Today I’m launching a sustainability experiment with the Future Trends in Technology and Education report.
Several months ago I surveyed FTTE readers on a number of issues, including how best to sustain the report. It takes me a number of hours (roughly 35 per month, daily work) to develop and publish each monthly report, and until now I haven’t charged a dime for it, nor sought any other support. I considered it part of my ongoing research enterprise, a requirment of doing business. More benefits: I learn a tremendous amount from writing FTTE, and some people learn of my work through it.
Over time, though, that model might not be sustainable. It does take a lot of time, especially to do it right. Producing 20,000 words of it per year amounts to a book or two so far. Some readers asked me to consider various economic options, from paid subscription to advertising.
And yet I believe in the value of free, of contributing to the world openly. And yet I have bills to pay, and lack institutional support. And yet…
So, stymied, I asked the FTTE readership for their thoughts, giving them various options to choose from:
- No change! Keep it free.
- Pay what you like. This lets subscribers choose to contribute any amount, including nothing – i.e., free.
- Sponsorships. These would appear as ads in each report.
- Two tiers. This could be a free report (i.e., what FTTE now is) plus an extra analytical service available for a fee.
- Donations. These would be encouraged and optional.
- Subscription. All new FTTE subscribers would pay some price.
The two leading choices were donations and pay what you like, followed by sponsorships.
So, after much discussion and brooding, I’m implementing those suggestions. New subscribers can visit the new site (http://ftte.us/) and choose how much they’d like to pay, from nothing (free) to… whatever they prefer. Current subscribers can do nothing at all and still receive FTTE, or they can donate there. Heck, anybody can donate on that page.
Let us see how it goes. Will people contribute to the upkeep of FTTE? Will the allure of filthy lucre distort my priorities, driving me into a commercial frenzy (unlikely)? Will some people demand NPR-style pledge drives and goodies? The rest of 2015 alone holds the answer.
Once again, thanks to everyone who contributed their thinking on this fraught topic.
Bryan, I encourage anything that will help you sustain this undertaking. One question: Do you see there being significant marketing benefits to your business from FTTE or is it currently valuable to your business principally because of the ongoing research you mentioned in your post?
A bit of both, Roger. For marketing and outreach, there is some traction, but it usually runs the other way – i.e., people I speak to, consult with, otherwise work with subscribe after the event. Which is fine.
And thank you for the good wishes.
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