Just before I went on vacation WordPress.com popped up a little notification that said that they were going to soon begin injecting native sponsored posts into blogs that were gliding along on the free plan.
That was certainly something I did not want. But would it affect this blog?
Technically I was on a plan, so not a freeloader. I had been grandfathered in for a few years on the old “no ads and allow me to edit CSS” plan, which ran for $30 a year. However, so far as the WP.com UI and many features were concerned, I was on the “free” plan. It said so right in my main admin page. And while they had continued to honor the no ads part of that plan… or I think they have been honoring, you don’t see ads if you’re logged into your own blog so I might not be the best judge… this seemed like something possibly outside the terms of that agreement.
I thought about chasing down somebody from WP.com to find out, but their “Happiness Engineers” and general happiest not answering direct questions and have occasionally been of the opinion that I am on the “free” plan as well, and thus not entitled to direct support.
That sounded tiring and I was getting ready to go on vacation for ten days, so I decided to just upgrade to one of their standard plans to be sure that the blog wouldn’t become an immediate cesspool while I was away. My cynicism knows no bounds and I tend to be of the “hope for the best, prepare for the worst” persuasion on a good day. Looking at the menu of options, I went for the Premium plan.
I’m not actually a “freelancer,” as that would imply somebody would actually pay for my writing, but it did offer Google analytics integration, something the “personal” plan at half the price did not offer.
This, of course, bumps up the amount I play for the blog annually quite a bit, but fifteen years in this is clearly my primary hobby (as opposed to the games I play) so spending a bit more on it isn’t a big deal. I had been thinking about that plan for a while, and almost pulled the trigger on it a couple of years back, but at the time they were really adamant that you had to sign up for a domain name to get that plan… it was part of the sign up process… and I have no interest in changing the URL of the site at this time. I might have been okay with “tagn.blog” I suppose, but after fifteen years I felt like tinkering with the address would not end well.
Anyway, they changed the signup since then and you don’t have to get a domain name RIGHT FREAKING NOW so I went with it. (They do keep pestering me about the domain name thing, but I can ignore that.)
So does everything feel “premium” now dear reader?
The first thing I did was setup the Google Analytics integration, so I will possibly be able to answer the question “how many regular readers do I really have?” finally. There is a whole report section on user retention. Expect more graphs for the 16th anniversary post, though I might skip the pie chart that shows 100% of my users access the site on the web.
I can now also accept payments. I can put something up on the sidebar that lets you donate to the blog. I am unlikely to do that, but I could if I wanted to.
I am also, somewhat ironically given much of the above, able to have ads on my blog… ads that will earn me money rather than it all going to WP.com.
I am half tempted to try this for a stretch, just to see how it goes. Aywren did a Blaugust post about ads on your blog and you need to earn $100 before they’ll send you anything, but I am curious as to how well (or badly) that would play out. With the premium plan there is simply an opt-in switch to turn them on. I’d ask for some feedback before I did it, and promise I would never become somebody who gets angry about people visiting with an ad blocker turned on.
So that is what has changed here. I suspect none of this is at all noticeable from reader side of the window. And now I have the option of bugging WP.com Happiness Engineers directly via live chat. We’ll see if that improves their historically poor responses.