Why elephant charges $2/month after you read three articles/in one day.

Via elephant journal
on Jul 12, 2013
get elephant's newsletter


I want to read more elephant, but I don’t value it.

We get the below comment from time to time, so I thought I’d share our response here, and hopefully let some of our readers know where we stand.

Mindful Reader: I’m only liking this because I’ve already read it…I dislike that you now require $$$ in order to have readers….really, too bad

  • elephantjournal.com Sorry, but you’re confused. Writing and media has cost money for centuries–that’s how we offer better articles, pay editors, pay writers, pay staff. Writing is not free. If you want free writing, read the comments on reddit (which are often great).

    Secondly, we have charged for three years–but only after 3 articles. So you have read your maximum for today, which means you are using elephant a great deal, which is great. But you don’t seem to appreciate it. Funny, isn’t that.
    You have three options: subscribe to our weekly newsletter, and get more free articles. Pay $2 a month, which is next to nothing, for unlimited free. Or come back tomorrow, for more free. Not bad, right?

    $108 for a lifetime membership—if you live another 50 years that’s just $2/year 🙂


About elephant journal

elephant journal is dedicated to "bringing together those working (and playing) to create enlightened society." We're about anything that helps us to live a good life that's also good for others, and our planet. >>> Founded as a print magazine in 2002, we went national in 2005 and then (because mainstream magazine distribution is wildly inefficient from an eco-responsible point of view) transitioned online in 2009. >>> elephant's been named to 30 top new media lists, and was voted #1 in the US on twitter's Shorty Awards for #green content...two years running. >>> Get involved: > Subscribe to our free Best of the Week e-newsletter. > Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook. > Write: send article or query. > Advertise. > Pay for what you read, help indie journalism survive and thrive.


16 Responses to “Why elephant charges $2/month after you read three articles/in one day.”

  1. Jennifer White says:

    This is yet another thing that needed to be mentioned to the readers!

  2. bacon boy says:

    Nobody is arguing that you shouldn't be paid for providing meaningful content to readers. But the elephant in the room (pun intended) is that digital media outlets mostly provide content free to readers through advertising sales. Paid subscriptions are a thing of the past and antithetical in a digital age. It's like EJ is that girl in yoga class with the hole in the crotch of her lulumons; she's nailing the poses but you kinda' feel bad for her because she doesn't realize what's going on.

    Secondly, my significant other recently had an article published on EJ and never received any semblance of payment, so I disagree with your assertion that the $1/month subscription fee supports writers.

  3. elephantjournal says:

    We do! It's on our "please subscribe" page that pops up. But folks don't read it, which I understand, folks just click off it.

  4. Jennifer White says:

    yep yep

  5. Christina says:

    SO glad you posted this! Well said. I was actually thinking the other day 'it's a good thing Elephant Journal cuts me off after a few articles or else I'd be on here all day and not work' so…I didn't want to subscribe bc then I'd have unlimited access and (good) distraction. BUT I would like to support the writers 🙂

  6. jack says:

    Not worth a buck. Poor content. Too much censoring of comments.

  7. elephantjournal says:

    Dear Bacon Boy,

    1. "Paid subscriptions are a thing of the past and antithetical in a digital age." Between you and I, I'm probably the bigger nerd when it comes to studying sustainability and new media. It's the basis of my entire life, and has been for 11 years, now. In case you didn't know, and it sounds like you don't: the NY Times just did a high profile report on how many pubs (including, yes, the Times itself, which owns a dozen papers) are charging. Not through a paywall, but similar to what elephant is doing—allowing limited free access, and charging a low amount for those who want to read the most and therefore might value the "product".
    2. Online advertising is not paying sufficiently for original, quality media—it's only historically one of five legs that goes to support a paper. Papers and new media are laying off writers, or not paying writers, or going out of business entirely—all over the country. Sure you've heard about the struggles of media over the last 15 years.
    3. If you looked into how elephant pays writers before commenting, you'd know: we pay for 1) consistency (ie 4 articles a month), 2) quality (which I'm sure your wife's was, this is measured rather subjectively, by its nature, by what we decide to promote most heavily to our readers) and 3) popularity (connection with readers, reaching beyond the choir). So please let your wife know that we've paid out $8,000 in three months of paying, and plan to do much more as we continue to grow. And if she's consistent, and connects with our readers, we'll gladly send her a check.
    4. We are growing, and rapidly, despite the hole in our Lululemons.

    Thanks for your respectful, intelligent comment. Constructive criticism is rare online. ~ Waylon

  8. elephantjournal says:

    Apparently, not enough.

  9. Cat B says:

    It costs less for me to subscribe than it does to grab lunch & get my toes done. For a whole YEAR of content. (Not only that, they thank you with gifts once you do pay!) And, thanks to the way elephant organizes and promotes, 95% of that content is stuff that I related to & loved reading. I subscribed before I ever started to contribute because seriously. Dudes. Just stop complaining, pay the tiny bit, and keep reading happily.

  10. Janis says:

    I first came across EJ a little over a year ago. After hitting my daily limit several times I decided to try the subscription for a year, I mean why not, it was only $12 for unlimited access. After my year was up I hit the daily limit again and quickly renewed. I really enjoy EJ. Some days I don't read any articles, some days I read a lot, some days I don't have the time so I just leave the page open in my browser so I can come back to it later (which is nice to do). I've been a working artist before so I know how hard it can be to get paid for what you do. I'm more than happy to pay for and support art that i enjoy, which includes writing.

  11. elephantjournal says:

    A few FB comments:

    Peggy Berg Between you and ME. between is a preposition and takes an object. Me is the objective pronoun.

    Nancy Tomasheski True, but I think in this case "between" is being used in the case of "among" – the group being "you" and "I" (therefore, correctly subject case). An interesting parsing case, to be sure.
    And on the topic of digital subscriptions, I am endlessly aggravated by people who think that the internet is free. It is not.

    Hasty LovesAnimals I've noted that grammar is *bending* as time goes by. And that people who correct the grammar (or spelling) omit responding to the actual message conveyed.

    elephantjournal.com I always appreciate those who love language—I also appreciate those, like Twain, who bend it. Colloquial speech is all the more a delight when the writer knows how to write speech straight-up, formally. Picasso said something like that, about his art.

    But yes, it's the message, here, that counts—despite the writer's clumsiness. ~ Waylon (the writer)

    Gary Petrison Best twelve bucks a year I spend.

    elephantjournal.com And thank you, sir. We'll do our best to make your return on value, well, priceless.

    Yvette Cantu Schneider Actually, a lot of what is on the Internet IS free, which is why some people aren't interested in paying for the portions of it that are not.

    elephantjournal.com For years, elephant (as well as much other new media, as you say) was free—and we were criticized, frequently, for our lack of editing (we couldn't afford editors) and for not paying writers. I'd prefer that 2% of our readers who read us the most pay $1 or more a month to read the most, and that we use that to pay editors well and pay our best writers to write. ~ Waylon.

    Nancy Tomasheski With respect, Yvette, not "free" – just a difference in who carries the burden of the costs.

    Elaine Gilman Tired of folks expecting quality work for free or next too nothing. They expect to be paid well for the work they do,.why not reciprocate?

    elephantjournal.com Yes. Folks have a hard time remember 15 years ago, when all media cost money—some of it worth it, much of it not. But what we have lost in the past 15 years is a great deal of the depth and strength and reach of the Fourth Estate. My hope is elephant, and many others, may begin to bring some of that back, if in a new form and style, as we grow and improve.

    Ross Grayson People are STILL wanking about a dollar a month…?

    Waylon Lewis Not often, very rarely really, and I don't mind. I just try and publicize a bit when folks do, since I imagine there's 100 doubts for every voiced doubt, and some clarity or context helps.

    Andrew Paciocco Seconded Gary.

    Qirsten Webb This is the first magazine I've subscribed to in 12 years. Totally worth it.

  12. elephantjournal says:

    Here's one you might love. I'm obsessed, right now: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2013/07/okay-new-m

  13. elephantjournal says:

    Another FB comment: Shelley M: So people say "its not worth a buck" huh?

    I love EJ and it is so worth MY buck. In fact, worth much more. Witty, clever, emotional, passionate, political, spunky and enlightened writing. I love Waylon and the Gang.

    I read EJ more than CNN… CNN just give me the news. EJ gives me hope!

    Not worth a buck…

    Hell, I find $6 or more in my dryer every week that I never even knew was missing! That's 6 months of EJ. In my dryer.

    Not worth a buck…

    Ridiculous. Go look in your damn dryer.

  14. elephantjournal says:

    Angela Grace Interesting. BTW, I like the choice to contribute for a certain article. My amazing intern (one to watch!), Kristy Gustafson, posted "Why I Practice" on my wall today which was some of the best writing I've read in awhile. Everyone in the process should get paid. I love how Bruce Lipton talks about how every cell in our body has a job, health insurance, and a paycheck and we can use that as a model for society as a whole. People should get paid . . . and if we forget or are too lazy to opt in (which I'm guilty of), then we should have a way to be firmly reminded. It's a matter of impeccability and I appreciate being held to that.

    Waylon Lewis One note—we/I don't mind folks like you reading for free. It's like browsing a magazine. It's just for those who love reading us the most, who want to read a lot, who will naturally value elephant slightly—to the tune of $1/month! Also, you can get our weekly newsletter, 15 free links a week: http://www.elephantjournal.com/join-the-cause mwuah

  15. Platofish says:

    Where the business model followed by EJ may fail in the long term (and note, I say may) is it doesn't offer anything more than unlimited daily access to subscribers. Most media outlet subscriptions buy you access to content not available for free, or services such as browsing archives. For many people this is worth the subscription. In the EJ model you rely on people feeling the site is worth supporting per se (which as you point out is not a common perspective these days) or hitting their daily limit and not wanting to wait until the following day to read other articles.

    As for your point about EJ not supporting writers, they are pretty clear that most writers don't get paid. However, supporting writers is not simply a case of sending them a check for $4 for an article, its offering editorial services and a platform to publish. Both of which are enormously valuable to an amateur writer.