Behind the Scenes of Issue 71
2,000 newsletter subscribers, purging inactive users, consider contributing to the new costs, etc.
Published March 28, 2022
I'm still Tamas Dovenyi, this time with Issue #71 of my DIY keyboard focused newsletter and blog dubbed the Keyboard Builders' Digest. If you are new to this, you can read how this started out and what this is all about nowadays. If you like what you see, you can subscribe to the newsletter (free) and donate some bucks to keep this otherwise free and ad-free project alive.
This editorial is entirely about the newsletter to announce a few important things.
To sum things up:
- Click a link in the newsletter if you are a subscriber and would like to keep receiving it in the future because I'll continue cleaning up the database to remove inactive subscribers.
- Contribute to the costs if you can. From now on, I'll have to pay a monthly fee to send out the newsletter because...
- 2,000 subscribers reached!
So as a start, sending out the next newsletter will cost me $34 (monthly fee) – and this amount will grow in proportion to the number of subscribers in the future.
I'd be grateful if some of you could joint the ranks of regular supporters to cover this additional cost.
Here's the link: https://kbd.news/donate
But it also means the KBD.news project arrived at an important milestone: 2,000 newsletter subscribers. Yay!
On one hand, that's übercool. Thank you!
But at the same time that means Mailchimp's free plan is maxed out and from now on I'll have to pay an ever increasing fee to be able to send you these free weekly newsletters.
Readers vs supporters
Of course I can pay that fee myself, no problem, but the situation is somewhat weird. The blog and newsletter became kind of a public service which I do for free, putting a lot of my time into the project.
In return, some of the generous readers pay me tips occasionally and there are 20 regular donors (thank you!).
Let me highlight these fantastic people and businesses, their contribution keeps this project alive and makes KBD.news available for 50,000 readers:
splitkb.com, MoErgo Glove80, u/chad3814, Aiksplace, @keebio, @kaleid1990, ghsear.ch, cdc, Bob Cotton, kiyejoco, Timo, Sean Grady, FFKeebs, @therick0996, Joel Simpson, Nuno Leitano, Spencer Blackwood, KEEBD, Davidjohn Gerena, Yuan Liu
Yeah, 50-60,000 unique users check these pages monthly (Cloudflare data) and 2,000 of them are subscribed to the newsletter which signals another level of commitment.
- So are there 8 people who would donate $5 regularly to cover the Mailchimp fee?
- Or 4 generous readers supporting the project with $10 each month?
I'm sure there are. If you are one of them, here is the link again: https://kbd.news/donate
FYI, there are supporters with just $1 of monthly contribution and the median sum is $5.
Unfeasibility of alternatives
Theoretically, there are three parties who could cover the costs of running this site: me, all or some of the readers, or sponsors/advertisers.
Right now it's me and a handful of readers.
What about sponsors? Most of them will want results, ROI and that would ruin the experience.
Well, I hate ads. They slow the site down, are irrelevant, repetitive and annoying. I know you hate them too so I don't want to pollute the interface with ads, especially obtrusive ones.
70-80% of you use adblockers anyway so that wouldn't work even if I'd try.
In any case, if I'll ever want to experiment with ads, I'll tell you in advance.
I'm happy to write and post things sacrificing my free time because, well, this is my hobby.
I don't have a problem with paying for hosting either because I have some other sites so that cost is shared among different projects.
(Btw, the domain was paid by Chad. Thanks mate!)
But this Mailchimp fee caused me some cognitive dissonance.
Paying a monthly fee to be able to keep up my free service?! Paying rather than get paid for a work? That defies my logic.
On a similar note, I'm removing inactive users from the list to minimize the monthly fee.
The point is: click a link in the newsletter to make sure you stay subscribed – at least if you want.
What's the situation now? The opening rate of the newsletters is about 50%.
On one hand that's a solid number: the "industry average" according to MC is only 35% – at least for lists in the category of "hobbies" and of a similar size.
On the other hand, that means I'll pay for sending out the newsletter while half of the recipients doesn't even bother to open it.
So that's why you should click a link in the newsletter if you'd like to received it in the future: I'm cleaning up the database to remove inactive users.
In the run-up to reaching 2,000 subscribers – the upper limit of Mailchimp's free plan – I've already removed dozens if not hundreds of users from the list. I'd guess about 150-200.
If you are familiar with MC, it makes an automatic cleanup sometimes (based on hard and soft bounces) but also keeps unsubscribed uses on the list (although there's a difference between "audience", "subscribers" and "recipients").
Anyway, after deleting all the "cleaned" and "unsubscribed" users, I'm now removing inactive users too.
Again, if it was about marketing, I'd strive for the bigger, more impressive number and wouldn't bother with removing anybody.
But this is not about marketing or money, without advertisers or sponsors it makes no sense to pump up subscriber and visitor stats.
Thanks again guys and gals, despite the rant above, I think this is a pretty big deal and I'm proud we've made it together and reached this milestone in 14 months.
(The newsletter was announced in Issue #9 and the first one was sent out to 21 subscribers :) one week later, on 2021-01-25.)
Well, that's it for today.
Thanks for reading and thanks for your support.
Feel free to ask and comment in this issue's r/mk thread, and as always: keep learning and building.
Published on Mon 28th Mar 2022. Featured in KBD #71.