Just a few minutes ago, I announced on a stage in New York that Blendle is launching in the U.S. You can sign up for our Beta right now. It’s first come, first serve.
This is the most thrilling moment in Blendle’s history so far. Blendle started as a big experiment in Europe, but it’s working. Already, we’ve become one of Europe’s favorite ways of discovering and reading high quality journalism. Well over half a million people are getting their journalism on Blendle in The Netherlands and Germany today, reading some of the world’s best reporting, including from The New York Times and The Economist. Now we’ll bring Blendle to America. As journalists ourselves, we’re looking forward to being less reliant on advertising, making clickbait obsolete and strengthening journalism, one of the most important pillars of democracy.
But why? And how?
This tweet by Medium founder Ev Williams sums up a big problem we face today on the web:
Quality journalism doesn’t have a great user experience nowadays. We’re bombarded with ads, and the most trusted names in journalism are putting more and more stories behind paywalls. For which you have to register again and again. And pay for the bundle while you’ll maybe only want to read a couple of articles.
My co-founder Marten and I always believed that this is not how it should be. We both were journalists before we became startup-founders. We wanted one place to read the best journalism in the world. Without paywalls, without ads, without clickbait. Where it’s easy to find the most relevant stories from the best newspapers and magazines, without all the noise and distraction of our Facebook Newsfeeds. We envisioned a place where you’d only pay for the articles you actually read, and where you, the reader, had the ultimate response to do something (if for example we were duped by a headline): get your money back. We thought back then, with as much conviction as we do now, that great journalism is worth paying for. And that people are actually willing to pay, as long as there’s an incredibly easy and beautiful way.
So, we went ahead and made Blendle.
This is your homescreen. A selection of articles from the best newspapers and magazines in the world, especially for you.
We keep track of which publications you like, and serve you based on that. But we also help you escape the filter bubble, and recommend good stuff from magazines and newspapers you would have never discovered in your Facebook Newsfeed, based on your reading behavior. We keep track of what articles your friends liked and combine those into the mix too. And finally, and most importantly, we employ editors who read everything, and make hand picked selections of the best stuff. Yes. Actual humans. (We’re hiring, btw)
Blendle is a great way to only see the best premium journalism, tailored for you. Without the noise. Without clickbait. Without ads.
Pay per article
Every time you open an article, you pay a small amount, for most articles only a few cents. The money comes out of your Blendle wallet, which you can top up using your credit card. It works seamlessly (and got us some praise from the good people at Quartz who called our design “remarkably executed” and praised us for an “Apple-like sense of detail”. That was a good day). If you didn’t like a story, we’ll refund you immediately.
Our experience in The Netherlands and Germany shows that less than one in ten of the articles get refunded.
But when publishers put clickbait on Blendle, refund percentages skyrocket: Some gossip articles, for example, sometimes see return rates up to 50%.
People will only pay for reporting they find worth their money. So on Blendle, only high quality journalism starts trending.
Great reading experience
Just like in Europe, you’ll be able to find U.S. premium publications on one platform. And we made sure that publications keep their look and feel. The Economist, for example looks like The Economist, with their fonts, colors and photos. Sometimes we feel like a font foundry, using more than 300 different fonts on our site.
It all means that Blendle’s reading experience is unlike any other reading experience on the web. It looks beautiful, if I do say so myself. We did a lot of stuff to improve readability, and: did I mention there are no ads?
Personal email newsletter
Every day we’ll send you an email with a small number of outstanding stories, picked by our editors. The most relevant excellent stories of the day. Everything is tailored to you: the moment that you get the email during the day, the order and selection of the stories and the kind of sources and journalists you like to read.
So, we took newspapers apart to make Blendle. But we also put them right back together for Blendle. You can read full issues of your favorite magazines and newspapers — just like the real thing, but on your screen. The biggest difference: you don’t have to buy the whole magazine or get a subscription to buy one article — you just tap on the story you want to read, and it magically appears on your phone, your tablet or your laptop in the perfect format — and you just pay for only that one.
If you love quality journalism and want to support it, Blendle is the place for you.
You can think of Blendle as a key to the world’s best journalism. In the U.S. we already have a great number of very exciting partners, and soon we’ll be able to name names — we’ll do that when we welcome the first users in our beta. But what’s most important: we’re aligning the incentives of journalists with those of readers, not advertisers. Suddenly, there’s a competition of quality writing, not SEO trickery. A competition for the best story, not the cheapest hot take. A competition for real, valuable reporting that makes people fall in love with journalism all over again. And will make sure that it survives.
Join our beta. Give us feedback. Help us in our mission. You can sign up right here.
And if you like Blendle, please recommend our story. Thank you.