Pageviews or GTFO.
Beacon cofounder Dan Fletcher wants to reverse the world’s obsession with pageviews. In doing so, he’s going against nearly every successful media company on the block.
Together with Backspac.es creators Adrian Sanders and Dmitri Cherniak, Fletcher’s Y-Combinator-backed platform connects writers to readers through subscriptions for $5 per month. Although subscriptions aren’t novel, Beacon stands out. It has quickly created a community of skilled journalists, photographers, and authors since its founding last September.
Five months, 90 writers, and several thousand subscribers later, Beacon has news to share: The company has redesigned its story feed and is launching an interesting replacement for the common like — the “Worth It” button.
Here’s a peek at the new feed:
Is it ‘Worth It’?
First, let’s get something out of the way. “Worth It” is, perhaps, an unfortunate name. It sounds a bit like Upworthy.
My own pickiness aside, Beacon is onto something interesting. Fletcher tells us that the Worth It button is the platform’s new metric for determining the value of a story. The more times readers click a writer’s Worth It button, the better the chance that writer’s story will appear in Beacon’s feed. In addition, this button is tied directly to Beacon’s bonus pool, which currently pays out $5,000 per month to top writers on the network, on top of the subscription revenues writers receive. Currently, Beacon does not take a cut of subscription revenue, but plans to in the future.
Teaching user behavior
The Beacon team wants the Worth It button to take on a special meaning, and teaching that behavior will be tough. To decrease the chance of impulsive clicks, Beacon’s button will only appear at the end of each story. By placing it at the foot, Beacon hopes to limit votes to those who’ve actually read the story.
While share buttons are great for social networks, Beacon believes tweets and likes don’t reward writers. The Worth It button, however, represents a chance for readers to vote on quality. Cumulatively, these votes give readers a chance to pay writers for creating excellent work.
On the surface, it’s an interesting experiment. If it works, it could help further Beacon’s mission of quality over quantity.