Blog

Joining forces with Chris

Thursday, October 2, 2008, 7:18 PM

Dear Chris Martenson fans,

I recently joined forces with Chris Martenson to help him continue publishing free educational information about the American economy on PeakProsperity.com. I’m writing today to introduce myself and to explain the role I’ll be playing, helping Chris grow the site and the video and live education programs.


Introduction

My name is Erik Townsend. I was an entrepreneur in the software industry, and was one of the lucky guys who got out in the late ‘90s when the getting was still good. Not having to work full-time isn’t as glamorous as it probably sounds. I’ve had the luxury of time to explore quite a few issues of concern to our nation, and Chris’ work stands out as the best example I’ve found of someone explaining complex issues in plain English so that anyone can learn about them.

When I discovered and watched the Crash Course a few months ago, only the first ¾ of the course was completed. I learned that Chris had been funding the site’s hosting and technical services expenses out of his own pocket. The revenue he was receiving from paid site subscriptions only partially defrayed his operating expenses.

Chris has a personal passion for making the message of the Crash Course free to everyone. In fact, he was so concerned about not being perceived as self-serving that he has resisted the temptation to put revenue-generating advertising on the site. But traffic counts have grown exponentially and the site outgrew its bargain-basement hosting plan almost overnight. One of the main reasons the completion of the Crash Course had been delayed was that Chris was running out of money and couldn’t afford to subsidize the project out of his own pocket any longer.


Why I got involved

I felt a duty to act. I thought, here’s this guy who has committed his life to educating the rest of us about what’s really going on in the economy. I was so impressed by Chris’ altruism that I sent him a $5,000 donation to help fund the completion of the Crash Course. I’m proud to feel that I personally made the completion of this great work (the Crash Course) possible, and have no regrets about the contribution. I later learned that Chris has never dared to ask his loyal readers for donations because he didn’t want to seem self-serving. But unexpectedly, after I mentioned my own donation in passing on a blog comment page, another kind reader was inspired to send Chris a $2,000 donation. Perhaps a trend is starting on its own? If you can afford to help, Chris really needs more donations or subscriptions. He’ll never come out and ask for them directly. That’s not his style. But I’m less bashful, so please help us out if you can afford to!

Chris has basically pulled off this entire project single-handedly. It’s an amazing feat, but he’s been spread too thin. My schedule as a private investor leaves me plenty of spare time, so I decided to sign up to help Chris grow the business and put in place a sustainable economic model. I’ll be using my skills as a former CEO to help free Chris’ time and attention up so he can focus on the content he is so passionate about, while I put a sustainable business model in place. I’m doing this as a volunteer, and will have no financial interest in the site.


What I plan to do

My first managerial act will be to put advertising on the site to help recover operating expenses. Folks, everyone has enjoyed a free ride thus far. Chris gives away all this great content for free, and actually pays money out of his own pocket for the privilege of making it free to you on an expensive high-performance server. We can all see that’s just not sustainable in the long term.

I realize that some of you might find advertising bothersome or unwelcome. If anyone has strong feelings about this, I’ll be happy to discuss any other ideas you might have about how to do this some other way.


What you can do

We are all in this together. I am thankful for what Chris has done and now I’m throwing my hat in the ring. If you feel, as I do, that you’ve received something important from this site/work, the question for you is, what can you offer? This could come in many forms. Are you an internet marketing expert who feels we could be doing more and would like to donate your thoughts? Do you have a high volume site with which to make an exchange link? Do you have time, money, contacts, or skills that could help here? Do you see something glaringly obvious that we are overlooking? If you want to become more involved in some way, large or small, please contact me to discuss how and when this will happen. This is a grassroots effort, and I really need to connect with more passionate Americans who care about these issues and the importance of raising public awareness about them.


Future improvements

I’ll also be making more announcements in coming weeks to keep interested readers informed of my efforts in the following areas:

  • Updates on completion of the Crash Course, including Ch. 20 and a new “Chapter Zero” video introduction by Chris, which will overview the content of the Crash Course
  • Plans for new video, audio, and blog offerings
  • Introduction of a donations program and honor roll for major donors
  • New Live Speaking Tour program
  • Monthly Conference Call Program for subscribers
  • Development of a viral marketing strategy to promote the free content on the site
  • Plans to repackage the Crash Course and weekend seminar materials as courseware for a semester university course on practical economics. The courseware will be made available to professors of accredited universities and other institutions on a discretionary basis


One more thing…

I’d like to ask regular readers to take to heart that Chris has been working phenomenal hours for the last several weeks, and is swamped keeping up with the bailout, the new site and related migration issues, and getting Chapter 20 finished and online. Your patience and understanding will be appreciated if Chris cannot personally answer every e-mail as he’s done in the past. We need to keep focus on our key strategic priorities, and the only way for everyone to enjoy the quality of the Blog content and still see Ch. 20 on time is to scale back the amount of time Chris spends personally attending to all his fans. You can blame me for this, too, but I’m sure you’ll understand why it’s necessary. Recent blog comments have indicated that you’d like to see more of Chris’ objective content, so that’s what I’m going to work on bringing you.

I’ll be starting some conversations in the online forums on this site, soliciting your feedback, suggestions, and ideas about the future direction of the site and related video, audio and blog products.

I look forward to working with you to help Chris serve everyone with more top-quality free content pertaining to the American economy in plain English that Main Street can understand.

It’s the most important challenge of our time. If you can help me spread the word, you’ll be doing a great thing for our country.

If you need to contact me, don’t hesitate to e-mail me directly at Erik@PeakProsperity.com.

Erik Townsend
Fort Lauderdale, Florida

Related content

93 Comments

darqmatr's picture
darqmatr
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 18 2008
Posts: 6
Thanks!

Erik, thanks for helping Chris out. And the other donor you mentioned. I recently read Chris's bio and was impressed. Having come across this site a couple months ago by a friend who highly recommended it, I agree... the site is nicely laid out, focuses on important issues, and I appreciate the work Chris has done.

 Check is on the way...

 john

Erik T.'s picture
Erik T.
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 5 2008
Posts: 1233
Thank YOU, John!

Thanks for offering to chip in, John. Your help is really appreciated.

We'll have a bunch of announcements in the next few weeks about new directions after the Crash Course is completed.

Erik

 

ike's picture
ike
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2008
Posts: 19
Mini-membership to keep site ad-free

Welcome aboard, Erik! Glad to see Chris is getting some assistance. Since you're associating with greatness, we'll be expecting great things from you...

A few comments:

One idea about ads is to have a mini-membership. Something reasonable on the order of $10 or $20 per year. Mini-members don't get the ads. Non-members still do. Weather Underground (wunderground.com) used to be set up this way and I thought it was a great solution. No one likes ads, and this way site regulars can choose to help support the cost of the site, even if a full membership is not quite comfortable yet.

A targeted membership drive to frequent visitors might also help. Perhaps there's a way to set a cookie so that the site can keep track of how many times a visitor has come to the site even if they haven't registered. Frequent visitors could occasionally get a special message showing them their usage and encouraging them to take the next step (register, mini-membership, full membership, sponsorship).

Personally, I'd like to see some part of the site orient towards local community building. Have visitors enter their zip code when they register. Then create heat maps so we can see who's nearby and get some of these great connections to transfer to the real world beyond ones and zeroes.

 

darqmatr's picture
darqmatr
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Mar 18 2008
Posts: 6
Community model...
Well, that's the thing... Chris took it upon himself to do something good for the rest of us. And now, we're stepping up to the plate. Many thanks!
mandrake99's picture
mandrake99
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 21 2008
Posts: 3
Good Work Erik

Thanks Erik for helping Chris with his fantastic site.

A couple of suggestions on how to generate some revenue to keep all this going.

 

Why not capture everyone's name and email who views the course. So in order to view the course you have to give your name and email. Probably best to use Aweber if you are not already using it.

 

That will enable you to build a list.

Then promote products to this list. They could be affiliate products or your own products.

Chris talks a lot about "the problem" and what he could also develop is the myriad of solutions to this problem.Chris could be making money ot of pointing us in the direction of those solutions.

 

Let me give some concrete examples:

If holding money as gold was a recommendation then Chris could bring our attention to a company such as Bullion Vault and get a commission for everyone who signed up.

 

If generating your own power was one of the solutions then Chris could point us in the direction of earth4energy.com and get a commission for everyone who purchased the product.

 

If Chris has got his own product called " How to flourish in Changing Times" promote that to the list

 

I would have no problem in Chris recommending products and services to me on a monthly basis. The big caveat is that Chris has to recommend with integrity which is the basis of his "brand".

 

I would personally like to see Chris make a handsome living off this site

 

Keep up the good work

 

 

jrf29's picture
jrf29
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2008
Posts: 448
Excellent idea

 

I think that the idea of reaching university professors via the crash course is an excellent idea.  I also wouldn't be surprized if Chris finds himself invited to a place or two as a guest lecturer.

 

jrf29's picture
jrf29
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2008
Posts: 448
Perhaps...

 

I'm not sure.  First of all, I personally wouldn't do it, but if I were forced to give my email address to view the crash course, and then submit myself to targeted advertising for the priviledge, then I wouldn't be able to overcome the impression of commericial bias no matter how good the course was.  It creates the (very legitimate) impression that the person giving the talk is financially beholden to the people from whom they are receiving commissions.  

What would you think of a professor who made a pitch for a gold company while giving a talk about the history of money?  And what if that professor's material just happened to imply that owning gold might be a desirable way to hold assets?  Would you become more skeptical of the material in the lecture?  Or how about a university professor who used audio-visual material from another person who did such peddling?  They would be regarded as academically irresponsible for using sources of questionable integrity!  The taint of pecuniary conflict would be inescapable.

switters's picture
switters
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 19 2008
Posts: 744
Thanks Erik... and my requests

Erik,

I'm really glad to see that Chris is getting the support he needs.  I'm sure I speak for everyone when I say that Chris deserves to be compensated for the incredible contribution he's making with this site.  I completely support the idea of monetizing this site to that end.

I like the idea of different levels of membership that was suggested elsewhere, with perhaps an ad-free site for the top-tier level of membership.  On the other hand, advertising on websites is pretty much a fact of life these days and if it's done tastefully I don't think I would be bothered by it.

The main request I have in terms of functionality I have already mentioned elsewhere, but I'll mention it again here.  I'd like to see the ability to subscribe to an RSS feed or email notification for comments on blog posts and for individual forum entries. There is some RSS functionality in the forums area, but as far as I can tell in my RSS reader I am only notified when a new topic is added in a forum.  I am not notified when someone replies to that topic.

I run a blog myself and I can tell you that allowing people to subscribe to comments and forum posts has dramatically increased the level of participation on the site, and it keeps people coming back again and again.  The technology is simple and freely available, so it shouldn't be much of a challenge in that regard.

Oh yeah, one other thing.  It would be awesome to be able to buy a DVD of the entire Crash Course once it's completed and send it to friends and family.  I vote for doing it ASAP and not spending time on unnecessary bells & whistles.  The message is what's important, and we need to get it out there immediately. 

theleimers's picture
theleimers
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 10 2008
Posts: 4
Welcome Erik

Thank you for investing your passion with Chris's.

I agree with the idea of a mini membership. I cannot afford a full membership as I am one of the unfortunate unemployed. Temporary I am sure but no income nonetheless. I would however pay $25 - $50 per year to subscribe. I have sent the Crash Course to everyone I have on my contacts list and have received nothing but thanks for the eye opening experience and plain talk. 

Thank you for the chance to post a reply.

Bless you in your efforts.

 

 

affert's picture
affert
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 22 2008
Posts: 100
Re: Good Work Erik

I would like to disagree with the idea of promoting specific products.  I've only known about this website for a couple weeks, so it is easy to imagine arriving for the first time.  If there were a bunch of "I think you should buy gold, so visit my sponsor here to do so," I would have had doubts about if Chris was really giving good advice, or if he was just out to make money.  I think it would hurt the credibility of the site. 

 

my two cents...

jrf29's picture
jrf29
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2008
Posts: 448
Advertising in general

That reminds me, about advertising in general.  And I personally think that this is very important.  I said earlier that it would be a great idea to introduce this material into universities.  Most professors that I know guard their academic and intellectual integrity closely.  Ideally, they prefer to use materials from people with whom they are professionally familiar, and who have a track record of publications in reputable peer reviewed journals, but in all cases only after checking that person's other works carefully for any appearance of bias which could embarass them later.

If a professor were considering using any material from Chris, and visited his web site to find a banner that said "BUY GOLD CHEAP" chances are greater than 50% that they will run away, never to return, even if such advertising were discontinued in the future.  And you will also lose many other people as well.

My point is, if you're going to put advertising up, IMO you have got to be absolutely certain that it is neutral.  There can never be a single advertisement for gold, gardening, solar, or silver!  There can be no impression of any funds whatsoever received from any party who could reasonably benefit commercially from the message of the site.

Erik T.'s picture
Erik T.
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 5 2008
Posts: 1233
Great feedback

Hi Switters!

Thanks for the kind words, and for your suggestions. Ron Shimstock has done a great job getting the new site online. The "do-ability" of your suggestion will depend on how much is already built into the software platform the site is based on. I agree completely that RSS subscription on a per-thread level is highly desirable. I'll have to consult with Ron on how feasible it is.

On the DVD idea, we're on it! I have mixed feelings about how to package it. One idea is (similar to An Inconvenient Truth) to package the DVD in the cheapest possible way so we can sell it cheap and get more copies out. The other approach would be to do a really nice case, autographed by Chris, and sell it for a much higher $ amount, which would be equivalent to buying dinner at a charity event: everybody knows the price has been inflated to help the cause. I'll be posting more forum threads looking for your feedback on this as well as several other issues. 

Erik

 

krogoth's picture
krogoth
Status: Platinum Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 18 2008
Posts: 576
Capitalism and Chris

Hi Erik,

Yes it is difficult to maintain a website while it grows, and it takes more capital then most people realize. The time spent alone just maintaining the website as it rises in popularity can be daunting. I see nothing wrong with making some money to help in educating people about these important issues. I suggest you refine the crash course a bit and sell it for like $20 dollars. Yes you can still see it for free online, or buy and watch a refined version with maybe more videos or whatever. A teaching kit can also be sold for a higher price, including a companion teachers guide. It really is something that can be taught at any level from high school up, and you could make even more money on updates to the course. The teaching DVD would be set up with software that allows the instructor to control the software in a locked presentation style manner, and not hard to do. Another revenue generation tool would be not only to present the problems, but what our PhD man thinks the solutions are and integrate these into the DVD for sale as well as included with the education kit. As for online advertising, that's fine. But as stated before, if you push people in the direction of gold purchasing or survival skill training in the woods, it might make them think that an agenda is being served here, or it might actually scare them. It might make them form an opinion about Chris that could be negative. I suggest neutral advertising that really only skims on general economy related purchases.  

greendoc's picture
greendoc
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 23 2008
Posts: 110
Paypal donation button?

Why not?  I know personally, I am happy to donate to Chris, especially if it is made easy and convenient like a link to Paypal.  Actually writing a check, finding a stamp (and an address) slows me down and I suspect I am  not alone here.  Removing that activation barrier would probably help many folk to overcome that same inertia. 

Thank you Chris for the incredible work you are doing here; if only our leaders had your good sense and clear vision.  And thanks to Erik for the courage to ask for money....

Erik T.'s picture
Erik T.
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 5 2008
Posts: 1233
TV, Radio, Public Speaking leads

jrf29,

Thanks for the kind words. Indeed, the plan includes putting Chris in as many high-visibility speaking engagements as we can. And we need your help with this! Readers with connections in the TV and radio world, we need your help! Most TV interviews are brokered by publicists who charge $5k/mo+ to hook their clients up with TV interviews. We just can't afford that kind of support, so we need to rely on the grassroots network to put the word out that Chris has something important to say to America.

Erik

 

Erik T.'s picture
Erik T.
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 5 2008
Posts: 1233
Hmmm...

Good points, Ike.

To be honest, we haven't thought much about ad policy for paid subscription members. We absolutely have to put ads up on the "free site". This was long overdue.

If there is a strong desire for "ad-free content", I am open to offering that to paid subscribers. We'll be soliciting your input before we make any major changes.

We also need to work on how to get more people to "register for free". While to the user this may seem like a pointless time-consuming thing, it really matters to us. When we portray the site's traffic counts (which are very impressive) to a potential grant funding source, they tend to want to know how many "registered users" you have, as opposed to just page views which could be attributable to non-serious users.

We'll be starting the advertising program using Google AdSense, which is designed to crawl the site and post ads that are of interest to our readers. Hopefully this "context-sensitive" functionality will make the ad experience more tolerable. 

Erik

 

bolweevil's picture
bolweevil
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 24 2008
Posts: 4
bottom line
I am so happy to have "met" Chris pre-Erik, not that there is anything wrong with Erik.  I personally received the good graces of Chris (yes he took the time to answer all the e-mails I sent him).  I propose we find out what it takes financially to get Chris the tools he needs to do his work and raise it, if we are unable to provide for him through our donations, subscriptions, new subscriptions, etc then by all means throw up the banners.  I too was/am very attracted to the whole "some guy in the NE is up there spreading his knowledge around for the greater good all by himself" thing and would hate for others to miss that.  Now more than ever we need it. Erik, is it a move to profit from Chris' efforts?  Which I'm all for.  If its not give us a crack at it.  Either way you have my subscription at the very least, I'm staying.  
Xflies's picture
Xflies
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 19 2008
Posts: 157
great suggestion on the Paypal button
Again, we need a way to 'endorse' a message instead of reposting under it.
Erik T.'s picture
Erik T.
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 5 2008
Posts: 1233
re: Mandrake99, affert and jrf29

Excellent comments. It's interesting how quickly the conversation came to this topic on its own.

Chris and I have discussed this, and we both feel frustrated and unsure what to do. On one hand, Chris really does believe from the bottom of his heart that one of the best things he could do for his readers is to check out the gold purchase market, find the credible companies, then publish a how-to-buy-gold video or white paper. Meanwhile, there are gold companies that have expressed an interest in sponsoring such an effort with money that we need desperately. But Chris is also smart enough to realize that the perception that would create could completely undermine the credibility of the message.
 
So, what to do??? It's a real conundrum. On one hand, I fully appreciate and agree with your comments to the effect that if the site starts to look like a vending machine for precious metals, credibility goes out the window. But at the same time, some of Chris' most loyal supporters urgently want that kind of content from Chris, and he feels bad about not providing it.
 
We'll do our best to find a balance, but your ongoing feedback is always welcome to help keep us on the right path.
 
Erik 
Erik T.'s picture
Erik T.
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 5 2008
Posts: 1233
Excellent suggestion! Thanks...

greendoc,

Excellent point. I'll get in touch with Ron ASAP about the Paypal link idea for donations. You're right - the key is to make this simple, easy, and painless. Expect this functionality on the site soon!

Erik

 

jdownie's picture
jdownie
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 7 2008
Posts: 58
another very good website

Another website well worth looking at is www.professorfekete.com

Perhaps a little more 'technical' than this one but I think he gives a very thorough analysis of the evolution of the modern monetary system, including the nature of money itself.

Some of his articles can be found on www.financialsense.com, also well worth reading. 

Erik T.'s picture
Erik T.
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 5 2008
Posts: 1233
About intent

Hi bolweevil,

Thanks for the comments. If I understood your question, you are wondering whether the motive here is to turn this thing into a big profit center for Chris, or if it's just to make the charity effort sustainable.

It's both. For Chris, it's mostly about making this sustainable. He was funding the old site out of pocket, and the new server just plain costs too much for him to continue. But frankly, in my own opinion, Chris deserves the opportunity to profit from this fantastic work he's done. Believe me, he's not the greedy type, and the last thing on his mind is how to make this about him getting rich. That said, my advice will be for him to stop feeling guilty about the possibility that he and his family might be financially rewarded for his commitment to this cause for the last 4+ years.

If there is a strong preference to fund this with a non-advertising business model, I'm wide open to suggestions about how to do it. But I do know that if we stick with the "chris pays all expenses out of pocket" model, it won't last.

Erik

 

Xflies's picture
Xflies
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 19 2008
Posts: 157
Readers should help get Chris on Oprah...
Ya, I'm serious... I know it sounds corny but she really does have the reach to the average american and it seems like she really cares about real issues that affect real people.  While I am not a regular watcher, I have read enough about her to know that she would help out this cause if enough people got her attention to it.  I sent an email to her site about Chris 2 weeks ago and then I heard she had some sort of comment on the financial situation on a show she did a few days ago but this would be a great follow up to it.  If everyone took just a few moments to goto Oprah's site and goto the suggestion for shows section, I'm sure that would get their attention and we may soon have our little geeky looking Chris on national television (oops, did I say geeky?  lol, just kiddin bro)
joe2baba's picture
joe2baba
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 17 2008
Posts: 807
community

i really like the idea of building local communities ike. i have no problem with meeting with people who are into this site.

we will not only need the online experience but we will need face to face partners in the endeavors ahead. we can share knowledge and skills. we can help start urban, suburban and rural communities.

i have lots of experience with community building and dialog. a community resource directory would be a great place to get the latest info on new products designed for dealing with the coming storm, solar energy, permaculture, windmills etc and also services to help people with special needs such as health care. then an adwords or adsense campaign could be geared towards products and services designed specifically for addressing the problems brought up in the crash course.

chapter 20 might provide the answers to what those products and services could be.

then the advertisers on the site could be screened the way they are on npr. the ads could be done in a very tasteful way. with  feed back on the site for peoples experience with the vendor. 

in aspen there was a campaign to get the local stores to carry the most energy efficient products by putting out a directory to the local community of the stores that had the best options. in a very short time the whole town was carrying green products.

anyway we are only limited by the limits we place on ourselves.

i have no problem with this site being commercialized after all we are talking about capitalism why not develop models for a sustainable  economy right here. i will buy a bunch of dvd's and would like to see them packaged in the greenest way possible.

my motto since meeting bucky fuller in the70's has been " do more with less"

i am glad you are here erik and get chris to take a break and get a bath.

om shanti

joe

Futuo's picture
Futuo
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 15 2008
Posts: 155
Speaking of Professors...
I've been following along here for a few months now, and introduced my dad to the site about a month ago. Following my lead, he's been telling everyone within earshot about the Crash Course. One of those people is a professor at the Illinois Institute of Technology's Stuart School of Business. His name is George Nassos, and a link to his profile at the college's website is here: http://stuart.iit.edu/profiles/faculty/george_nassos_7.shtml . I'm not sure if he's watched the whole thing, but he definitely liked what he saw, and mentioned something to my dad about wanting to use it in the classroom to some respect. If you're interested, I could definitely get you all in contact. Perhaps you could collaborate and develop some sort of Crash Course Curriculum? Anyway, shoot me an e-mail at defessus@sbcglobal.net if any of that sounds appealing.
joe2baba's picture
joe2baba
Status: Martenson Brigade Member (Offline)
Joined: Jun 17 2008
Posts: 807
oprah
good idea xflies i am on the way. what about lou dobbs, coast to coast etc.?
Tesseractal's picture
Tesseractal
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2008
Posts: 25
Thanks and Enhancements

Firstly plaudits for Chris and yourself Erik for stepping up.  I won't go into great detail on the plusses of the site but I have continually been impressed since first being introduced a little time back. 

What I would like to offer is some thoughts which will hopefully be of use and/or stimulate discussion/thoughts:

While I personally detest most forms of internet advertising I recognise the need and merits of income generation to support product delivery and improvement.  Given the nature of this site I can only see one way in which the integrity of Chris' mission/vision can be reconciled with the presence of advertising.  That is to quarantine the advertisments.  How - put them in a box off to one side with a border (in a colour or form not used elsewhere in the site) to visually separate it from the rest of the site.  Create the appearance of a "window" through the site if you like.  This would have a large discalimer above it - something to the effect that "the contribution of advertisers to the continuing presence of this site is acknowledged but this does not imply ANY endorsement of the products presented" - or some such message.  It has to look unconnected and the adds need to change relatively quickly so that the impression of alignment is further diminished.

Unfortunately the first comment flies in the faced of this next one.

The above (rapid change adds) requires additional bandwidth/speed for delivery.  This second comment relates to loading of the site - specifically the chapters.  I live in a part of the world where 512k is considered lightning fast, 1.2GB per month traffic (up and down) more than you should ever need and the cost for this "pleasure" is about US$300 per month with a reliabilty factor that is probably less than 95%

Unfortunately it means that when a new chapter is available it takes me forever to download and sharing it is a signfiicant cost.  I would happily pay to download a chapter or the course in a way that will enable me to replay it in the future.  That way I could do it next time I am in a download heaven and share it (slide night / movie night style) when I get back. 

The third comment is content related.  As you idenified Erik you joined the "good fight" to continue publishing free educational information about the American economy on PeakProsperity.com.  In a brief discussion with Chris earlier this year he mentioned that he had a distinct interest group from Australia and I have seen some posters identify themselves from European countries.  I recognise the global impact of the American economy but it would be a real step up, one that I would be prepared to pay for, to have some analysis of other economies/systems and how the global impact might pan out. 

E.g. we hear claims from some countries that they are more robust position in terms of their banking and financial systems than the USA and notwithstanding a global downturn they will be better prepared to weather the downturn - does this just mean a slightly softer impact at the bottom of a large fall - after falling 100 feet off a cliff it doesn't matter much if you hit the ground at 30m/sec or 20m/sec you will still be mush - or does it mean a parachute and the capacity to more rapidly move to a differnt socio economic base/structure - some conjecture and speculation needed of course. 

This is obviously a major body of work and requires a lot of resources but it's my suggestion for the day :)

And my fourth comment relats to the forum commentary, I recognise and understand what many have posted about the need to be clinical on the one hand to avoid the perception of being a free radical or aligned with some armageddon cult but I also recognise that the message will best be disseminated by discussion and that people need to be given a forum to voice their concerns and discuss alternatives.  My observation on this is that I think you can have both.  The capacity to post comments is linked to being registered.  The viewing of comments should be similarly restricted to those who are registered.  In this way the academic interst will have been delivered before people delve into the forums of discussion and what might at times (by the uninitiated) be percieved as extremism.

I hope these comments add value and have some others but for now I must go.  Keep on keeping on.

 

jrf29's picture
jrf29
Status: Gold Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 18 2008
Posts: 448
A middle path

The implications of Chris' research applied to wealth preservation are crystal clear: Chris' work supports the conclusion that investing in hard assets is wise.  There is no reason not to own that this is true.  During the Crash Course Chris freely mentions that he himself has made such investments.  And this is, after all, a site whose purpose is to inform the actions of people. 

If he felt it were necessary, I personally don't see why Chris couldn't write on the subject of gold purchasing.  How to invest, what premiums to look for, which mint marks are considered the most reputable, etc.  If it were really necessary to do so, I think Chris could provide a list of some reputable dealers (preferably without hyperlinks), as long as pain is taken, (1) to make clear that he has no financial association with the companies listed, and (2) he does not personally endorse the products or services of a particular dealer.

But if there is endorsement, advertisement, sales, sponsorship, or anything which suggests to the intelligent reader that a commercial relationship of any kind might exist between this site and precious metal dealers, credibility will put on a swimsuit and take a dive.

mkc's picture
mkc
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 19 2008
Posts: 6
New model for the site

Hi Erik - I haven't had time to read all the replies so I apologise if I am duplicating anyone else's comments.

I am in the UK. When I started following Chris's work I thought the USA was headed for disaster but we could keep going. I don't think like that any more. I anticipate some quite bad news out of London in the next couple of weeks. I have searched for a British version of Chris's site but there isn't anythng quite like this, so I do want Chris to be able to keep going.

I can't imagine this will be possible without a team of at least 3: Chris providing content, someone else maintaining and developing the actual site (the nuts and bolts of of design and running the server) and you providing overall guidance and shielding Chris from things he doesn't have to deal with personally. There are lots of examples of content-driven websites that support a bigger overhead than that, and
they mostly run on the basis that the entry level is free and is supported by advertising; that a small payment gets you free of the adverts (which means quicker downloads) and gives you access to some extra content, and the full subscription gets you detailed advice.

In Chris's case the entry level needs to have enough historic content that people can see this is worthwhile, and probably include most (not all) of the Crash Course. The small payment would get access to all the historic content, the whole Crash Course, and breaking news. The full subscription would buy you the "Here's what you have to do now" stuff - advice on what actions to take.

I don't see this sort of format being created by anyone other than a full time website designer.

The trouble is that there is "competition" - I won't name them because I don't want to damage Chris by giving people leads away from his site - but if you email me I will tell you who I think the main competitors are.

Meanwhile if you put a Paypal donate button on the site I promise I'll send you a few English pounds - God knows what use they'll be by the time you get them.

mandrake99's picture
mandrake99
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 21 2008
Posts: 3
Premium content

So there seems to be some opposition to Chris getting a kickback from recommending products.

 

Why not have Chris produce reports about various topics PM's, investing, alternative energy etc etc.

They could also be podcasts or video reports ( my preference) 

The site could just sell the report via paypal and /or these premium reports could be in a special premium members area which might be $10 - $50 per month to be a member.

This would be really easy to set up. It gives Chris fair compensation for all the effort he is putting in, while maintaining his integrity.

ashtonw's picture
ashtonw
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 7 2008
Posts: 23
A little bit funny...

I mean in no way to criticize your website, as it has taught me the only important things I have ever learned, but I merely want to point out some oddities and observations.

 -Your seminar predicts the imminent demise of the dollar and just about everything else, and yet you guys are all talking about fundraising and, dare I say the word, growth...  isn't all this s*#@ supposed to go down the pipes like... now?

 -isn't sustainable growth an oxymoron?

 - you say in one part of the crash course that if a money system dissapeared, it would be replaced by something else, like nautilus shells.  But your speaking seminar is called The End of Money.  Shouldn't it be called The End of the Dollar, or Stock Up on Nautilus Shells! (gold ones).

-no offense, but your website is visually displeasing to the eye.  It has the appearance of a hot dog.  (ketchup and mustard).  In general, your color scheme needs work.  Check out Obama's website.  They have good graphic design people.  

-maybe some of this will come with chapter 20, but maybe you could describe things that you have personally done (did you really move from Mystic, CT to rural Mass?  hardcore...).  Do you have a huge veggie garden?  Do you defend your property (and gold) with a crossbow?  Do you wake up every morning at 4am and split logs?  Or do you just burn your eyes out of your skull reading about the bailout on websites all day?  (ps I don't think the bailout will work, but thats just me being a stupid America hating cynic)

-I am totally down with the idea of making a community networking thing.  People can post fotos of how their commune(ity) is preparing the battlements, I mean farmer's markets.  

-I'm pretty sure we used to live in a fascist country, but now its just a weezing hunk of socialist mess. Whatever... 

-I'm moving to switzerland

-I recently went to the local gold and silver shoppe and bought a gold panda at $887/oz or something and a couple of silver one ounce eagles.  I'm just a kid, so thats the best I can do.  Plus I've got 4 hundies in Hamiltons under my bed.  Maybe I'll bring them to the bakery (doesn't exist yet) and by a croissant. 

 

Peace and keep up the diligent work,

Ashton from CT

 

ps did you watch the Palin Biden debate? I don't wanna make this political but I almost peed my pants!!  Palin (paraphrased), "Alaska will save you all from those big mean oil companies!"  LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOL I am dying.  Is the American populace really so dumb to believe her?  I lost faith in them decades ago.  Ah well time is of the essence!

  

JustMeHereToday's picture
JustMeHereToday
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 2 2008
Posts: 2
The Very Last Straw

I've been reflecting about this latest turn of on-board event for a few hours and will not rant and rave long, and just wish to express the main areas that leave me breathless:

   "Not having to work full time isn't as glamorous as it sounds."

Following an unprecedented week ushered in by many difficult months, along with a full-blown status of recession, this is a remarkable commentary of insensitive poor taste.  And I am being too damn nice.

   "One of the main reasons the completion of the Crash Course has been delayed....."

As the golden carrot, karat carrot dangles.......

   "But unexpectedly, after I mentioned my own donation in passing on a blog comment page, another kind reader....."

Kind reader?  Kind, you say?  My good eye caught your original posting and noticed how it upset the lining of my stomach.  Now, I can only manage to feel deeply saddened by such blatant arrogance.

At this point in the Endgame, it makes no sense to go down while embracing the mighty buck.

Best wishes with your decisions, Chris.

 

 

 

 

gsti's picture
gsti
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 21 2008
Posts: 60
Hosting

I can't believe you are really struggling with hosting costs.  If you are smart about it you should be able to host this very very easily for > $100/month, on a dedicated server.  Really, you should be around the $30/month mark. 

I should know, I have made a lot of sites.  Really you have no bandwidth you can't shipout.  If you have one person subscribing, that should cover your hosting !! 

 I could probably host this for $0/month- I can't believe you get that many hits, its not like you have a porn site.  If you want help to get hosting down to manageable costs, I would be happy to help. 

PS - alot of hits for me is 1mill + about 100,000 - 200,000 real page requests/day

gsti's picture
gsti
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 21 2008
Posts: 60
development

on the web site side of things - that sounds like a part time one man job to me.  Server maintenance is somthing you do not do unless you really know what you are doing, Anyone can setup apache.  Securing it is somthing else. server/firewall configs, leave to the pros, its included in most hosting plans.

Aside from watching and commentating on the markets and general fiscal position, the web side is part time one man job.

spinone's picture
spinone
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 12 2008
Posts: 49
I think you misunderstood the question
I believe the concern was that YOU intend to profit from Chris' work.  We have no doubt that Chris does this from the deeply held conviction he has about teaching and helping.  I have doubts about YOUR motives.
spinone's picture
spinone
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 12 2008
Posts: 49
Full Disclosure

Eric -

 Whenever an 'entrepreneur' comes on the scene of an already developed product with praises and promises, talking about the need to make some money, people are naturally suspicious.  I think an earlier commenter's question was concerning YOUR motives.  How do you intend to profit from this investment of time and money you have made.  Obviously Chris is not motivated by profit, or else he wouldn't be losing money trying to get the message out.  Is your motivation similarly altruistic?  I would be much more comfortable if you fully disclosed your monetary interest in these changes, and your percent of the take.

 

jdownie's picture
jdownie
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 7 2008
Posts: 58
Erik
It's taking his word for it, but Erik does state in his introduction that he is volunteering his time and has no financial interest in the website.
rainbird's picture
rainbird
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 14 2008
Posts: 4
Good ideas, and bad ones

Quick thoughts after skimming through this thread.

Erik, you sound like a decent guy, well-intentioned, and I absolutely agree that Chris should be making money off his work, rather than losing it.  However, you are clearly a very bottom-line kind of guy.  Do not ever lose track of--or steer Chris away from--the original altruistic intentions with which he started his work.  Sounds like, for now, you're keeping that in mind, but if you're not careful, I think over time your natural tendency may be to try to turn this into a cash cow, even if you never see a dime of it yourself.

The site design and functionality is worlds better than the old site, however, it does still lack something from an aesthetic standpoint.  I think, functionally, it's great; but the appearance could still use a makeover.

Do not ever make the Crash Course something we have to pay for, or register for.  I never would have gotten beyond the site's home page had that been the case.  The online, free-to-all, Crash Course is the heart and soul of this site, and Chris' work.

Adsense ads are fine.  I was frankly surprised there weren't any, and anyone who expects this website to remain ad-free, apparently hasn't been paying attention to the Internet.

The ad-free mini-membership is an excellent idea.  Provide some value-added content to mini-members, as well.

Specific product and service recommendations and advice.  This is where you use the free-&-optional registration (not for the Crash Course).  Use the free registration to build your mailing list.  Include one or more checkboxes to opt-in/out of various email notifications and recommendations.  If someone wants to register on the site just to comment on a thread, do not force that person to receive targeted emails s/he isn't interested in.  The more accurately you build your targeted mailing, the more valuable it will be for you and the service providers you ultimately endorse, and the happier we (your information consumers) will be.

Finally, as the site continues to grow, Chris should not be expected to have to personally respond to any and all incoming emails.  However, I think many people may be quietly uncomfortable with the idea of you (or anyone) choosing to filter what Chris does and does not see.  May I recommend a general 'Contact Us' link, prominently accessible on the site, and a second, 'email Chris' link, tucked away in a corner somewhere.

 

greendoc's picture
greendoc
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 23 2008
Posts: 110
Chapter 20: what should I do?
In one of the previous sections, to paraphase Chris, he said, "let's look at the numbers that caused my family and me to radically change where and how we live, even the way we get our food."  I am so hoping that when Section 20 is unveiled there will be some actionable information on how to sensibly invest in community supported agriculture, start a CSA, help out a struggling micro/community farmer or how to generally help with  relocalizing the means of production of food and necessary tangibles.  This seems to be the weakest link in the "how to economically prepare for PO" agenda. 
Xanb's picture
Xanb
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 8 2008
Posts: 18
Sustainability

Hi Erik,

 

If we are speaking of sustainability, why not to be transparent and show people the costs and the amount of donation needed? It would be nice to have options for the donations like for the website, the documentary, Chris, etc.

 

I surely hate random advertising. Another way to turn off people is to force them to subscribe in order to see the content. I am sure that people who find the content useful will be glad to participate in costs, but it seems fair for them to know where their money goes. Also, it would be an exercise of cooperation for the good of the community. You never know when you need such model…

 

As for the content, it would be good to have some sort of crash course on different economic models, or an open source economic model for a future that is not larger but brighter. For instance, I have this crazy idea that computers and Internet could help us build a new kind of economy without money. Can anyone imagine how many problems will be solved in the world only by giving up on money? It seems that it is a too radical idea for anyone to take it seriously.

 

BTW, thank you for helping Chris. I hope you will do the right thing for him and us.

eternal sunshine's picture
eternal sunshine
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 24 2008
Posts: 50
Timing a bit off?

Let me say straight out that I don't see anything wrong with advertising, or generating revenue from the site. I do however feel concerned that a venture capitalist no matter how well intentioned now appears to be directing operations. Particularly when the opening line of your post is 'Dear Chris Martenson fans'. 

I come to this site for valuable information in troubling times, not because any cult of personaility (although I do admire Chris Martenson immensely). This information deserves to be freely available to as large an audience as possible and so I reject absolutely any suggestion that any part of the Crash Course be subscription based.

Please try to strike an approriate balance between exponentially increasing the readership of the site and generating maximum revenue, in my eyes there's a danger that those two objectives could be incompatible. 

By the way, all this appears to be taking place at the worst possible time, when we should be focused on the content of the site  - not the delivery, and surely it would have been normal for the man himself to introduce you Erik rather than you doing it yourself?

 

 

 

 

ike's picture
ike
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2008
Posts: 19
DVD partner

I've used CreateSpace as a way to make a DVD available and highly recommend it.

You give them the content and the artwork. They put it in their online store. You send people to the store (which you can customize to look like your website.) Your visitors place orders with them. They burn and ship as needed. You set the price. You get sent a check. You take on none of the order processing or fulfillment bother. You also don't take on the up-front expense of burning a bunch of DVDs and then waiting for the money to trickle back in.

I think this would be a quick and easy way to go without overcomplicating things and would help keep the focus on spreading the message.

DavidC's picture
DavidC
Status: Silver Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 29 2008
Posts: 239
Re: Sustainability and other...

Hello Erik,

Further to Xanb's comments, welcome on board. For the 'naysayers', and admittedly as a newish member to the group, I personally doubt that Chris would entertain the idea of having someone help who didn't share the same vision - if it turns out NOT to be the case then obviously the interest in the site (NOT Chris's opinions) will change.

I can understand the paradox of advertising and the idea or notion of being influenced by such advertisers. Surely the test will be continuing to show independence of thought even if this disagrees with certain advertisers' standpoints - a measure of respect on both sides perhaps if Chris continues to illustrate independent thought and advertisers respect this by continuing to advertise?

I certaily agree with Xanb about random advertising, 'forced' subscription and the content model - I loath random or 'viral' advertising!

 

DavidC

ike's picture
ike
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Sep 17 2008
Posts: 19
Info but no endorsements

I totally agree with jrf29. Chris should be sharing info on how and what and why but not endorsing or getting kickbacks from any particular company. It completely alters the perception of him into just another guy selling something like James Turk. His message may be great, but the fact that he's selling something completely turned me off.

When I'm learning about something new, it's important that the source not have a financial agenda or the whole message becomes suspect. I think one of the subconscious reasons so many of us have been open to learning from Chris is precisely because he does not seek to profit from what he's teaching us. We can trust the info more, knowing it's not a sales job in disguise. Profit and teaching is a difficult combination.

Charge for detailed guides if you must, but please please do not go down the slippery slope of endorsements and partners and all of that. It will completely distort your credibility and this message is too important.

I just bought an audio from LATOC (Life After the Oil Crash.) They have a third party vendor (local to Chris actually) who manages all the purchasing/distribution stuff. Income from info like this is an ok model from an ethics/credibility perspective. Perhaps you could talk to them about whether it's working from a financial perspective.

I like the idea someone posted of giving your existing base some time to rise to the occasion first. Do the membership drive first. Then let's reassess where things stand and whether that's adequate before you put a lot of time/energy thought into how to monetize the hell out of everything.

BK's picture
BK
Status: Member (Offline)
Joined: Jul 20 2008
Posts: 2
Following the Wikipedia model?

First of all, I think I speak for almost everyone here when I say we are and will be grateful to Chris for all that he has done for us. I am proud to be a subscriber and supporter of his efforts (to help us).

With regard to the current financial situation that Chris is facing, I have a suggestion: Why not operate fundraising the way Wikipedia does? Create a target that factors in the expenses of the site (accrued and current) and a good salary for Chris and display a fundraising tube or ruler that tracks how much has been given and how much more is needed.That should be coupled with a button to donate like any political donation website.

I might prefer that to advertising on the website - which I'm not sure will generate much revenue unless Chris' site attracts a mass audience (which I hope it does one day but I don't know is the case today). There is no reason Chris should lose any money for doing this and I would be happy for him if he did well for devoting himself to this educational effort.

What do others think? 
rmurfster's picture
rmurfster
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 17 2008
Posts: 84
"Register for free"

Erik,

Welcome to the community and thanks for helping!  Chris' work is extremely necessary in our world and I am grateful to you for keeping the work going.

Please, let me beg you... Don't force people to register to watch the videos.  I personally would have never seen them if I was forced to give my email in order to do so.

Also, I've forwarded the videos to friends/colleges who have watched  them and been impressed.  Again, I know they wouldn't have watched the videos if they were forced to give their email.

Obviously, I have registered as I'm writing this message.  But I did so after watching several of the videos and after being convinced that not only was Chris' message essential, but after also gaining a sense of trust in the way he honestly presented himself.

Again, this message is too important to risk by forcing people to register in order to view the videos.

On another note, I wish I could afford the full registeration for the "Chris Martenson Report", but I can't.  I would, however, pay a smaller registration yearly fee (around $5/month, or $60/year) to help out and receive additional content.  I think the additional content page for paid subscribers could contain the gold/silver links, as those of us who would be willing to pay already trust Chris' integrity.

Richard

rmurfster's picture
rmurfster
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Apr 17 2008
Posts: 84
TV/Radio Engagements

Erik,

I'm an "insider" of the Glenn Beck program and I just emailed him about Chris.  Maybe you should try and contact Glenn as he has been talking about our financial mess for over a year and shares much the same views as Chris.

http://www.glennbeck.com

Richard

Erik T.'s picture
Erik T.
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 5 2008
Posts: 1233
Oh, now I see...

spinone,

Thanks for your candor. I must admit to being rather surprised by your comment, but I always prefer people who say what they mean and allow me to know where I really stand.

I'm not sure what you believe my motive might be. For the record, the reason I'm helping Chris is that I believe in what he's doing for the country by promoting this message. I'm not being paid a penny for my time, and I'm not profiting in any way from the advertising we'll be putting up on the site. I'm confused to even understand what you think my angle might be, but I suppose a little skepticism is always a healthy thing...

Erik

 

Erik T.'s picture
Erik T.
Status: Diamond Member (Offline)
Joined: Aug 5 2008
Posts: 1233
College Course details

Hi Futuo,

Thanks for the info about Prof. Nassos. Here's a little more info re: the college curriculum issue:

So far, there are already 8 college and university professors who have approached Chris on their own, asking for permission to either use the course materials or just assign the Crash Course as "required viewing" for their classes. For the most part, Chris has welcomed these requests and invited credible educators to use his material.

We really need to take this trend and put a standard set of terms and conditions around it, then promote it actively to academia. We'll be looking for help from loyal readers to help get the word out to the academic community, but we're not quite ready for that yet.

Erik

 

Matt Holbert's picture
Matt Holbert
Status: Bronze Member (Offline)
Joined: Oct 3 2008
Posts: 43
Perhaps A Non-Digital Model Is Best

How about starting up a company that directs equity towards organic farms?  Let's actually do something that is tangible.  The information provided thus far should be enough to convince a reasonable person that changes must be made.  Rather than expanding on the information, Chris and those of us who are concerned by the data should make meaningful changes rather than build a website.  Let's build a more sustainable world.  Get out the tools and really build.

 Maybe a way out of the credit crisis is to start an equity revolution.  Those who have an interest can identify organic farms that have debt and would like to exchange their debt for equity.  The equity would be secured by a lien on the assets.  Those who deposit money in the equity account would not earn interest but rather have access to the products at the lesser of cost or market.

 We already have far too many online venues to express our opinions.  We need a way to get out and make a difference. 

  

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.
Login or Register to post comments