We love doing this.
After five years, the fire in the belly still burns, and we often talk of wanting this to be our main job, our career. We love what we do, and are pretty sure we’re doing it well. Our numbers grow almost every day; suddenly, instead of wondering if anyone is even out there reading us, we find we now have thousands of you.
But we think we can do even better. Over the years, we’ve had some innovative ideas and have been hankering to offer you more: more frequent posts of restaurant write-ups, more videos, more resources, more posts…and just more content in general. Quality content about all things food in South Jersey, the kind that New Jersey’s newspapers, magazines, and many local websites cannot or will not provide. We’ve even had endless ideas for events, ones you couldn’t find anywhere else that would use all that we have come to know about South Jersey and share it with souls who are just as passionate as we are.
And yet, our hands have been somewhat tied. To do this, we need more than just John, myself, and a few spare hours. As with most bloggers and website owners, this is currently not our primary job. John works nine-to-five, and I have been concentrating on my freelance writing to make ends meet (which John has dabbled in, too). But we often feel like we’re giving away some of our best Jersey food stories to other publications, or having them shaped in a way that fits their mission instead of the story we believe needs to be told. And so we turn once again to our site, but only to find that there just isn’t enough time to fit in both the stories for Eating In South Jersey AND the necessary freelance work; or enough out-of-pocket money to pay a talented writer or two to supplement some great posts, eat at all the restaurants we want to investigate, or implement the ideas we deeply desire to launch.
A few years ago, we turned to the paid advertising model, and have only found it lacking and unworkable for us. Many local websites have turned to the “paid post” model and are able to keep going that way. We have been approached many times in various forms, from the food establishment that offered us a stipend to write something favorable about them, to the companies looking to get their product out there who want us to put up paid “guest posts”. We decided long ago that was not the road we were going down; we believe the only thing that differentiates us from other sites is that our content is always our own, honest opinion (take it or leave it) and we do our best to report it as we see it. We may tend to be a “positive” site, but it’s only what we are truly positive about. Generally, if it’s not up to snuff, we don’t write about it. When we thought long and hard about it, John and I have decided that we would rather close up shop altogether than become something we just don’t want to be (content that just doesn’t have the research and thought put into it, or that is just not honest).
But it’s getting harder and harder to do this with just the two of us, working with the few resources we have.
For the past year, we have done much research and soul-searching, hemming and hawing, and it has come to this: sometimes you just have to take a shot on your dreams, to take the risks that are associated with what is important to you, with what makes your soul sing. We now set our intention to commit to finally implementing all of these wonderful ideas, to becoming the premium-content site we want to be, and to opening ourselves to the resources that will get us there. That is why, starting at midnight, August 5, we will be changing over to a mostly paid subscription model.
For many of you, this may come as a shock. We know we will lose some of you, maybe even for good. But we’re willing to bet (we hope!) that most of you like what we do enough to value it, to subscribe the way you already do to your favorite magazine or newspaper. So the way it will work is this: starting on August 5, when you log on to our site, you’ll find that the Events page, Cooking Class page, and all restaurant reviews will require a subscription to view; most other places will allow you a few views before we ask you to subscribe. However, our “Find A Food Bank” page will forever and always be free, as will our new video show, Savoring South Jersey. We will still be providing our weekly “Eating, Drinking, and Cooking This Weekend” roundups and the “Sunday Edition” food news reports, but via email exclusively to our subscribers. So here’s the nitty-gritty on our introductory rates:
- If you simply don’t want to commit for too long, you can get the “Small Plate” rate by subscribing on a monthly basis for $4.99/month (which includes access to the entire website and to the weekly “Eating, Drinking, and Cooking This Weekend” roundups and the “Sunday Edition” food news reports, which would be sent to your email box ) OR
- You can get the “Whole South Jersey Enchilada” for an introductory yearly subscription rate of $19.99 (for a total savings of $39.89). The “Whole Enchilada” includes: access to the entire site, the weekly “Eating, Drinking, and Cooking This Weekend” roundups and “Sunday Edition” reports, an automatic subscription to our monthly newsletter, and a few little extra foodie surprises in your email inbox from time to time.
- The introductory yearly rate will run only until September 5, as a chance for those of you who have stuck with us to continue on at a lower rate, as a deeply felt “thank you” for helping us become what we are today. After September 5th,we will be re-evaluating our regular yearly rate (after all, we’re knocking off more than 60% off the total cost, and we honestly don’t think we’ll be able to sustain that).
We hope you’ll continue to stick with us, enjoying what we’ve always brought you, but also enjoying some of the additional changes we have in store for you (we think you’ll find it’s well worth it). And for those of you who still can’t swing these rates: well, we know how hard these times can be financially, and we’ve been there, too. We want you to know we really value your readership, and truly hope you’ll come back to find us when things get a little better.
Many thanks to all of you…and onward and upward!
-Lisa (and John!) Howard-Fusco