About a month ago, I posted an update about the future of Pirates Prospects, with some uncertainty to that future. At the time, we were seeing a massive amount of cancellations in response to the Pirates having a losing season. We saw 4-5 people cancelling per day, new signups were rare, and I would get a daily e-mail from someone saying they loved the site, but just weren’t supporting the Pirates while they were losing.
I was hesitant to post anything. In one hand, if that trend continued, and people kept unsubscribing to the site, the site wouldn’t be around for the long-term. We still have enough subscribers that we’re not in any immediate danger of shutting down. But we also can’t afford a mass exodus of subscribers to continue, as the future of the site would have been uncertain. That created the other side of the dilemma: If I do post something, it might be met with a negative reaction, and the idea that the site had no future.
I ultimately decided to go with the post. There was the concern I wanted to avoid, where people interpreted the post as if the site were in immediate danger of shutting down. But the good thing was that there was a stronger response to the post that helped avoid those fears. Cancellations slowed to a normal pace, where they were rare, and not a daily or hourly occurrence. You guys also stepped up with your support, both in terms of gift subscriptions, Pay It Forward plans, book sales, and the recent extensions.
We’re not out of the woods yet. This last year has made me realize that the site needs some sort of plan to counter the Pirates losing. Pittsburgh is not a city that accepts losing. It’s hardly a town that accepts winning. You wouldn’t know that the Steelers are 6-2, or that the Penguins won two Stanley Cups in a row if you read some of the coverage of those teams. If there is negativity about those situations, then the Pirates stand no chance when they’re not winning. And as I saw, the response was to jump off the bandwagon.
You guys have shown your support, and that is appreciated. Continued support is appreciated. But I realize that a future plan to avoid this problem is my responsibility.
I’ve made it public how you can help the site. I haven’t made it entirely public what kind of plans I have. Some of those I can’t make public yet, but involve some outreach programs next year to get new members. Some involve more marketing of the site, such as more frequent newsletters, or more activity on social media. We’re also going to be adding sponsors. I want to avoid ad networks, since they’re just the worst, and instead go with direct ad sales to businesses in the markets we cover.
Then there’s the business side, evaluating our spending and focusing on the things you really want to read. For example, the biggest interest comes with our features, and not much interest goes into game reports. This year we had too much priority on game reports, and features slipped. My number one priority next year is to load up on features, and scale back the game coverage. That already started this offseason.
This will be a balancing act, where my focus is to maintain the most coverage on the site, while making sure we’re getting that in the most efficient way. Bringing in new money from new subscribers and sponsors will only make that easier. And of course, your continued support is always what drives this site, and has been much appreciated over the last month.
Price Changes and Extensions
We’re about a week away from our prices going up, as I announced last week.
Annual prices will go from $29.99 to $34.99.
Top Prospect Plans will go from $79.99 to $89.99.
We have also done away with the monthly plans. Anyone currently on a monthly plan will need to upgrade to one of the two plans we have to maintain access to the site.
We are currently allowing you to extend your plan under the current prices. That will continue until next Wednesday, although former monthly subscribers will have until December 1st to make the switch under the old prices.
If you wish to purchase a one year extension at the current prices, you can do that here.
A three-year extension at the current prices can be purchased here.
The 2018 Prospect Guide
This year the 2018 Prospect Guide will have a bit of a different release. It will primarily be an eBook, and will have two updates. The first update is going to be the week before Christmas, containing our initial top 50 prospect list.
The second update will be before Spring Training, with the full book release. You can pre-order the eBook here, and get all of the updates the moment they are available.
We’re also selling a limited amount of paperback versions of the book. Those will be released when the full book is released before Spring Training, and can be pre-ordered here.
I’ve been working on several site updates this offseason. The first involves a few server updates, which finished up this week. The next step will be updating the site design. That will be followed by a switch to new membership software. Finally, the updates will conclude with the rebuild of the Pirates Prospects app.
This has been a slower process than I’d like, since my time is also divided between writing articles for the site and working on the Prospect Guide. I’m hoping to have the new site design finished in the next week or two. After that, the switch to the new membership software shouldn’t be far behind. At that point, I would have a good timeline for the return of the app.