad-free experience. If you don’t pay you keep seeing ads.

    In any case, keep up the good work, Wolf!

    • HowNow
      Feb 18, 2019 at 9:39 pm

      I agree. I’d subscribe if ads were removed, (provided the comments remain civil).
      Bottom line… thank you.

  46. Don Juan
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:43 pm

    I love your site and I check it everyday, sometimes multiple times a day. I share links with friends and family. As someone who has dedicated my life to issues of educational equity I find your values driven approach refreshing in an industry plagued by greed and self interest. Anyone with Google can find your site, and it’s filled with wonderful information that they can use to better their situation. FOR FREE. I’ve learned a lot from your site. especially regarding the interconnectedness of the global economy. But there are also some really basic things I learned from your site and the comments shared by some folks.

    1) don’t get self into an 8 year car loan. that’s dumb.
    2) don’t buy in bubble or succumb to FOMO. also dumb.
    3) S**T’s getting freaky. Get out of debt now. SMART!

    Do you realize how much impact this has on the quality of my life? It is all so simple but for someone who has never had access to financial or economic literacy these simple and obvious facts are invaluable. I am down to 1/10 of the debt I had when I started reading your site. Each time I read about data signaling economic slowdown I am more motivated to save and prepare should my family be impacted. I owe you an IPA.

  47. Joe
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:44 pm

    Wolf it’s Joe Ryan from Canada please keep doing what you love. I’m old too and volunteering for no beer just to help out. I never miss one of your offerings. I hope like me you don’t really need the beer money anyway but Patreon would be a way for us to help keep things running. If there were more humans like you on the planet you’d likely have nothing to write about. Thank You!!

  48. Che
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    First, Thank You! As a retired reader trying to survive on Social Insecurity and a small amount of savings, I am a reader who would never follow behind a paywall.

    Second, there is one other factor you failed to mention in your otherwise rational logic. If you rely on advertising, you become at the mercy of the agencies that place the ads. Another trend we’ve seen in the last few years is companies like Google pulling their ads from websites that don’t follow a line that makes Google money. Thus, suppose you went behind a paywall, started replacing the churn in subscribers, then one day out of the blue you find that Google has pulled all their ads from your site because they didn’t like something you said. This is something that has been common in the past in printed newspapers and magazines. Prof Chomsky mentioned it as one of the ways that the media is controlled in his 1980’s classic Manufacturing Consent. And it has clearly moved onto the internet in recent years as we see various arguments of Google and their Youtube subsidiary and others saying they ‘demonitized’ websites that dare to say something that Google doesn’t like.

    So, thanks for this. If Bernie’s bill increasing the SS benefits actually passes the Congress where “the bankers own the place” and if it was actually signed into law, then I’ll send you a donation when I can afford to. :)

    • Feb 18, 2019 at 11:59 pm

      I’ve already had my battles with Google. I know how that works. What they define as “dangerous and derogatory” content is amazing. I’m just the little guy. I’ll give it a good fight. But in the end…

      • RD Blakeslee
        Feb 19, 2019 at 9:06 am

        Even more problematical for smaller conservative sites, like Len Penzo’s.

  49. Maximus Minimus
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    Please don’t forget the last point: one day this insanity might end, or the central bankers might right the economy, or the MSM…, and you lose all your readers. There will be nirvana and no need for Wolf Street.
    Thank you for doing this.

  50. NotBuying
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:48 pm

    Wolf,

    I have appreciated reading your articles for about a year now. I came across your site by researching the housing bubble (I am a Nashville resident), hence the username Not Buying.

    I am curious, if there are ads on your site, but they are not clicked on, do you still get revenue from it? I am trying to understand if “clicks” matter for ad revenue – my guess is they do, but even the mere presence of ads on the site also generates revenue.

    One other thing I would mention as an alternative – I see that you have a “donate” section on your website, but it would be beneficial to make it more visible (perhaps on the front page, or in a sidebar so it is always seen). I was unaware of your donate page until today.

    I think a portion of the folks who would be “willing to pay” for a subscription to your site would be more than happy to make a voluntary contribution. They just need to be more aware that it exists. This way, you can keep your content free, but folks will be more aware of the ability to donate and thus you can increase your revenue that way, without affecting access to the site.

    Just a thought!

    • Feb 18, 2019 at 11:55 pm

      NotBuying,

      There are two basic ways I get paid for ads: for many ads I get paid only when they’re clicked (cost per click or CPC); CPC ads are via Google, and they pay very little. All my fill-in ads are that way.

      For other ads, I get paid for “eyeballs” … just displaying them on the page that someone is reading gets me paid (cost per thousand or CPM). CPM ads are via my ad agencies, and they pay a lot more, even if no one ever clicks on them. But it makes the advertiser happy when you click on them anyway, and it makes them even happier if you buy the product or service.

  51. NotBuying
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:51 pm

    I have gone ahead and set up a $5 monthly donation! Cheers!

  52. mrm
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:52 pm

    The ads question is not black&white. There is a compromise I think, we should support. I am perfectly fine with ads whitelisted on ABP. The rest I will not tolerate – they are gettting more intrusive and irrelevant by the day.

  53. Jq
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:55 pm

    Slow witted me just had an epiphany,ad reading to secure beer money to tap a better brain,!! Wow, this internet thingy might work after all.

    • RD Blakeslee
      Feb 19, 2019 at 9:14 am

      *chuckle…*

    • Jq
      Feb 19, 2019 at 11:00 am

      Moderation attempt ; Your analysis, clarity and presentation in what you do is a “better brain” compared to mine . Ad clutter is a small price to pay in order to gain access. Your output is easily worth a $100 a year subscription. I have not checked out your donation feature. I hate credit cards on line to the point I wait for my WSJ subcription expiration 3rd or 4th mailing offer for a check payment option,(I am getting am long in the tooth).
      If I donate have a beer on me

  54. Feb 18, 2019 at 1:58 pm

    Thank you very much for staying with the advertising-supported model! I love your blog, read every post and listen to every podcast, but I probably would not be a paying subscriber because my finances are limited. I do however think you should be paid well for your work and I’m sorry to hear that the ad supported model is only providing beer money. I’ve read that for popular blogs there are better paying advertising programs called Mediavine and Adthrive, maybe that will help. Good luck going forward and thanks again for all you do!

  55. John Roulac
    Feb 18, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    Wolf I am like many readers who I am sure love your articles and insights. You confirm what I sense about the growing challenges of this current economic cycle. I love to see more data so i can predict how far way this coming downturn may be. I think you could offer a premium service for $75 a year with some exclusive reports. Everyone else keeps getting access. Promote it as a way to support your good work and i for one would sign up. One of my good friends does this type off free and paid at his Organic Insider newsletter.

  56. KPL
    Feb 18, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    Wolf,

    Ads are okay with me as with many of the readers. Why not look at contributions (like oftwominds or nakedcapitalism)?
    Also pdfs nominally priced like Charles Hugh Smith (oftwominds)

  57. Monte Barton Jr
    Feb 18, 2019 at 2:02 pm

    Thank you, Wolf! Please keep on keeping on!

  58. Drago
    Feb 18, 2019 at 2:06 pm

    Wolf, your perspective on life is refreshing. The analysis on this site is often about the perils of greed, and clearly you’ve applied those lessons to this endeavor. Thank you for pushing the larger conversation and my own thinking across so many topics.

  59. SocalJim
    Feb 18, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    Site is great. And, it might be better for you to financially engineer a revenue stream from advertisers … that would give you real operating income and a chance to build a great and profitable company and career.

  60. RoseN
    Feb 18, 2019 at 2:15 pm

    A big part of the site’s appeal is the varied and lively comments from your readers. If you make it a fee-based club, you likely lose the perspective from your frugal-minded folks. (Many of the comments seems to come from the prudent among us.)

    If you keep your service free, you will have a much wider audience and increase your chances of gaining national fame ;) Recognition may lead to some exciting and lucrative offers (e.g. book deals, guest speaker, show commentators.)
    I hope all of your hard work pays off and you can continue to offer this highly interesting web site!

  61. Saltcreep
    Feb 18, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    My take is that I don’t really like paywalls, because it excludes a lot of people who are outside it, and restricts important information. How many people would be willing to e.g. get into a link to a great article, sent by someone they know, if it’s behind a paywall? Sites such as this deserve a broad (and casual) readership, simply because of their honesty and their eye opening properties.

    Why not do like some other great sites out there and start a fundraiser each year, with targets at different levels for extra content?

    If it fails, then it fails. But I would be willing to bet that it won’t fail. So long as you stay honest (most important of all!), popular and relevant, and post loads of knowledgeable articles, like you do currently, then every year I’m sure there will be a sufficient portion of your regular readers who have the will and the means to shift a bit your way in order to keep the content running, and maybe make it worth your while.

  62. Pnew
    Feb 18, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    Same boat. Tries selling but books & nada. So now I have them up for free. It’s all about teaching & sharing with each other, not the money. http://paulnew.epizy.com/ucancontactme/index.htm?i=2

  63. Feb 18, 2019 at 2:28 pm

    Words with Friends allows you to pay a small amount to bypass the ads. Personally I never paid it, I just deal with the ads, but some prefer to.

    I understand there is some difficulty in programming for that model – duplicate sites for paid vs nonpaid, trouble merging the comments onto both, etc. Just thought I’d mention the idea.

    I love your site btw – it’s definitely a favorite online stop for me.

    • alex in san jose AKA digital Detroit
      Feb 18, 2019 at 7:19 pm

      National Public Radio does this. Subscribe and you get to avoid the fund drives by getting a password to access their “stream” online. But for people who can only afford a couple of C batteries every 6 months in the “survival” radio a girlfriend bought ’em years ago, there’s still access (as the aforementioned C battery consumer).

  64. Nathan
    Feb 18, 2019 at 2:32 pm

    Wolf, good on you for keeping the site free and available for all. It’s one of the highest quality sites on the internet for this type of content in my opinion, and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your measured tone compared to the Chicken Little gold fetishists and the clueless forever-up bulls. I usually browse with ad blocking on but I’ll happily disable it for the TESTOSTERONE PIT. Keep being awesome.

  65. Laughing Eagle
    Feb 18, 2019 at 2:35 pm

    Wolf, what ever it takes to keep your site going, I have no problem paying or clicking on ads. You are one of a kind, especially in this greed stricken world. I know you love what you do, so keep doing it and many, many more healthy years to you.

  66. Charles Ponzi
    Feb 18, 2019 at 2:41 pm

    Wolf

    Thanks for the from the gut explanation. Really appreciate your commentary. If you ever get to Hawaii give me a shout. I’ll take you to the best craft breweries on Oahu. Local IPA and PuPu Platters, my treat.

  67. RagnarD
    Feb 18, 2019 at 2:45 pm

    Wolf
    I agree, the subscription model would turn the site into a desert And you’d lose the influence that u get from being free.

    Couple of suggestions.

    1. Sell t shirts, sweatshirt, hats for a bit of a exaggerated mark up. I assume this work can be farmed out or you could higher someone ?

    2 every so often do a go fund me with an explicit public counter as to ur goal And how much you have taken in.

    Maybe combine 1 &2?

    Thanks
    Love the site!

    2

    • Howard Fritz
      Feb 18, 2019 at 8:19 pm

      I need a Wolf street hat.

  68. Cliff
    Feb 18, 2019 at 2:54 pm

    Incredibly honest, thank you sir! Have been reading for a long time and will continue to. God Bless my friend.

  69. jon w
    Feb 18, 2019 at 2:57 pm

    Wolf
    How do adblockers work in terms of your revenue stream from advertisers?
    Do they know that a reader of Wolf Street is using an adblocker?
    I have disabled mine.

    • Feb 18, 2019 at 11:41 pm

      Add blocking eats into my beer money, that is clear. I don’t know how much… it’s not the end of the world.

      But I totally get ad blocking. I get why people do it, and I can’t blame them. As some commenters have said here, I love it when people who block ads either whitelist my site or disable ad blocking for my site, or donate to my site.

      • Carlos Ribeiro
        Feb 19, 2019 at 12:00 am

        Sorry, I just turned off the Ad Blocker for Your site.
        I see now that it’s not much of that stuff, not enough to disturb me.
        And thank you for your efforts.

        A propos:
        What do you think about a new regulation to stop short selling? This already happened, when the “game” got very uggly in the great recession, now for ex. with WIRECARD.
        And if a new law would impose that you must keep your shares at least one day (or longer) before you can sell it again? What would it mean to volatility?

      • IdahoPotato
        Feb 19, 2019 at 12:25 pm

        When I browse incognito, I see the ads. I have whitelisted your site. Some of the ads make me laugh (though they are not intended to). Like

        “Check out these 19
        insanely cool gadgets you
        didn’t know you needed”

  70. Feb 18, 2019 at 3:00 pm

    Hi Wolf,
    I have to say I have seen this coming for a while. Your information is so very good AND so very readable AND your comments section so valuable that I have said to myself more than a few times “Gee, how does he support himself enough to continue on?”

    I restore antique British cars. I’ve been doing so for more than 40 years. In an age where repair shops charge $120 an hour, I charge $55 and am happy with that. Why so low? Because I love what I do and that is (only) why I have done it all these years. There is little thanks in my work. No problem, like you I intend on doing what I LOVE till “my brain freezes over.”

    Life forces these decisions upon us. I (mostly) lost the use of my right arm a while ago but I keep on working. I could have retired. Nope. I just keep my rate low and make no apologies.

    Yes, $50 a year would be a problem. Maybe I would allow myself to subscribe but it does come as an added expense for one who is on a tight budget already.

    I know whatever you chose will be very fair. You have proven yourself to me to be this way over and over again. Thank you, Wolf.

    • MB732
      Feb 19, 2019 at 1:27 pm

      Change your labor rate to $55.10

      You earn more and support WS and if anyone asks about the ten cents, you can tell why and maybe they’ll check out Wolf Street…Win win win!

  71. B. Peterson
    Feb 18, 2019 at 3:06 pm

    Thank you for all you do Mr. Richter!

    Your example in fiscal responsibility, is practically biblical.

    Maybe setting up a link where soft payments could be made by those who aren’t afraid to let the moths fly from their wallets! Perhaps via that glorious salvation to all financial ailments… BitCoin?? (Sorry, I couldn’t refuse! I’d be more at ease sending cash in a white envelope to a PO Box!!)

    Cheers!!

  72. JC
    Feb 18, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    I really enjoy the content you publish here Wolf.

    Like you, I have been making a nice little chunk of change online with content that has bought me my fair share of beers.

    I think your decision to keep the site with ads on it works just fine and is smart. After all many here would never have discovered your site if it were paid. Now that you have a specific type of base of readers as a majority you still have others who salivate for fresh interesting content that you provide.

    I think a third option would be to offer a more interactive premium based type of content in the form of audio like you are already doing with your recap of the week. Even if you had a nice chunk of people who tuned in each week that paid to pick at your brain on the knowledge you have been accumulating for the week, I think it could make for interesting discussion and grow your community a bit more on the paid side of things.

    Even if you didn’t want to do video but allowed for audio along with a chat discussion to answer and share thoughts it could be fun. Replays would always be available for premium members.

    Just a thought!

  73. Rowen
    Feb 18, 2019 at 3:31 pm

    The most annoying thing about paywalls aren’t the paywalls themselves. It’s the constant whining from people about the paywall; on an econ-blog, it’d be more annoying since TINSTAAFL…

    The online advertising problem isn’t really about the clicking or displaying of ads; it’s that the online ad market is dominated by 3 advertisers (FB, GOOG, and AMZN) who are constantly siphoning the revenue from the publishers.

    So far, the BORG 3 haven’t figured how to monopolize podcast advertising yet.

    • Bankers
      Feb 18, 2019 at 4:57 pm

      Yes, but you aren’t going to use the web much if you find that every single site is paywalled and needs a subscription.

      Personally I just avoid paywalled sites, and also know that if I want to simply publish/share information and run comments it costs almost nothing but some time. The web itself is not expensive.

      After that it is a personal choice of the meaning of the site, and the work you put into it, and if or how that has anything to do with income.

  74. Iamafan
    Feb 18, 2019 at 3:35 pm

    Wolf,

    I just want to thank you. I’ve learned so much from you.

  75. Michael
    Feb 18, 2019 at 3:47 pm

    Long time reader always riveted..love it.
    Absolutely wonderful, thank you so very much.

  76. Rabbi Putin
    Feb 18, 2019 at 3:49 pm

    Thanks for keeping it free. I’m a new reader and I don’t bother with paywalled sites because I don’t have the money and there is plenty of free content.

    I think news in the future will be philanthropic and run as labour-of-love. At least until proper pricing returns to all the other goods we have to buy in life.

    The newspapers were once all 10c each and even then most people were just buying them for the classifieds!

  77. TruckMan
    Feb 18, 2019 at 3:56 pm

    Happily whitelisted, and clicking a couple of ads every time.
    Your work is quality, Wolf, and the model you are sticking with keeps an intelligent and polite commentry.
    The problem with the other models is that they rapidly seem to attract the trolls, losers and fakers.
    Enjoy your beer!

  78. Auld Kodjer
    Feb 18, 2019 at 4:03 pm

    Wolf – I’m a miserable old barstard who has never given you a nickel. I just want you to know that is (currently?) out of necessity, not choice, and that you bring joy to me every day with your insight, your honesty, your goodwill, and your quirky trans-Atlantic wit.
    I thank you. And I thank your understanding wife more.

  79. Cam
    Feb 18, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    Wolf, I would enjoy my beer with a Wolf Street Beer Stein….or mug!

  80. Peter Mott
    Feb 18, 2019 at 4:17 pm

    Did you check out the Guardian newspaper model. It’s a sort of donation model.

    • Rabbi Putin
      Feb 19, 2019 at 4:50 pm

      That’s borne out of desperation. And the guardian has way more overheads: office buildings, lifestyle sections and other pap, a more complex IT dept that has to maintain the apps and the moderators/socialist thought police.

  81. Tinky
    Feb 18, 2019 at 4:18 pm

    Wolf,

    Your approach is both thoughtful and admirable. As others have suggested, it is fairly easy to allow those who contribute a certain amount to use the site ad-free.

    In any case, the ads are not very intrusive, in my view, and are a tiny price to pay for the knowledge found on the site.

    Cheers!

  82. Bruno
    Feb 18, 2019 at 4:25 pm

    Thanks for the low-down on the “crumbs”. And thanks for keeping the site without a paywall. I find your info. quite interesting……with a definite leaning to a negative perspective on most research. Nevertheless, your input is interesting and I appreciate your time and effort on our behalf. Keep up the good work and thank you again.

  83. Anders Gronskog
    Feb 18, 2019 at 4:38 pm

    I really wanted to donate with some kind of bitcoins..

    You should have included what the price of your favorite IPA cost in your area, it would have been fitting to at least buy you a beer each month for your work in helping me wasting my time :-)

    I hope my donation will get you one or two.

    • Feb 18, 2019 at 11:31 pm

      Most IPAs at various restaurants and bars run between $7 and $9 for a 12oz glass. I just had a 22oz glass of Speakeasy Big Daddy IPA for $13, plus view of the full moon, the Bay Bridge all lit up, and the SF skyline as seen from the waterfront in Sausalito.

  84. MB732
    Feb 18, 2019 at 4:41 pm

    Favorite site. Was not aware how website revenues work, so thanks for numbers. If this site isn’t worth $5 month, I don’t know what is.

    Member: Five Dollars A Month Club*

    *If the Club catches on big, I want to be invited on the yacht, and not in the off season!

    • HMG
      Feb 19, 2019 at 1:28 am

      You’re invited on mine.
      It’s in Antibes.
      * Wolf can come as well.

      • MB732
        Feb 19, 2019 at 1:38 pm

        You’re on! Is yours the one with the heli-pad?

        • HMG
          Feb 19, 2019 at 2:03 pm

          You must be joking.

          Eclipse, Pelorus or Le Grand Bleu could pick mine up in their davits.

          Nevertheless at you’ll enjoy steering 20 tons at 30 knots with a pair of big Cats throbbing away under the deck.

  85. WSKJ
    Feb 18, 2019 at 4:49 pm

    Great post, thank you, Wolf. One thing that I know you are aware of, but only hinted at above: you have many knowledgeable readers and Commenters who contribute to the quality of the site.
    Seems to me that a subscription model would tend to lessen this feeling of WS group commitment and contribution. We’re in this (attempt to fathom the economy and its players) together.

    That said, I hope that you do well financially, and clearly you deserve more than beer money.

    I find the ads annoying but tolerable. I have been in/on several forums in the past which changed models, with subsequent great upheaval. I still visit a few favorite websites which put up little or no advertising; I don’t know how they pay the bills; they are nice quiet places to visit. Economics being so often, innately unsettling, anyway, the ads appearing on WS are not too jarring a note.

    IF you had a mailing address, like to a P.O. Box, I would send you a donation check. It’s all about my personal security; I still feel as if a check in the mail is more secure than posting my credit card number to a website. Any chance of a mailing address, or is this a hopelessly old-fashioned concept wrt WS funding ???

    Thanks again, as always, for what you do. We owe you.

    • Feb 18, 2019 at 11:26 pm

      I have a PO Box. It’s at the bottom of every email my site sends out to subscribers of my free “email updates.” To make it easier, that address is:

      Wolf Street Corp
      1288 Columbus Ave. #196
      San Francisco, CA 94133

      • WSKJ
        Feb 19, 2019 at 3:17 pm

        The check is in the mail.

        • Feb 19, 2019 at 5:31 pm

          WOW!

        • Feb 19, 2019 at 6:49 pm

          WSKJ,

          And thanks for bringing it up. I have now added the PO Box to the how-to-donate page. It seems other people too prefer mailing checks — and I love it because no middlemen get a cut.

          Not sure why I didn’t think about it before :-]

      • Jq
        Feb 19, 2019 at 3:21 pm

        Thanks for the address .Check is in the mail. My accountant said I can deduct it! If I find out you got a G4 I will have to cut you back

  86. jaymo
    Feb 18, 2019 at 4:54 pm

    thank you wolf and keep it up. if the beer money ever runs short,let me know and i’ll buy you a beer. best beer pubs in the country are right here in portland.

  87. Some anonymous bastard
    Feb 18, 2019 at 4:55 pm

    Thank you for all your hard work! This is easily my favorite website to visit each day. The analysis is honest, data driven, and isn’t muddled with carnival barking you see on so many other, similar sites. Plus, your weekly wolf street report is to the point and a joy to listen to. I would tolerate significantly more ads if need be!!
    Thank you Wolf!!

  88. Thor's Hammer
    Feb 18, 2019 at 5:01 pm

    Hi Wolf

    Your site is one of the few populated by adults who have not lost their capacity for critical thought. In an era when the mainstream media publish what is primarily propaganda and disinformation, a site that attempts honesty and transparency becomes even more a national treasure.

    Politically you and I have substantially different perspectives, but the loss of Wolf Street would indeed diminish us all. I don’t have the answers, but retreating behind a paywall is not one of them. Stockman’s diminished web presence (another author with which I often fundamentally disagree but find well worth reading) is a perfect example of the trade-off between reaching enough people to have an influence and perhaps making enough $$ to operate as a business.

  89. Kent
    Feb 18, 2019 at 5:05 pm

    I don’t know if your site engine supports it, but maybe have a subscription site that gets rid of the ads along with the regular site.

  90. VegasMan
    Feb 18, 2019 at 5:07 pm

    Wolf, maybe you should have your “Donate” link at the end of every article?..

  91. Brian
    Feb 18, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    Yes, thank you very much for this site. I am a long time reader and first time poster. I really appreciate sites like yours that are data-driven, empircal evidence-based, and follow it to the truth, no matter where that leads. I would happily pay the subscription in case you ever change your mind, but your position on this really resonated with me…I too feel like my younger years were a sacrifice for my personal financial position and my tolerance for painfulness has greatly diminished. Wishing you all the best!

  92. timbers
    Feb 18, 2019 at 5:26 pm

    This can’t be your last gig because your next one needs to Fed Chairman!

  93. Spinolator
    Feb 18, 2019 at 5:29 pm

    “Spend much of my time researching, mulling over, and diving deep into data and analyzing what I find, and then writing it all down to where it makes sense even to me, and building charts that even I can understand at one glance.”

    Thanks for being humble…. And Thank you for giving your impartial opinion and analysts about all these topics. As a non economics/finance guy, it’s nice to be able to read about these, not being shrouded in mumbo jumbo talk or mountains of bs.

  94. jango euro
    Feb 18, 2019 at 5:30 pm

    I know a blogger who had enough readers to make 500k from subscriptions. That was 5 years ago. 200$/year.
    Very involved financial stuff with insider info.
    And I know for a fact that 5 years later he’s losing between 10 and 20% of subscribers/year.
    He gets a few new ones but not enough.
    He’s older and can retire.
    Just saying that the model is declining. There’s just too much excellent free stuff out there and not enough brain time for the customers, nor enough will to pay.
    I love your site.
    I wouldn’t pay (and money is no issue for me).
    It’s just too complicated to sign up , remember pw’s , etc……
    Keep going.

  95. Ron Mehmet
    Feb 18, 2019 at 5:35 pm

    I like what your doing as is.
    Thank you.

  96. Bruce
    Feb 18, 2019 at 5:41 pm

    Just made a donation. Worth mentioning that while the “How to Donate” shows up on my browser computer screen, it is hidden behind a menu button on my iPad reader. So some people may be unaware of how to donate. Thanks to commenters above posting the link.

    I think this is a good decision. Paywall is frustrating and limiting. You also have to decide what to charge, and that depends a bit on reader preferences and finances. I like the free mode, with an option to donate. One thing you might think about Wolf, is to do one blog post a year, similar to this post, where you explain things and put a link in the post that let’s people donate. I get tired of the incessant appeals some places have for funds, but I think a yearly request would be perfectly acceptable with your readers.

    I value this blog for your insightful and honest commentary, the lack of spammers/trolls etc in the comments, and the insight that many readers offer.

    • Otishertz
      Feb 18, 2019 at 6:31 pm

      I have so many condoms on my computer I can’t see the donate banner either. I block all scripts not directly associated with functionality of a web site. This practice I will not stop.

      Try noscript on your browser and see just how many hidden trackers are trying to run a script on any mainstream website. It’s stunning.

      They are selling the traces of your thoughts and desires to all takers.

  97. Ken
    Feb 18, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    The ads do not bother me. I will click on a couple everyday if that helps. Keep up the great work!

  98. Feb 18, 2019 at 5:50 pm

    Wolf,

    I suspect that I’ve read 90%+ of your articles going back to the testosterone pit days. Wolfstreet is pound-for-pound one of, if not the, best sites of its kind on the internet. In fact, it’s one of the reasons I started my modest blog/news aggregator (The Sounding Line) and I will keep linking to your articles so long as they are free, whatever that’s worth.

    The advertising model is brutal but the day that Wolfstreet goes behind the paywall will be a sad day and a bad omen for the rest of us.

    Thanks for all the work

  99. Augusto
    Feb 18, 2019 at 5:55 pm

    Wolf, love the site, and I don’t care a hoot about the ads. That’s just the price to pay, and a small price at that, of getting great content. I imagine the ones who complain about the ads are just the loudest, and hopefully not a significant number. It must be downer though to do a lot of work (for free) and then get complainers-who I doubt would pay anyways. Once again, appreciate the site and the content.

  100. MCH
    Feb 18, 2019 at 6:03 pm

    Wolf,

    Glad you have this site, keep up the great work. It’s thought provoking and informative.

Comments are closed.