American press about De Correspondent’s renewals

We’ve had some great international coverage about De Correspondent these last days, because enough members renewed their crowdfunding membership (over 11,000 of a group op 18,933 people signed up for another year – read the announcement on Medium):

  • Columbia Journalism Review about reader engagement;
  • GigaOM pointed out three things traditional media could learn from our site;
  • And Nieman Lab declared that ‘we’re still going strong’ in year two.

The newsletter with a lasting impact

I love the concept of the newsletter Snail Mail. The editors only send out links to things that are at least three months and by doing that they’re making sure not to step in the viral-trap.

The third edition pointed me to this classic presentation by Netflix CEO Reed Hastings and a 30-second habit that can change your life.

Lessons from year one of De Correspondent

Repost from MediumHere’s what happened to that world-record in journalism crowdfunding

In November 2013, GigaOm’s Mathew Ingram reported on the Dutch journalism crowdfunding campaign which led to the founding of our publication, De Correspondent:

It will be fascinating to watch De Correspondent, and see whether it can follow through on the incredible promise demonstrated by raising $1.7 million.

In the comments section, someone replied:

I give this venture 8 months. Seen this movie before.

I have to admit this comment made me nervous at the time. Would we be able to become a valuable publication? Would our crowdfunding members like the way we executed the idea in which they had invested? Or would we go down in history as merely a crowdfunding success?

Today, one year after our official launch on September 30th, 2013 , I’m thrilled to announce that more than half of our crowdfunding group has already renewed its membership and will stay with us. Continue reading “Lessons from year one of De Correspondent”

Save everything you’ve published online on your blog

Link to everything you create elsewhere on the web. And if possible, save a copy of it on your own blog. Things disappear so quickly, and even important work can slip your mind months or years later when you want to recall it. If it’s in one, definitive place, you’ll be glad for it.

Longtime blogger Anil Dash shares his 15 lessons from 15 years of blogging. You should read all his lessons but I wanted to highlight this one.

Except for the articles I’ve written during my time at The Next Web, I’ve always imported the blog posts I wrote for other blogs into this one (such as, and several old tumblrs). It serves as an archive of (almost) everything I’ve ever written, thus making sure I’ll never lose those musings and thoughts.

I advice you to do the same (if only for the feeling of accomplishment it will probably give you).

Founding a startup is messy, proves this honest podcast series

It’s weird how the human brain works: there are hundreds of thousands honest startup stories to be told, but I only listen to the glimmering billion dollar successes. I only compare my own endeavours with the ones of Zuckerberg’s and the Systrom’s, desperately reading their lessons to apply them to my own companies.

I remember being the first week of having conversations with investors – somewhere in 2012 – of one of the most insecure periods in my life. The anxiety and the insecurity these talks arose in me; I hadn’t seen any of that when acquaintances easily raised rounds of  a million dollars or more.

But of course, they’ve felt the same. It’s just that as soon as they raised that money, their companies became part of the global and sunny startup myth.

That’s why I love this new Startup podcast series by Alex Blumberg, who was a producer for This American Life and as co-founder of the business-economics series Planet Money. He wants to build a company for quality podcasting and shares his journey – conversations with his wife, awkward negotiations with his co-founder and a disastrous pitch session with Chris Sacca – with his listeners.

It’s intimate, recognizable and brave. Hope it helps you too:


Dear Guardian, these are our experiences with membership events

During a reader’s event, Alan Rusbridger, editor in chief of The Guardian asked the audience two questions:

A fair number were happy to be subscribers, but the most hands shot up when asked if they would like to be “members”.

Therefore, The Guardian now offers memberships, which basically allows people to get in touch with journalists and visit events, for which the newspaper is renovating a huge event space near their newsroom:

The new event space of The Guardian
Photograph: John Sturrock

I love this move for two reasons

  1. Journalists shouldn’t regard their public as passive readers but as potential contributing experts. 3.000 doctors know more than one medical journalist (read more about that here)
  2. Journalism events rock. At De Correspondent for example, we organized an evening called ‘War for dummies‘ – where attendees could ask questions to war refugees -, a crypto party where twenty hackers gave security advice to two hundred people who showed up with their laptops, and our photography editor gave tours through the Amsterdam photography museum. It’s a great way for us to keep in touch with our readers.
De Correspondent crypto party. Photo: Bas Losekoot
De Correspondent crypto party. Photo: Bas Losekoot

One challenge though: how do you scale such a strategy? We have 36.000 members, but most events host a maximum of 200, sometimes 400.

Or should we rely on a relatively small group of really enthusiastic members?

An update from De Correspondent’s renewal campaign

We’re in the midst of our renewal campaign at De Correspondent. In spring 2013, 18.933 pioneers backed our crowdfunding campaign for a daily antidote against the hypes of the day (read more about this world record in journalism crowdfunding). We went live on September 30th, 2013, and now these founding members will have to decide whether they’d like to support us for a second year. Already 8.000 have done so. When 10.000 members keep backing us, we’ll be safe for year two.

If you’d like to get to know De Correspondent better, here’s one of the articles we’ve translated from Dutch to English: Why we should give free money to everyone.

And here’s our campaign video with subtitles:

Ezra Furman and The Boy-Friends, I haven’t forgotten about you

Last weekend, I wandered around in the woods of a small Dutch island. At the intimate festival called Into the Great Wide Open (only 6,000 attendees), concerts take place in the forests and at the beach. On Sunday, I stumbled upon a concert by Ezra Furman and The Boy-Friends and was captured by the incredible charismatic stage presence of Furman and the energy in his music. He combines garage rock with a hillbilly sound and a saxophone. When Furman started playing the field was mainly empty, apart from some scattered groups of people having a picnics. At the end of his gig, hundreds of people were dancing. During songs, Furman preached:

‘What’s great about a festival is that the only thing that matters now is the band your listening to. You have forgotten everything before this, and won’t think about the future. Until the gig is over. Then you should forget about us too. But for now, it’s all about us’.

Damn right, Ezra Furman, it’s just that I haven’t forgotten about you.

Couldn’t find a good live recording, so here’s one from the Dutch radio station he went after his festival show:

And find him on Spotify here.

PS. For those of you who live in Amsterdam as well: he  plays at Paradiso tonight.

Patti Smith gives advice to the young

A friend alerted me to this interview with Patti Smith – the epitome of punk cool – from 2012. She encourages young people to ignore everybody (‘don’t expect to be embraced’), to build a good name (‘protect your work, don’t compromise’), don’t be afraid for big audiences (‘the more people you can touch, the more wonderful it is’) and enjoy the great moments, since you’ll be ‘really fucked’ at some point in your life anyway.

PS. If you haven’t read Patti Smith’s memoir Just Kids yet, please do as soon as possible. It’s filled with anecdotes about New York in the seventies and tells the struggle of an artist in a touching and raw way.

How to become ‘completely free’

“Solitude did increase my perception. But here’s the tricky thing—when I applied my increased perception to myself, I lost my identity. With no audience, no one to perform for, I was just there. There was no need to define myself; I became irrelevant. The moon was the minute hand, the seasons the hour hand. I didn’t even have a name. I never felt lonely. To put it romantically: I was completely free.”
Christopher Knight aka The Last Hermit

Fascinating and detailed story in GQ about a man who wandered the woods of Maine from 1986, until he got captured in 2013.