The world needs to know about Romania. And our readers help make it happen
The world needs to know about Romania. It needs reliable information and truthful stories from Romania, and with help from readers, we can make these happen. This autumn, we want to double the number of members who support Romania Insider. Corina Chirileasa, the co-founder of Romania Insider, writes about our plans, shares the results of our membership campaign so far and the “ free content for all” pledge for the coming months. How will this influence you as a reader of Romania Insider?
It’s been 10 years and close to 50,000 daily news, features & interviews Romania Insider has shared with millions readers from all over the world. We believe we have been contributing to democracy by making available the truth from Romania to citizens, be them voters or decision makers in different areas and from different parts of the world, who have a say and an impact in Romania. From the many Romanians abroad, to foreigners in Romania who have decision making power in companies as managers or investors, to foreign journalists who need to understand what happens in Romania, or EU officials who follow local society and politics changes.
What has driven us further every year on a tough market which is media in general, and niche media in particular, was the belief in our vision and mission: that we should provide an open door to Romania for everyone in the world, through our quality, carefully selected and well written articles, and always abiding by our ethical principles. I can’t stress this enough: nobody tells us what to write, we’re not politically influenced, our advertisers don’t influence the content, we don’t publish paid articles disguised as editorial, we separate facts from comments. This is incredibly important in the world we live in.
Since the start of this year, our mission has been shaken by unpredictable economics. For the last decade, we’ve been funded solely by advertising, which is why we managed to offer all our content for free to everyone. This year, advertising support has started to thin out as companies slashed their budgets and it became increasingly hard for an independent media like us to find advertisers who still have marketing budgets.
So we had to speed up a program we had been planning for a while, and burn a few stages in the process: our membership program. In spring, we started a campaign which allows readers to support us and have a say in our future. In less than 30 days, we had to launch this membership program six months ahead of schedule, with a different technical solution - which allowed us to launch sooner - and with a different content strategy than initially planned. We chose to work with German - based Steady to manage memberships on our site.
You too can support our continuous work by contributing as a member - from as little as 3 EUR/month. Members read the website without seeing any ads and receive up to 7 premium, themed, awesome newsletters. Check our membership options here.
How we fund Romania Insider
In the first 6 months since the start of our membership program with Steady, we gained 473 members, who are helping us cover around 7% of our monthly costs.
The annual sums our members pledged to support our work are covering so far the equivalent of two large advertisers’ budgets per year. So we’re still very much relying on advertising to support our work, and we’d like to focus more on our content rather than trying to grapple for budgets to make ends meet.
In the first three quarters of the year, we’ve made over half of our revenues from online advertising, while subscriptions (which include memberships through Steady, app subscriptions and direct content subscriptions to companies) make some 13% of our income. The rest is covered by a mix of services for companies, such as content creation, and third party partnerships such as classifieds (real estate and jobs).
So we continue to need our readers’ help. In the last couple of months, you may have noticed changes in the way you access content on Romania Insider. As many other publishers from all over the world, we too are trying to find the right balance between different parts of a membership model, such as free vs locked content, trial period or no trial, just to name a few. We tried different options, including locking all articles for a limited period in August and September, with a 30 day trial so that everyone still has access to it, in order to understand better what our audience wants.
What’s new in content & our added value to society
Since we started on this path, we also listened to our readers and members more, and launched three new premium newsletters: one on Capital Markets, one on Agriculture, and a Monthly Wrap up newsletter. Curating and selecting through a high amount of information daily, weekly and monthly to bring only what’s relevant is one of the added values we have been offering our readers for years.
We send now 13 newsletters, 7 of which are members-only newsletters, and 6 are sent free of charge to over 10,000 readers. In October, we’re launching our 13th newsletter: Romania Insider Cooking, a free for all newsletter that has been requested by members.
We started publishing more on politics, including some in depth analyses during the recent local elections. We’re now working on delivering our first webinars and our first podcasts and we hope to launch them by the end of the year. There’s more in store, including involving our readers a lot more with reader-generated and editor - filtered content.
We added two new part-time members to our team: an online marketing specialist and a tech specialist to help us navigate the new projects and grow. We’re a team of 13 people, four of whom are full-time journalists. We also have four colleagues who work part-time.
What’s in store?
Now we want to double the number of our members until the end of the year while offering all our content for free to everyone, thanks to increasing help from individuals and companies that want to support our work through our membership program.
This is our long-term bet: will it be possible for an independent, niche media company like ours to be supported in the long run, largely by its readers? We believe it is possible and we hope you will help us win this bet with ourselves.
What can you expect from Romania Insider until the end of the year? Lots of new content, including from selected guest writers and on new topics we’ve covered less before. Plenty of meaningful content on Romania’s contribution to different areas in the world, from business to culture, and uncovering our national values. Stories for foreigners who want to understand Romania in practical ways. Stories about Romanians who live in every corner of the world and who share their stories with us. You should also expect the same quality in how we select stories and write them, and the same ethical approach in everything we do.
You can expect more transparency and more frequent messages like this one, explaining where we are in our journey and what we have accomplished (or not).
How can you support our work?
If you value what we do here at Romania Insider, you should know that every little help counts. You could start a monthly or an annual membership - not only will you support us in doing our work, you will also receive 7 super awesome and incredibly useful newsletters just for members, and you will read Romania Insider ad-free. Of course you can cancel this any time should you wish. Our members so far gave us 5 stars out of 5 for the experience of reading the site without any banners, and I think you’ll love it too. Several options to support available here, starting from as little as EUR 3/month.
If you like reading more on your mobile phone and would prefer the streamlined experience of an app, which shows you all new articles in the order of publishing, where you can save stories for later and also read articles without seeing any ads, sign up for a subscription to the Romania Insider app (Android and iOS) - more about the app on this page. You can download the app for free and browse through the headlines without a subscription needed.
Your support and the positive messages we receive from our members help us push through the ups and downs of a tough 2020 and an uncertain future for all. We want to be here for at least 10 more years for you! We’re optimistic and believe in our members and our readers - every new member helps us bring one more story at a time, from Romania to the world.