What is AdFree.Press?
AdFree.Press allows readers donate to the websites they are reading constantly and in return see the resource without ads. It also enables the resource owners to sustain their business and get additional source of income. Especially in the time of rising ad-blockers, which make the process of running an internet resource harder than before. That’s why we think right now is the best time to switch from displaying ads to donation/patronage. Major resources (like WSJ) already switched to subscriptions, but smaller blogs don’t have that huge audience, but rather smaller but more loyal groups of people who would like to support their favorite website. And we see ourselves exactly there – connecting those websites and their readers in a nice and simple manner.
Where did the idea come from?
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My cousin and my friend have a blog with a stable audience of couple thousands people. And both of them want to bring more high-quality content to their readers, which takes a lot of time to create. So to compensate that time and earn a living they have to somehow monetize their websites. My friend tried putting ads on the website, but didn’t see any major success with them. My cousin is against ads because he thinks those are somehow unfair to his readers. And both of them agree that ads are at least ugly – honestly, who likes seeing them? That’s why we sat together to think about other ways of monetizing the content. Sponsoring was another way of advertisement, so we ruled that out as well. Then we thought: “wait, what if we let our readers help us?”. We ran through a couple of articles that mentioned the patronage business model and that it actually turns out to be great for smaller individual-ran businesses. That is when we decided to give it a shot.
What does the future hold?
We think it’s time to move over from ads. Most of the time they are blasted in your face by advertisers. Very often they are irrelevant and sometimes very nasty. We are thinking about an ad-free (there’s where part of the name came from) internet and we’re starting with press which in our opinion is the most creative and unfortunately most struggling section. You spend your time creating quality content, then building your audience, and ultimately have to slap ads all over your website or shut it down. This is not how we envision the future of independent online press.
What particular challenges are you facing?
Getting reach. Most of the startups fail not because of bad ideas (many of them are quite good actually) or bad execution (which doesn’t matter much on start) but because of the lack of audience. Bigger resources post mostly about bigger companies, and we get why, but it makes big companies bigger and smaller companies fade away before getting even the smallest traction. It’s the same as the 1% problem, but online. Thank God there are such companies like BetaList and others that help those with great ideas but with the lack of a huge network to ask votes on Product Hunt, connect with someone from the big media or spend $20k on a promo video. Because people spend time on building something that brings value to others, and not on public relations which doesn’t add anything to the product/service. There needs to be a change in spotlighting smaller products/services with the same rate as bigger ones are featured.