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…


…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? You can donate. I appreciate it immensely. Click on the beer and iced-tea mug to find out how:

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  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 says:


    I agree with Joe above. I have only recently found your site and feel I am learning something each time you post.

    Thank you for sharing this insight.

  2. Beans says:

    Why not try a beer money fundraiser, a la Naked Capitalism? I wouldn’t have found your site had it not been free. I’d gladly kick in a contribution annually.

  3. Marus says:

    I wouldn’t pay for a subscription, but I turned my ad blocker off. Many people use ad blockers. Maybe a summarization of the above text with a short plea to white list the page could raise beer money to liver-damaging levels.

  4. John says:

    Hey Wolf,

    We spoke a while back about this very thing and surprisingly you went dark on me.

    My advertising model (building) would remove 99% of your ads (that nobody ever clicks) and could generate north of 10k a day (lotta beer) if my calculations are correct. You said 10k was a small % of your readers so for argument sakes I assumed your readership was 150k a day, and if each reader read 2 stories a day they’d each see 1 ad and you’d generate between $60-98.00 CPM. I’d really like to help keep Wolfstreet free and fun for you while rewarding which every venture should be in my opinion.

    If you’d like to rekindle the conversation, I’d enjoy that and if not, I would like to wish you all the best going forward.

    Kind Regards,

  5. Bobby Dale says:

    I admire your dedication and enjoy your site. Your thoughts on this seem correct, the ad supported model frees your time for your work though Alphabet and Facebook eat the profits. With Apple finally allowing for analytics in podcast data revenues are soaring as is the quality if production.
    See: https://awfulannouncing.com/ringer/the-ringer-podcast-ad-sales-outside-investment.html

  6. LP says:

    You could publish twice the whole thing if people are bothered by adds:
    a) with adds + no subscription
    b) without adds but a small subscription?
    You could this way verify how many would really pay to be without adds, earn a bit more with a limited increased workload.
    Merging the comments might be a bit tricky but could work

  7. Satya Mardelli says:

    Business Insider recently went to a split system. They still have free content but also have select articles sequestered behind a paywall (BI Prime)

    As for me, the ads aren’t a bother at all. As a matter of fact, I’ll start clicking on them just to increase your revenue.

  8. Paul morphy says:

    All of us owe a huge debt of gratitude to you for the superb content throughout your site, Wolf.

    Like some others here say the adverts don’t bother me.

    Should you choose to move to a subscription model, I would pay the sub to access the data you provide, Wolf.

  9. Mike T says:

    Keep up the good work Wolf! I enjoy reading your thought provoking articles to get my dose of economic sanity in this insane economic world of debt laden growth. The ads don’t bother me at all. Although I’m noticing that more YouTube channels are being interrupted by advertisements.

    I’m surprised that you post daily, that’s got to be a lot work. Maybe post less often?

    Btw I’ve been reading the articles posted on the Econimica blog site on the demographic time-bomb that’s contributing to the slowing global economic growth. His site doesn’t have any ads, but he only posts weekly at most.

  10. DONALD SERGENT says:

    You’re still Testosterone Pit on my firefox browser, actually I still have Neithercorp (Now alt-market) up there as well. As you may recall, when I was still using Internot Explorer, it would serve up ads that were keyed to the subject of the article. Talk about obvious….
    I’ve got you on my main browser page favorites, because you’re habit forming.
    The ads dont bother me, they sometimes amuse, and i’ve clicked a few.
    But you, MC01, and Don Quijones have all added to my awareness, as well as one of the best commentariats out there. Thanks, and I suppose PayPal is a necessary weevil, since it is the currency of the internet. Snail mail would be nice?

  11. Jas says:

    Thanks for all of the excellent articles, Wolf! I personally look forward to reading them. I have donated to you in the past and have made thousands by becoming educated about various topics you cover. I truly appreciate you. Might I suggest a friendly reminder every now and then or an email solicitation occasionally to remind your readers that donations are accepted and the site is free? As we all know time goes by quickly and I honestly can’t recall if it was last year or 2017 that I donated. I will do so in the near future as a token of my gratitude to you. Best regards, Jas

  12. Frank Lopez says:


    Your site is objective, factual and educational. Please do continue until your brain freezes over. The dedication and efforts presented in the Articles are outstanding.

  13. CB says:

    I check your site every few days along with Zerohedge and a few other alt to msm sites. Just to check what msm leave unsaid. I then read newspapers from each continent to again see what msm have left out. Your writing with an eagle and critical eye is a breathe of fresh air along this navigated path to truth and maybe one of a handful of the last few thinkers of a free world.

  14. Keeper Hill says:

    If you put it behind a paywall you damage the comments section. Then it becomes like Bloomberg where the comments are groupthink. You are fun to read but I like the comments on the topics more than your own work because that’s where you see the cross section of thought from throughout the country or world. Your install base is the comments. Without it, it’s myspace with ads.

  15. A very honest comment. I worked on a free blog for several years and developed a bit of an audience myself. As you say, part of the reason for publishing is to do the analysis and explain it in even way you yourself can understand it.

    I admire your energy and your insights.

  16. Sarah says:

    Thanks so much & good luck

  17. Javert Chip says:


    As a retired CFO, I see, understand & appreciate your angst; I have no wisdom for how to square this circle. The “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” article is a pretty balanced look at both sides of the coin. I highly value your (and DQ’s) fact & numbers filled posts.

    In reading a select few of the above comments, I saw high & deserved praise, but I no donations (maybe a bad reading sample on my part). You mentioned $50/year as a fair subscription rate (perhaps an apocryphal figure…); I can pay more than most, so I’ve donated $100 for myself & and some other deserving reader.

    STRONG SUGGESTION: don’t be shy about placing a “tip jar” on top of each page’s right-hand boarder (right under “Subscribe to WOLF STREET”), with tag line of “PLEASE CONSIDER SUPPORTING WOLF STREET, ESPECIALLY IF YOU USE AN AD BLOCKER”

  18. Po says:

    This is one of my go to sites every morning. Reading about finances and economics is a just hobby for me so I wouldn’t pay for it if it was put behind a firewall. What I can and will do in the future when I visit this site is to turn off my ad blocker and click on a few ads here and there to help fund your IPAs and hopefully to encourage you to keep this site open.

  19. NotMe says:

    One thing.
    Try to limit ads whitelisted by ad blockers. They do not pass ads that do popups or popunders, or use too much CPU or bandwidth.

    Adblock plus has information on this. I turn on adblocker when things get out of hand.

  20. raxadian says:

    I clicked on a few ads on this site today and I plan to do the same every day I visit this site.

    Thank you Wolf for this site.

  21. MF says:

    My take on “hope” as a strategy: Word of mouth is *the* most legitimate and sustainable marketing strategy. You’re playing a long game. Think of the older, quiet, jewelry-free salesman in the back corner who never picks up the phone to beg a be-back to come back in. His phone just rings, then a nice couple shows up and buys a car. His customers must make an appointment with him because he’s legit busy otherwise.

    It sounds like you’ve decided to be the online publishing version of that guy.

    So … what to do with the brand you’ve built?

    First, let’s look at the most historically successful publishing model: newspapers, delivered to customers for a subscription fee (that covered only the cost of printing & delivery). Ad pricing was based on circulation (i.e.: provable eyeballs). It paid for editors, staff writers and office overhead. If ad revenue went down, volume of content went down but circulation didn’t. When the local economy recovered, ad revenue recovered quickly because the circulation was still there.

    The big challenge with today’s online model is that it’s so hard to prove “circulation”. They try to do it by clicks, but clicks aren’t eyeballs, and everyone knows this. So even though YOUR clicks are real, you’re competing for ad revenue in a space where too many clicks are are faked in some way.

    Another challenge is that Wolf Street readers expect much higher content quality than most other sites. But I bet you get paid the same per click as aggregators and gossip sites, whose readers are notoriously fickle.

    Also note that you view your readers as the customers. This puts you at a short-term disadvantage over sites who prioritize the other way around.

    My conclusion is that you have a strong brand to offer potential advertisers, and could charge a premium for it, assuming you could figure out how to prove it.

    One solution would be to mimic the historical success of 20th Century newspapers. They all traced their roots to the informal “News-Letters” of colonial times (the print version of what blogging was a few years ago). Over time, those grew from monthly periodicals to weekly, then daily. Benjamin Franklin is largely credited with monetizing this activity by offering small ads in his periodicals. Eventually, ad revenue completely dwarfed and overwhelmed subscription revenue, to the point where it was literally an afterthought. At their peak, ads took up nearly 70% of the copy space in most dailies.

    So, why weren’t subscriptions offered for free? Two reasons:
    1. People (generally) don’t attach value to anything free.
    2. Publishers needed a way to prove how many eyeballs advertisers were reaching.

    You could conduct a market test to see if you can monetize your brand without alienating current readers. Maybe:

    1. Implement a nominal-fee subscription model to your podcasts. Something everyone can afford; say $12/year. Use Vimeo on-demand so you don’t have to do extra work. (https://vimeo.com/61103187)

    2. Use the subscription numbers to prove actual eyeballs (as opposed to clicks) to potential advertisers.

    3. Focus on what I call Faceburnt SME advertisers who offer services relevant to your demographic.

    4. Try an ad that opens when viewers click through to the video (Forbes uses this model). See how successful you are at charging a premium for it.

    5. Maintain 100% editorial control over ad content and behavior. (Again: Forbes)

    6. Analyze the data you collect to decide whether to migrate your whole site to the model.

    Some random thoughts:

    Most people have no issues with ads per se. They use blockers because the sheer weight of internet advertisers slows browsing to a crawl, crashes older computers, and interrupts the reading experience (when an ad *finally* loads, the page must readjust and the reader must go searching for their place, if they can even find it again). If you can provide ads that don’t do any of those things (i.e.: built naturally into your layout), you should experience minimal pushback.

    A lot of people do have issues with a subscription fee. But think of this: if you give them value (and you do) and they aren’t willing to pay you, then you have no value to them.

    Without a subscription there is no way to distinguish between a click and an eyeball. To charge a premium to your advertisers, you need to prove that you provide real human eyeballs.

    Full disclosure: I’m a subscription kinda guy. I think ads favor leviathans over mom-and-pop enterprises. But I get that ads democratize the web, so I’m conflicted. This is why I’d love to see a hybrid model, and why I believe it was so successful in the past.

    Ideas for subscription models:

    1. Buy-one-get-10. For $12, get a year’s subscription, plus tokens for 10 more people. Upon subscription renewal, any token that wasn’t used at least 6 times in the year expires. This is a word-of-mouth marketing strategy that also protects you from building up zombie members. Downside: An IT person is needed, adding cost.

    2. Lifetime subscription: whenever a new subscriber signs up, they get a chance to buy a lifetime subscription for, say, $250. Allow payments as low as $1/mo. You’ll probably find this to be a popular option. It accomplishes three things. First, anyone can afford it. Second, it self-curates by rolling people off who don’t keep up their payments. Third, for wealthier people, it’s a nominal fee, and provides the thing they want most: convenience. Downside: marries you to ads forever because you can’t raise subscription prices if/when demand warrants it.

    • Javert Chip says:

      Wolf’s commentary did a pretty good job of describing why this won’t work. You’re basically describing how to polish a brick.

      Dreaming up ways a couple million advertisers and hundreds of millions of web users SHOULD behave smells like a non-starter.

  22. Ronnie says:

    Don’t want to lose you. I have the answer.

    Herd mentality. No more,” Lone Wolf.” Start a pack.
    1. 5x top quality Bloggs. You finance, some one foreign policy. Some one Russia- Foe or Friend and some one China Century. Last ….Planet Earth today.
    NOTE. Not facist or socialist. No sex obsessed fads or racist fork toungue rubbish.
    Plain old fashion down the centre. The reader gets too think about it….an education.

    3. $30 per year FOR ALL 5 of them and a little 50 cent like button to press.
    I prefer Apple pay on my iPad sooo easy-pesey.
    4. $30 ÷ by 365 days a year is 0.0821917808 per day!!!!!!
    Nowwwww what can l buy with that each morning with my coffee.
    5. “Like” button 50 cents.
    So l press,”like” for Wolffie, it’s only 58 cent in total for the knowledge.
    You are smart, do the maths. Same, same for you intelligent readers.

  23. Robert Miller says:

    Maybe duplicating here cos i didn’t read all the comments.

    Stick with the ads but try out Patreon in conjunction.

    Those who want the goss first without ads can read via that option and pay just a few bucks depending on how deep their pockets are and the rest of the cheapskates can stick with the ads and a delay (maybe a week).

    Keep up the great work!

  24. Setarcos says:

    Great site. Doubt I would have developed the almost daily habit if it was behind a paywall. I try to make an occasional contribution and click on a few ads…glad to think it might wind up in a few IPAs.

    My perspective …this site often includes the “rest of the story” by going deeper than most. And opinion injection is de minimus as facts and stats are more robust and organized as well. Opinion is minimal which is refreshing and a nice contrast to all the agenda-driven content on many sites. On the other hand, the comments banter and exchange of opinions adds seasoning to the main dish.

    Best wishes for continued success.

  25. Mike R says:

    you are doing a nice job. keep the site the same. Thanks

  26. Claud Brahman says:

    I remember the old name of your blog and even read a little of your book. Of course, I was a little skeptical of what might follow, not that there was any exaggeration found in the few pages of your book, but for me it was an old story, which does not keep anyone who participated in that profession, including myself, from being exceptional, just misplaced and underemployed.
    Anyway, of late, and for some time now, you have been quite prolific in your article count. I notice the exceptional communication, sequential thought organization and excellent writing and grammar. Honestly, I have been selling you short for about six months, wondering how you produce as many as two (or more) well written articles per day. I was comforted by my mistaken presumption that you enjoy the assistance of at least two excellent writers and researchers who assembled the facts and did the grunt work, allowing you to give your critical direction final organization and then push “send”. Boy, was I mistaken? I came close to sending you my compliments on what I believed was the good work of some really smart staff. I am not making that up.
    As for the subscription wall, my recommendation is to leave your site as free, (for those like myself who like free until it gets absolutely trashed with advertising). Maybe I saw, once, on your site a comment or a button for tin-cup contributions. Such a button cheapens your product. I would recommend a button that allows those that want to pay a price (about like the advertisers pay for a couple of hundred page clicks per year) to have access to the same content with no advertising to distract them. One of your commentators said that all media is destroyed by over saturation of advertising and that is correct. I can tolerate advertising as long as it stays in the right and left margins (no pop ups in your face) and allows the content to scroll down the middle, much like driving a northbound interstate lane with billboards, just over the fence, to each side.
    The question of comparing the operation of website as it is, versus complicating it with a subscription system and marketing idea. The quality of all products generally decline when they employ a paid sales staff. So many good products get buried in companies with excessive corporate overhead generally displayed as S,G&A expense on the income statement, when the effective market moving saturation and effectiveness, could be accomplished if the price were reduced by the lost motion and sense of entitlement of the blue suede shoe guys. Keep the high quality and no sales staff.
    Wolf, you are way above the typical news letter writer (huckster). The greater question is: Do you want, in this chapter of your life, to make truth or make money (by subscriptions). All the smartest people that I know share their knowledge in exchange for the sharing of the knowledge of others with similarly great perceptions. I believe that the greater potential for your profit will come from an unsolicited offer to purchase your perceptions and perhaps articles for use in a corporate way.
    Keep up the good work and only surround yourself with folks with the same standards and motivations.

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      Very perceptive.

      I would add that there are a few folks who write and publish worthwhile stuff for free. They can be found through DuckDuckGo (or even Google) by keywords or the titles of their work.

  27. Shizz says:

    Wolf, I sit around on Sundays waiting for your report… This Sunday I ate too much lasagna and was about to go to bed when I seen it pop up. Naturally I listened to what you had to say because I respect what you have to say.

    That being said, I HATE ads… They slow down every site that I enjoy. I refuse to participate. That being said, I enjoy your content and try to donate whenever I can. Tell you what, I’ll turn off ad blocker and do a bunch of searches for something I really want… If I can get it by clicking on your site I will pay a %10 premium. If I can get it at a better than expected price, I will allow the ads.

    I run linux on low grade hardware but it works… Been thinking of upgrading…. Tell you what… I will try to be more understanding and turn my blockers off and get you some revenue.

    If it pisses me off though, I will donate strait to your beer fund as usual. I hate ads.

  28. TNO says:

    Started reading back when you were testosterone pit at the top of the Zero Hedge site. I can’t even remember how long ago that was. You are right I probably couldn’t follow anymore if you went paywall. Thanks for what you do. Keep up the good work.

  29. Bilco says:

    I enjoy this blog with its never ending bearish critique on all things economic.

    At its heart I believe WS is a business blog, and yet it almost never provides investment advice. I can honestly say I’ve never made any money from following this blog. In fact, if WS were your only source for news you would never have invested a dime in the markets over the last ten years.

    I’m going to respectfully say that I can’t see anyone shelling out $50 bucks for WS unless Wolf is going to start allowing his readership in on the secert sauce for his investment strategies. The site is interesting and provides context, but I’m sure most of his 500K readers want to know where he puts his money.
    (He’s probably long Tesla and Netflix) :)

  30. Bobber says:

    A couple ways to help Wolf out:

    Post thoughtful comments. The comment section adds a lot to the content and promotes readership.

    Post links to Wolf’s articles. Refer other people to the website.

    Click on an ad now and then.

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      “Post links to Wolf’s articles. Refer other people to the website.”

      Good idea! Helps keep it going.

  31. Fan1 says:

    Wolf: I vote for MORE ads. I don’t mind sitting through clickbait to read your content and esp the comments! You might increase revenue if you add ads to comments.

    Don’t be shy.

  32. Exackery says:

    Hi there, first time posting >> I’m a reader not a poster but this article demanded my 2 cents. I think your current model is perfect, I accept that the ads are necessary and I find them unobtrusive.
    Although I appreciate your articles and the work required to write and post them, it is highly doubtful I would subscribe to a “pay for use” website. Just a FYI >> I hope you keep the format the same and thank you for all your insights whichever choice you end up making Wolf.

  33. Steve says:

    Ublock and AdBlockerPlus works very well. I’ve never seen ads here (sorry wolf street) and I’ve been reading this site for years. THANK YOU for keeping it free though … I never pay for sites. If I have to pay, I don’t read.

  34. OSP says:

    I don’t mind the ads at all, Wolf…carry on

  35. Pjv says:

    Whichever financial model works I’ll still remain on board!
    I worked on Wall St
    for 20 years at some of the great bond houses.
    Your work is as good or better than the analysts we had!!
    Thank you so much!!

  36. Mark B says:

    Hey. Loyal readers who find this site as valuable as I do. Yes, I’m talking to you! There’s a donate button. Use it! I hate ads. You hate ads. Take a minute and DONATE.

  37. kimsarah says:

    I don’t mind the ads. Keep up the great work.

  38. gino orazi says:

    Thank you!

  39. sierra7 says:

    Greatly appreciate your “daily” insights; the ads that appear on my devices accompanying your columns don’t bother me at all…they are “minimus”. Your insights make sense; something that so many others don’t. I visit sites that allow comments. Just reading about something does nothing for me. I want to know how others feel. Your site allows that with disciplined sanity (the discipline dispensed by you). Keep up the great work!

  40. Graham says:

    Wolf – another option – perhaps you could do what I am preparing to do in June…leave my beloved Alameda for my native NC where the real estate is 1/5th, where I can take my Bay Area salary and afford not only a nice home, but new (or newer) cars, and a boat to boot. When it’s too hot, i’ll Go to the mountains. When it’s too cold, I’ll go to FL or Mexico.

    I love the Bay, but the Bay no longer loves me. It’s the promised land for sure, but the quality of life has steadily eroded to where it’s no longer justifiable.

    Come to NC and your welcome to come over for an IPA any time, no charge!

    • Wolf Richter says:

      I understand… But we just came back from a gorgeous hike on Mount Tam, with view of the Pacific and the Bay, and thick gloomy forests and steep trails as well as wide-open alpine meadows. The wildflowers have started coming out. 30 min by car from our place. Tomorrow I go swimming in the Bay at my swim club a few blocks down the hill. We’re outdoorsy people. And it looks like our souls have latched onto this place :-]

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        My choice to leave the place of my birth was not hampered by the esthetics of that place – Detroit in the early fifties.

        My choice of solitude in the wooded mountains of WV would not be the most esthetic choice for most people, either.

        Bur I believe I have more genuine personal liberty here than almost anyplace on earth. That’s what matters most to me.

  41. MoreMoneyPlease says:

    First off, the Ashley Madison ads I see are totally AWESOME! Keep up the good work, as I never really noticed any of your other ads but pleasantly hard to miss a 25 year old super model in tiny lingerie filling the entire right side of my screen…SWEET…LOL

    About the content, I read about 4-5 hours a day of mostly online financial sites, and this is one of my favorites for hard analysis without the political and social opinions that so many other sites seem to have no ability to avoid. I am more of a graph/chart guy, so I enjoy the visual data most. I would say the diversity of your forum members is rare, and it will change drastically if you make it pay to view. Without going into details, I have been in expensive subscription monthly services with live chat forums that included millionaire and even a few billionaire investors, and in lesser expensive live chat forums with more financial diversity that included all incomes in life. I must say I learned the most and got the best ideas when the groups are 99% diverse, and not just full of the top 1%.

    In terms of funding, I tend to like the fund drives most as it is one and done, versus a subscription sort of service.

    In Gratitude,


    • Wolf Richter says:

      I get the busty Thai and Russian girls and the “mature women” (usually on the left side) lusting for older men. People who block ads have no idea what they’re missing :-]

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        Well, this older man understands what he’s missing, among other things, his aim at the commode …

  42. V. Lushnik says:

    Mr. Wolf,
    This is the great site, great personality behind it and your coverage of Spain’s economy is rare, real and very valuable.
    Would you consider a “small donations” model from willing readers, as, for example, Charles High Smith does on his site?
    I believe many readers would happily donate some money to keep the site going.
    Just a thought.
    Best regards and thanks for your work!

  43. subz says:

    Kudos to Mr. Wolf for your hard work and high quality contents!

  44. Noons says:

    I’m only a recent reader but I enjoy the discussion and love the information. It’s not the sort of thing I can discuss with family, friends or even work colleagues but I like being informed. I imagine this is what journalism looked like in the era of a local single page newspaper.

  45. Martin says:

    Hi Wolf,

    I have to say, that the articles which you publish here are really good. I am not so old (26 now) but when I started to go on internet, it was in age of blogs around 2006 – 2010. Blogs was mostly non-comercial and the posts, links or articles which people publish there were amazing. They did that because they wanted and feel, same as you, that they can contribute to discussion or help some people understand. With recession around 2009 it changed a lot, people didn’t have money and time, so they stop to publish or withdraw from non-commercial work (also facebook and this kind of social media shuffle it a lot). In this days I don’t really feel, that there is much websites which provide some kind of really valuable information, it’s mostly prefabricated content for advertisement, a lot of spam (miss-information, information without value) and videos. To improve it little bit – at least in my country, I thought to translate some of the posts here to Czech, for local people to read it as well. I don’t expect crowds to stay in line for that, but if someone will search for some information he should have another option than main-stream media. Thanks for the good work.

  46. Tom Broadhurst says:

    Wolf, I love your work so keep it up! And thank you enormously. Tom

  47. Mark says:

    Hi i have not read all of the 199 replies as of my writing, so if this has been said i apologise. Maybe you could offfer a voluntary subscription as Mozilla Firefox does and see what happens.

  48. Si says:

    Hi Wolf. Just want to add my ‘thanks’ for the work you do putting this site together. I read everything you post, it is my ‘go to’ place for sensible and thoughtful commentary.
    I find the comments section, without doubt, the best in blogland. Courteous and grown up.

  49. Anthony says:


    Your site is essential reading. I applaud your decision to keep it free and open. Thank you.


  50. Leser says:

    Wolfstreet is one of the best blogs out there and please keep it going!

    I think the combination of free access plus micro payments will be the future. It’s natural to the millenial and later generations from the apps and games they grow up with. With a paywall you’d probably only catch older and more affluent readers with the other side effects you mention.

    Agree that ad-based is tricky, for the growing backlash in general and also the incentive it sets for biasing the content towards growing the number of viewers at the expense of quality – the (d)evolution of Zerohedge is an example.

  51. PaulJ says:

    Hi Wolf, I came across your website a few years back and I got interested when in one of your articles you said “economies are too complex for economist to understand anymore”, or words similar. Please correct me if I am wrong. Anyway I thought finally someone had the guts to say it as it is. Don’t change Wolf. Your blog provides a great tolerance of opinion and topics. As the song says ” We love you just the way you are”. Another friend from downunder.

  52. Bunter says:

    Well done Wolf. Keep it up. We need the privateers.

  53. Wendy says:


    Thanks for all your great work.

    Have you considered getting a corporate sponsor? This may boost revenue.

    Don’t go paywall. David Stockman did this and lost a ton of readers.

    Do what you are passionate about, and you will be rewarded. Already, as you have discovered, you have a ton of loyal fans.

  54. Xypher2000 says:

    You should do it like Limbaugh. He has a free radio show where you get commercials and then a subscription site where he goes more in depth into things and has access to archives and more features. You could do general articles under the current process and then use the paywall for the less casual readers who are really wanting in depth analysis of the same articles and you could do guest interviews with people who have insider knowledge on certain subjects. It doesn’t have to be one or the other, and maybe the free articles will entice people to try the subscription.

  55. Tez says:

    Hey Wolf,

    I got here from your occasional appearances on Keiser Report and I love your data driven analysis. I’d pay now that I’ve read your site for several months, however I can’t say I would have bothered initially if it were behind a pay wall (How could I tell if the content was good unless I paid?)… the ol’ catch 22.

    I’d say any sort of signing in / process of authentication is the actual problem. Any time wasted by doing this and then filling out CC information is just not worth the effort for the majority. This problem will most likely be alleviated once people are used to keeping a small amount of money in their browser (like Metamask or something along those lines) and ‘tipping’ for articles they enjoyed reading. Feels like a cultural norm that has yet to be adopted.

    Anyways, all the best, keep up the great work!


    • Tez says:

      Ooh, just read another comment above about Patreon – that’s another good idea for passive income.

  56. ZeroBrain says:

    my advice is to set up autopay when you’re feeling generous. this site is worth the entertainment and information!

    • ZeroBrain says:

      ack, if only we could get an edit button though. meant to say the entertainment/info is worth at least a small donation.

  57. Crazy Chester says:


    If your revenue is truly ‘beer money’ – doubtful – then take down all your Ads and put up a bigger tip jar button. You will sleep better. Perhaps not on better pillows every year, but at least in the high cottons.

    “Heck” let’s just make a beer drinking game out of this. Say the 10th person to donate whenever you use “heck”, as in “nothing goes to heck in a straight line”, gets a non transferable coupon for a free high gravity beer at your favorite Bar in your neighborhood. Good for 30 days or so. Must be present to drink, sort of thing. Or for those not wishing to travel to Frisco for a free beer, a coupon redeemable for a free Housing Bubble 2 chart! The rest of us could just go to the frig to grab a cold one and wait for the coming of the end of the world. “Heck”, you could slowly add mugs and whatnot – “I Drink at Wolf Street” – and then, before you know it your Bar and all the beer breweries would want to be doing direct advertising at your site. And you could tell the wife: “I’m back, Baby, back in the game!”

  58. Erle says:

    why I was working so hard for so little…………….OK, I was with it since Testosterone Pit, and that was a bad name.
    I do buy your books and will carry some to get signed someday.
    You have one of the very few left that carry real financial news. I do get a kick out of the commenters as so many of them have anecdotal and general information.

  59. PeterFA says:

    Keep fighting the good fight Wolf. Your work is always thought provoking, and that is greatly appreciated. I always look forward to your posts.

    As you know, there’s more to life than socking away money (and spending all your energy trying to figure out how to get more and more).

  60. Di says:

    Thank you for what you do. I am grateful. I am one of your many readers where my finances do not allow for subscriptions. I have job that I love but it doesn’t pay much or allow for any extras.

  61. RD Blakeslee says:

    “I usually browse with ad blocking on but I’ll happily disable it for the TESTOSTERONE PIT. Keep being awesome.” – Nathan, in an earlier post in this discussion

    This will be the solution for me, if this site requires loading the ads. That way, I can ad block most sites (or avoid them) and not run over my ISP’s data limit.

  62. PEDRO TORRES M. says:

    Bravo Lobo Auuuuuuuh

  63. Eferg says:

    Mr. Richter,

    Thank you for your site. I do not recall how I found it, but it now is a daily stop for me. Had it been behind a paywall, I never would have found it.

    I especially like the objective style of your site – lots of factual data, some opinion or speculation, but never overbearing. The civil discussion following each article is another plus. I am totally dismayed and put off by people who post vulgar tirades impugning, IQ, parentage, etc. But not on your site. Many times there are other view points that are well stated and supported. Whether or not I agree, they do provide alternative insights and a reminder about the diversity of view points. Some are actually intriguing.

    On occasion you have to remind people what is expected of them and indicate that you have to monitor what gets posted. Thank you for your efforts to maintain the quality of the discourse.

    The worldwide contribution of comments is another large plus that likely would not happen with a paywall. Many times comments from outside the USA remind me that things can be very different from the environment I am accustomed to.

    I totally get your reluctance to go behind a paywall because of the marketing and other things it would impose on you. I engage in a woodworking hobby from which people tell me I should sell things. But, I do not enjoy selling and it would take half my beloved shop time. Plus, the potential income would be measured in cents per hour. Extending your illustration, my beers would be few and far between. I find it more satisfying to give things away to people who really appreciate them.

    I share the reluctance of WSKJ’s comment about donating via a credit card. I had looked at the donation button and was about to make the same PO Box suggestion as WSKJ. However, your response provided that mailing address – thank you. Please consider adding that text to the donate screen.

    The ads? Yes, they annoy me, but not to the point I would abandon your site. Your text appears in the center third of my screen with most of the ads on the right. When sufficiently annoyed, I move the browser window to the right so that most ads are off screen. There is no way I will click on any of that stuff so that you get a couple of cents. I will, however, use that mailing address to buy you a beer or two.

  64. joe says:

    There are good guys and bad guys. It all boils down to who you can trust. Good guys work for satisfaction and beer and have a red line. Bad guys work for money and carry a mattress on their back..
    I trust the guys that work for beer. Thanks Wolf.
    BTW, thanks for not requiring a damn facebook account to comment.

  65. Seanster says:

    I am actually new to your website and articles. I really enjoyed reading your articles and subscriber comments, but I also liked your reply to them. I felt your moderating skills were superior. As far as being behind a paywall, I do not pay for any services like that. I started following Motley Fool in the 90’s. Pretty much stopped when they really started to monetize everything. I do think they operate an excellent service, but I am really not in it to pay for this service. As far as your business, you could hire one or two people and just be the editor. You could work less and still make great beer money. After reading a few articles and replies for two days, I can tell this is not where your heart is. I say find a way to increase your marketing demand as well as your subscribers using unique web page layouts and out of the box thinking. Some people are web page savy and others get lost in the mumbo jumbo. Anyway, I am super glad I found your website and I plan to visit regularly. I have been reading blog sites and forums for 30 years and have left about a dozen comments. Not sure what it was here, but felt I had to say something. All the best….

    Second day reader and first time poster….

  66. Charles Reese says:

    Hi Wolf,
    I have only read the first page of comments so I apologize if this has already been suggested.

    Why don’t you join some affiliate programs like Amazon has. You could put some general links on your donate page and you could even publish your links so people could edit there own bookmarked links like say Amazons so that they always go to Amazon using your link. I am sure there are lot of these affiliate programs around. I used the Amazon one years ago when I was publishing science e-books. I myself spend around 500 a month at Amazon and they pay from 10 to 4 percent based on product category.

    You could even put a small banner at the top of the site showing last months affiliate income to remind and encourage people to use your links. Costs them nothing and supports your site, win win.

  67. ft says:


    Thank you for what you do. Your work makes my days a little richer.

  68. Gian says:

    I consider Wolf to be the authoritative source on virtually everything financial and have sent links to his articles to many of my friends. I believe anyone who puts in this much time and effort deserves appropriate compensation, especially when you see the crap passing for news, financial or otherwise. You can tell that Wolf’s motivation for sharing his wealth of knowledge is his passion, not greed and it appears from all the comments, we appreciate and thank you for a job well done.

  69. James Ullman says:

    Wow! What a remarkable response – and I mean both yours and that of your readers, but….. realistically in life, reacting positively to the need for change is usually daunting, to say the least, especially as we age – no argument. I know this first hand because I am pretty sure that I’m older than you – a lot older, and while clearly not as smart, perhaps a bit wiser. So here are a few unsolicited thoughts.

    To begin with you come across as a very thoughtful person and a skeptic with a tendency toward the negative view. That’s good for what you’re doing now but not for marketing which is understandably not your thing. You also appear to be a bit of a loner who has absolutely no interest in running with the crowd. I suspect these are two characteristics among others have been critical factors in the obvious success of Wolf Street to date. But is it possible that now the startup phase is behind you and the task of going forward – that of managing the growth of a meaningful enterprise is much more than one man’s hobby?

    During my business career I more than once saw a highly talented individual create a service that clearly filled a need only to stumble when faced with the challenge of taking on a partner (not me!) to make the transition to a mature corporate entity. Examples of success are rare – Bloomberg and Bogle are two that come to mind. One of my favorite examples of failure to make this transition is Edwin Land of Polaroid, a sad case of a scientific genius who was a disaster as a CEO.

    You point out there are many people on the street today who have lost their jobs as technology has wreaked havoc on the bricks and mortar side of the information industry. You might find it some talent out there.
    It wouldn’t hurt to take a look….. JRU

    • RD Blakeslee says:

      There was a time when Wolf was looking for a sidekick – don’t know what (if anything) became of that …

      • kitten lopez says:

        i wish you were around here, RD, because i think things are gonna change for Wolf once he starts having meet ups here in town (or elsewhere as he travels).

        but i think it’s gonna have to be new different and almost …”inspired” for it to take in this crazy new world that makes NO sense.

        i think you’re in WVa or something… you have NO idea how different people are from these phones and how miserable it’s making people and complicating the stupidest of things.

        it’s hardly over. you think people are distracted and insane now?

        and most of the artist people like Alex from San Jose, or me become slaves to these people. day laborers, but they’re called part of the gig economy now because they’re not hanging on the corners with the Mexicans.

        people aren’t that smart here about the bigger things now that those thinkers are aged out of this country and pushed to ice bergs in the suburbs.

        i’m answering about how hard it’d be to find a worthy side kick here in town now. someone you’d WANT to have a beer with even after work.

        mad rare, i’d say. and i generally like people. (up to a point)


    • kitten lopez says:

      don’t count him out. he’ll know where to go and where to take anything if he wants to “take it” anywhere. things die sooo fast and it’s a lot of WORK to be legitimate, real, and DO THE WORK of being a human.

      meaning that i get his “last gig” thing. that’s the approach i’m taking to my new crazy underground fxck-the-internet venture. sure my one-of-a-kind clothes might end up online but I’M NOT DOING IT.

      i’m going that maya angelou route of letting OTHERS do all the work of photographing and promoting ME while i go about my business.

      how? i’m not sure. that’s the unnerving scary magic part of going with your gut and trusting that all this work will net something NO ONE even thought of that is so perfect in design …

      i think the world is sooo crazy now in all areas, you have to ride it by going against it in SOME way so you’re not chasing numbers down like everyone else.

      you money people love the word “diversify” in regards to your portfolios. i believe in the same tactic regarding that self employed maya angelou approach. that’s why i’m going into something NO ONE wants to do. a dying art: tailoring. but i’m going in for the casual route for men.

      i got the women part of the biz a whole OTHER plan of having things ONLY in local stores and they’re one-of-a-kind. so you can’t possibly COPY them in china. they are art.

      it has taken me 8 years to even think of something so SMALL and BACKWARD after our little publishing biz and my life as an author went poof with the reality of business in corporate america.

      so give Wolf time… this is protein. not sugar, that he’s got here…


  70. Brian Petrovic says:

    A sincere thank you for sharing your work and thoughts.

  71. Dennis says:

    this site informs me everyday. Your explanations make sense to someone who has not had formal training in these fields. You do a great service to me and others like me. Keep up the much appreciated work.

  72. RagnarD says:

    Also, with the Sticker/Hat/Mug/Shirt idea, you can do like charities do:

    $10 gets a sticker
    $30 mug
    $50 T Shirt or Hat,
    $1,000 – Wolf will perform a 1 minute live acapella version of any song the donor chooses.


    The possibilities are endless, use your imagination! :)

  73. Tom Jones says:

    David Stockman used to be my favorite until he went behind a paywall. Unfortunately all who achieve some level of success usualy do so. With everything behind paywalks it would cost a fortune if one is a person of varied interests. Triage would be required. So I’ve dcided to put up with ads given a choice, and avoid paywalls. Greatful for your stance on this because I was wondering how long I would be allowed to continue reading your writing, and more recently listening to your weekly youtube audios. Thanks so much for your hard work and effort, from a greatful fan.

  74. Kasadour says:

    I love this site. I don’t always get here everyday but I always catch up and comment.

    Count me among those that would pay a nominal subscription fee, would deactivate my ad-blocker, and/or leave a tip- whatever it takes.

    Thanks for all you do.

  75. Old Codger says:

    LOVE your site and your work, good old fashioned common sense.

    Will put up with the ads if necessary.

    Old Codger. (Australia)

  76. xrystia says:


    I found your site through a link on “naked capitalism” and have been a faithful reader ever since. I’m always amazed by your research and insights. As an individual trader/investor in my seventies on SS I very much appreciate the detailed information and the big picture you provide. Thanks much.
    first time poster.

  77. Citizen AllenM says:

    LoL, this comment stream is making me feel old.

    I will hit the donation button when some of my eBay surplus sells.

    I still miss the old Calculate d Risk and Tanta.

    Good luck with keeping this sane.

  78. Mittenwald says:

    Hi Wolf,
    Thank you for all your hard work. I’ve been reading you for about 6 months and you are one of my go to outlets for housing and economic news. As a newbie to understanding our complex financial system I appreciate that your site is so approachable and lays everything out so that even beginners like me can understand. Keep up the good work!

  79. Hg says:

    Just piling on: YAY WOLF STREET GO GO GO! RICHTER 2020!

  80. kitten lopez says:


    you know i’ve always seen you with your own bar, Wolf, but now i think we should all just take over YOUR bar.

    i wrote a long response earlier when it was about 240 comments or so, then i told myself to hush up and go to the gym.

    well, i thought a whole lot riding my bicycle and working out and dancing in the sun…(what a place, huh?)…

    anyhow, my idea:

    James and i collect pint glasses from trips and they’re all broken now because we use them for everything. but point is, i used to have a set of pint glasses illustrated by ralph steadman and they were sooo hot.

    so i originally said an idea like that since you all were talking swag. be careful of swag. it is a seductive evil thing that’ll leave you with a lot of cheap crap in what little space you’ll have in SF.

    since even us who don’t give you a nickel, since we’re also upscale (ha ha ha…etc), and as an artist, i say you’ve gotta go better if you’re going for the swag.

    now, as you know, every waking moment of my day is devoted to taking down technology and taking back my city, and thus i’m over here trying to duplicate a new self-employed model in an era when many of us indie types are broke now.

    back to your bar…

    no, really… i think when we have our meet ups there are special sets of pint glasses with different artists and ALSO i dig this idea: some of the best lines from your site.

    they’d be collectible and ship some out if you want the hassle (why i’m going local is the hell of shipping out ANYTHING or receiving anything…especially GLASS. and why sell a set of four pint glasses over one? because shipping one’s a nightmare, so go for a better box and a SET to make it worth the hassle.

    but i bet your bar would be willing to sell them from a shelf.

    and if anyone’s in town they can go to that bar and soak up all the brilliance that has transpired there… the birth of a new counterculture because i have been astounded that there’s not any real …fight against any or all of this…

    even the doc about suicides jumping from the golden gate bridge had some survivors saying things like, “the moment you let go, you regret it..”

    but all these people letting go of life and NOT seeming to regret it?

    but here…fxck yeah… i love seeing other astounded “what the fxck?” people.

    anyhow. i’m going off again. at almost 300 comments in and two articles beneath the last one, i figured i’m safely in “after hours” territory where no one’s left to see this land grab of text.

    anyhow, Wolf, i’ve already told you i’ve got art you can use and we can come up with new stuff. not to knock the main art!–i’m saying your site is not just a money site when you draw so many freaks artists badasses and independent thinkers. this is art territory. what art actually CEDED in becoming the mindless whore it has shamelessly become. i cannot even glance at the art scene. i don’t recognize anything anymore.

    but i DO recognize the “avant gardie” as we call it, and this is it. fxck yeah…

    because if you can solve any kind of economic puzzle and do what you love and hold onto your soul and not be on your knees under an overpass to make beer money or rent, then that’s defiance. rebellion. that’s all i care about.

    anyhow, any way any where you can subvert these parasitic ad people and go it live or off their grids, i’m in.


    • Wolf Richter says:

      Not a bad idea, Kitten Lopez. A set of 10. The first has this inscription: WOLFSTREET.com “Nothing goes to hell in a straight line.” etc….

      Thinking about it. Thanks.

  81. Of course publishers like Buzzfeed and Vice are suffering in terms of revenue, because they publish leftist fluff that no one would actually spend their own money to support. On the other hand publishers who provide their readers with good quality valuable content will always be able to get by with whatever business model is viable, because there will always be some proportion of the population willing to spend their own money on quality content.

  82. Bruce Kowal says:

    Hell, run for some local political office in California. Your readers will send you donations. And, what is the biggest scam tax wise, contributions are tax free. You get a lot of name recognition as a candidate, even if you lose. After losing, maybe get hired by a consulting firm. Just saying. Wohl auf! Fuer Seine Dienst, Gott sei dank!

  83. Andrei says:


    A bit late, but still wanted to share my thoughts.

    First off, donations model is a dead end: it’s not scalable. Plus your content can be sold for way more. (that said: I’ve just donated :).

    Now, the discussion went mostly around the 2 option you outlined, but I haven’t seen anybody talking about ABSOLUTE number of subscribers.

    However, if you had 1M subscribers, I assume marketing the site would be a completely different ball game.

    How to get there?

    My suggestion is to try word of mouth as follows:

    1. The content should be free, but with a free subscription.

    2. A subscriber should be encouraged to share the site. In his book, Mark Joyner states that the most powerful reason people share is not the money. Which is very good here! I believe a lot of fans would start sharing immediately just because they think the content is worth sharing.

    Subscription alone will already give at least the stats. And can be implemented quite easily and even for free with an autoresponder like Mailchimp. (Though it would cost when the subscriber count exceeds the limit)

    3. Based on subscriptions, a referral system should be introduced that would provide some incentives for sharing. Say, for 5 new subscribers, you will get an ad-free version. Or something else – there are many options, need to pick the best one(s).

    The main advantage of this approach is that the content would still be free for all. And even if ads are blocked for one reader, it would be compensated by multiple new ones.

    Everybody agrees your content is worth a lot. 10K readers looks like a drop in the bucket. There are definitely far far more English speaking people who would definitely enjoy reading but they just don’t know about the site yet. Bottom line, I believe this does have a chance to go viral.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      This site has over 200,000 unique visitors a month… let’s call them “readers.” If 5% subscribe and are willing to pay = 10,000 paying subscribers. That’s where I got the number.

      • Andrei says:


        I was NOT suggesting paid subscription

      • RD Blakeslee says:

        200,000 is about .7% of the population.

        I’ll have to work harder to get it higher …

        • Andrei says:


          Unique Visitor is by definition IP address plus a further identifier (e.g. cookie). Meaning this number could be several times more than a real number of people visiting: many read on multiple device, or on the same device but from different places (IP is dynamically assigned), using different browsers or might just clean the browser cache cookies included.

          Also what population are you referring to?
          200K is 0.7% of around 30 M – even the USA alone has ten times more people.

      • Andrei says:


        Unique Visitor by definition = IP address + a further identifier (e.g. cookie).

        This number could be several times more than a real number of people visiting:
        – many use on multiple devices (home, office, mobile…)
        – some may use the same device but in different places (where IP is dynamically assigned)
        – people may use different browsers on the same device or browse while on VPN
        – some people clean the browser cache (cookies included).

        So I would divide 200K by 3. While it is a reputable number for many sites, I still insist on it being a drop in the bucket for this one.

  84. Derek Maurer says:

    Well, your site’s content is outstanding. And compared to a lot of sites I visit (without subscribing), the advertising is fairly unobtrusive. Thank you for doing what you do — I’m glad you feel it’s rewarding.

  85. FRANK STEIN says:





  86. Jason says:

    I did not read through all of the comments, but I’m sure they’re al positive…
    I will say……From a business owner in the central California…..Keep up what you are doing, it is truely the best read out there for financial….
    I’ll shamelessly admit, even though I could easily afford it. You’re right….. My frugal self would more than likely not pay for a prescription…… even if I know deep down it’s well worth it…..lol

  87. Mike B says:

    You are AWESOME and we al really really REALLY appreciate it. Wolf Street is a daily go-to site for me (along with Naked Capitalism, Contrary Brinn and Truthout)

    I for one would happily pay a small subscription if the ad money ever really did dry up. Your work is far to important to go away.

    And I will certainly make use of the “how to donate” link. I would also suggest putting up something a little more prominent like the digital ‘tip jar’ Lambert Strether uses over at Naked Capitalism.

  88. laurent ker says:

    Hi Wolf
    Je vais, rien que pour vous, désactiver mon Adblocks, afin que vous puissiez continuer a faire ce travail remarquable ( et boire quelques bières à la sante des Français qui vous lisent).
    Keep on!!!!!!

  89. Stephan in NY says:

    Hi Wolf, I think you’re doing an excellent job and creating a lot of value with this site. My two suggestions are:

    – ask for donations like The Guardian
    – look into patreon

    I think The Guardian is doing pretty good with donations and I’ve seen other creators focusing on social issues do well with patreon in the past.

    Also, if you want to develop another project long term, you can start a kickstarter campaign. I’ve seen in the open source community people raise a fairly decent wage to develop something over a period of months.

  90. Adam k says:

    Been coming here for years. I love the articles and I love the comments!!
    I’ve got to support your decision to stay free. The ads are not intrusive.
    Although I read articles from other sources via yahoo “news”, Reuters and Wolfstreet are my top 2.

    As a “poor” person in the sf Bay Area (“living in parent’s basement”), Wolf’s articles about here, are great. Will housing ever become affordable in sf?

    Don Quijones is great! The new contributor on the airlines is a welcome addition, especially since I discovered that the total cost of flying to other countries for a month or whatever is cheaper than staying home!

    Keep up the good work, Wolf! San Francisco was built by money, from the gold rush to the technology rush.
    However, another sf legacy is people who have lived and created for more than money. Too many of those people have been forced out economically. Wolf: Your decision to “keep it real” and not sell out shows that you are one of the few left.

  91. Panamabob says:

    I’ve been a follower since the “Pit” days and have no idea how I stumbled onto your wonderful site as I spend almost zero time with TV as entertainment but see the internet as the “Everything of Information”,..I used to in my early tears frequently wander aimlessly in my Main Library.
    I purposely delayed my comments until late in this post and I will limit my accolade to “wonderful site” but I share totally all expressed in almost 300 comments, including all those coming in as first timers. You might have provoked more work for yourself as moderator but you may have enriched your site with those coming from the shadows regardless of their motives.
    I’m sure the donations coming your way are like a February Christmas, much deserved and maybe an annual event for you and family.
    Mine came at random starting after your excellent and early reporting of the Equifax disaster that was not reported or under reported in the media, a very serious breach. I probably would have donated earlier but ignored the top buttons and all the advertisements from the git go, an old developed habit from 40 years ago when I won’t notice my name in bold 1 inch print at the bottom of any page on my local newspaper, “Just the facts Ma’am”. In my old TV days I’m still amused when others would comment, wasn’t that a cute commercial and I was taking a short break in my thought and completely oblivious to the advertisement.
    Your comment on this post revealed your mailing address, again oblivious to me on the top buttons, so I will sent you an extra bonus, something that I’ve shared with relatives, friends, Doctors, and twice strangers, one after fourth IPA and Ubered home.
    More success forever,
    ps…I thought about sending this privately but I want to send comments over the 300 mark.
    pps…You can choose to keep it private and not post.

    • Panamabob says:

      One more comment, [maybe intent on pushing the 300 mark], maybe not, my early favorite brewery was Stone. It was over the top from it’s start but it’s still for hard me not to search for that better mousetrap.

      • Wolf Richter says:

        In the Bay Area, we’re surrounded by local brews so I don’t see Stone much up here (though I’m not looking for it either). But I had a Stone IPA a few times, and it was awesome!!

  92. Wolf, have you thought about issuing some kind of “WolfCrypto” to monetize all the words? ;)

    On a serious note, a little tweak of the CSS margins to give the inline ads a little breathing room might make them a little friendlier.

    Also, thanks for the no-paywall thing. I turned off my ad-blocking for you bro! :)

  93. intosh says:

    Thanks Wolf!

    You are doing the kind of independent honest no-BS, no-clickbait journalism that is needed more than ever to keep the spirit of the Internet alive, in this age of dumbed-down listicles and regurgitated “news”.

  94. d says:

    “All of which I really enjoy.”

    Happiness and Enjoyment are difficult to price and frequently can not be brought.

    The advertising model is dying as the adds are to intrusive aggressive and data hungry. Also loaded with spies and trackers.


    Once peopel start using add blockers and don not track default browsers everybody suffers.

    The intrusive advertisers brought this on all site operators.

    WAPO = pay or take adds = dont bother to read WAPO or ever link to it.

    Unless you are trying to build something you wish to sell, stay away from Paywall untill there is no choice, as you will end up working to sustain a readership, to fund the mechanism to, run the wall. Instead of doing what you enjoy and making beer money.

    • Wolf Richter says:

      Congratulations, d, you posted the 300th comment on this article. This blew out all prior records (I don’t even know what they were… less than 200 probably).

      I want to thank you and all other commenters here for their support and kind words.

      • Andrei says:


        Even if you decide on not going with free subscription and referrals, please at least add the sharing buttons! This should be a little effort but will definitely help.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          I had all the sharing buttons on my site but eventually took them off once I understood what their tracking code does. The code would be installed on my site to track you across the internet. Facebook buttons are the worst. But all others do similar things — they just don’t know as much about you as Facebook does.

          This tracking would be active on my site even if you don’t click on the buttons!

      • Andrei says:


        OK, but at least email sharing can be very easily done with 1 line of HTML. I just put up a sample snippet for you on my site https://www.daytradingtester.com -> see “For Wolf” in the menu

        • Wolf Richter says:

          Ha, thanks. Got my own menu button on your site! I copied the snippet. You can remove me from your menu :-]

          I’ll try it out, and if I cannot make it work properly, I’ll asked my developer to sink his teeth into it.

          Good idea. Thanks.

        • Andrei says:

          My pleasure, Wolf!

          This is a very new site, no traffic there yet. I decided not to include the page tag in the URL here for the search engines not to index it. (That said, I have no issues in keeping the menu item either :)

          Glad you liked the idea. And reiterating on the free subscription and referrals approach – you might take a look at how we have implemented it in our software (just download any free product on the sites that are linked on the main page of https://www.daytradingtester.com. Though it may be overkill for your case, maybe it helps to provoke other ideas.

        • Wolf Richter says:


          An “Email to a friend” link is now installed under the title of each article. My developer did it :-]

        • Andrei says:


          I see the link now – and it works for me, great!

          One more idea: replicate the link at least in the beginning and the end of the comments section!

          Because I believe many are like me and come multiple times having already read the article, to read the comments.

  95. Your site is easily subscription quality, Wolf. I subscribe to Stockman and he sends me back to you almost daily. Your exacting standards set you apart.

  96. polistra says:

    You’re the best explainer and teacher of econ subjects, and BY FAR the best grapher. Now you’ve done the same with this subject. You got my donation.

    (But the donate button was NOT clear or easy to find!)

  97. Chris says:

    I’m in a similar boat to you, Wolf. A one-man band software-writer, far too old for the game, yet doing surprisingly well at it.

    I tried ads, they suck. I don’t even bother with them now. What works for me is a mix of some really good free stuff, and some even better paid stuff. About 98% of my visitors are never going to pay me a cent, and that’s absolutely fine so long as I can stop them from stealing my time. That took a few years to perfect. But a small percentage see the quality of my work and are happy to pay for the even better stuff. And it’s enough for me to live on. I’m not rich by any standards, but my quality of life is superb. I get to do what I love doing without working for some ah of a boss or fighting my way through traffic.

    It’s the good quality free stuff that brings in the volume of visitors, and you already have that. And I’m pretty sure that a small percentage of your readers would be happy to pay for the even better stuff. It doesn’t have to be much. Start with a few small things, perhaps one special report per month for $20. If you even sell ten, it will make you a bit happier. And I guarantee you’ll sell ten. You might sell hundreds, but you won’t know unless you try.

    • Andrei says:


      Same here! I removed all ads long back. How do you market your software? If you are using word of mouth, how?

  98. RD Blakeslee says:

    Earlier, Wolf, you spoke of beer money.

    It’s your misfortune to have been born about four thousand years too late.

    Had you been born in Mesopotamia ca. 1,900 BC, you would have been better protected from avaricious barmaids.

    Code of Hammurabi, Article 108:

    “If the mistress of a beer-shop has not received corn as the price of beer or has demanded silver on an excessive scale, and has made the measure of beer less than the measure of corn, that beer-seller shall be prosecuted and drowned.”

    (Translated from the Sumerian language, Knoles and Snyder “Readings in Western Civilization”, J.B. Lippincott, 1951)

  99. Dash says:

    It makes me quite sad to think of a world without Wolf Street, an intelligent and independent voice in a more and more co-opted world. I’ve visited your site on and off for years and appreciated being able to read pieces on issues I might never hear about anywhere else. Your authenticity and passion for your work are evident, and your sincerity and honesty are what keep me coming back. We need your voice.

  100. Sam says:

    Thanks Wolf. I recently discovered this site and find it very useful. After reading this article, I disabled ad-blocker extension for your site. Think you should atleast put ad-blocker detection in your site if not already and then insist that reader disable the ad-blocker to continue reading

Comments are closed.