September 19th, 2011
When a recipe works it is generally riffed on by countless cooks. Each riff becoming its own unique dish and, chances are, riffed on once again.
John Gruber’s Daring Fireball is a recipe that is working and the cooks are busy in the kitchen adding a pinch of this, a pinch of that and seeing what works for them.
So far none of these recipes have become better, in this blogger’s opinion, than its master recipe but several have certainly managed to create their own dish that works well enough to feed their own mouths.
What is the Daring Fireball recipe? It consists of the following:
- 1 multiple-times-per-day updated link log.
- 1 not-so-frequently updated blog with longer, well-written posts.
- 1 (or two) audio podcasts (to taste).
- 1 weekly RSS feed sponsorship.
- 1 well-curated image-based ad on each page view.
From outward appearances this recipe nets Daring Fireball a very decent sum – which is why the cooks are in the kitchen. With no inside information here is what one can surmise based on what is public knowledge.
The three main ways Daring Fireball generates revenue is through its weekly RSS feed sponsorship, The Deck Ad Network, and sponsorship of 5by5 Network’s The Talk Show. Daring Fireball also uses affiliate links and sells Tshirts from time-to-time but I do not believe these to be major contributors to its profit. They may both contribute to its ability to generate revenue but I believe the bulk of its profit come from the three channels I’m covering here. Without knowing more about how The Deck Ad Network and The 5by5 Network distribute revenue it is impossible to know exactly how much revenue goes to Daring Fireball but we can do exactly what the other cooks are doing; make assumptions and get close.
Daring Fireball currently charges $6,500 USD per week to sponsor the RSS feed. This recently increased from $6,000 within the last few weeks, and increased to that not too long ago from $5,000 USD and so on. So to figure out the yearly revenue generated through this single sponsorship program would depend on where you start and end the year. But, lets jump out on a limb and say that a weekly sponsorship has cost at least $5,000 for the last year. That’d be about $260,000 USD per year from the RSS feed sponsorship. At $6,500, should it maintain or go up higher from here, it’d be $338,000 USD for the next year.
The Deck, of which Daring Fireball is only 1-of-52 members, has a current cost of $8,300 USD per month. Or, sponsors can pay to buy a day, called a “roadblock”, for $8,300 per day. With 27 sponsors in the month of September that is about $224,000 USD generated. (Assuming The Deck had sold absolutely no “roadblock” ads. If they had it’d be significantly more.) I’m assuming that The Deck distributes revenues based on a traffic-based model of sorts (more page views == more moolah) but I don’t know exactly. But even if you were to split this revenue evenly among all parties that’d be nearly $8,300 per month for Daring Fireball. Based on nothing other than my gut Daring Fireball’s 4M+ page views per month make up a fair amount of The Deck’s overall traffic and so, one could assume, that Daring Fireball gets a slightly larger share than my math suggests.
5by5 is currently charging $3,000 USD a month for its Livestream sponsorship (which The Talk Show does each week) and $3,000 for its bandwidth sponsorship as well as individual show sponsorships which they don’t publicize the price for. It is very difficult to tell how 5by5 would distribute this revenue but, again, I’ll make some assumptions. I assume that a bandwidth sponsorship is all for 5by5. Bandwidth is a bill that goes to 5by5 and not the hosts. Bandwidth for a show as popular as The Talk Show could easily be a few thousand dollars per month (not to mention editing costs, etc.) So if we take the bandwidth sponsorship off the table I can only assume that The Talk Show generates about $9,000 USD per month. $3,000 for the Livestream sponsorship, and $6,000 for the two episode-based sponsorships that are within the show. Plus donations, Tshirts? I think I’m underestimating the revenue-generating power of The Talk Show but I can’t be sure.
Not counting the revenue Daring Fireball generates with its affiliate links and tshirt sales; it is my assumption that Daring Fireball could generate upwards of $550,000 USD per year (going forward). And I believe I’m underestimating because my assumptions are probably low. Again, the affiliate links and tshirt sales are probably fairly good revenue generators but the bulk of Daring Fireball’s profit likely does not come from these two channels.
Why go through all of this to figure out how much revenue Daring Fireball generates? Because it is exactly what wannabe-pro-bloggers are doing every single day. They do this math based on the information they can gather and decide to take a stab at it themselves. And with Daring Fireball’s RSS feed sponsorship increasing every few months why wouldn’t they? And good for them. The more the merrier. I just have one request.
I hope that those that decide to use Daring Fireball’s recipe decide to do whatever they can to make it all their own. Don’t just add a little more salt and pepper – change the main course from fish to beef. Make every ingredient from your own garden and don’t use the same brand ingredients Daring Fireball does. Make something unique that will inspire others to do the same. Be a good cook not a copy cat.