Hello, all Decoded Writers! And – thank you so much for your contributions in 2015!
2016 is growing closer every day, and with the new year, Decoded will be making some changes.
Here’s the situation:
You may have heard complaints from other online websites and blogs – ad revenues are down, no one’s clicking anymore, ad-blockers are hiding ads, and advertisers just aren’t paying like they used to.
Unfortunately, as long as Decoded depends on ads for revenue, we will also be on that same cycle of ad-chasing… If one ad won’t bring in enough money, we’ll add two. If two isn’t enough, we’ll bring in another ad company, and make it three ads… or four… More ads and more ads, less and less revenue, more and more cluttered pages…. and it’s all contrary to our actual organization’s mission.
We are a non-profit organization, dedicated to providing the best possible information to our readers, and the Internet community.
Surrounding that information with more and more garish ads to keep things going simply doesn’t fit – it isn’t working, and it isn’t sustainable or scalable.
We’ve been looking for alternate solutions for some time. You may remember our attempt at making Decoded sites membership-based, and so on – all were failed attempts to raise enough funds to pay writers more – as well as covering server fees and other costs of doing business.
2015 has, however, brought one significant success. We’ve been approved for a Google advertising grant that’s worth close to $15,000 in free ads for 2016 – and an offer from Google to help me formulate ads that are most likely to bring in the most donations for projects like Decoded Pompeii, and creating curriculum and ebooks for students.
The grant comes with one catch, however: We can’t use the grant for any site that has Adsense ads running on it.
That means we’ll need to remove ads from all the sites in order to use the grant funds. No ads means no revenue, and if there’s no ad revenue, we (Decoded) will have no revenue to share with our writers.
A little history:
In 2011, Decoded started as an entirely revenue share website. Soon after, I began paying writers 1$ per article out of my own pocket. (For those who weren’t with us from the beginning, I founded Decoded Science in 2011 as a for-profit corporation) Then, I increased the per-article rate to 2$ per article, still out of my own pocket.
As time went on, we added more sites, and revenues increased enough for us to pay 5$ per article from site revenues, then 6$, and for a while now, after converting to non-profit status, we’ve offered 10$ per article to columnists only, in addition to revenue-share.
Now, however, when we discontinue advertising, we’ll have no ad revenue coming in, so we’re going to have to discontinue our Columnist bonus program (Although the designation of Columnist will still exist for those writers who exert themselves to consistently submit articles meeting those higher standards)
And… obviously, with no ad revenue to share, we won’t be able to provide any ad revenue-sharing funds to writers in that area either.
I realize that asking you to conform to Decoded’s strict standards, and at the same time, to do it as volunteers, is going to be a bridge too far for many.
Each and every one of you is a valued part of the Decoded family – even if you aren’t able to contribute any more. 🙂
If you won’t have time to write more in the future, on an in-kind donation basis, I will totally understand – and I want to say that I appreciate the time you took to write the articles you already have published on Decoded for, realistically, not even a fraction of what they were worth.
I’m going to be working on getting everything ready for the first of the month, but am always available for questions and concerns.
In advance, here are a few questions I think you might be asking yourselves. These are questions I’d ask in the same situation: (And if more questions arise, I’ll post answers here as well)
Q. I’m not getting paid revenue-share, so why are you keeping my articles? That doesn’t seem fair!
A. You’re totally right. Your articles belong to you, and if you’d rather remove them from Decoded, and publish them somewhere else, you have that right. Just email me, and I’ll take care of it.
Q. If you do start getting donations, why can’t you use them to pay the writers?
A. If someone donates money for us to send payments to writers – or donates money to have a certain topic covered – we will certainly use that money to pay the writer who’s covering the topic. Funds earmarked for server costs, costs of doing business, and special projects, however, must go to those areas to comply with non-profit laws and best practices.
Q. Why can’t you use the Google Grant to pay writers?
A. The Google Grant is only a grant of free advertising – it’s an in-kind donation, not a cash donation.
Q. Why are you making this change now? Why not wait a while, and see how ad revenue goes in 2016?
A. The recent award of the Google Grant is the impetus behind this change. Ad revenues are variable, and have been trending downward for quite some time, so this is really the best time to make the change.
Thanks so very much, everyone! 🙂