We often get asked how Crikey is going so here is an abridged version of the latest life member’s update which went to our 72 caring life members two weeks ago. Each of the them contributed $500 to the cause and we love them for it. Further down we have republished the list of Crikey nicknames for the benefit of new subscribers.

Dear 72 Crikey life members

SUBSCRIPTIONS REVENUE

Well, it’s been as busy as ever and we finished August strongly to rack up gross revenues of (withheld) second only to the record (withheld) taken in July if you exclude the “violin months” of February and March when we took a combined $65,000 thanks to Steve Price.

Paying subscriptions have been coming in steadily at about 70 a week and we’re now up to 4350 after we culled about 100 subscribers whose emails were bouncing.

Despite fixing our technical problems, our renewal rates remains dreadfully low at about 25 per cent although quite a few people who drop off come back as new subscribers a few weeks later.

Based on current trends, we’re budgeting to take about $80,000 in renewal revenue and (withheld) in new subscriptions this financial year.

But if we can lift the renewal rates about 50 per cent it will make a big difference. This subscriber chart indicates how we’ve been travelling and how renewal rates will become more and more important with each passing month:

(Table on monthly subscribers and churn withheld)

See how the numbers up for renewal rise for the rest of the year. The June and July churn figures are exaggerated because that’s when we had technical problems and were processing them manually.

Clearly we are still a business driven substantially by new subscriptions but with a high churn rate it will be hard to grow rapidly above about 5000 subscribers.

WEBSITE TRAFFIC

The traffic has come back from the peaks of July which largely reflects a paucity of new stories on the site as most of the effort is going into the sealed sections.

We should be worried about four weeks of successive declines but this is from a high base and the subscription numbers and overall revenues remain strong.

The recent weekly figures are as follows:

Week to Thursday Aug 1: 74,810 page views by 31,219 unique users Week to Thursday Aug 8: 94,436 page views by 32,862 unique users. Week to Thursday Aug 15: 93,061 page views by 33,054 unique users Week to Thursday Aug 22: 90,723 page views by 31,555 unique users Week to Thursday Aug 29: 66,568 page views by 25,442 unique users Week to Thursday Sep 05: 64,048 page views by 23,980 unique users

I’d like to get this back up to about 80,000 page views a week (we’ll be above that this week – Sep 20) and am confident this will happen if we return to publishing about four new stories a day on the site.

FINANCIAL SITUATION

As usual, the money has just poured out so there’s only about $3000 in available funds at the moment and we’re probably going to cop another $10,000 in taxes by the end of October so we really should try to put something away while the times are good.

However, whilst the personal line of credit with Diners is up to $18,000 we have managed to build up a $15,000 share portfolio over the past two months as we gear up for the upcoming AGM season which will include an as yet undisclosed tilt at the ASX board on top of News Corp, the RACV and the Copyright Agency Ltd.

If you net everything out our net debt is down to about $5000 which is as good as its been since the tech wreck wiped $20,000 off Paula’s share portfolio in April 2000.

BANNER ADVERTISING

A late rush in bids for the September banner ad lifted the total revenues for the month to $2028 which we’re pleased about as it is only $28 shy of the July figure and click through figures remain low, as they do with all websites. However, given the demographic of our readership, Crikey remains an attractive place for brand awareness banner advertising.

EMAIL ADVERTISING

Now that we’ve cracked the magical 10,000 email inboxes, the $150 daily email ad is flying off the shelf. This is the main reason we’ve been bombarding you with two editions a day Paula has been selling too many email ads which is a good problem to have.

We’ll probably bump the cost of a daily ad email ad up to $200 later this year and also launch a job ads section in the middle of each sealed section.

We offer a free email ad with each $200 spent on banner ads so this is also propping up the banner ad bids.

At this stage we’re budgeting to take about $2000 a month in email ads but we should be able to beat this going forward.

RELAUNCH OF THE SITE

We’re planning a major relaunch of the site when we notch up 1000 days of publishing on October 14. This will include a new design and provision for two new advertising categories one strip down the right hand side of the site which is always visible no matter where you are and a second box that would appear in the text of every story as you’re probably familiar with from reading The Age or SMH online.

If you’re in Melbourne note in your diary that our 1000 day relaunch will take place from 5.30pm at The Imperial Hotel opposite State Parliament on Monday, October 14.

ALERTEES ON THE RISE

One of the best initiatives we’ve introduced this year has been the Alertees category where visitors to the site can register to receive free email updates. I send them about half of 4 sealed sections a week and try to cut them off at an interesting story to encourage them to sign up. This is effectively a free trial system and has worked very well judging by the numbers of people who have unsubscribed from it after signing up for the real thing. Registering is a two stage process and two weeks back Con included the 1800 people who were in the pipeline but hadn’t sent the confirmation email. This got the total numbers up to about 6200 but we then culled the 400 that were bouncing so we’re back just below 6000 Alertees.

LEGAL UPDATE AND SECURING CRIKEY.COM

Material about someone calling themselves Nick Bolkus trying to buy Crikey.com in America went to life members but has been withheld from this publication.

THREATS FROM THE SYDNEY SWANS

Crullers wrote a piece attacking the Sydney Swans board for lacking accountability and we y had a couple of complaints then a legal letter. We fixed these complaints on the site and in the daily email but they’d already referred the entire article to their lawyers who sent through the following by email yesterday. It really does rate as one of the great legal letters:

9 September 2002

Swans legal letter withheld but this is the apology they successfully demanded by published.

APOLOGY

“In two Crikey.Com articles of 3 September 2002 entitled “Swans Coaching Dilemma Betrays Accountability Failures” and “Colourful Sydney Swans Director”, respectively, Crikey made unwarranted and incorrect assertions concerning individual members of the Sydney Swans Board of Directors. Crikey.Com acknowledges that it was wrong to publish those assertions and we acknowledge that our criticisms were untrue and unwarranted. We unreservedly apologise to the individual Board members and to the Board as a whole for any hurt or embarrassment that we have occasioned, and undertake in future to ensure our reporting of such matters is accurate and even handed.”

REWORKING THE SYSTEMS

Our Gadget man has built virtually everything that we’re running Crikey on but we’ve reached a size now where things are maxing out. The archive was out of action for a couple of weeks but is back in play now, albeit without the search function and without any material after April this year. This will hopefully updated in time for the October 14 relaunch.

We removed the sealed sections from the archive last year when Steve Price’s lawyers kept digging damaging comments out and using them against us.

However, even just putting new stories from the website into the archive requires a manual process but we’ve got some hired help coming around to the bunker 3 days a week at the moment so we’ll get to this some time in September.

We’ve been fortunate that the charity service group OurCommunity has lined up 5 final year information systems students from Melbourne University to each work about 5-10 hours a week on Crikey for the next 13 weeks. We’ve earmarked them to completely build and deliver a customer management system so hopefully this will turn out to be a godsend. So far things look promising.

LOOKING FOR NEW DIGS

We’ve just bought a new computer and now have three work stations at the Crikey bunker but we really need to expand that to about 6 so we can get some students around to help and maybe even run the operation 24/7.

Therefore, we’ve decided to try and find a three bedroom house or apartment nearby and turn the current ideally located and spacious South Melbourne bunker into a dedicated Crikey operation with someone living upstairs.

The rent here costs $425 a week and we can probably afford to rent somewhere else for $400 a week but it will be another $20,000 overhead but the operational benefit should more than cover this cost.

This process forced us to sit down and actually draw up a budget for the coming year. Based on the past three months we’ve conservatively forecast revenues of about (withheld) for the 2002-03 financial year but all the costs we could think of add up to a similar number so we’re hesitant to take out an office lease until we’ve built up a bit of a cash pile.

The other thing to consider is that Paula is due again on January 29 (we found out the sex today but are keeping it to ourselves) so we’ll have to be in a separate office by the time this occurs but also won’t have her services for a few months.

PAULA’S UPDATE

By Paula Piccinini

A few weeks ago I received five identical letters from Private Eye saying my on line gift subscriptions had not worked. When I emailed asking for particulars I was advised eleven had not worked! This doesn’t marry to how much Private Eye has slogged my credit card but that is an issue I’m going to have to work out.

So, if you have asked for a Private Eye subscription and you still haven’t received it, email me and I’ll see to it.

Stephen’s plea for lifers seems to work. In the last 2 days we got 5 new lifers bringing our total to 70! This will really test my new excel spread sheet skills!

We also noticed that eight of our lifers were not receiving the daily sealed section so email me if you’re one of these and want this fixed.

Many of you have still not taken up your entitlement to an email ad and now that we are hitting 10,000 inboxes this is quite a valuable piece of advertising real estate that you should use. Please email me at [email protected]

Do ya best, Stephen and Paula

PS We’re changing to monthly life member updates after several of you suggested that fortnightly was too often. And we’d love to get your feedback about these updates as to what is interesting and what is boring.

Why not become a Crikey life member

When Steve Price took $50,000 from the sale of our home settling his defamation action earlier this year, we resolved to try and raise $50,000 from selling 100 life memberships. There are only 28 left and it really is an attractive package. For $500 you get a life time subcription to Crikey, two free annual subscriptions for friends (worth $132), an email ad that hits 10,000 inboxes (worth $150), a 12-month subscription to Private Eye (worth $96) and a caricature of yourself by our cartoonist Mark Cornwall (worth $100). Importantly, we treat our life members shareholders so each month you will also get the complete lowdown on how we are going, no the pared back edited version which appears above.

Guide to Crikey nicknames

Here it is folks, the list of all those puzzling nicknames that litter Crikey correspondence.

If you have an addition, correction or a name that isn’t on the list, email us.

ADEN – email sieve, the Adult Democrat Email Network.

ADnet – (another) email sieve. See also MADnet. Join in the fun at [email protected]

Ah Satan – longheld Crikey nickname for Natasha (spell it backwards) but dropped when she visited m’learned friends at Corrs Chambers Westgarth.

Anthony from Chippendale or AFC – regular Pricey caller. See also “Pricey”.

Argue, Don’t – dictatorial BHP and Brambles chairman, Don Argus.

Australia’s Worst Company Director – the Prime Miniature’s big brother, Stan Howard.

Australia’s Worst Mayor – situation vacant following the resignation due to bankruptcy problems of Wollongong’s George Harrison. (Not to be confused with the deceased Beatle, who might still be more effective than the former mayor was.)

Barbarian, Conan the – minister for 80s hairdos and revenue, Senator Helen Coonan

Beige, Dean – former SA liberal leader, Dean Brown.

Betz, Erica – senior Tasmanian Liberal and freedom of thought policeman, Eric Abetz.

Big Jack and Big John – embattled businessman and soon to be former Carlton President and current disqualified director John Elliott.

Big Kerry – small-time media player and occasional PM helicopter-shooter, Kerry Packer. See also “Little Kerry”.

Big Red – 2006 Commonwealth Games spendthrift, Ron Walker. See also “Mr Potato Head”.

Blunders – #1 ticket holder in the Crikey fan club, Herald Sun editor Peter Blunden.

Boonce – WA state Liberal Leader Colin Barnett. Known elsewhere as Barney Rubble.

Britney – leader of the Australian Democrats, the Honourable Natasha Stott-Despoja. See also “The Impossible Princess”, “Princess Tash”, “Smiffy” and “Ah Satan”.

Bruvva – prefix attached to the name of an ALP/union apparatchik. Favourite application is Aristocrat chairman John “Bruvva” Ducker.

Buttocks – failed Tasmanian opposition leader and gymnasium entrepreneur Bob Cheek.

Cadaver, the – the e51migre51’s emancipator, Philip Ruddock.

Chairman Stan – buffoon occupying the drive-time chair on 3AW who can’t even be bothered to read the newspapers. See also “Chairman Stanislaw”, “Zemaniac” and “Genghis Stan”.

Chairman Stanislaw – rarely used full name of that knockabout Aussie larrikin, “Chairman Stan”.

Crispy Bacon – Tassie premier, Jim Bacon.

Crullers – Crikey’s Sydney correspondent. See also “Neal from Redfern”.

Curious Snail – Brisbane’s only daily newspaper and Peter Beattie cheer squad, the Courier Mail.

Daily Terror, the – Rupert’s Sydney tabloid, the Daily Telegraph.

Dynamic Den – go-getting former Victorian opposition leader, Dennis Napthine.

Eddie Everywhere – anonymous television presenter and conflict of interest specialist, Eddie McGuire.

Fart Boy Slim – Kim Beazley after his cabbage diet led to huge weight loss and ever bigger flatulence.

Fer’son, Mar’n – elocutionarily challenged member for Batman, the Honourable Martin Ferguson, MP.

Gilly – Fairfax business publications boss and key man behind the creation of Crikey, Mick Gill. Another card-carrying member of the Crikey fan club.

Gloria – leader of the NSW Opposition, 2GB broadcaster. Sydney would be a much more pleasant place if The Parrot who Hectors was bird-napped rather than Hector the Parrot. See also “Gloriana”, “the Parrot”.

Gloriana – Gloria.

Golden Tonsils, the – cash for comment scoundrel and pokie advocate, 2UE talkback host, John Laws. See also “Lawsy”.

Human Headline, the – attention deprived former media personality, Derryn Hinch.

Hun, the – Crikey-averse Melbourne tabloid newspaper, the Herald Sun.

Hyacinth – Mrs Prime Miniature.

Impossible Princess, the – Britney and Ah Satan.

Incredible Bulk, the – senator Amanda Vanstone.

Jeff – plodding 3AK talkback host, Jeff Kennett.

John Boy – cherubic-faced NSW opposition leader, John Brogden.

Kacky Jelly – former sport minister, now parliamentary secretary to the Prime Miniature, Jackie Kelly.

Kermit – former NSW premier, floundering company director and Soccer Australia chairman who won’t lift a finger to get sponsors to support the game, Nick Greiner.

Khemlani – Federal member for Ryan, branch stacker, electorate loans recoverer amd master fundraiser, Michael Johnson.

King Carey – busy-fingered AFL footballer in exile, Wayne Carey. See also “the King”.

King, the – see “King Carey”.

Lawsy – the Golden Tonsils.

Lex Loser – sabre-rattling Foreign Minister, Alexander Downer.

Little Kerry – Big Kerry wannabe, Kerry Stokes. See also “Big Kerry”.

Lord Jim – all-conquering Brisbane Lord Mayor, Jim Soorley.

Lord Voldemort – gracious valedictory speech giver, former WA Lib powerbroker, Noel Crichton-Browne. Also known by Hillary as “Death Eater”.

Lounge Bar Bore, the – excitement generating Canberra hack, Alan Ramsey. Correspondent for the Sydney Yawning Herald.

MacBank – troubled merchant bankers, Macquarie Bank. See also “the Millionaire Factory”.

Mad Monk, the – the Minister for Workplace Relations, the Honourable Anthony John Abbott.

MADnet – ADnet.

Marlboro Man – David Jull, the Honorable Member for Fadden.

Malthus from Maroubra, the – scholar and NSW premier, Robert Carr

Mattasha – Australian political correspondent and legendary sport satirist, Matt Price, whose curious initial Natasha fondness seems to have dissipated.

Media Tart, the – plenty lay claim to this crown, but there is one and only one media tart above all other media tarts, that shark-swimming, watermelon grinning, branch stack-eliminating premier of the Sunshine State, Peter Beattie.

Milhous – minister for flogging off Telstra, Richard Alston

Millionaire Factory, the – MacBank. This name was created by Crikey and has caught on throughout the business world.

Moscow Mary – former Victorian 7:30 Report presenter, current state Minister Mary Delahunty.

Mystic Meg – former Democrat leader, Meg Lees.

Neal from Redfern of NFC – regular contributor to the Pricey show. See also “Crullers”.

Norder, Laura – popular state election issue pursued by Crikey’s ordinary Sydney man, Dan McNutt.

Nunawading Pete – Victorian Transport Minister and former Nuclear Disarmament Party vote-courter Peter Batchelor.

O’Dreary, Tony – the Prime Miniature’s popular press secretary.

Organ, Huge – retiring WMC chief, Hugh Morgan.

Osama – Australian Democrats’ national president Liz Oss-Emer

Parrot, Hector the – bird-napped Sydney pet store institution. Wrongly abducted when the scoundrels should have targeted the Parrot who hectors. See also “Gloria”.

Parrot, the – the Parrot.

Poison Dwarf, the – the Prime Miniature’s preferred candidate for media advisor, Channel Seven’s Canberra hack, Glenn Milne. A moniker also attributed to Pricey.

Pokie King, the – Carlton Football Club board aspirant, former share advisor to Mrs Jeff and Pokie King, Bruce Mathieson.

Porkchop – the Minister for Defence Disinformation, Senator Robert Hill. Also known as “One-tree Hill” or “Hamburger Hill”.

Potato Head, Mr – Big Red ComGames organiser Ron Walker.

Pricey – vertically challenged 2UE shock jock and serial litigant, Steve Price. See also “Anthony from Chippendale”, “Neal from Redfern”. See also “the Poison Dwarf”.

Prime Miniature, the – the Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Honourable John Winston Howard, MP. See also “The Rodent”, “The Runt”, “The Short Man”.

Princess Tash – Britney.

Rash Ash – occasional Crikey adversary, mega spammer, former bankrupt and former Bruce Mansfield manager Ash Long. Name occasionally mis-spelt as “A Shlong”.

Rodent, the – the Prime Miniature.

Runt, the – The Prime Miniature.

Saint Steve – Victorian premier, Steve Bracks.

Santamaria’s Love Child – DFAT mouthpiece moonlighting as the Australian’s foreign affairs editor, Greg Sheridan.

Short Man, the – the Prime Miniature.

Slimey Simey – the Honourable Simon Crean, MP, leader of the opposition.

SMH, the – excitement deprived Sydney Fairfax broadsheet, the Sydney Morning Herald. See also “Sydney Morning Herald”.

Smiffy – PR guru and estranged former Crikey flatmate, Ian Smith. The future Mr Britney.

Smirk, Captain – the Treasurer of the Commonwealth of Australia, the Honourable Peter Howard Costello, MP.

Smokey – Apple Isle Premier, Jim Bacon. Also known as “Crispy”.

Sphere of Influence, the – affair exposer, Laurie Oakes.

Sydney Yawning Herald, the – self explanatory.

Teenage Toecutter, the – Mark Latham’s Lateline sparring partner, Christopher Pyne

Tiny Tories, the – the Young Liberals.

Tiser, the – Rupert’s Adelaide flagship and mouthpiece for the state government of the day, the Adelaide Advertiser. Also known as The Traumatiser amongst local hacks.

Walking Dead, the – the Australian Democrats.

Wanker, EG – Nick Whitlam’s old man.

Williams, Dr Ray – HIH obstetrician, GP and debunked faith healer. Recipient of honorary doctorate.

Worst, the – Western Australia’s only local rag, the Western Australian.

Wreathie – defence consultancy guru and former minister, the Honourable Peter Reith.

Zemaniac – Chairman Stan.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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