Let's talk about subscriptions in Site Updates

  • July 8, 2019, 10:53 a.m.
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  • Public

Hey everyone,

I hope all of you in the US had a lovely holiday, and those of you outside of the US had a wonderful weekend. Mochi and I were visiting family in the midwestern US, and I had the distinct pleasure of introducing him to fireflies – something I’d completely forgotten about after my time in LA. Truly magical.

This week I’d like to talk about site revenue and subscriptions. I know I’ve written a lot about this in the past, but based on the data that came out of the survey research, I have some new ideas and wanted to get community feedback before rolling things out – hopefully by this weekend.

First and foremost: there will always be a free version of Prosebox.

That out of the way, here’s what I’m thinking.

For the longest time, I was considering going the direction of adding “gated” features that would be open to subscribers only, a pretty standard way to go about increasing subscription numbers. After going through the survey research, though, I changed my mind. What became very clear is that most of you care more about supporting your “home” than any new features I might roll out. Both are definitely important, but keeping this place alive is priority one. That’s interesting.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, the big focus of mine going forward is: how do I inspire all of you to write and comment more? I noticed that when the amazing new DE members joined PB, site usage spiked across the board as you all got to know each other. Watching that happen was incredibly rewarding on a personal level, and it showed me that that is the most important thing to focus on. More writing, more commenting, more connection.

So, if that’s my focus, and the thing you all care about most is supporting the site, I think – at least starting out – that it makes the most sense to have any new features available to all users, paid or not.

That said, this is all a big experiment. If this doesn’t work out the way I’m hoping, I may revisit my thinking. As always, though, it’ll be a conversation I have with all of you.

Okay, cool. But if that’s the case, why would anyone subscribe to PB?

To remove ads, and to support the ongoing growth and stability of this place you call home. Full stop.

Truth be told, it’s been a rocky year so far keeping everything running smoothly. I kept this mostly to myself until I had confidence in a path forward, but the developer friend of mine that stepped in last year stopped being able to work on PB early this year. Since then, every bit of ad revenue that’s come in has been spent on keeping us afloat. Every time there’s a bug, a server crash, or an issue with spammers, I’m posting a bid on a job site to hire developers to look into it. I’ve made it work, but it’s been stressful and time-consuming to ensure that PB keeps humming along.

The reason I’m bringing this up now is that I’ve hit on a solution. I’m happy to share that I’ve entered into an agreement with a former colleague to cover the need for any emergency development work (and there’s always emergency work) each month in exchange for a fixed retainer. This is a huge load off of my mind, and frees me up to focus my energy on improving the site.

The reality of this arrangement, though, is that it consumes the ad revenue, leaving little for improving the site, fixing bugs, or new feature development.

This is where subscriptions come in.

I’m tired of PB just scraping by, and I’m ready to invest in improving this wonderful place for all of you. I’m so serious about it, that in the last few weeks I took the step of forming an LLC to make sure that all of my ducks are properly in a row. Things are getting real.

I’ve spent the last six months building out subscriptions, and I’m happy to announce that they’re just around the corner. It’s my hope that, if all of this sounds good to all of you, I’ll be rolling out subscriptions in the coming week!

Let’s do this.


Last updated July 08, 2019

Deleted user July 08, 2019

Me too !

girl in recession July 08, 2019

I don't need any new features, I like PB the way it is. I'll keep clicking the ads so that the dev you chose to work on the site has money :)

ConnieK girl in recession ⋅ July 08, 2019

Are we supposed to do that? I'll let my readers know, too. Thanks, girl in recession. This old dog is always willing to learn. :)

josh ConnieK ⋅ July 08, 2019

Only if you like the ad! Google REALLY doesn't like it when you ask people to click :)

ConnieK josh ⋅ July 08, 2019

Okay. I REALLY like lots of stuff. :)

girl in recession ConnieK ⋅ July 08, 2019

Same :)

ConnieK girl in recession ⋅ July 08, 2019

SM says don't overdo it because Google will ignore us.

girl in recession ConnieK ⋅ July 08, 2019

I'm not, I just click on ads whenever I'm on PB. Which is 1-3 times per day.

ConnieK girl in recession ⋅ July 08, 2019

You're probably more educated on this than I am, so I'll stop giving advice on something I just learned. LOL!

simple mind josh ⋅ July 08, 2019

I can confirm this. Going on an ad-clicking spree won't benefit anyone; Google will just ignore it.

ConnieK simple mind ⋅ July 08, 2019

Okay. I won't do that. Promise.

Firebabe girl in recession ⋅ July 08, 2019

There's downstream impacts to users though, when you click ads. Not in a security sense per se, but it can start impacting your personal online use via the ads that start popping up in your feeds, etc. Not a huge deal, and most people aren't phased by it, but I think it's important to discuss the pros and cons across the board just so folks understand the consequences.

josh Firebabe ⋅ July 08, 2019

Yep, exactly this!

girl in recession josh ⋅ July 08, 2019

I'm not going on ad clicking sprees, I'm just making sure to click ads whenever I'm on PB. And it doesn't affect my experience anywhere else on the internet because I use an ad blocker for every other site besides PB.

So I'll keep clicking ads to help out the developer :)

SilentSignal July 08, 2019

I’m in. Thanks!

Gangleri July 08, 2019


PseudoSuperhero July 08, 2019

Yes! Totally on board. Thank you so much for keeping us in the loop!

leftwingheartbreak July 08, 2019

I don't write nor note as much as I used to (summer classes/grad school application writing sucking up a lot of time), but I still lurk here quite a bit. that said, I would still strongly consider a paid subscription.

Silver Satan July 08, 2019

I'm in =^-^=

ConnieK July 08, 2019

Remove ads? Support the ongoing growth and stability of this place? Sign me up and if it's not too much trouble, make it so we can give it as a gift, as well? Either way, thanks. For all of it, so I'm including the guy who created the site, too. You guys rock!

simple mind ConnieK ⋅ July 08, 2019


Marg ConnieK ⋅ July 09, 2019

I'd love to see this feature too!

stargazing July 08, 2019

I'm in! :)

Firebabe July 08, 2019

I like this proposed structure. Especially since there's folks who simply cannot afford a subscription, even a relatively cheap one. (Although I think it's worth it to take human nature into consideration, and make sure we don't end up in a situation where 1% of the users are carrying the bill for 99% of the site.)

josh Firebabe ⋅ July 08, 2019

Very true! I think the best way forward is to try this approach at first, and iterate based on what happens. I've put together a rough financial model for the next five years, and there are a LOT of question marks in there based on actual behavior, ha.

Firebabe josh ⋅ July 08, 2019

Ha! Any time I see a five-year financial model that DOESN'T have question marks, I know it's fake. LOL.

josh Firebabe ⋅ July 08, 2019 (edited July 08, 2019)


Total disclosure: it's just an ASCII picture of Mochi made of question marks and dollar signs

Firebabe josh ⋅ July 08, 2019

And I'd still trust it more than some financial models I've seen. LOL.

simple mind josh ⋅ July 08, 2019

found it

josh simple mind ⋅ July 08, 2019


Firebabe simple mind ⋅ July 08, 2019


Flame is Love July 08, 2019


Dreaming Angel July 08, 2019

Yes! I’m a sporadic writer/commenter. But! I love this place and I’d definitely help financially to keep it not just afloat but seriously flourishing. I love how you (and Simple Mind) really get what us users want and need and take that into consideration when making decisions for the site.

Teflon Superhero July 08, 2019


bring it on!

GypsyWynd July 08, 2019

I will gladly subscribe to support this site. It'd be worth every penny and more. This community is priceless.
Big doggie smooches to Mochi from Nougat.

sassafras July 08, 2019

Let's do this!! I'm buying in!

Adira July 08, 2019

I'm so in!

Aren't fireflies awesome? I lived in AZ for almost 4 years and nearly forgot about them, then we moved back to GA and I was like a little kid all over again!

BlueEyes418 July 08, 2019

That sounds like a reasonable way to ease the community into paying for a service that we’re accustomed to enjoying for free. I’m glad to hear that you found reliable help for emergency situations.

Silverstar46 July 08, 2019

Sounds like a plan and I'm all in! :)

Cat Mommy July 08, 2019

You definitely have my money. Even though I'm not as active this year I hope to rectify that before autumn hits. No matter how much or little time I spend here this has my financial support 100%.

Deleted user July 08, 2019

An ad-free experience would be enough for me to support the site with a subscription.

More features to help people meet new friends and engage with them would be great, but those will be most effective if they are deployed to us all.

Nash July 08, 2019

As an OD alumni, I think you ought to offer us lifetime memberships for $100

InHisGrip July 08, 2019

YES! If subscriptions will help take a load off your mind and keep PB alive and well, let's do it! I've been waiting for this for a while! :)

J🌞DI July 08, 2019

But what features will the subscription levels entail???

josh J🌞DI ⋅ July 08, 2019

All new features will go to all users. Subscribers will have ads hidden and be supporting the site :)

As for what I'll be working on first, I'll be posting about that in the very near future

J🌞DI josh ⋅ July 08, 2019


Witchy Woman July 08, 2019

👍 I'll check out what you've got in mind and decide what I can afford to do to help.

Anaiss July 08, 2019

I have always been and continue to be ready to pay a subscription fee. Most of us have been bounced from at least one diary site and it's traumatic. I'm grateful for all the time, effort and resources you've put into PB, but sorry to hear that it's been so stressful. Definitely let's do what we have to do in order to keep the site running and ease some of the stress off of you!

josh Anaiss ⋅ July 08, 2019

Thank you!

Park Row Fallout July 08, 2019

Mochi looks so happy!!!

josh Park Row Fallout ⋅ July 08, 2019

I've been saving this pic for a special day :)

my.halo.has.slipped July 08, 2019

I’m in, but I will caveat that regular Mochi pictures will be required to keep me happy.

josh my.halo.has.slipped ⋅ July 08, 2019

Done and done.

Truly Me July 08, 2019

You are an inspiration.

Just Molly July 08, 2019

I'm interested to see what you propose re the subscription options. Once, way back in the day, DE was struggling with a cashflow issue (site owner was in university and needed help with server upgrade costs, if my memory is accurate). There was an option, I believe, for a one-time cost for a "lifetime" membership. Perhaps something along that line can be available too. So long as it is reasonable. :-)

Dirty Numb Angelboy July 09, 2019

I'd like to know about this ad free PB. Will this be like OD where they constantly charge you each month or can we say buy a month or have the option to have the choice of having it renewed automatically? I'd like to opt out of that and pay for either a month, 3 months, six and so on you know. I hate it when I think I have so and so and then I see I got charged. That's my two cents.

KendraVox Dirty Numb Angelboy ⋅ July 09, 2019

I agree with this. I like the idea of supporting prosebox, but I hate ongoing subscriptions.

The option of a fixed-term non-renewing subscription (after which the account reverts to the free version) is OK.

As an alternative, I'd be happy to have the option to make a one-off donation, even if donators don't get any perks at all.

But basically, ongoing subscriptions, no matter how small.... no, not for me. Again, not because I don't like Prosebox or don't want to spend money to support it, just because in principal I never sign up for ongoing subs. Just my 2 cents worth.

So in other words, please additionally provide another option for those of us who would support Prosebox in some way that's not an ongoing sub. It can be in smaller print or not featured as strongly, but it'd be nice to have the extra option.

josh KendraVox ⋅ July 09, 2019 (edited July 09, 2019)


Sure thing. The ability to donate has been available in the 'Misc' menu for over a year:

KendraVox josh ⋅ July 09, 2019

WOW! Awesome! I can't believe I just never noticed it before....! <embarrassed> I guess I never tried the Misc menu. </embarrassed>

OK thanks, that is a great option for people such as myself.

josh Dirty Numb Angelboy ⋅ July 09, 2019

I'll be doing monthly and annual subscriptions at first

Shannonly July 09, 2019

Yep, I'll do it. I look at it this way: I'll spend money per month to play games that don't care if I lose all my data. I'd rather spend that here. Let me know.

Lis July 09, 2019

It's weird to imagine not having fireflies...

Marg July 09, 2019

I'm definitely in! 😊

synapse July 09, 2019

I may or may not be ready to subscribe in the next few months but this site could have collected from me on the reg during many of my more stable years. The sooner you can roll this out, the better.

Deleted user July 09, 2019

What about achievements or badges for meeting goals on comments/writing entries? For example, an achievement for leaving 50/100/150/200 comments in a month, etc. We can have those badges displayed on our diaries or something. DE used to have a diary that showed the stats of which diary had the most entries, most comments, who left the most comments, etc. It was always fun to see that updated every week to see where you moved up or down on each chart.

Sarasyn Deleted user ⋅ July 11, 2019

At the same time that can be really demoralizing for people who don't have as much time to read and comment or write. I'd love to be able to jump on high participation stuff like that, but the reality is I've got four kids, two homeschooled, classes to teach, and I'm just starting to work. My time is at a premium at the best of times, and I've got a competitive streak. It would all too easily become "Why even bother if I can't keep up?" and "Just one more reminder that I'm an outsider..." I love the idea, in theory, but it can be really defeating to be reminded constantly that I'm just on the outsides and I'll never be in the cool kids' club because I don't have the time to read and leave 200+ comments a month, or to write that much.

Deleted user Sarasyn ⋅ July 12, 2019

I didn't mean it to sound that competitive. It was just an idea to get people who are already on here to have some fun with it.

Sarasyn Deleted user ⋅ July 12, 2019

I didn't think you did, but it's easy for naturally competitive people to get competitive over achievements. I was just bringing it up as a counter point to consider, since that's a side a lot of people don't consider, though I have seen it commonly discussed in other industries.

Mile marker kinds of achievements might be a better compromise? You get a badge after an increasing number of accomplishments, so many posts, so many comments, for a collective total instead? Still can get competitive, but at least it's a more relaxed pace than a monthly total or accomplishment.

EvequeFou July 09, 2019

If you're not planning on gating features, can I suggest a Patreon-style model where users pick their amount? You might put tiers for certain features (no ads if greater than $3/month or $30/year), but if you let people choose what they want to pay you might find some more able or willing to contribute than others. And some people who think they can't afford a subscription might still find themselves able to afford something.

I need tea. July 10, 2019

I’m in 100%

dancingstrawberry July 10, 2019

I'm most willing to support!

HappyMusician July 10, 2019

I would subscribe. :)
And maybe there could be a gift subscription feature, where a user can buy a subscription for another user, as well?

DE_Da_Bartender July 10, 2019

I'm game! Lets do this! As for my two cents on the matter, I don't really need 'subscription perks' to convince me to invest in the site, you've already done that for me by your work with DE. But if I were to subscribe, I'd like to see (And you may have already done this in the past, I'm still pretty new) some sort of subscriber 'round table' where people could pitch ideas for what they'd like to see in the future development of the site but all the same I feel like you do that for everyone who uses the site anyway. Like I said, I'm trying to catch up to the "road map"

Narrator July 11, 2019

Yep, definitely willing to pay for being able to hang out here with all the fine folks and Mochi. :)

DimMeOut July 11, 2019

As long as I can afford it, I'll be happy to pay a subscription fee to use Prosebox. I would love to help support the site that has become such a haven for me. ♥

Sarasyn July 11, 2019

As always, late to the game. I'd love to be able to support the site if I can afford it. I've got a lot of things in the air right now. But I'm not here a whole bunch when life gets busy, so I'd need to be able to justify it to my husband. I'd have to know how much it was and if he'd view it as something he can shrug off.

crystal butterfly July 11, 2019

I'm in.

Yours For Now... July 11, 2019

My bestie recently brought her California born-n-raised boyfriend home to NC where he delighted about fireflies every single evening for ages. It was adorable.

Luna Leanne 🌈 July 11, 2019


Mr. Mofo July 11, 2019

I know this is silly but I kinda like the ads. Can I give money to Mochi and STILL look at the ads?

White Rabbit July 11, 2019

Not sure if this has been mentioned but a neat subscription idea would be to post your journal entry in like genres or group sections, like politics, romance, stress, mental health, family, photos, book writing, etc. That way we can get more engagement as well. Ps sorry if this something we have and ai just dunno where to access it lol

Ohmy White Rabbit ⋅ July 15, 2019

This is the feature I want to see most!

White Rabbit Ohmy ⋅ August 23, 2019

Hope it becomes part of it!

Pennyworth July 12, 2019

You could implement something like Medium Claps where I can give money to other writers for writing a really good entries, and the site takes a percentage to cover its expenses

DE_KentuckyGirl July 12, 2019

I'd contribute.

DE_KentuckyGirl July 12, 2019 (edited July 12, 2019)


So a forum I used to be a member of did something similar to this. There were tier levels of subscriptions depending on what you contributed. Of course the obvious; special badges next to user names that denoted your subscription level. I, personally dont care about a badge but some like stuff like that.

Subscribers also beta tested new features, and got first dibs on using new features before everyone else.

An idea for a feature; a stat counter. On DE, we were able to see how many times our diatyas a whole was viewed and also able to see how many times each entry had been viewed. I'd like to be able to see this info if possible.

Also sometimes I read an entry in my bookmarks but dont have time at that moment to comment. Seems theres no easy way to get back to it without hunting out the person's diary and entry again. If there could be a way to flag an entry we want to keep around in bookmarks so we can easily go back to it?

Also, would a section for "featured diaries" promote interaction? I don't know. Maybe a sidebar along the front page? Diaries, or entries, randomly selected to show up as "featured" if they've been posted within the last month or 3 months or whatever? Or even just a few featured diaries of the week, kinds like a "check this diary out"! aside from the front page, that are randomly chosen, and stay pinned for a few days at a time before turning over?

Just throwing ideas out there.

Mercurial Muse DE_KentuckyGirl ⋅ July 14, 2019

You can mark an entry as "unread" in the top right corner. That will keep it from disappearing from your bookmarks :)

DE_KentuckyGirl Mercurial Muse ⋅ July 14, 2019

Thanks! I'll try and figure out how they works. I couldn't find a way initially.

Deleted user July 12, 2019

Looking forward to what this is going to look like :)

Mrs. Peebs July 13, 2019

I will definitely be on board once I am financially stable and not on the verge of losing my house every month. blah. this month it's the car though. We just have to stick it out long enough for my husband's disability to go through. hopefully that is soon. Thank you for all your hard work!

josh Mrs. Peebs ⋅ July 13, 2019

Good luck!

cricket_factor July 13, 2019

I'm definitely interested. Let us know what the parameters are.

TruNorth July 13, 2019

It would be nice if we could afford to have a system where we can post photos directly from our computers to our entries (ie. no need for Imgur or Photobucket type intermediaries).

ODSago TruNorth ⋅ July 19, 2019

I Agree

Laurie July 14, 2019

100% all for it!!!

Serin July 15, 2019

I will subscribe if you give me a backup that includes notes on the entries.

pandora July 16, 2019

Happy to subscribe to the site. And the feature I'm most interested in would be 'tiered' friends, so that we can write semi-privately when sharing details about our lives that we might not share with a broader audience.

Lotus99 July 17, 2019

I'm definitely open to that. I would love to support this wonderful community of ours!

Raphael Tiriel July 17, 2019

It's all good.

ODSago July 19, 2019

Yes from me...I'd like a yearly fee option...thinking positively, right? For someone 78. LOL. Again...appreciate all of your good natured help, Josh.

Jlynnaz 🌸 July 20, 2019

I'd be interested!

velvet August 01, 2019

I am so in, thank you so much for all of your work and just for being straight with me.

Silverstar46 January 29, 2020

I paid for a monthly subscription to PB and I still have ads and no new features.. It's been like 2 weeks. What's up?

josh Silverstar46 ⋅ January 29, 2020

Hey there, sorry about that! You should be all set now.

Thanks for subscribing

Silverstar46 josh ⋅ January 29, 2020

I'm sorry, I even signed out and back in, but the ads are still there. And now that Christmas and my wedding are over, I have money to spend again so I'm glad I can subscribe and help out. :)

josh Silverstar46 ⋅ January 29, 2020 (edited January 29, 2020)


Oh whoops, I was setting the expiration date to 2020! Still getting used to the new date..

You should be set now

Silverstar46 josh ⋅ January 30, 2020

Yes! Thank you so much!!! :)

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