Today’s Thoughts: Feb. 11, 204: We Need… Advertisers

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All – thoughts pic

It’s been an up – and down – roller coaster since we de-Google-ized last fall. Initially, we received a heartening level of individual reader financial support. Dom and I entertained the happy thought that, just maybe, we could make this work on that basis. That is, generate enough income directly from our readers in the form of individual donations, such that we not only could escape Google, we could escape anything like Google. Not have to pepper the site with intrusive ads of the “pennies per click” sort. We hoped that we’d get a critical mass percentage of the site’s approximate 100,000 monthly visitors – roughly, a consistent 10 percent of these on a rotating basis – to support the site on an ongoing basis. The problem we’ve had – that we’re continuing to wrestle with – is realizing that.We’ve had good months – and terrible ones.

Hence my recurrent appeals.

We’re in this Catch 22 position of having plenty of traffic and readers, but not enough revenue coming in on a regular basis to make this other than a very peripatetic and uneasy situation for myself and Dom. We both want to maintain and grow EPautos, to get people thinking about liberty via (excuse me, I had to) the vehicle of Car Talk – to devote everything we have in terms of our time and energy toward that end. We basically have full-time jobs here – but (very) part-time pay.

It’s a problem.

We don’t think putting the site on a subscription basis is viable or even the right thing to do if it were. We’re not big enough – and even if we were, I’d still be opposed. I want the message to get out, to get as many people thinking about self-ownership and the NAP as possible. And I understand that not everyone can support us financially. That for many, even $10 a month is more than they can afford. I also prefer to practice the Libertarian ideal of voluntary exchange. If people like the articles, the ideas, the comments, the camaraderie – then (hopefully) they’ll toss in.

The trick is getting enough to do so regularly – just like people do when they pick up a copy of a magazine that comes out once a month. Only EPautos comes out pretty much every day. I try not to let more than 48 hours go by without putting up a new main rant – and lesser rants (and news stories, etc.) do go up every day. We put out a lot of material – both the columns and the comments. My average is four new columns each week, so about 16 per month – plus everything else. My workload here is much greater now than when I was a full-time editorial writer/columnist at The Washington Times.

I can’t put a value on my columns, the community we have here, the site itself. Only you, the readers can do that. But I have to calculate the value of my time and effort – as does Dom. I’d like to be able to spend most of the day here – as I have been doing. Having Dom on hand to deal with hacks, spam and general troubleshooting is also a very big deal. This site is stable because of him. If he weren’t on patrol, outages (and lesser problems which are fixed before you guys are even aware there is a problem) would almost inevitably become more frequent.

We have managed to get a couple of ads – Austin Coins and Valentine 1. But we need several more, minimally three more – to be in a position to rely on the income from them primarily rather than income from direct reader support.

We’re open to your ideas; maybe there is something we’ve not thought of. Maybe there is some aspect of the site’s layout or function that could be improved.

But, the bottom line is we’re struggling with this thing.

Will you help?

The link to our “donate” button is here. You can also support us via snail mail  – if you prefer to avoid PayPal. The address is:

721 Hummingbird Lane, SE
Copper Hill, VA 24079

Thanks – again – to everyone. We literally could not do this without you.


  1. Ideas:
    -The Libertarian Party
    -Camp Supplies/General Survivalist supplies. Heaters and Generac also come to mind.
    -Gun advertisements? Perhaps write about your weapon preferences/collection, or does that fall under “survivalist”?

    Maybe more general, and less related/relevant ads:
    -Destination America maybe? They do some weird “redneck” stuff on there.
    -New cell phones (Verizon Moto G, HTC One Max), cell plans to go with them, -Operating systems (windows 8 and any new computers)
    -I’m sure Florida, Texas, and Arizona and the such are “open for business” and they could advertise here. Plus they can advertise their tourist areas and warm weather on your winter articles. 😛
    -Advertise cameras, such as camera you use on youtube? Though it doesn’t pick up sound well.

    -Look at “Saabkyle04” and “2theRedline” on youtube. Both are great vehicle tour channels. You could do something similar, like you’re already doing, but make your tours slightly more formulated and consistent than they are now, i.e: Once around exterior, look at interior, look at gauges and center stack, start the car up, look at engine, conclude. About 4 minutes long. Short and sweet, keep your opinions of the car humble, exactly like your previous videos. Put a link to EPautos in the description of each youtube video. If you get a following on youtube, MONETIZE your videos. There will be ads before your video and you’ll get some money. I’m not sure on the specifics though.

    In fact, I’m not sure how any of this works, but hopefully this text I’ve regurgitated contains at least one viable idea for you guys 🙂

  2. Eric, here are the 6 steps to using USP for success:

    Step 1: Describe Your Target Audience
    Step 2: Explain the Problem You Solve
    Step 3: List the Biggest Distinctive Benefits
    Step 4: Define Your Promise
    Step 5: Combine and Rework
    Step 6: Cut it Down

    Here are some famous USP examples to get you started.

    Head & Shoulders: “You get rid of dandruff”
    Anacin “Fast, fast, incredibly fast relief.”
    Domino’s Pizza: “You get fresh, hot pizza delivered to your door in 30 minutes or less—or it’s free.”
    FedEx: “When your package absolutely, positively has to get there overnight.”
    M&M’s: “Melts in your mouth, not in your hand.”
    Metropolitan Life: “Get Met. It Pays.”
    Southwest Airlines: “We are the low-fare airline.”

    • It may be time to retire from the field.

      It used to be possible to make a living as a writer. I don’t mean get rich – in all seriousness I never cared about that. Still don’t. But, one could get by. There were jobs for reporters, editors, columnists, authors. Such still exist today, but in decimated numbers. Making it today is not unlike the odds of making it into the NFL. Possible, and richly rewarded for the few who do. But very few ever do.

      The mid-tier has been cut away. Example:

      Just a few years ago it was possible for a mid-tier writer such as your humble narrator to write a book for a mid-tier publisher and get a four figure advance plus royalties. Today, largely because fewer and fewer people are willing to buy a hard-copy (physical) book, advances are slim to nonexistent and royalties a small fraction of what they were due to the much lower retail price of an “e” book. Yes, in theory, you could do well because you – as the writer and publisher – get all the returns rather than a percentage of the cover price. But the problem is that without marketing and promotion muscle behind you (the chief service provided by a publisher) you’re basically whispering in a thunderstorm. Maybe you’ll get noticed; maybe – by word of mouth – interest in the book will spread. Maybe. Anything is possible.

      But likely? No.

      Commercial success – even a decent payday – is (again) like making it into the NFL. Or winning the lottery.

      It’s great that publishing independently is now very easy; wonderful that so much material is so widely available so inexpensively. But as it becomes less and less economically viable to write as other than a hobby, there will – inevitably – be fewer and fewer people who can afford to write at all.

      I am working on my first “e” book – and we’ll see how it goes.


      Before online became dominant – when print was the shit – a glossy mag would pay $1,500 (or more) for a single 2,000 word piece. Today? You’re lucky if they pay anything, but the typical payday is $150. In effect, you – as a writer – are now in the position of needing to sell six or seven 2,000 word articles to earn the same money that one article brought you just a handful of years ago. No matter how motivated and hard-working one may be, there are only so many hours in the day… .

      It’s not just writers (and editors) either. It’s almost everyone. This new economy has more and more people working much harder, much longer – for much less money. I’m no leftie, but there is truth to the complaint that – to a very great extent – the only people benefiting from this are the corporate/connected people at the apex of the pyramid.

      I don’t know how it will all play out – and we will each of us have to cope with the situation as best we can.

      • It’s a sad tale you tell, eric. I think – maybe – I’m glad I never went down that path. Not that i ever could have, …

        But I always wanted to.

        At least you did what you did, eh?

      • Joss Whedon’s “I Write…”

        Gary Provost
        “This sentence has five words. Here are five more words. Five-word sentences are fine. But several together become monotonous. Listen to what is happening. The writing is getting boring. The sound of it drones.
        It’s like a stuck record. The ear demands some variety.

        Now listen. I vary the sentence length, I create music. Music. The writing sings. It has a pleasant rhythm, a lilt, a harmony. I use short sentences. And I use sentences of medium length. And sometimes, when I am certain the reader is rested, I will engage them with a sentence of considerable length, a sentence that burns with energy and builds with all the impetus of a crescendo, the roll of the drums. The crash of the cymbals – sounds that say listen to this, it is important.”

        Chuck Palahniuck
        “In six seconds, you’ll hate me.
        But in six months, you’ll be a better writer.
        From this point forward – at least for the next half year – you may not use “thought” verbs. These include: Thinks, Knows, Understands, Realizes, Believes, Wants, Remembers, Imagines, Desires, and a hundred others you love to use.

        The list should also include: Loves and Hates.
        And it should include: Is and Has, but we’ll get to those, later. Until some time around Christmas, you can’t write: Kenny wondered if Monica didn’t like him going out at night…”

        Instead, you’ll have to Un-pack that to something like: “The mornings after Kenny had stayed out, beyond the last bus, until he’d had to bum a ride or pay for a cab and got home to find Monica faking sleep, faking because she never slept that quiet, those mornings, she’d only put her own cup of coffee in the microwave. Never his.”

        Instead of characters knowing anything, you must now present the details that allow the reader to know them. Instead of a character wanting something, you must now describe the thing so that the reader wants it. Instead of saying: “Adam knew Gwen liked him.”

        You’ll have to say: “Between classes, Gwen was always leaned on his locker when he’d go to open it. She’d roll her eyes and shove off with one foot, leaving a black-heel mark on the painted metal, but she also left the smell of her perfume. The combination lock would still be warm from her ass. And the next break, Gwen would be leaned there, again.”
        In short, no more short-cuts. Only specific sensory detail: action, smell, taste, sound, and feeling.”

        Raymond Chandler

        Simon Pegg

  3. Yeah, I’m glad you understand how it is. This place is definitely worth it. I just genuinely don’t have anything. If that changes, I’ll support this site gladly. Right now, though, it is what it is.

    Even if my situation changed though, there would be lots of others. And as you say, the younger generation, despite lack of financial resources, is extremely important.

    Thank you for this site. I love it. Great place to discuss liberty with like minded people.

  4. Eric, have you considered approaching some of the “prepper” suppliers, guns and gear manufacturers, and things like that? I’ve always been surprised that your site does not include ads for cars, car parts, accessories, etc. Seems to me there are plenty of options in that direction. I know people are spoiled and don’t like to see a bunch of ads anywhere in the blog world especially, but if they don’t like the alternative…

    I think perhaps a six month or yearly subscription to a premium page – without ads – might work better than a monthly deal. Try announcing that you’ll accept silver, bitcoins or anything short of dead chickens and boxes of potatoes. LOL And that might even work at some point. Who knows?

    In other words… just wondering if you are exploring ALL of the possibilities.

  5. @jcard21- I don’t think Eric is saying it would be unlibertarian to charge money for his website, only that he’d rather provide the info for free so more people could wake up to libertarian ideas.

    • Exactly, David.

      I was about to reply to your earlier post. I do not want to restrict the site to only those who can afford to support it. People like you. College-age people simply (in most cases) do not have the means. I know I didn’t when I was 19. And it is the people in your age group who matter the most as far as the struggle for the future. Because it’s people your age who have the greatest stake in that future.

  6. A constructive suggestion:

    From my point of view, the above article is all about you, and what you want.

    If you like begging for donations, you’ll be writing the above article every other month.

    If you think your articles are different from everywhere else, and are valuable TO YOUR READERS (me!), you need to write an article on your USP (Unique Selling Proposition).

    Tell us (me!) the unique benefits TO YOUR READERS (me!) that your articles provide. Then, require people to subscribe, for a fee! You can still give away some free articles. Just put some others behind a pay wall.

    Without articulating OUR (my!) quantifiable benefits, you are whistling in the wind.

    PS: People are willing to pay MORE for things they WANT than for things they NEED.

    • Hi JC,

      Not even the NYT has been able to make a fee-for-service model work. Online stuff is too easy to access for free. Of necessity, we have to depend on people being willing to financially support what they can get for free. It’s the nature of the beast. It’s much harder to obtain a print magazine or even a (hard copy) newspaper for free. It is extremely easy to obtain virtually any article that has been put online for free. In effect, what we do here – what almost all online publishers do – is exactly like an honor system food store. People are free to take whatever they wish – and pay, or not.

      It’s not about what I want, either.

      It’s about whether a sufficient number of people out there deem this site, its contents, worth their support. I articulated exactly that, or so I’d hoped.

      You – and everyone else – must decide whether the articles here are “are different from everywhere else, and are valuable TO YOUR READERS.”

      We’ll see.

      I merely state the fact that I cannot – and Dom cannot – do what we do here, to the extent that we do (full-time, literally every day and seven days a week) as a hobby. The reality is we’re neither of us independently wealthy. Dom codes for a living, I write for a living. If we can’t make a living doing these things here, inevitably, we’ll have to do them somewhere else.

      • I believe you … you cannot do it.

        If you said you could do it, I also would have believed you.

        Take a look at

        He gives away free articles, sends out a weekly email Sat mornings, and also has current articles, question-and-answer forums, dozens of free books, and article archives.

        He charges $14.95/month.

        His website is just one example that is working.

        Especially read:

        Maybe you can get some ideas you can model on your website.

        PS: In case you didn’t understand my original comment, between the lines, I was asking you why I should send you money … you didn’t tell me.

        I hope this followup comment helps you achieve success.

        Good luck!

        • We may have to try that; I’m just very reluctant to do so as other than a last recourse because it means shutting out people who literally can’t afford to support the site financially but who nonetheless benefit from the dialogue. The object – my purpose – is to be a part of the movement away from a society based on coercion to one based on voluntaryism.

          As far as: “I was asking you why I should send you money … you didn’t tell me.”

          I thought I had. If you read/value the articles and are able to support their production and propagation, then doing so seems like a quid pro quo arrangement. Very much of a piece with those honor system vegetable stands. If the tomatoes are worth taking, then they’re worth paying for.

          I can’t make you pay, of course.

          That’s a decision for you to make.

          • As I’ve said before, your site is definitely worthwhile, but I don’t have a dime that isn’t going to college.

            If/when my financial situation changes, I definitely think you guys deserve support, I just don’t have anything.

            I’m here for moral support, though.

          • I hadn’t planned on commenting again, but …

            “The object – my purpose – is to be a part of the movement away from a society based on coercion to one based on voluntaryism.”

            I agree, but it sounds like you think coersion is making someone pay for something they value MORE than their money.

            When someone trades their money for a product or service, 1) it is voluntary, and 2) BOTH parties are wealthier (in their minds) than before the trade! … otherwise they never would have agreed to the trade.

            In order to make a trade, BOTH parties must value the other’s property MORE than their own … it’s NEVER an EQUAL trade (in their minds). They are BOTH wealthier after the trade.

            They may later have buyer’s remorse, but at the time of the trade, BOTH parties consider themselves wealthier.

            Just something to consider.

            • Who is “making” anyone pay for anything?

              I’ve simply put it to the readers: If you value this site, then please consider supporting it. That’s all.

              If you don’t value it, don’t support it. Quid pro quo. Value for value.

              Or – not.

              PS: I’m just speculating here, but Gary North is an older guy. He may have the advantage of a lifetime’s worth of work behind him – and not need to do more than cover his costs (servers, tech people, contributors, etc.). I’d love to be in such a position, but unfortunately, I’m not.

              It is very, very difficult to make a living as a writer and espouse the ideas espoused here. Neither Team Red nor Team Blue is your ally; indeed, both actively oppose and will do all they can to snuff you out. That is the reality.


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