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Subscription Model: One-year Anniversary

Exactly one year ago we announced that Brand New would be adopting a subscription model after 14 years of being free to read. The response was overwhelmingly positive during a time when the outlook for our business didn’t look too good and it was the jolt of energy and positivity that we needed at the time and that kept us going the next 364 days to, slowly but surely, make small improvements to Brand New to get it to a point where you ideally don’t have to question if the value is worth it or if the return on investment is satisfying. Hopefully it is, on both accounts.

In the week leading up to the switch we had 1,934 subscriptions and the first week when the subscription kicked into effect we had 2,537 subscriptions. A few days later we reached 5,000. Fast-forward to today and we are at 23,600-plus subscribers. We continue offering free access to anyone that can genuinely not afford the subscription and, of the total count of subscribers, 1,600-plus can enjoy Brand New at no cost thanks to the support of all of the paying subscribers. Over the course of the year we only lost about 6.5% of monthly paying subscribers, so about 300 or so. This month will be the first time we can track lost annual subscribers and we are crossing our fingers it’s not too many. Wink wink.

To say that this switch has been successful and beneficial to our business is an understatement. Every day that we wake up and that we get to make a living from writing Brand New is another day we count our blessings (and our work ethic) that we were able to weather the COVID shitstorm. Sadly that shitstorm isn’t over and the relatively good vibes that were enjoyed during the early parts of the Summer as COVID retreated are quickly fading away. That brief, optimistic, almost-guaranteeing glimpse that in 2022 there would be no doubt we could do our events has been annoyingly brought back to the reality that, once more, they could be postponed. No decision has been made yet and it probably won’t be until early Fall that we make one. Sigh.

Bringing back this post to its intended feel-good nature… this year has really been a pleasure to write for Brand New and work so much on improving it. Although I wish we could do more at faster speeds, we are pretty happy with all the new elements of Brand New, like…

In the coming months we are taking a small break from Brand New improvements not because we are going to rest on our laurels but we have a new blog that we want to start, filling a niche in the design industry for which there is currently no dedicated coverage and that we think we can cover in an interesting way that will be of interest to most of you here. We’ve also been trying to get the next four First Round case study PDFs up and running… we have three finished but getting someone to commit to that fourth case study has been nearly impossible (for various reasons). Hopefully by the fall we will be able to get you this new batch. And, sooner than we all expect, I will be starting to work on the end-of-year lists because if there is something 2021 hasn’t been, it’s slow. It has simply moved too fast.

So… an eternal sense of gratitude for all of you who have supported Brand New with a subscription, with submitting tips, with allowing us to put your work up for review; with showing up day in and day out to read the ramblings of a designer who wakes up every day at 5:00am to bake you a fresh batch of posts to consume. Year two, here we all come.


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