Feb 15, 2012

Read & Trust Uses Paid Newsletters to Foster Quality Content

In November 2010, Boston-based graphic designer and fiction writer Aaron Mahnke decided he’d finally had enough. After years of trial-and-error-plagued internet searches for entertaining and thoughtful content, he’d amassed an online directory of sorts made up of writers he read and trusted. "I began to notice how connected all my favorite online writers were to each other," he remembers. "I had built relationships with a lot of them, and really enjoyed the way they played off each other, recommending certain articles by other writers to their own readers."

When it dawned on him how happy he was with his curated crew, he wanted to share that happiness with others, so he started Read & Trust. From technology critics to published authors to notable innovators like Instapaper creator and Tumblr co-founder, Marco Arment, R&T offers exclusive, theme-based content in its weekly paid newsletter. For $5 per month, readers get four articles that can’t be found anywhere else on the internet. Articles like this one, by former Macworld and Ars Technica editor David Chartier, who currently does freelance writing while working for 1Password:

When a reader becomes interested in a particular R&T contributor, they can click on the writer’s sidebar to get a curated group of that writer’s favorite writers. "From there, they just need to enjoy the thrill of discovery!" Mahnke says. But aside from simply furthering great content, Mahnke hopes that by paying his contributors, he’s fostering the idea that good work deserves compensation. "[Paid newsletters are] a great way to build value and reward people for creating quality content," he says. "Too many things are free these days. Sometimes it’s just too hard to put out quality products without a cost involved. The paid-newsletter model helps me do that."