Today is a big milestone here at The Cranky Flier. This is my 1,000th post. It has been nearly 3 years since my first post went live on August 15, 2006. It’s incredible to think that I’ve gone from that lame intro post to a site with more than 100,000 page views each month. (There have been 108,936 in the last 30 days.) It has been a great ride, and now it’s time for me to start thinking about what’s next. Hopefully you can help.
But first, let’s take a look at some fun-filled facts from the first 1,000 posts.
- Delta has shown up in the most posts, 112 to be exact. Southwest is second with 95, United third at 92, and US Airways fourth at 91.
- I have written about Alitalia 32 wonderful times. It’s been all too quiet lately, so I hope they screw something up soon.
- I’ve written about LAX 44 times, London/Heathrow 10 times, New York/JFK 9 times, and my personal favorite (now flightless) airport-to-hate, Palmdale, 8 times.
- My most commented-on post was the popular sweepstakes from last year that resulted in 299 comments
- Of the 13 Cranky Jackass awards, United has earned the most with three. (But only US Airways has earned the fire-red-with-anger Cranky Jackass)
Now let’s talk about the future. As you know, I put a lot of time into this blog, and I love every minute of it. That being said, it’s not exactly helping to pay many of the bills. Does that mean I’m stopping? Absolutely not. But it does mean that I need to look at ways of generating some more revenue without compromising the editorial integrity of the blog and without charging for what you already see.
So where does that leave me? With a couple options. First, I do offer freelance and consulting services (I have active clients now). If you have any projects that you would like to discuss, please send me a note at email@example.com.
Second, I would like to see if I could develop something above and beyond what you see today that you might find to be worth paying for. Yes, it’s the much-heralded “freemium” model at work. But this is where you come in. Is there actually anything you’d like to see from me that you’d also be willing to pay for?
Would you pay for deeper analysis?
Would you pay for email subscriptions that offer greater control over when and how you receive the content?
Would you donate money to support the blog (NPR-style)?
Would you buy a book (or e-book) that I wrote about the industry?
Would you frequent sites that I set up affiliate deals with to get revenue sharing?
Would it bother you if I added more advertising placements to the site?
Just about everything is on the table here, as long as it doesn’t impact the integrity of the content. That means I won’t accept payment for posts, though I’ve certainly been offered. I would like to devote as much time as possible to the site, but with a wife and a mortgage, I need to make more money to be able to justify spending more of my time here.
If you’ve enjoyed the first 1,000 posts, please take a little time to send me your thoughts. Talk to me about what you like, what you don’t, and anything else that comes to mind. The comments section is always open (unless you’re a spammer, then you suck), and my email address is easy to find (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Thanks for reading and commenting over the last few years. I hope you enjoy the next 1,000 posts even more.
Hmmmm…..Air Cranky wants to add fees. Now where did that idea come from……lol
Your book idea sounds interesting depending on the exact subject matter. But that’s a long term idea and not a short term one to pay the bills. Personally I don’t look at the right side of the screen so I don’t know what is even over there, nor now that I just looked, do I know what is under the ‘shop’ tab at the top of the page.
You can always have the wife get a couple of part time jobs :-)
Ok I just looked, and you have cranky merchandise for sell under the ‘shop’ tab.
I forgot to say congrats on the 1000 posts and I demand a recount. You had to talk about AZ more then 32 times……lol
I love the blog and am a regular reader and commenter. I love the fact that theres fresh content everyday. However if i was being honest I wouldn’t pay to read the posts that are currently free. I also don’t think i would pay for deeper analysis.
However i would consider donating to the upkeep and also more ads wouldn’t bother me at all. Also i know that you don’t want paid for posts, but well marked obvious commercial posts I wouldn’t mind, in fact might even be useful.
What about for example if once a week you put together a post something along the lines of “This weeks best airfare deals” that contained affiliate links to great fares? This is something that would be commercial (you would make cash off the affiliate links) but also a useful service to readers. Since you do a lot of analysis of route changes and traffic numbers I’m sure you could provide some great deals. I know there is a box similar to this on the right but you could make it much more personal (with edited text from you) and specific.
Keep up the good work.
Congrats on the first 1,000. You’ve inspired me to consider a blog of my own in a different area so thank you for that.
I would consider purchasing your book if the topic were of interest. Please avoid some dry thesis oriented topic such as the demise of the CAB in favor of TSA, though, unless you’re going for a doctorate.
Websites of any kind rarely draw me in to related merchandising links. I cut thru the chaife and nix pop-ups without further consideration.
Certainly offer your analytical/consulting services through your website; you’re entitled. Most of the readers here, however, seem conversational in nature and not necessarily needing or wanting full presentations on the benefits of the A330 over the 777. You do have some industry heavy hitters that follow your blog and may tap in to the resource accordingly.
I would not pay for a blog. I do not consider blogs to be a service but rather an informational exchange. A fireside chat if you will. In that vein, I ask you to consider keeping the blog free as it will keep you free to post what you choose without regard to “demand.” Demand, history shows, creates commercialism which for artists can sometimes lead to a diminishment of their original vision.
Congrats again and best wishes.
Would you pay for deeper analysis? No, I’m just a mildly curious skimmer.
Would you pay for email subscriptions that offer greater control over when and how you receive the content? No.
Would you donate money to support the blog (NPR-style)? No, b/c this is not a charitable service. You have a for-profit product in your analysis and commentary.
Would you buy a book (or e-book) that I wrote about the industry? No, but I bet others would.
Would you frequent sites that I set up affiliate deals with to get revenue sharing? Maybe.
Would it bother you if I added more advertising placements to the site? A bit more wouldn’t bother me.
I’d pay NPR style, a book, and I’d be interested in what topics you’d feel comfortable writing something more in depth about.
Also, as an online publishing you may want to investigate TidBits – http://www.tidbits.com — these guys actually make a living out of free publications, although they also do the book writing things. They’ve got some articles on how they obtain funds. I would gander they’d also be willing to discuss with you their revenue models, given that you’re in a different area.
(Although they do have an eBook to finding low airfares, so they might be a bit competitive.. ;-)
First of all, congratulations for this achievement and many thanks for all the hours you’ve put into it. It shows in your writing that you care about what you write about, adn it makes reading you very pleasant.
From time to time, more in-depth analysis would be appreciated, but I’m not sure I’d be willing to pay much for the curiosity of reading / learning a bit more !!!
I tend to agree with Alex and Nicholas : would be great if the blog could remain free, wouldn’t mind more advertising and/or “visibly” advertising-driven posts.
Did you think of becoming, and you could do that alongside your blog, a syndicated columnist ?
I don’t think your ads are excessive, but have you considered submitting proposals to potential clients to “buy” a portion of the sidebar, rather than the Google ads or trave deals? Since you’ve already proven visibility with viewers and numbers I’d think having a few big clients, on board for a year, would bring in more money than click through ads
Also, since you have an audience viewing “free” content, I wouldn’t be turned off by a full screen ad that’s playing BEFORE the content (visual or video.) Salon.com and many local newspapers do this. If course nobody likes it, but as you say you’re providing free quality content. So a reasonable 20 second trade is acceptable.
Another option: Consumerist.com and Gawker.com (now separate companies,) run a once a week post “thanking our sponsors. It basically IS a paid blog post, however there’s no ambiguity that’s it’s anything different than simply bringing attention to your sponsors. Aagain since it’s clearly labeled I see no problem with this.
Just three off the top of my head.
Fortunately too you get perks, like the media rate you mentioned for the Tahiti stay. I blog as a hobby, but have been flattered when a small hotel or somewhere I write about offers an upgrade or perks because of the attention I’ve given them.
So yeah – submit proposals for a long commitment by large client for a large space on the site, which will result in more money. (Clients pay up please.)
And here’s to 1,000 more.
If you want to make some more money, go for the advertisements. Forget about subscriptions or donations. However, for this to work in any significant way, you need to think more about why you write the blog, and what kind of things you want to say.
If you want to go for the ads, what kind of company would you want to be paying you ? Airlines ? Airports ? Fare compare sites ? Once you decide the advertisers, who do you want to be talking to ? People on Main Street ? Travel agents ? Airline marketers ? From your interviews, it seems that airlines and airports are very much aware as to who you are, and certainly want to talk to you about their product.
All of these are big decisions, but I just think that to turn CF into a way of making a living, you need to target your writing slightly more at certain particular groups. Do you have the logs saying the domains from where you get the hits – does this give any clue as to your readers ? Do you have stats showing in which countries people live ? Does the time and day of the hits give any indication as your readers ? Anything about the websites they visit before CF and the websites they go to immediately afterwards ? You’ve certainly got the talent for producing the content – you just need to turn it into a more concrete plan for choosing your advertisers
Congratulations on 1000 posts!!
I think the book sounds like a great idea, although as an earlier poster mentioned, it is more of a longer term thing. Also, more ads would not bother me at all, I just hate in-site pop ups/pop unders.
NPR-Style donations all sound like a great idea.
Thanks for all the great blogging you do. I read your blog every day, and am very satisfied with the content.
Sometimes when a site has too many ads, it makes the site not look legitimate. That it is just an ad mill, creating content to get visits and have people click on ads. But with your readership and popularity, I think it is clear you are a VERY legitimate site and you know what you are talking about.
Maybe look at an ads/noads model with a donation spin. Like “here is my site that is free with some good ‘ol ads.” Maybe even work with someone who knows ad placements to bring up the click through?
Then have a pay/donate option where if people pay a certain amount it will remove the ads and put some moola in your pocket.
Have you thought about having other bloggers? I know it might have to make your name to “Crank Fliers” but I think you have created the brand name enough you could do it without the name change :). Being established I am sure you can find people willing to help out for cheap or even for free.
It certainly is enjoyable to read whatever you write. Simple, clear, fairly bold and with passion, but very fair and honest. Touched with some self-deprecation.
You leave the reader thinking, maybe not agreeing, but never angry. All qualities that are tough for most of us. A little Dave Barry, maybe some Garrison Keiller. Would that you get a job like them writing a weekly or twice-weekly syndicated columns, with lots of humor, on surviving the industry and traveling without going nuts!
How about teaching somewhere, covering the industry, how we got here, why, and where are we going? I’d pay to hear you.
Congratulations on this huge milestone from all of us at Nuts About Southwest. I know how hard it is for a team to put out daily material, for one person to do it is quite an effort. Reading your blog and the comments got me to wondering…what do you think your blog would look like if the industry were where it was in 1959 with the introduction of the jet airliner?
Congrats, Cranky! Your blog is great. As far as ideas to generate revenue, I wouldn’t object to seeing some ads on your blog. Charging for it may cause you to lose hits. It wouldn’t be as inviting. The fact that you can prove a certain degree of popularity must be worth something to some in the travel industry. Cheers to the next 1,000 posts.
Congrats on the milestone…
As to ideas: you could try something like what woot.com does in their daily “Side deal”.
Use your broad base to get special deals, changing each day. Maybe one day you work with a cruise line, maybe another day with a hotel brand, another day for a travel insurance company, etc. You’d get a daily fee for the ad/link or a commission based upon each sale… something like that.
Also, ads (or even paid guest posts) would be okay by me as long as they are clearly marked as such.
Congrats on your first 1,000 posts.
I’m trying to come up with a witty, yet satirical list of fees (a la the United Airlines), that you can charge for entering CF.
But…in all honesty, I would definitely be glad to donate to the CF fund, this is truly a worthy site. For those of us in the industry, it’s a great way to get a heads up on what’s going on around us.
Personally, I wouldn’t pay for anything on the web, being notoriously cheap. However, I would probably by a book and maybe an e-book.
I would suggest though that you talk to the folks at Flight International or Aviation Week in order to move the blog over to their site and become an employee there. Flight has a ton of blogs. I would suggest a newspaper but most aren’t hiring. I believe that’s what Runway Girl did with her blog.
You can really tell that you put a lot of effort into this and I’m sorry that you’re not getting better returns.
I would suggest more targeted advertising as your best revenue bet. You have a specialised niche audience that’s certainly more valuable than just AdWords. Without sounding too much like a d0uche, putting together a media kit would certainly boost your chances of cash monies. Then again, it’s a lot of work for just one guy.
But I would happily buy a book that you wrote (depending on what aspect of the industry you’re writing about).
Thank you to everyone for your feedback. I’m really amazed at the number of people who have taken the time to comment and email me privately. It all helps, and I’m planning on writing a post later this week summarizing what you’ve all said.
David SF – I used to have the merchandise more front and center but in the redesign it went behind the shop tab. I could create a lot more merchandise and make it more accessible, potentially. (BTW, I swear it was only 32 times on Alitalia, though it may have seemed like millions.)
Alex and Optimist – Just to be clear, I’m not considering charging for the content that everyone gets for free today. I appreciate the other ideas, and I’ll definitely consider them.
Nicholas – Thanks for the referral to tidbits. I’ll check it out. As for topics that I’d write more in-depth about, there are a handful. Some of it could be more historical analysis, trying to shed light on how things are today. I could also look at more numbers-based analysis. There are plenty of opportunities for consumer-friendly travel-style guides with my usual snark behind them (centering around air travel, of course).
Christophe – Thanks for the kind words. I think that it would be fun to be a syndicated columnist, though I’m not quite sure how to achieve that. I suppose I can start looking into it. I thought it would also be fun to have a radio show to take calls and answer questions.
james – Thanks for the ideas. I think that my relatively small size has made it difficult to attract advertisers, but now that I’ve passed 100,000 page views, it might be easier. In the past, I’ve stayed away from airline ads because I didn’t want it to appear biased (even though it wouldn’t be). I always thought hotels and other travel-related companies would be the right advertisers, but it’s proven to be difficult. (I’m also not a sales guy.) But I will keep trying.
David – Yes, I know plenty of demographic info thanks to Google Analytics, so the geographic targeting is good. I should also put together a reader survey to get softer information about my readers.
JK – I would absolutely love to teach. That’s something that would be a ton of fun, but budgets have been cut so much lately in education that it’s a tough sell in the short term. In the long run? Yeah, I’d love it.
Brian Lusk – Thanks (and thanks to the rest of the Southwest crew). If this were 1959, I’d be writing about how American’s caviar was so sub-par compared to United’s. Or maybe the complaint would be that the flight attendants were paying too much attention to me. Ah yes, it would be a different site, that’s for sure.
Wonko – That’s a good idea. I should try to get in touch with more travel companies about special deals. Thanks.
> I would like to devote as much time as possible to the site,
> but with a wife and a mortgage, I need to make more money
> to be able to justify spending more of my time here.
You need a roof over the head, so get rid of the wife. Problem solved :)
Okay, okay, just kidding. Gotta read through the 20+ other comments before I offer my true bit of wisdom.
Please more posts about Palmdale for the second 1000. That is all.
Would you pay for deeper analysis? – NO.
Would you pay for email subscriptions that offer greater control over when and how you receive the content? – NO.
Would you donate money to support the blog (NPR-style)? – YES, but isn’t NPR tax free?
Would you buy a book (or e-book) that I wrote about the industry? -Yes.
Would you frequent sites that I set up affiliate deals with to get revenue sharing? – YES.
Would it bother you if I added more advertising placements to the site? – NO.
Congrats Cranky. Can’t remember how I even surfed into this site but bookmarked it and have been coming back on an almost daily basis ever since.
Don’t have any suggestions on making money from the internet. If I knew how to do that I’d be doing it. Although it sounds like you are getting some perks that I’m jealous of.
I realize that you are out of LA but all those LAX and Palmdale posts?!?
So I think I just made the connection in my head that your blog started right around the time I started medical school. I point this out because dude, you don’t know how much I used to (and still do) look forward to your posts to give me something to do OTHER than study the particulars of enzyme deficiencies in a particular disease!
Congratulations on 1000 posts – I graduate this time next year and by the time I finish residency, here’s hoping there are another 1000 amazing posts that make me laugh every time!
As for ideas, I’m all for plastering the site with ads galore – doesn’t bother me – AS LONG AS it’s not like the ads the Baltimore Sun has which drop down and block content until you physically have to close the ad screen. Please don’t do that – it just hella annoys me and then I refuse to support the company that placed that intrusive advertisement.
I’d also be game for code-shares with other blogs that are as good as yours.
Way to go Cranky! I admire your passion for the industry, and your ability to continuously find, and keep, it interesting.
Congrats on reaching the 1,000 post milestone! Has it really only taken you three years to be the must-read blog on aviation? Geez.
Seth Godin’s blog has some interesting tips on how to parley a blog (and $1 e-books, etc.) into paying ventures.
John – Yes, NPR is tax free, so it’s not exactly the NPR model here.
A – Yeah, the Palmdale thing was just a short time obsession, but you won’t see much of that now that flights are gone. And the LAX posts aren’t always LAX-centric. I just get invited to a fair number of events at LAX but they often have broader appeal when I write about them – like the A380 visits.
Artie – Yes, I hate those ads as well. I’m sure they pay well, but it just drives me insane.
Sean O – Thanks for the tip.
1000-Have you done the math as to how many minutes/hours you spent composing all those?
Pay-I’d pay for a book you wrote.
Donate-I’d donate some money(put a paypal link up or something like that) to keep this going.
Exclusive content-Unless it’s a live cam of Southwest Flight Attendant trainuing dorm probably not-that’s a good idea though isn’t it?
More Ads-Part of life and I’m ok with that.
Consulting-If I something for you to consult on I would hire you.
Maybe a monthly fee for really special deals?
Some more cool Cranky Gear?
How about you partner up with some airline retro gear company and sell cool stuff like that? Eastern T-shirts, Pan-am mugs, America West??, you get the idea.
Podcasts? I don’t know much about them but some people seem to make money from them.
Don’t know if you can get anything out of this but hope you keep this going!
Congrats on the 1,000th post! I am pretty new reader but have really enjoyed your posts. In answer to your questions:
Would you pay for deeper analysis? Probably Not
Would you pay for email subscriptions that offer greater control over when and how you receive the content? No
Would you donate money to support the blog (NPR-style)? Maybe
Would you buy a book (or e-book) that I wrote about the industry? Yes, Definitely
Would you frequent sites that I set up affiliate deals with to get revenue sharing? Yes
Would it bother you if I added more advertising placements to the site? Not at all.
Not much to add that hasn’t already been said, but I, too, am a longtime daily reader of the blog, and I appreciate your honest, passionate style, thorough insight and sense of humor. My favorite part of your blog is still the trip reports…this airline geek can’t get enough of those, and it’s fun to live vicariously through your travels. Also, kudos on using the Cal Ripken irnonman photo to mark your milestone post.
Like many have said, yes, I would buy a book you write about the industry. More ads would not bother me, as long as they are not popups. And I would support an NPR-style fundraiser for the blog (I think that would be interesting to see how much that type of endeavor could raise).
Just my two cents’ worth. Keep up the great work!
Hey, Cranky. Congratulations. First time posting, but I’m an occasional reader. Not in the industry. Just always fascinated with air travel. A general suggestion that perhaps others could fill-in-the-blanks on:
What about a Cranky Flier iPhone app? I don’t know what it would do, but maybe something that air junkies could consult in the airport before their flights. And not necessarily just flight arrival/departure information, but something about airports and the planes we fly on. I don’t know, but maybe there’s the potential for something there. I’m no business man, but then the blog becomes a “loss leader,” and the iPhone app is where you really make your money.
Just an idea.
Shannon – No I haven’t done the math, and I probably don’t want to. It’s probably a scary number.
Eric in ICT – You’ve given me a good idea. Maybe my first e-book will be a compilation of trip reports. I have trip reports going back to at least 2002 that I’ve written but you won’t find anywhere. I have my Concorde trip, Cubana, and plenty more all written up. This could be a fun project.
David – The Cranky iPhone app is a good idea, but my problem is that a ton of people have already put out travel apps, so I’m not sure what I can add. I continue to have that in the back of my mind though.
CF- If you do compile the trip reports into an eBook, take a cue from Wil Wheaton and add extra content around them. The Trip reports are great, but they draw on knowledge that is specific to the current time… e.g. Sell me something I can’t already get from the blog.
Panic over – Alitalia are back in the news:
Nicholas – Not sure how Wil Wheaton does it, but I certainly would add more to it. I’d try to put together a common theme between the reports I use, and I’d give additional information around them to make them flow more as a larger story. If you have any suggestions for what you’d like to see, let me know.
Simon – It’s very sad that this is the worst Alitalia can do today. We need some more normal shenanigans like we’re used to.