On the future of Arseblog and where we go from here

Arseblog began in 2002 and if you’d told me that 15 years later it’d still be going, and in much bigger and extensive way, I’d probably have thought you were a bit mad.

But here we are. From a simple blog, we now have columnists, a couple of podcasts a week, a seven day a week news site with match reports, stats, player ratings, an interactive poo-o-meter which allows readers to vote on the effluency of transfer stories, live events, books, and lots more.

As I’ve said previously, the business model for being a relatively small, niche publisher is not particularly great. We create lots and lots of content every day, every week, and then give it away for free. Arseblog is free, Arseblog News is free, the podcasts are free, our apps for Android and iOS are free, and when we do something like a live event or a book, we’re always incredibly grateful for the support we receive from you guys.

Mostly though, it’s all supported by advertising, which hopefully you can see on the site but which perhaps you can’t because many people use ad-blocking software. It’s understandable, because so many sites bombard you with pop-ups, pop-unders, auto-play videos, ads that obscure the content, and every other conceivable annoying ad format you can think of.

Our policy here is not to allow those. We routinely turn down offers which could net us thousands a month if we implemented those kinds of ads. They’re not what we want on the site because they make visiting a website really annoying. Which, of course, is counter-productive because you want people to visit and stay on the site.

For some people, advertising is seen as something which takes away from the editorial integrity of a website. Some sites churn out any old nonsense for clicks and page-views and ad-impressions, there’s no doubt about that. We steer clear of the desperate clickbait you see elsewhere. We could easily churn out twice or three times as many news stories as we actually do if that were our motivation, but it’s not.

What we try and do is bring you the best, most trustworthy, reliable, well-written Arsenal stories and news we can, but it doesn’t mean we don’t need advertising and advertising revenue. It would be fantastic if we could operate independently of that, but right now it’s necessary. Everyone who writes for this website gets paid (even the Arsenal Gent receives a shipment of Guineas each month). They can’t get paid without advertising … for the moment anyway.

For a while I’ve been pondering what the future should hold for Arseblog (and by that I mean the whole site). My conclusion is that I want to continue doing what we’re doing now, but also do more and do it better. To give Arsenal fans more to consume, more articles, perhaps more podcasts, more specials and events, and perhaps move in directions we haven’t even considered yet.

People have, down the years, suggested to me that we introduce some kind of paywall. Let me state very clearly that at no point will you, as an Arseblog reader or listener, ever have to pay for anything you get right now. It will always remain free. 100%.

Where I do feel we need to go, however, is towards a model where what we do is supported by a Patreon style donation/subscription model, and providing extra content/value for those who choose to be part of it. I’m not quite sure how exactly it might work yet, but just as an example:

€5 per month sees you become a supporter of Arseblog.

€10 per month sees you become a Super Supporter, you get advertising free website, ad free apps, extra content/articles.

€20 per month sees you become Super-Duper Supporter, you get advertising free website, ad free apps, extra content/articles, an extra podcast every month, advance notice of live events, discount tickets to live events etc.

There may also be scope for a one-off donation if that’s what you would prefer. And just to clarify, those are just thinking out loud examples above.

As I said, it’s something I have to think about carefully, in terms of what it costs, and what the benefits are to you for your support. Ultimately, the ideal situation would see us operate independently of advertising as we know it today, to keep creating what we create, to give you a better website, better content, and to be able to do things that we can’t do at the moment.

Right now though, I’d like to try and gauge the response and potential interest from you in this idea. As I said above, there’s no question of restricting the access readers have right now, but instead providing more for people who subscribe or donate. It won’t be mandatory in any way, it’s entirely voluntary and up the discretion of the individual.

So, if you had time to answer the poll below I’d really appreciate it, and of course I’ll keep you all fully informed as we go further down this path. All poll answers are completely anonymous, btw.

I’d also really welcome your thoughts and feedback on this, so please feel free to comment in the ‘arses’ on this post. You might need to register an account to do so – just click ‘login’ and you’ll get the prompt. Your input, as the people who use this site on a regular basis, is hugely important so if you have anything to add to the discussion, I’d be delighted to listen and chat about it.

Thanks folks.

The Poll

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