Finding a Model for Sustainable Paid Content at Mattermark

For every $1 spent on paid content by Mattermark, we’ll put in $2 until we reach a budget of $100,000 to hire our first full-time journalist.

This morning I launched an experiment to figure out if there is a market for premium content around startups; the kind that leverages data to answer questions about funding, valuations, traction, growth and more. To test it out I kicked off a pre-order campaign for the 2014 Mattermark Startup Traction Report on Gumroad and invited peope to pay whatever they want.

2.5 hours and $1,000+ of pre-orders later, we might be onto something here.

I have long sensed there is a hunger for startup reporting that goes beyond pre-packaged PR stories on funding rounds and product announcements. Whether it is data-driven analysis of trends or investigative deep dives in to a particular company, the challenge with ad-driven media models for industry coverage (read: all of the usual suspects with possible exception of Pando and GigaOm, who make most of their money from events) is that they need to worry about broad readership and ever-increasing pageviews.

What if we didn’t have to think about that?

What if subscription fees sustained content operations and we could completely focus on turning out great content, even if it was just one piece each day?

What if we happily wrote for an audience of a few hundred thousand people (our recent research shows just over 1 Million people are currently employed by un-exited tech startups)?

The Matching Model

I think a great way to make things move forward in Mattermark, where we are really not focused on content as a revenue source, is to throw down a challenge. For every $1 of revenue provided by our readership we will put in $2, until we reach $100,000 total. And we will use this money to hire a full-time writer on the Mattermark team.

If for some reason we can’t figure out how to earn $33,333 on content, or lose interest, or whatever… that’s fine, we just won’t make the hire. But if there is demand in the coming months as we continue to launch content we’ll use this money to make it happen.

Ready for a new era of startup journalism? We need your help to reach hit our goal and make this hire. Pre-order the 2014 Startup Traction Report today.