Friday Q&A: July 24, 2009

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Will Stewart is back this week for the second and final Q&A about the
business side of TSL. The discusses the demographics of site users, talks
about our subscriber numbers and gives a list of our highest rated articles of
all-time. To read last week’s Q&A, see the link at the bottom of this article.

Next week we’ll resume our normal Q&A sessions on Virginia Tech
sports. If you have a question you’d like to ask, email it to chris@techsideline.com.

1) Long time reader and this is my first Q&A. I am very curious about the
size of the TSL community. What is the data on how many unique members there
are? How many pay for the subscriber content? How has the membership increased
over the years and when, historically, have you seen the biggest spikes/drops in
membership? Thanks.

Will Stewart: Hmmm, how to tap-dance around this one … I’m not
comfortable giving out numbers of subscribers, because then people will do the
math (multiply it by the $50 subscription price) and think we’re rolling in
dough. As you can tell from last week’s discussion, we’re not.

TSL has two full-time employees (Chris Coleman and me), writer expenses
(running well over $1,000 a month — Raleigh Hokie beat us up on pay
negotiations last time around) office expenses, benefits expenses, a retirement
plan, cell phone costs, site hosting costs … you get the idea. TSL is
structured like any other small business, with associated costs. Steep
costs.

I will throw some numbers at you: We have over 33,000 registered users —
that includes all subscribers and anyone who has ever registered for the message
boards, even if they never used their accounts. Of those 33,000, only about
4,300 (about 7.5%) have over 100 lifetime posts. It’s about time for us to
“cull” our database and rid it of old, no-longer-used accounts, and I
think, depending upon where we set the bar, that will drop us to about
22,000-25,000 registrants.

Remember, the database goes all the way back to October of 1999, when we
implemented our message board system, and we have only skimmed it (gotten rid of
old accounts) once, about five years ago.

Number of Subscribers

Of those 33,000 users, I’ll say this: we have more than 2,500 subscribers,
and fewer than 5,500.

Here’s

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