What’s TWiT Worth To You?

When I first started doing podcasts under the TWiT banner it was little more than a hobby. How that hobby has grown, from two audio-only shows in April 2005 (The Tech Guy radio show and “this WEEK in TECH”) to over 15 shows plus 40 hours a week of live video streaming. TWiT is now a full-time business employing seven people at the TWiT Cottage in Petaluma and a dozen more contractors all over the world.

My original plan was to run TWiT solely on your contributions, and indeed, you have been very generous. I always liked the idea of the audience supporting the network. It’s the best way for us to know whether we’re on the right track or completely off track. You got us started, but the expansion of TWiT over the past four and a half years required more money than listeners were willing to give. That’s why we started taking advertising. We never have more than one ad per half hour of programming, and we’ve limited advertisers to a handful of products I personally use and can endorse. These companies: AOL, Cachefly, Citrix, Audible, Astaro, Drobo, Squarespace, Carbonite, Visa, Google, and Ford have helped us improve our quality, increase our variety, and become more of what you wanted. We’re very grateful to our contributors for getting us started and our advertisers for keeping us going.

Lately, however, I’ve been wondering (and some have been asking) what role contributions play in an ad-supported network. The money is very helpful, certainly, but it only covers a small percentage of our operating expenses. I like being able to provide listeners with a way to show their support for what we are doing, but the connection between what we do and what you pay is getting more tenuous all the time. I want to get back to the old days where your contribution really meant something. So I’m going to make a change that gives your contribution vastly greater importance; to give you a way to vote with your dollar (or pound or Euro or peso).

Wouldn’t it be great if customers could determine how a much company’s chief executive is paid? Well I can’t speak for AT&T or Apple, but at TWiT that’s exactly what we’re going to do.

Up to now I’ve been taking my pay from TWiT’s general fund (along with all the other employees). Not any more. From now on you’ll pay me directly with your contributions. I won’t take a penny out of the operating funds.Think of your contributions as a tip jar. If you like what I’m doing with TWiT I hope you’ll contribute $2 a month (or more or less depending on what TWiT is worth to you). If you are unhappy with our direction, you can cancel your contribution completely. Believe me, I’ll notice. Your contributions will have a direct impact on how TWiT is run – because they’ll have a direct impact on my personal bottom line.

I should say that I do have a “day job.” My Tech Guy radio show pays enough to support me and my family, so I’m not risking bankruptcy with this plan, but the money I make from TWiT has a significant impact on my income, so your contributions will send a very clear message.We’ll publish the amount monthly so you can see exactly what I’m making before taxes and adjust your contributions accordingly.

Many of you have existing recurring contributions with TWiT through Paypal. You can’t change the amount directly, but you can cancel by logging into your Paypal account and going to the History->Subscriptions page. We’ll keep the $2, $5, and $10 buttons at TWiT.tv for those who prefer an automatic monthly contribution, and there’s a one-shot button you can use to put in a little bit from time to time. You can also mail contributions directly to TWiT, Box 1018, Petaluma, CA 94953. Please only contribute what you think TWiT is worth; only what you think I’m worth. Don’t worry, our staff and hosts will continue to get paid out of our advertising revenue (and I’m proud to say we pay well and offer great benefits and will continue to do so).

I’ve worked hard to make TWiT an entertaining and informative resource for the technophile, but only you can determine how much that’s worth. From now on when I say that your contributions are very important to me, you can believe it! And if you’re happy (or unhappy) with what we’re doing you can let me know directly and with a significant impact. I think this is the right way to run a business, and I’m pleased to put my income in your hands.

As always, thanks for your support for TWiT. We’re here because you listen and watch. We couldn’t do it without you.

Leo

Posted via email from Leo LaPosterous

63 Replies to “What’s TWiT Worth To You?”

  1. I don’t see who benefits from this.
    How will it make TWiT any better?
    It’s a bit rude to ask for “tips”.
    Continue paying yourself properly.
    Ask for extra contributions if they are actually needed.

  2. I wonder also how much profits is twit making. I understand Leo does not have to say how much that is. I just think he once said advertisers are paying as much as 8000 dollars for a 1-2 minute ad, and that shows usually have 3 or even 4 ads. All that money sounds to me enough to pay much more than a few salaries, and it’s been all this time without even having any other place than odtv.me to download video versions of the shows up to several days after the live broadcasts.

  3. Leo,Your taking an honest and a straight forward approach and I commend you for that. After all the knowledge I’ve gained from listening to your shows I can’t repay you enough. Though, I’m only 16 and earning minimum wage so I can’t support you as much as I would like to. I’m glad you decided to keep donations because it allows the listener to directly influence TWIT and help make it possible.
    Keep up the amazing work.
    Cheers,
    Colin Ferris

  4. I have always felt frustrated that your donation amounts weren’t higher Leo. I love the shows, mention them all the time during my presentations around the world and wait for the latest editions with an anticipation akin to Christmas. When people say no one wants to pay for anything on the internet I point out that here I am paying one guy the equivalent annually of about a third of the licence fee that I am required to pay the BBC and being more than happy to do so.

  5. Great idea, Leo! I was about to cancel my $2/month donation after hearing you talk about it on a couple of shows (forget which ones), so your post came in the nick of time for me. I’ll keep on donating, *someone* has to pay your salary. 🙂

  6. I don’t think moneys the issue as much as staying in touch with reality and keeping your life in balance with disciplines etc… The more you get the more you’ll have to give. Money is not evil just the love of it!

  7. If you are truly interested in knowing what people want, here’s what I would like to see. I have been listening since the beginning of the network and I consider myself a big fan.
    – Live video stream when you’re recording. No recorded video and no reruns (making that work right is too distracting from your main goal,which should be high quality content on the podcasts.) Stop buying crazy new hardware. Just have one camera with decent quality.
    – Focus on doing the best possible versions of these podcasts, and get rid of the rest:
       – TWIT (with less dig-erati and Twitter talk, more hard tech news)
       – SN
       – WW
       – MBW
       – TWIG
       – DGW
       – TWICH
    – Way less ‘meta-‘ talk (less discussion about the TwiT network). Stop talking about money. Stop talking about the ‘idea’ of the TwiT network and start talking about technology.
    – Given all this extra attention you have to give now, start actually listening to your co-hosts again (especially SN).
    – One commercial per show
    I guess basically what I’m describing is where you were roughly 12 – 18 months ago. That was the sweet spot. You are creating your own private tech bubble (having a ‘Director of Engineering’ and a CFO).
    On your current track, I think you are due to implode / burn out sooner rather than later once the money stops coming in as quickly as it is now. So even if you don’t take any of this advice, I think this is what you’re going to end up doing anyway.

  8. Interesting idea, but I think flawed.If advertising is far and away the biggest source of revenue, why risk alienating listeners by begging for donations – phrase it or spin it however you want, that’s what you’re doing.
    I do not currently donate, nor do I plan to. I have listened to several of your podcasts for a few years and will continue to do so. What would get me to donate would be an ad free version and I would gladly pay for that. You have said in the past that it is too much work to edit out the ads – with your growing staff perhaps you could revisit that idea. I happily pay for TV shows via the iTunes store to watch on my AppleTV, but those shows don’t have ads.
    As long as I’m commenting, I’ll make a pitch for less emphasis on video. If you want to recreate tech tv or your version of it have fun. Listeners like me, who listen in the car, or while running or working out when they can’t look at a screen, will have to find other sources of content for those activities. The video is fine if the audio doesn’t suffer and listeners are not continually reminded how much better it would be if we could watch.

  9. I used to listen to lots of TWIT shows regularly, but don’t anymore. Most shows (especially TWIT and Macbreak Weekly) sound like a couple of racist old men babling on for hours.Anytime Leo is on now on any show I know he’s going to be racist and cringeworthy. Just listen to the last East meets West he was on.
    There are so many better options out there and I can’t believe Leo make $1.5 million anually with these shows. Good luck with the new fundraising method. I for one won’t be listening.

Comments are closed.