In a separate blog entry, I introduced myself and described how I’ll be helping Chris. The post included an explanation of the need to add site advertising so we can continue to offer the Crash Course and Chris’ blog for free.
I was surprised and delighted by the number of responses. This is a vibrant and passionate community, and many members shared their views about advertising. I’ve taken the feedback to heart, and I am pleased to announce our new ad policy incorporates your feedback.
What you said
There were many comments in response to the prior blog post. Here are the main points I identified:
- No ads for paid subscribers; they are already paying for premium site access.
- Several members felt an easy method for donating would be preferred over site banner ads.
- Others thought the current subscription options were a good way to monetize the site, and a few suggested we should have less free content.
- Some suggested we also build an alliance with Amazon; many readers are inclined to purchase books on Chris’ recommended list from Amazon.
- You asked for the ability to use RSS to subscribe to individual forum and blog conversation threads.
- Some concern was expressed about losing direct access to Chris as the site grows and the readership base becomes larger.
What we’re going to do about it
You spoke, and we listened. I’m ashamed to admit, we hadn’t thought about removing ads for subscribers until you brought it to our attention. Thank you and please continue to share such ideas! Ads will be set so paid subscribers will not see them upon login.
You also suggested an easy method for donating would be valuable. Our new donation page provides the option to contribute by direct credit card transaction (which costs a bit less in fees) or via PayPal. The same page also explains other ways you can help, such as sending all your friends an e-mail about the Crash Course.
In regards to Amazon referrals, we have now added links in several areas of the site, including the home page and the Essential Books section. Chris will receive a commission from Amazon for everything purchased on their site when using these referral links. That’s everything you buy, not just Crash Course-related books. I really hope everyone will make a mental note to use these links for all your Amazon shopping.
Several who made comments felt donations, Amazon commissions, and/or subscriptions would be a better way to monetize the site than advertising. We’re going to monitor each and see how things progress. If these sources prove to offer a better solution, we’ll consider using them instead of banner advertising.
We’ve added the ability to subscribe through RSS to blog comments and forum threads. While he was at it, Ron threw in a "who’s online" box to give the forums a warmer, more personal feeling. Along these lines, I’d like to encourage regular forum users to upload a photo or unique avatar. It’s always easier to read online discussion groups when the recurrent authors have unique visual identities through photos or avatars.
Paid subscribers wanted to receive more of Chris’ direct attention as part of their membership investment. Therefore, Chris will be focusing more time on subscriber-only reports. Please be patient; we need to get Ch. 20 online first. Once it’s published, look for more subscriber-only content on the site.
Effective immediately, we will have Google AdSense ads on the site. I’ve asked Ron to do this “conservatively and respectfully,” meaning ad content will be separate from site content, and clearly labeled for what it is. If you’d rather not see these ads, sign up now as a paid subscriber and you’ll never be exposed to an ad on the site. If you’re already a paid subscriber, just log in and the ads will be removed.
What you can expect next
We’ll be monitoring this approach to advertising, donations, and subscriptions. If it becomes clear certain approaches make more sense than others, we’ll adjust our plans accordingly.
Google Ads are designed to be context-sensitive, meaning Google automatically monitors site content and traffic, and attempts to load compatible ads. In other words, you are likely to see ads for services like precious metals dealers. That’s just how Google Ads work. We are not endorsing any company in any ad. It’s up to you to know the difference between advertising and site content. We promise not to do anything to intentionally blur the distinction.
I want to assure everyone Chris continues to be our strategic leader and at the center of all site activities. He will continue to review feedback received through the site and e-mails. The unfortunate problem is there are only so many hours in the day, and much demands on Chris’ time. He would like to be able to develop much more primary content (such as Chapter 20), send more newsletters, answer all e-mails, and respond to every forum post. However, this is impossible to do. Therefore, while Chris will continue to review open forum discussions, he has decided he will no longer be responding to those outside of the subscriber-only forum. I hope everyone will understand why this is necessary, and if there are questions, certainly contact
Thank you for your understanding and patience. For Chris to continue sharing all this free content, it will be necessary to recover expenses. We want to do so in the most respectful manner possible. Please bear with us as we strive to optimize this solution for everyone’s greater benefit.