Editor's note: This is the first newsletter we're sending from our new site. One of the things that this new platform allows for us to do is to send out emails whenever we post anything. If you don't want us filling up your inbox with 3-4 emails a day, be sure to unsubscribe from the "All Content" newsletter. Our flagship newsletter – "Everything you need to Know" – will continue to go out about twice a week, with the aim of sending it on Monday and Friday. In the meantime, we just wanted to say that we're incredibly excited and appreciative that you've chosen to make this move with us. Thank you for your support and remember, You'll Never Yacht Alone.
Sounder at Heart is formally parting ways with SB Nation/Vox Media starting on Aug. 21 and will become a primarily reader-supported website. If you’d like to read more about our reasons for making this change, I would urge you to read our announcement post from last week. This post will be primarily focused on more of the practical aspects of the change.
Let’s get started:
Is the site moving?
No. Assuming everything works as it’s supposed to, on Aug. 21 SounderAtHeart.com will take you to the updated version of this website. That said, we’re preparing for the possibility that everything won’t go perfectly and have created this staging site. As you can see, we’ve already started posting most of our stories here in parallel to what we’re doing there. We highly encourage you to poke around and even leave comments.
Will this require new log-ins?
Yes. As part of this move, we’re moving off of SB Nation’s platform and onto something called Ghost, which is sort of a cross between WordPress (which powers a huge number of websites on the Internet) and Substack (which is more of a newsletter delivery service). To fully access the site, you’ll need a Ghost log-in and then you’ll need a technically separate log-in to use our commenting system. That’s powered by Coral — the same software that runs Sounder at Heart’s commenting platform. We’re still refining the commenting system, but it should look and feel very similar to what we have now. Hopefully, you won’t have to do that more than once on each device, but that’s one friction point of this move.
What happens to all the old comments and archives?
Unfortunately, this is another downside of the move. Our commenting history will be completely lost, which is a bummer. The story archives will be salvaged, however. I can’t guarantee that the full archives will be available the day we launch, but we will have access to them and will be working to get them back up ASAP.
Is “reader-supported” just code for “everything is going to be pay-walled”?
No! In fact, our intention is to keep almost everything you’ve grown accustomed to getting for free in front of a paywall. The analogy we’ve been using is something like KEXP, which has grown into one of the biggest listener-supported radio stations in the country, but you can always turn on the radio and find it. When Brian Schmetzer quipped after a game that “Everybody reads Sounder at Heart” last year, we took that to heart and want to make sure that we remain as accessible as ever.
If it’s mostly free, why would anyone pay for it?
Simply put, it’s to make sure we continue to operate. We’re taking a big risk by making this move, no question. I’m quitting my job at SB Nation because I believe in this project and think this site can have a more secure future through reader support than it did under the old model. But make no mistake — if readers don’t want to pay for the work me and my colleagues are doing, it probably goes away.
Does paying a subscriber fee get me any added perks?
It does! We’ve created a suite of membership tiers that are designed to fit virtually any budget. You can read all about them here. Our lowest tier is currently priced at $19, which works out to less than $2/month or, like, $.02 per story and gets you access to all our articles and podcasts. To be honest, though, the only way that level sustains this operation is if virtually every reader we have buys it. We’re not expecting that to happen.
The bread-and-butter membership we think will prove sustainable is our “Supporter” tier. Right now, we’re selling that for $50/year for the first year of membership. Once we go live, the price will go up to $74. That comes with a few added perks, probably the most notable of which is access to a new Discord server that we’ve launched.
We’re also offering a deal on our “Advocate” membership tier. Early adopters will get that for $150/year and that price will be locked in forever. On Aug. 21, the price on that membership will go up to $206/year. There are some more added perks with that level, too.
If you just really want to show your support in bigger ways, we’re also offering a “Benefactor” tier for $500/year.
Note: If you already had a membership – either paid or not – these coupons won't work. We still want to give you those discounts, however, and are happy to manually apply them if you just reach out over email.
The Sounder at Heart Discord server is a dedicated space for supporters of the clubs to connect, engage, and learn. With social media becoming increasingly toxic and fragmented, the server hopes to serve a community of PNW soccer enthusiasts as a town square of their own. It’s not supposed to supplant our comment section — which we hope will only grow more vibrant — but is more of a supplement. Since it’s not a public space, the hope is that it’s a bit more personal and insider-y, too.
What if I was already a subscriber to the Nos Audietis Substack?
The good news is that we’ve already completed the migration and if you were paying for the Substack, you don’t need to do anything. You’re also already signed up for the newsletter. You should be able to access the new site using the same email you used there, but will probably need a new password. Getting a sign-in link is as easy as requesting it. The bad news is that your membership defaulted to the lowest tier on the new site and we’re working with Ghost to find the best way to address this. You'll still be able to access all the content, but you should have received an email that explains how to access those other perks. If you haven't, please reach out over email.
How are you planning to keep my credit card info secure?
We won’t actually have your credit card information. All our payments are run through a company called Stripe, which is one of the internet's main payment-processing companies. You can read more about them here. The TL;DR is that giving your information to Stripe is no riskier than making any other online payment.
Does this mean there won’t be any ads?
Our intention is to not sell traditional “programmatic” ads like you see on virtually every other website. Not only are those pretty annoying and many of them track you across the internet, but they’re also simply not as lucrative as they once were. I won’t get into my whole diatribe about the ad-supported model of media, but I’ll just say that I think we can make this whole thing work without them.
That doesn’t mean there won’t be any ads, however. We are definitely looking for sponsors, ideally companies and organizations who specifically see value in us and our readers. These will be less intrusive and hopefully feel more relevant, too. If you have an organization or business that wants to work with us, please reach out.
Are there other ways I can support the site?
Absolutely. Even if you can’t afford to buy a membership or want to support us beyond whatever you can afford, it’s super helpful to simply help spread the word. Tell your friends. Tell your family. Link to our stories on social media. Listen to our podcasts. Subscriber to our newsletters. Comment on stories. We’re going to have more live events — come to those. We’re going to be expanding our merch table — buy something from there.
Where does the money go?
By going independent we’re incurring a bunch of new costs on things like web-hosting, email and bookkeeping. So some of your money just goes toward those types of basics. But the bulk of your subscription cost will go right back to our content creators. The intention is for every writer, photographer, podcaster and editor on the site to be paid for the work they do. Sounder at Heart is where it is because it’s operated as a professional news organization and the only way it stays that way is by paying producers fairly for their work.
Does that mean the masthead will shrink?
Everyone who writes for the site has been given the opportunity to make the move. Just about everyone has accepted. Like I said earlier, our intention is to make this move as seamless as possible and I am a strong believer that one of the things that has long made Sounder at Heart stand out is the variety of voices we’ve featured. There are currently over a dozen regular contributors to the site and my intention is to grow that number.
What if I want to get involved?
In the past, we’ve always suggested that prospective new writers start off by writing FanPosts. We’ll be losing that functionality in the move. But if you have a story idea you’d like to pitch, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org. We are constantly looking for new voices and would love to hear about your ideas.
Are you going to be changing your coverage?
You can at least expect our base level of coverage to remain the same. We’re going to still do wall-to-wall coverage of both the Seattle Sounders and OL Reign, through our partners at Ride of the Valkyries. We’ll also cover Tacoma Defiance, Sounders Academy and Ballard FC when it feels relevant. We’re open to covering other parts of the Greater Seattle soccer scene, too, but we don’t really have plans to expand, yet.
To the degree we’re going to branch out, it will be in the type of coverage we offer of the Sounders and Reign. We’d like to do more tactical pieces, for instance, and this model will allow us to do more longer-form writing. It also frees us from doing some things that were more about SEO than quality coverage. The TL;DR is that we think the editorial quality of our site will only improve with this change.
What about the podcasts and newsletters?
A few months ago, the Sounder at Heart podcast, along with Coffee & Valkyries, were absorbed into the Nos Audietis feed. Those will all remain as core parts of our coverage and will hopefully expand. As it is now, we publish about 2-4 times per week.
There are currently two newsletters associated with Sounder at Heart, one that operates through SB Nation and the other that’s on Substack. The mailing lists will be combined on the new site where we already have a variety of newsletter offerings you can sign up for. In fact, I’d suggest you go into your Ghost profile and select which newsletters you want to receive because there are a lot more options now.
Are you going to bring back live events?
That’s fully our intention. We still don’t know when the next formal YachtCon will be, but we are working with some partners to host several smaller events. Stay tuned for details.
How will the change actually work?
Although the move to our new platform won’t officially happen until Aug. 21, we will stop publishing there on Friday and move coverage to PNWSoccerMedia.com over the weekend. Yes, there’s a Reign game on Aug. 18 against KC Current and a Sounders game against Atlanta United on Aug. 20. The Reign gamethread will be on the old site, but follow-up coverage will be here. The Sounders gamethread, as well as some of the preview stuff, will all be on this site. I suppose that will be a good stress test! The old site should still work over the weekend, but any comments or articles that get written will be lost forever. That gives you more than a week to get signed up. Hope to see you there!
If you have any more questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments and I’ll do my best to get to all of them.
Thanks for supporting us and remember, You'll Never Yacht Alone.