No. 176: Advertising vs. Subscriptions

In a world where advertising rules everything around me, how do I keep CultureBanx’s subscribers front and center while growing this business?

Financial news streaming startup, Cheddar, announced yesterday that they raised $22 million. As part of the announcement, they declared that they are doing away with paid subscriptions. My mind went back to their constant stream of infomercially Instagram posts. That’s one of their revenue streams. If you see anything close to that from CultureBanx, please throw something at me!

I want CultureBanx to resonate with what our readers want, even as we push forward on our planned revenue streams. Late last week, I heard a publisher state that a media business has to decide between paid subscriptions and advertising. You can’t do both well. I think the New York Times would beg to differ. I mean, they did $1B in paid subscription revenue last year, and they still advertise.

I want CultureBanx to reach black professionals around the world. I’m not convinced paid subscriptions is the way to accomplish that. But I love the concept of subscriptions focusing us on delivering for our readers. We’ve got a handful of paid subscribers we’re testing this with, and I think about them all the time. I email, text, call them to be sure the content is resonating.

Contrast that with an advertising partnership we’re working on. Our potential partner has some great ideas for content they’d like to share with our readership. I’ve got to be conscious to keep what I know of my readers wants in mind while shaping the partnership, but ultimately this potential partner is writing the check.

Now, expand that if we place display ads on CultureBanx’s website, allowing another company to place ads with us. While we would have some control there, I’ve seen some pretty troubling ads on reputable media companies’ sites. I don’t want that near us and I’ve got remain focused on our readers even when the advertising money looks tempting. At the same time, I want CultureBanx to reach a lot of professionals as quickly as possible.

Clearly, I’m still working through this in my head and conversations with readers and other entrepreneurs. I look forward to figuring it out!

Published by

Kwame Som-Pimpong

My name is Kwame Som-Pimpong. This is my blog. You can email me at

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