Monday, December 24, 2012

Merry Christmas from Frockwriter

melise williams, charlie brown AW13 backstage, auckland, september 2012 

Just a quick one to say Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of frockwriter's readers. It's been a bit of a watershed year for this blog – one during which, as many know, we took the controversial step of introducing a metered paywall. Oops. Unable to support ourselves through advertising alone and disinclined to accept potentially lucrative brand ambassadorships, sponsored posts and a raft of other commercial tie-ins from the industry on which we report - because of ethics considerations and genuine conflicts of interest - we assumed readers who value the blog for its independence would support it. Some have and a massive shoutout to our subscribers. Your support is truly appreciated - especially considering how flipping easy it has been for all those pesky freehadists (yes there's a term for you now) to defeat the paywall. In their thousands. I now have access to frockwriter's subscriber list and have been overwhelmed to learn just who these supporters are. So thank you!

Kjellsson scored some big figures – 313,000 unique visitors and 2.2million page views per month – and some major advertising campaigns, Net-A-Porter and Chanel among them. Some Australian fashion bloggers were initially disappointed they weren't invited to join the Fellt party. Kjellsson's choice of the word "journalists" to describe his eight-member editorial team also attracted some negative commentary.  

Seven months later, however, two of Fellt's launch bloggers have departed the project, with a third about to follow suit. And potentially more. Why? Noone wants to go on the record, but I have it on good authority that some of the bloggers believed that they could do more profitable – and far less transparent - deals with brands on their own. And that the need for disclosure of commercial relationships became a source of friction. 

That's the choice of those bloggers. 

Up until the point that bloggers are required by Australian law to disclose commercial relationships, moreover - as they now are in the US and UK - they can get away with it. This disclosure issue was arguably the key topic to emerge from Social Media Club Sydney's blog monetisation panel in October.  

Bottom line, I don't do under-the-table deals with advertisers. Indeed, I've been told by various parties that I would sell a lot more advertising if I did. 

I don't do sponsored posts. I don't accept gifts. Frockwriter's posts are not undisclosed advertorials that are posted in exchange for receiving free product - product which, in some cases, is then apparently also being sold on eBay.  

But I am an idealist and I would like to think I can continue to provide great independent fashion content. In order to do so, however, I simply have to monetize the blog.

It's not such a radical concept. 

While frockwriter appears to have been the first fashion blog to ask its readers for support, a British football blog called The Tomkins Times has been operating on a subscription basis since 2009

Take a moment to consider that. 

A subscription-based football blog has been funding itself primarily from ardent supporters who highly value its content for the past three years - before any major newspapers went behind the paywall. 

Unlike frockwriter, however, which has been operating on the easily-circumvented cookie-based paywall model, The Tomkins Times has server–protected content, so you have a simple choice when you hit the "This is a subscriber only article from The Tomkins Times" alert: you either consider the content is worth the subscription or you don't. 

While technical issues are resolved, I have come up with a short-term solution for getting frockwriter's highly-valued paid subscribers exclusive content that only they have access to. So stand by. 

Thanks again for your interest and support throughout the year. I look forward to your company in 2013. 


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