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Experiment #1: Will you pay us more than you have to?

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The media industry is notoriously difficult to make money in. There is so much digital content out there that getting people to pay for it is tough.

Other sites try to get around this in a lot of different ways. They put up display and pop-up advertising all over their sites. They try to blur the lines between content created by the site and content created by brands trying to sell you stuff. They give you misleading headlines in the hope you’ll click through.

Doing It A Different Way

At Kindling, one of the core tensions is: How do we make a positive impact, live our values, AND remain financially viable so we can make an impact well into the future?

It’s not easy, but we have a few ideas.

The main way Kindling makes money and stays viable is by selling memberships. With a Kindling membership you get unlimited access to all of our content. For non-members, you get three free articles every month. After that, you either pay for a membership or wait until the next month. This is called a “metered paywall.”

NOTE: Memberships are basically just subscriptions, but we like the feeling of community implied by “member.” We want you to feel like you are an active contributor to our community, not just passively receiving information once a month.

“Pay What You Want.” Are We Stupid?

Kindling memberships are offered under a “Pay What You Want” model. Basically, you can get unlimited access to Kindling content for as little as $1 per month. You can also pay more if you want.

We hope that this makes Kindling content accessible to as many people as possible. We don’t want reading our content to be a financial burden. We also hope by making the barrier to entry low, we can build a community of as many paying (and therefore engaged and committed) members as possible.

But here’s the rub. We’re not going to make it if every member pays just $1 a month and calls it good. So – how many people will willingly pay more than they have to?

The Experiment

If we offer something that is truly of value and conduct business with integrity and in alignment with values you share, will you pay more than you have to?


Thanks for reading! Can you chip in $3 a month? For the price of a cup of coffee, you can bring at least one person into our community every month and get exclusive content from my upcoming book “Humanity is beautiful.” 

Peter Schulte

Peter Schulte is the founder and editor of Kindling. Peter is also Senior Digital Engagement Associate for the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, connecting businesses to sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham, WA, USA with his wife, son, and cat.

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