The daunting task of using poor-quality email software finally make it too hard to publish True by email every week, so I came up with an idea: publish it every other week.
I was still writing it every week, only in part because it was running in a number of newspapers. It was the online tech in what was still the “Dark Ages” of the Internet that was failing me.
Unfair to Real Fans
But what about the true True fans that really wanted to read every week’s installment?
After several months of reduced delivery, I come up with a solution: the “Premium Edition” — for a small fee, Premium subscribers would get the column every week, and with no outside advertising.
And since Premium subscribers would be, by definition, the most supportive readers, I also instituted a permanent 20 percent discount on True books.
Reaction was immediate: total and complete support — and a huge number of checks sent in the mail. (I didn’t have secure online ordering yet!)
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Years later, a writer in the Huffington Post theories “It might be the first example of an online ‘fre[e]mium’ business model.”
I was finally able to go back to weekly in October, after moving distribution to what I think was the first Email Service Provider, which was able to handle my huge list of recipients …which they could only do after they upgraded their servers.