Which comes first, the audience or the subscription?

What I find interesting about Andrew Sullivan’s move to a ‘porous’ subscription model for his site The Dish, is where the various $20 subscribers came from. There wasn’t a long pledge drive, there wasn’t a slow burn as people had to decide to sign up or not. On announcing the change and the membership fee, Sullivan and his team saw over $900,000 in cash pledged by his readers.

That there is the dedicated audience. That’s the ’1000 Fans’ concept in action. Sullivan has a base audience who consider his site to be part of their life so much that there is no hesitation. They did not stop to think about their $20, they just paid it.

The question for me over the next year for Sullivan is how he grows that pool of hardcore fans. And for everyone else looking at the model, how do you build up enough of a profile and enough hardcore fans, to jump in with this model. Because it’s not something a brand new site with low profile writers and commentators could pull off.

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