Re:Charged, what it is and where we’re going from here
I’m working on a new subscription service for Charged to try help cut through the noise that online publications continue to churn out, and get to the heart of what matters in tech for those that don’t have time to read clickbait. This document is an attempt to explain what I’m building and why, because I prefer building in the open. 🎉
P.S – Feel free to comment! This is mostly a working document for me as well!
What is it/why are you doing this?
I’ve run Charged weekly for over two years now and it’s grown massively despite minimal efforts from myself to market it, and very little in terms of direct effort for public exposure outside of people’s inboxes. I have a hundred ideas for building it out into something, and Re:Charged is just the first step in trying to build something useful and sustainable.
At first, you’ll be able to pay for a monthly subscription that gets you a daily newsletter (with the top 3-6 stories of the day digested in a few paragraphs and adding context/background that might be missing), community access, locked articles on the site and a few other features.
The money isn’t really intended for getting rich, buying fancy cars or going on a holiday, but unlocking two specific goals for me:
- The ability to keep Charged (weekly) running without ads forever
- Providing long-term value and building out the platform to offer even more!
I and it bummed me out, mostly because big companies + news sites have their own agendas to link to themselves, and get big. I think, with a little love and care, it’s possible to build something different.
How does it work?
I’ve seen stuff like Stratechery, which apparently makes a great business out of charging people for access, but I think it can be taken further if fully integrated as a newsletter, community and exposing both of those things outside of the confines of the inbox. I want to build out a small community of enthusiastic — and supportive — readers who really value content that saves them a bunch of time, and stops having to drink from this ever-moving firehose that is the news.
For me, this isn’t so much about scale, but . To spell it out even more explicitly: it’s about building the precise opposite of the big news companies’ strategies, and doubling down on small, but impactful relationships with readers
Right now, I’m planning to launch with the following offers:
- $7/month for full ‘re:charged’ access
- $80/year for full re:charged’ access
- $3/month ‘supporter’ tier for community access/donations (but this won’t really be marketed).
- Something else for loyal long term people, but still TBD.
I have no idea if it’ll work! But I did a survey on weekly subscribers who were surprisingly receptive to a product like this (about 1,000 of 2,000 respondents said they’d consider paying, and 7-800 of those in the price bracket I’m looking at)… so I consider it an experiment in seeing how/if this can scale under the earlier assumption: if you can find 1,000 true fans perhaps it’s possible to make this alternative way work.
Basically, I have no idea yet, but I have a hunch it’ll work! 😂
What do I get?
At launch just a handful of things, but I hope it’ll grow over time:
- A daily newsletter (think NextDraft, but tech-focused), surfaced outside your inbox for sharing (and optional web push instead of newsletter)
- Community access
- Locked article access
Some future offerings on my roadmap, but I can’t promise anything will actually happen:
- Surface content from newsletter in website, make it sharable with tokens so others can read it.
- Separate out content blocks from newsletter so you can load them/share specific little bits
- Deeper experiences, on a topic at a time, leveraging the web for storytelling
- ‘Why earnings matter’ area with interactive + compelling charts on interesting companies and what all these random numbers mean (rather than a bunch of crappy excel charts)
- Forum vs real-time chat platform
- use analytics/preferences to swap our newsletter sections depending on preferences
- Live podcasts
What are you actually building?
I’ve been hinting at it on Twitter for a while, but it’s a few things. I noticed a gap in the market for communities of people with common interest, without the trolls or the noise. If you think of Hacker News, you probably think of horrible comments but enjoy the news you find there. Combining the two, and building a positive, useful community is an interesting challenge for me… and I can enhance that value by curating all of those news sites I’m already reading.
It’s really early, and I’m working on getting a beta into the world ASAP. Here’s how it looks as of today. It’s clearly a MVP until I can get a designer to take a look at it:
If you take Stratechery and build on a compelling experience for users, it gets interesting...and can turn into a wider play in the future. What if you can sign up for an account, pay in one place and choose the benefits you want? Rather than making you work for it, it all lives in your account — and surfaces interesting people/stories/etc right there.