The Three Things That Doubled My Paid Subscriptions (Now Four Things)

— I felt a certain and unmistakable sense of stagnation coming on

Greetings one and all,


Some months ago, early July to be precise, I had the bright idea of getting into doing more videos. I’ve had the channel for 16 years and put up a video from time-to-time. Now, I went all in, sometimes shooting several in a day. Without counting, it’s close to 100 new videos in 3 months. Initially it was going very well.

Two things have become apparent.

  1. Folks grew weary of the videos. I’m not entirely sure why, but perhaps I just suck at it and that’s all there’s to it, really.
  2. I was neglecting the primary focus of my own blog: writing, editing, and publishing substantive content. Shame on me for that.

So I’ve switched gears there. Still some videos, but done differently. I no longer care about monetizing YouTube; I care about better monetization of I’m mostly doing 2 types of videos now, one to serve the existing paying membership and the other, to attract new paying members.

  1. Videos that introduce, accompany, or otherwise enhance a substantive written post are published unlisted. That means they’re available to anyone with the link, but the embeds and links are all behind the paywall.
  2. For public consumption, I do 2-3 minute trailers of those videos in #1 in order to entice someone to hit the link in the description to the post, which is a paywalled post.


About three weeks ago, I was beginning to get the first tinges of becoming a tad bit weary of the videos, particularly as any sort of professional focus.

There’s probably two aspects to that.

  1. Watching the views and watch minutes decline at the same time I was upping my production-value game wasn’t very encouraging. I was ‘on the wrong bit, mate.’
  2. I never grow weary of writing and publishing blog posts. And, readership or membership stats are not my primary motivation. The pure joy of writing something I’m pleased with is the motivation and I was missing that. Don’t forget, I’ve published over 5,000 posts in 19 years, a rate of a post every 1.4 days. Sound like I grow weary of it?

So, less video, more writing. Simple pimple, and I’m pleased with the route divergence.


I could kick the ever-livin’ shit out of myself for never thinking about asking for testimonials before.

And the silly thing is…sitting there in my hotel room on the last morning of my trip to Pattaya for my annual visa renewal, at 03.00, I wrote the first email asking for them, to paid subscribers only. I didn’t even think to create a form to input them, so paid members—some being readers for in excess of 10 years—began emailing them to me; and here I am on the 2-hr bus ride to Suvarnabhumi, occupying my time on my phone, manually inputting the 9 or 10 testimonials into the WordPress plugin app.

I had to wait until I was home to begin styling different views and shortcoding them into various places on the blog.


This went out a couple of nights ago to the Newsletter Subscribers. I didn’t think about this element and I should have because it’s been more than surprising.

I offered a Lifetime Membership option to the the existing levels of Free, Monthly, and Annual. Paid gets you everything, Free gets you about what you paid for, though I’ll toss out a previously-chewed bone that’s been left in the dirt, from time to time. Joking not joking.

Determining a fair price was straightforward enough. Annual is about a 30% discount on monthly. Lifetime is 5 years of annual up front ($250). Never pay again, full access to everything for life (whoever dies first), including all my multi-post projects (10 currently, soon to be 3 more) and a searchable 5,000+ post archive going back 19 years where I have written about everything—never single-issue blogging prison…where you have to contrive stupid and banal shit to post because you’re due…not because you have anything of genuine import to say.

Well it was about the 10th or 11th when I added the Lifetime option, and I got nothing for a day or two. And then BANG! Two Lifetime signups on the 12th, another on the 13th, a 4th on the 16th, and then two more in succession yesterday, the 19th. That’s six high-ticket (for a blog subscription) signups in 7 days.

Not bad. Good, even.

So, bottom line is that apparently, it makes sense to a good number of folks. A likely strong contributing factor is a belief and confidence that I ain’t goin’ anywhere. I hate to keep harping on it, but my performance over a consistent track record of 19 years is so astoundingly outlier it’s likely a world record for a 1-man-show blogging operation. Multi-author blogs, and those with a staff of helpers don’t count. Except for maybe 2-3 guest posts way long time ago, every single post was tapped out, edited, published, and then promoted by me, and me alone.


While I think the first 2 things contribute to the general direction and better results, the culmination of it—the pudding-proof—is in the testimonials…and the signup rate for new paid subscriptions has doubled, at least. And now, including the new option of Lifetime. A bit of confounding variable there, I know. Would I have gotten the 6 Lifetimes without the testimonials? I’ll never know.

…Interesting aside, a conversion from the Free Stuff Subscription level to one of the paid levels (Monthly, Annual, and Lifetime) is as rare as a Blue Moon. More on that, below. Almost all new paid subscriptions come from readers who are not free members. What do you make of that?

I can’t believe how awesome the testimonials are. I do believe they rival the best submitted anywhere in the world, and for a principal reason: they’re intelligent…not banal bullshit from groupies and fanboys.

I emailed a long-time friend of mine, a top-notch marketer and copywriter with decades under his belt and who commands very high fees for his services.

You have some rock-solid REAL testimonials there … awesome! […]

Hahaha … your “anti-marketing” is actually great marketing.

When everybody is YELLING urgent-urgent-urgent – you call them out and call a spade a spade – now you’re the most believable person in the room.

And the number one required element for effective persuasion is BELIEVABILITY.

Or, proof elements – being CANDID is an extremely strong proof element.

Which is why you do so well. You don’t suffer fools or listen to B.S.

And that—those identifications my friend is making—ladies and gentlemen, is weaved throughout those testimonials. Those folks know what they see and what they’re talking about.

Have you taken a scan through the TESTIMONIALS, yet? There are hard-punching EXCERPTS, too.


I can’t resist relaying that one level of membership has declined dramatically. Free level. Probably because I’m not working for free much, anymore. As I pointed out in this post just the other day, some people will never pay, no matter what.

So, fine. That’s the way it is. And, there is no marginal cost to having free subscribers. Nothing to lose, little-to-nothing to gain.

Where it gets amusing-to-hilarious though, is when I get a feedback from some of them telling me just why they’re canceling their FREE MEMBERSHIP.

That takes some kind of presumptuous hubris, right there.


I need more testimonials. And, of course…more members.


The price for membership is $10.00 per Month.


$10 billed monthly.



The price for membership is $20.00 every 3 Months.


$6.66 per month, billed quarterly.


The price for membership is $65.00 per Year.


$5.42 per month, billed annually.


The price for membership is $350.00 now.


Never pay again.

Memberships are $10 monthly, $20 quarterly, or $65 annually. The cost of two premium coffees per month. Every membership helps finance the travel to write, photo, and film from interesting places and share the experiences with you.

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