As I’m writing this, Sounder at Heart has just gained its 2,000th paid subscriber and we now have nearly 4,000 total members. Those are rather remarkable numbers, especially considering we’ve only been an independent website for about four months.
I led with that because, frankly, it’s the most important aspect of what is making this whole enterprise function. Without support from people like you, we could not make this work. When we embarked on this journey we hoped we’d get enough support to at least show the potential, but so far you’ve delivered beyond any reasonable expectations we had. We were prepared to only get to this point at some point next year and have had to re-calibrate our expectations several times along the way.
More than the total number it's how we've maintained momentum. As expected, we saw a big burst of interest right when we launched. Less expected is that we've seen 44% growth over the last three months and continue to add paid subscribers at a pretty regular clip.
So far, your support has allowed us to pay every contributor more on a per-story basis than they were getting during the SB Nation days and in some cases quite a bit more than they were getting. More importantly, it has allowed us to set up a payment structure that feels fair, flexible and sustainable. In December, I was even able to pay myself. I won’t pretend as if I’m being totally made whole yet from when I was a full-time employee at Vox, but we’re now at a point where I can at least see that as a reasonable goal.
That's obviously a somewhat selfish goal, but treating this as a fulltime job is also what allows me to provide the backbone of coverage you've come to know and expect from Sounder at Heart. It's why I'm able to attend multiple training sessions every week and have the familiarity with sources that allows you to have an unmatched level of insight into the team.
We’ve managed to get here without putting too much effort into finding new sponsors. Full Pull Wines has committed to becoming our first sponsor under our new terms, so you can probably expect to start hearing from them in other places than Nos Audieits, but we are still looking for more.
In making this transition, I feel confident that we've managed to maintain the vast majority of what attracted all of you to Sounder at Heart in the first place and have created a foundation to make it even better. Here's some of what we added in 2023 and how we plan to improve it going forward:
- We started an AMA program on our Discord, welcoming Matt Doyle, Andrew Wiebe, Herculez Gomez and Ravi Ramineni. I hope to do at least one of these a month.
- We increased the cadence on Nos Audietis to about one show per week, while adding the mini-podcast Sound Bite(s) and mailbag episodes to the regular rotation for subscribers. In 2024, we intend to maintain that cadence while adding more longer-form interviews as well as a postgame call-in show.
- We started doing more tactics-heavy content around games and hope to beef that up.
- One thing missing in our migration was the Sounder at Heart archives. We should have those back by the time the season kicks off.
- The intention is to also provide more insider-type coverage. To that end, we will attempt to cover more road games in person and offer more deeply reported stories.
- Recreating the comment platform at SB Nation was one of our bigger challenges. I feel like we are probably 50% there now, and our hope is to at least get comment counts on the front page. I do not think we can bring back read/unread comments, however.
- Like our Sounders coverage, I'm confident that our Reign coverage remains best in class. That doesn't mean we're going to rest on our laurels. Expect even more robust Reign coverage in 2024.
Of course, none of this happens without your continued support. I'm extremely proud of what we've built here. Ask any MLS or NWSL fan and I'm sure you'll be hard-pressed to find any teams that have a resource anything quite like this. By subscribing, you're doing your part to not only ensure that continues to be the case but allows us to improve going forward.
I'll close 2023 by saying I see myself more as a steward of the community than anything else and appreciate the faith you've shown in me. I welcome any feedback, both positive and negative, and urge you to reach out if there's something on your mind.
Catching up on Sounder at Heart
You have one duty, vote in the SaH awards:
Looking back at the week's news
Gotham get a big time celebration; Timbers are signing a former Sounder
Report: Portland Timbers finalizing deals with pair of goalkeepers. Muse is a former Sounders HGP who was last with Charleston Battery.
13 free agents USL Championship clubs could target this offseason. Former Sounder AB Cissoko makes the list.
As MLS 2024 schedule releases, all eyes turn to Messi. Except ours, because we don't get to see him live and in person until the Open Cup, Leagues Cup or MLS Cup finals.
Another USL 2 team launches in the area
Welcome Midlakes United to the USL League Two Northwest Division. Midlakes is an eastside of Lake Washington club that joins West Seattle Junction, OlyTown and Ballard in the division.