Andrew Sullivan has launched another pledge drive:

This site isn’t free; I haven’t sold it to a bigger media entity; as a professional writer whose time is increasingly taken up with the blog – over 500 emails and up to a dozen posts a day, sometimes seven days a week, around the clock – I need a salary of sorts; and although we’ve done all we can to keep expenses low, we’re still hard-put to make it to the end of the year without your support. . . . All we ask is $20 a year if you read this page more than a couple of times a week.

Sully is one of the better writers out there although, frankly, his blog sometimes gets on a hobby horse and rides it well past the point where I’m interested.

I’m a little curious about the finances of blog superstardom. Little OTB only costs a few bucks a month and I’ve got bandwidth to spare. Can it be that expensive to run a Top 10 blog? The most expensive plan on HostingMatters is just $36 a month, less if you pay by the year. Sully has 4000+ contributors giving $20+ a year. That’s $80,021 at a minimum. And, frankly, he doesn’t post much more than I do, although he apparently gets a wee bit more e-mail.

Of course, if everyone who reads OTB more than twice a week would send me $20, I’d appreciate it. I’m not sure what I’d do with that $40, but I’d think of something.

Update (22:31) michele is much more annoyed at this than I am. Plus, she apparently has boobs. Who knew?

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Jack says:

    I’ll donate $20 on the condition that you donate $20 at my site.

    Ok, shameless plug. But I couldn’t resist. I’m sure the other guy reading this site won’t mind.

  2. Jay Solo says:

    You’re way better than Sully. He’s a little better since Raines quit, but I’d gotten pretty tired of reading what was once my primary blog. That’s why I placed him in the Saturnines category on my blogroll. He was getting too rabid, bitter, and one-note.

    Indeed, you are in my category of blogs I will check every day, multiple times a day, avidly. This is why you moved so far so fast in the Ecosystem and get referred to so often by other blogs.

    FWIW Reynolds isn’t on one of the standard plans. He buys hosting in some kind of discounted, bulk arrangement. Or so he has implied.

  3. Tom says:

    Sully pays himself and an assistant out of the money, and then covers his overhead. So he probably brought in over 100K on the last drive, and pays fairly well.

    I have to respect him. He took a risk with to develop his site out of pocket and now it pays the rent. Good for him! His genius is that he has used “lefty” terminology to develop revenue. Fundraiser vs. Subsciption.

    Now James, another year, you may have the headcount to do a “fundraiser”, could allow you to get rid of that other job you have.


  4. James Joyner says:


    Sully is smarter than I am and certainly a more polished writer. I agree, though, that he has gone from one of the three or four blogs I read all the time back in my pre-OTB days to being someone I read only occasionally. The Raines obsession and constant posting on homosexual issues just got tiresome for me.

    I’ve noticed that Glenn displays a HostMatters logo on his page. He probably gets some sort of discount for advertising them?

  5. Hoochie Coochie says:


    I’m curious, how much bandwidth do you accumulate a month, and how many visitors on average do you get a month (not page hits, actual visitors)? One of the concerns I’ve noted is that by becoming too popular bandwidth costs get so high you have to take out a mortgage to pay for it, at least the way some people tell it. Ive noticed you’ve locked out syndication though, which undoubtedly saves you a significant amount of bandwidth. 😀

  6. James Joyner says:

    It’s hard to get reliable visitor stats, as every counter seems to work differently. But my site host says I had 6836 unique visitors, 19010 visits, 62752 pages, and 239423 hits last month, consuming 4.17 GB of bandwidth.

    As far as I know, I’ve got RDR and XML feeds enabled. SpatziPundits has my feed on his page and you can get it on Blogtrack. I’ve got the links to syndicate toward the end of my left sidebar.

  7. michele says:

    Yes, but will you show your boobs?

  8. Tom says:

    Your XML feed is working. I found that it is a great tool, see who has something new, check it out and you are done. Saves a bunch of time instead of just trolling for content.

  9. Paul says:

    OK maybe it is just me– But I found it crass.

    I felt like I was assulted by a begger in a third world nation. (OK maybe that was harsh)

    But here is my point….

    I woulda prefered he just said:

    “Look this is a grand experiment in the new media. In the old media you looked at commercials and the advertisers paid my salary. In the new “blog media” I am self employed. If you think this content is worth paying my salary for, toss me 20 bucks so I can do this for a living. The readers pay my salary under either model but here we cut out the middle man.”

    Maybe I’m just a hopeless (self-employed) Republican, but I might have sent him 20 bucks if he said that. (ok maybe 10)

    I don’t doubt he works as hard or harder than most people in the country who earn their livings with their prose. And if there is a market for it, he should be paid. But I just don’t like begging.

    ‘Plus if he make 80,000 a year per pledge week and he has one every 6 mos, that is $160,000 a year.

    I bet the Times never paid him that!

  10. Well, he’s paying a staffer out of that money. So if he makes $80K x2 per year, that’s $160. Minus, say, $40K for the staffer plus $10K for site-related and accounting-related expenses (he’s clearly setting this up as a business, which can get costly depending on where you are). That leaves him $110K. A big-city magazine editor makes $150-200K a year, so he’s choosing to work his ass of *and* make less money by going down this road rather than attempting promotion in the world of dead-tree publishing.

    I, personally, didn’t find his approach offensive, because all the “pledge drive” appeals are clearly labeled, and I can skip them if I went.

    And it’s clear that he’s attempting to create a model for how all of us could make this pay, if we’re motivated enough.