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Advertising? Paid by users?

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Written by   6028
10 months ago

Our last article detailed how we plan to go further. However, some users in comments weren't quite happy by the fact that we mentioned advertising as the revenue source in the future.

Be very careful: introducing advertisement breaks the expectations for the platform to be paid-for by users. I will not stay on read.cash if it shifts revenue from fee-for-service to revenue from advertisement. @JonathanSilverblood

...and

Advertisements. I don't know, the platform's point was (to me, at least) that it's all funded by the users themselves, so bringing in additional revenue from advertisements kinda goes against that. @Kyouma29

It would be a pity to see @JonathanSilverblood go, I really like his work, but with this article I hope to explain why we came to a conclusion that advertising is necessary (at least to try) and why absence of it conflicts with our main goal (no, it's not getting us stinky rich, our main goal is "to make as many people use Bitcoin Cash as possible").

Also I'm going to highlight the fact that read.cash has been advertising-supported for 5 months already.

The problems with "paid-for by users" model

The problem is that "paid-for by users" model doesn't work. At all. We tried it for 5 months and we failed at it miserably. Just like honest.cash and yours.org did.

What is "paid-for by users" model? Well, it's mostly paid tips and sponsorships.

Let's take an average week before the launch of the fund.

During that week some users get paid tips from other users. So, let's say there were 500 users during the week that got tips and we have 600 users on the platform. That means that 500/600= 83% of our users got paid Bitcoin Cash.

Let's chart that number over time:

(Most of the charts here are up to April 20th, the launch of the fund)

Just before the launch of the fund only 2% of users during the week got paid anything. 98% of read.cash users got no payment whatsoever.

So, in reality it was more like this:

But that's not even the biggest problem. Let's dive in to who got the tips. Let's compare the total amount of tips received by articles that were about Bitcoin Cash vs articles that were on any other topic:

You can barely even see the red area that is "all articles on all topics that is not Bitcoin Cash".

Let's stretch it vertically a bit to see better:

All other topics combined come nowhere close to Bitcoin Cash articles before, during and after the IFP debate.

You might say - well, there were probably more articles about Bitcoin Cash... Let's see what was the average pay for Bitcoin Cash article vs "anything else" article.

An average Bitcoin Cash article might get you $0.50 to $60 in tips, while anything else articles would bring you $0 to $0.80 in tips. The spike above $1 was during the IFP debate, when a lot (all of?) of Bitcoin Cash holders were on site. But in general it trended towards $0.00.

Frankly, there were a lot of frustrated comments like "Only Bitcoin Cash articles get tips! I'm leaving!" They were right. All data shows that.

How can we hope to achieve our main goal of "getting as many people to use Bitcoin Cash", when only excellent articles about Bitcoin Cash and projects revolving around Bitcoin Cash were getting paid?

It's impossible.

It's a tidy nice circle of Bitcoin Cash supporters tipping each other back and forth.

It can't grow beyond that.

We mentioned it a number of times, but prior to the launch of the fund only 600 users got any tips the whole time (6 months!), most of them are people who already had Bitcoin Cash in the beginning, because they were BCH-supporters.

That's not the way to get people to use Bitcoin Cash.

So, that got us thinking.

The result was the fund, so that money goes to some entity (not necessarily a centralized one) and is distributed according to some plan.

Was it better? You bet!

Here's the chart: the blue line is the number of people who got paid tips, the red line is the users who got paid by the fund (up until now; black line is April 20th).

You can notice that after the fund launched the number of people tipped started increasing too

The fund has funded three times more people (1900!) in its 2 month existence than paid tips got people in the previous 6 months (give or take).

Where did the money for the fund came from?

Let's explore one possible source. read.cash takes 10% of each paid tip, so how much did we make on average during read.cash's existence from that?

Let's see the chart of how many tips in US$ equivalent were given during the last months (note: that's not how much we made, that's the total amount of tips):

Total amount of tips in US$ equivalent

We can clearly see that January and February are outliers, because the IFP debate raged on.

So, let's take March as a pretty typical month:

We've got negative $637. Ok, we didn't pay ourselves any salary, of course, but what would happen if we continue like that?

Well, this:

No, we're not selling read.cash... yet....

What else did we try?

We tried talking to Bitcoin Cash community about doing a Flipstarter to raise some money for read.cash. It was received with a collective "meh", so there was no reason to even try - there's zero interest in funding that (except for one guy, of course, who yesterday donated $10,000 to the read.cash fund, which is @MarcDeMesel , of course!)

There are also sponsorships, but frankly they are so small, there's no point to even talk about it. Our total sponsorship revenue is about $25/month.

Its not enough to offset the impending financial ruin of read.cash even by a few days.

I think that's about all there is to be said about "paid-for by users" business model.

It sucks. It doesn't work at all. No matter how you try.

Especially it's terrible for our goal of "making as many people use Bitcoin Cash as possible", since it's mostly Bitcoin Cash holders giving tips to other Bitcoin Cash holders/supporters - there's no growth. Remember the plateau at the end of 600 users chart?

You can also notice that in the chart of comments per day on read.cash, before the launch of the fund:

Graveyard of the sites that tried, that way ->

You can also look at honest.cash and yours.org who go that way - the sites look pretty much abandoned. Exactly like read.cash was before the launch of the fund.

Three sites tried the same business model and ended up the same. It was time to change something.

The fund appears

So, we were on average negative $600 per month and then $4,500 fund appears. How come?

Well, it's obvious. Advertising and investments.

Since January you've been seeing advertising on read.cash in form of boosts:

Does it make that much? No, not really. In our typical March, we've got only $149 in boosts revenue and last month we've got close to $250 in revenue from boosts (which are essentially advertising).

While it's still not enough to offset any expenses it's still far better:

We're still not earning anything, but advertising helps a lot.

Now, to the fund. As of yesterday the fund had $4,600. It's "anyone can pledge". Isn't that "paid-for by users" business model in play? Actually, no, only $100 of these were user funds, the rest $4,500 was our money, that we got from other stuff.

Why did we invest $4,500?

Because we calculated that it was highly probable that read.cash could get (right now) at least $1,000/month from non-Bitcoin Cash advertising, which in 5 months would bring our fund to $5,000, so we borrowed some money to speed up the process, to see how the fund would affect the growth of the site. To prove to us that this business model makes sense.

Do we need to explain where the fund started?

So, yeah, the fund works and it needs to get funded.

97% of it came from our own funds, before yesterday @MarcDeMesel added $10,000 to it, which is great and a big shoutout to Marc!

Can we continue asking Marc for money? Well, so far $5,000 got us about 2000 users funded (and growing). Our estimate was that with $5,000 we could have gotten possibly 8,000 users to use Bitcoin Cash. With the additional $10,000 we could get maybe 16,000 more.

Which is great, but what then?

How do we go about giving 1 billion users Bitcoin Cash to try? Do we ask @MarcDeMesel to donate $625 million US dollars to read.cash's fund?.. Do we start the FlipStarter to collect $625 million US dollars? It's impossible.

Why $625 million?
8000 users / $5000 = 1.6 users per 1 US$ in the fund,
so 1 billion users ~ $625 millions

It's quite possible with the advertising model. Every day we're getting more and more requests to advertise on read.cash. Online advertising is ~$250 billion industry. It could easily finance a billion Bitcoin Cash users.

We understand that some original read.cash users are quite uncomfortable on read.cash now, because previously it was mostly tightly-knit Bitcoin Cash supporters community and now it's all over the place, with health, skin care, spam, recipes, travel, articles in বেঙ্গালি ভাষা (Bengali) and اللغة العربية (Arabic) etc...

read.cash is not what it used to be

Yes, it isn't. We see it as a good thing.

Again, our goal is not to make the best publishing platform ever - the platform is a means to an end, which is to make as many people use Bitcoin Cash as possible.

Does it work?

You be the judge:

There are at least two other sites who still actively try "paid-for by users" business model and one of them is using Bitcoin Cash (that is honest.cash, the other being yours.org), it makes no sense to have read.cash try the same and it seems to contradict our main goal - we want to give Bitcoin Cash to people, not take it from them.

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Written by   6028
10 months ago
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