I Need Your Help

Hi everyone.

This month marks the 9th anniversary of doing this blog. It’s been a great experience for me. I get to cover a very interesting industry, and do what I really like doing.

It’s been a significant drain financially to keep things going for several reasons. I’m not real good at selling ads. It’s not a very comfortable thing for me to do. So, I’m trying work out a long-term strategy for keeping this going. I’m looking for your help on a few areas:

  • Regular full-time or freelance work: If anyone has need for a good writer/editor/analyst, please let me know. I am good at news stories, feature articles, press releases, promotional copy, researching topics and helping others to restructure and rewrite material they have produced. Please contact me at 21stcenturycomm[at]gmail.com.
  • Advertising: If you want to advertise your company, services, etc. please let me know. I could really use more support on the site.
  • Contributions: I really hate asking for donations again, especially having done so several times already, but if you want to help support the work, please use the donation button on the upper right part of the page. Any contribution would be welcome.

Thank you.

 

  • GreenWyvern

    I think it’s a bad reflection on our society that someone who is as good a writer as you are, and who has such expert knowledge of his field shouldn’t be earning a good income.

    I’m personally very bad at selling and doing self-promotion, so I understand your predicament. But your blog is an excellent portfolio for applying for any journalism position writing about space.

  • Scot Woods

    I think it would be worth your time to investigate some of the Web ad networks. Not only would THEY do the selling, they can also teach you strategies to make the most out of your work, financially. Alternatively, partner with an individual who IS good at selling to work with you directly.

    Some other writer-business suggestions:

    – If you’re going to post a press release, at least add a paragraph of your own comments at the top for context. If you don’t add anything, you’re just doing free favors for PR agencies

    – Break long items into multiple posts

    – Do Web-chat type interviews and post them here.

    – Get yourself on TV.

  • nathankoren

    I visit parabolicarc.com frequently, and would contribute to a PayPal tip jar (or equivalent), were one available. A well-written article or breaking news that I haven’t seen elsewhere is worth a dollar a pop. I’d encourage you to install one and see what kind of patronage you get.

    At the same time, I would encourage you to remove the “InfoLinks” advertisements at all costs. They are *awful*. On my phone, they frequently trigger ads without even being clicked on, and have sent me to phishing sites, and once attempted to download malware to my phone (blocked by the OS, fortunately). On my desktop, they are the sole reason I finally broke down and installed an adBlocker on my browser. I’ve never seen such aggressive or disreputable advertisements on any other site I frequent! That kind of bad user experience will also prevent people from linking to your site via aggregators like Reddit or Hacker News. Can’t possibly be worth it.

  • It’s sad that enthusiasm for science has been reduced to selling ads.

    I blame Google.

  • MachineAgeChronicle

    It’s a shame good science/tech journalism can’t pay a living wage, when people are raking it in posting mind-numbing rubbish on instagram/youtube. I guess it’s the question for the age: how can quality independent journalism survive online.

    Saying that: independent journalism was virtually impossible before the net.

    Do you keep an eye on upwork.com? They (very) occasionally have decent freelance work.

  • Vladislaw

    I mentioned this before on your facebook posts.. you have thousands of followers ask them to share your posts on their threads.. if never hurts to ASK… you want your posts to go viral so it doesn’t hurt to ask people to share certain posts on facebook.

  • James

    Ill try and give what I can when I get more money. ATM moving after having found a job in another city so my money is drained right now.

  • therealdmt

    I know it’s not exactly what you’re looking for here Doug, but I have to agree with nathankoren about the “InfoLinks” advertisements.

    On an iPad, which is what I’m using 90% of the time I’m here , they make browsing the site problematic, and at times even painful — I’d have to say that they make for perhaps the single worst browsing experience of any site I can think of. Unless they pay well, it might not be worth it. I’d have to think such a service is driving away readers — especially NEW visitors (the only reason I’ve kept coming back is that I was already “invested’ in the site). As they say in business, if you’re not growing, you’re dying; and if you can’t attract new visitors and then keep a certain percentage of them, you’re not growing.

    Of course, checking your analytics in this regard will be more important than my conjecture. Also, a few sites do seem to get by with a mediocre (Space.com) or even kind of terrible (Sports Illustrated’s si.com) iPad browsing experience. They’re selling to broader audiences though, and have established ‘brands”.

  • mattmcc80

    I don’t have an ipad, but on my desktop computer which is a few years old, I consider space.com completely unbrowesable without an ad blocker. The sheer volume of auto-playing ad videos and other dynamic bits just bring Firefox to its knees.

  • therealdmt

    I frequently see complaints in the Space.com comments sections about that sort of thing, but I don’t experience it myself. On the iPad, well, the problems are many. When you tap on the screen to increase the size of the text, the ads on the sides move in and overlay the text and move up and down while you scroll. The other big thing is their horrible picture viewer to blow up the size of the little pictures in their articles — it blows up and presents a portion of the picture on the iPad screen which is almost impossible to move about so as to get to see the part of the picture which you’re most interested in.

    Also, their Comments section doesn’t allow for Disqus, which is a nice feature that this site has.

    I definitely go their less than I would otherwise, and when I do, I’ve learned to use the iPad’s โ€Reader View”, which blocks all ads completely (which could hardly have been the original intent of site designer or the advertisers!)

  • Paul451

    I visit parabolicarc.com frequently, and would contribute to a PayPal tip jar (or equivalent), were one available.

    You mean that paypal link at the top right hand corner of every single page on the website?

  • Albert B.

    Thanks for the continuing work. I just sent a donation via paypal.

  • nathankoren

    Functionally, yes, almost exactly like that! But that link has problems from a design point of view.

    First: I’d honestly completely missed it. Just filtered it out of my peripheral vision. It might have been there for years, and I’d never noticed. It needs to be a bigger, bolder button which visually communicates “CLICK ME”, rather than “pardon me, but I’m a block of text, which, if you read to the bottom of me, will provide instructions for helping to support this blog”. Call-to-action buttons need to be more direct than that.

    Second: It should be directly at the end of every article — well, perhaps not the newswire articles, but anything custom-written — so that it is understood to be directly linked with that article. The point is to get people paying for content they have JUST enjoyed, rather than supporting the blog as a general-purpose philanthropic act.

    Third: It should default to a tip of $1 per article, with the call-to-action button reflecting that. “LIKED THIS ARTICLE? TIP US $1” or something like that. This can of course be overridden during the payment process, but it removes the need for the user to spend time thinking about how much they want to donate, which is the kind of cognitive load which prevents people from engaging at all. If it’s a general-purpose donation button, then the reader has to think a lot: “Am I donating for this month? For the whole year? How much is PA worth to me? Maybe $50/year? I dunno… I’ve got a lot else competing for my $50/today… maybe $25? No, that’s too miserly… Maybe $100? No, what if Doug gives up on this in a week… etc..” If it’s a default $1 donation, then the only thing the reader needs to ask themselves is whether they got a dollar worth of value from that specific article. That’s a much easier decision to make.

  • Dennis

    Ow man, at first I was afraid my computer got infected with some sort of malware or whatever when I saw those Infolinks things pop up here. Even spend a few hours scanning and cleaning up my system, but Douglas apparently actually put that into his website himself, ouch ๐Ÿ™

    Those ‘ads’ are the devil in hyperlink form and really kill any urge to visit a website that uses them imho :X

  • Dennis

    I solved ALL my issues with Space.com in a very simple way a while ago now!

    I stopped visiting that nightmare of a website ๐Ÿ˜€

  • Aerospike

    As with previous requests for help, I have chipped in a little bit. I hope even small amounts help (in other words: other readers also contribute a little bit).

    I can’t help with the other two areas (work or help with advertising). But I have to agree with those that are against those infolinks stuff. That thing is really annoying and unless it is a decent revenue stream for you, I want to encourage you to get rid of it.

  • Lee

    I’ve just made a small donation. Hope it helps.

    That said, I too find the InfoLinks ads to be a royal pain in the butt. They are intrusive, cause browser crashes, and are petty to boot, with click-thrus like “10 Dog Breeds to Really Protect You” and “25 Most Embarrassing Celebrity Pictures. Really? These are the ads that a supposedly serious Space blog has to stoop to?

    I’m sure such ads are driving away readers, and probably supporters.

  • Scott

    Glad to help.
    Without your hard work and exceptional reporting, I might actually have to believe Richard Branson.

  • ThomasLMatula

    I made a donation.

    It is unfortunate that in space commerce, unlike other business fields, its almost impossible to make a living unless you are selling snake oil or an engineer. Doug and David Livingston are really the only two that view space commerce as an industry, not a stunt or missionary quest.

  • savuporo

    Do you have a Patreon account ? I’ll be happy to contribute a few bucks a month – supporting a few other writers there.

  • Bennett In Vermont

    Done.

  • ReSpaceAge

    Bigelow is looking

  • Hemingway
  • Chris Welch

    I would second the idea of using Patreon. I support a couple of webcomics with a small but regular payment and it works very well – set it up once and then forget. Meantime, I’m off to hit the PayPal button. Keep up the good work!

  • savuporo

    Hope Doug picks up on this.

  • Perhaps you could add a forums link to your page. NasaSpaceFlight.com gets the most traffic, and therefore the most advertising revenue, due to its forums.
    A forum on your page could fill a void left when SpacePolitics.com shutdown when its owner Jeff Foust became a writer for Spacenews.com.
    And like on NasaSpaceFlight you could have a separate for-pay section of the forums where insiders would discuss their knowledge of the inner workings of the industry. From your inside knowledge, you could also include info only available on the for-pay section.

    Bob Clark

  • Big Bang

    Can I donate with Bitcoin?