Extra Points just turned three years old
Here's where we are, where we're going, and why we need your help
Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.
Extra Points launched in April 2020, right after I was laid off from my job running college blog content at SB Nation. It was the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, essentially all live sporting events were shut down, and I had absolutely no idea what I was going to do for work. Backup plans, A, B and C were all out the window.
In the next few days, this newsletter will turn three. It has produced at least a book’s worth of newsletters, broken a few stories, told a few good jokes, and staked out a claim as something truly unique in digital publishing.
I’d like to take a moment to quickly share where we are, where we want to go next, and what we need to get there:
Before we get to all the meta inside baseball media talk, let me drop in that sweet, sweet discount code.
To celebrate three years of Extra Points, you can grab an annual subscription right here for 25% off, the biggest discount we ever offer. With that discount, you’re looking at paying about a buck a week, or fifty cents per premium newsletter. That’s a pretty good deal!
This discount won’t be good forever… The link will expire on the 17th.
How is Extra Points doing right now? What are the topline stats?
Extra Points has over 14,750 total subscribers, and over 1,100 paying subscribers. Free newsletters generally have open rates in the 40-44% range, with premium open rates generally tracking above 45%.
Since our last update, we’ve also moved the newsletter to Beehiiv, added a reader referral rewards program, and added a newsletter recommendation engine…along with all the actual writing and reporting.
I’m going to be completely honest with all of you, though. I am not writing this newsletter while flush with unbridled optimism. I have some real concerns about publishing on the internet right now, and we’re looking at industry headwinds in 2023 that weren’t there in 2021.
I’ll explain why at the end, but let me tell you about what we’re building, and how all of you can be a part of that process.
We are really focusing on expanding D1.classroom
We’re finishing up our second semester of D1.classroom, a curriculum support product we launched in 2022 to help college students find jobs in the college sports industry, help overworked instructors, and to give affordable content to college students that they’ll actually want to read. The program packages access to Collegiate Sports Connect, heavily discounted subscriptions to Extra Points, the D1.ticker newsletter family, and customized classroom discussion questions, which I write and send twice a week. The program currently serves over 1,000 students and retails for twenty bucks a student.
Supporting D1.classroom is one of my favorite parts of this job, and we’re working very hard to make it even better. As we serve more students, we’ll be able to offer even more customization around the classroom questions we write every week (i.e more questions about D-II and D-III issues, more marketing questions, etc.), and offer additional features.
For example… remember that silly Athletic Director Simulator 3000 game I wrote a few months ago? Well….we’ve been in the lab, working on turning that into an actual, Honest-To-God Computer Game that we plan to roll out to our D1.classroom partners first. Here’s a very, very, very beta-version screenshot. We are trying to make a playable version of this as soon as we possibly can.
Think 1980s Oregon Trail meets Football Manager, but for college sports nerd stuff.
To my readers who work in college athletics…passing along info about D1.classroom to your Sports Management Department or colleagues throughout the university would be a massive help for us. D1.classroom is not meant to replace any curriculum, but to support it. Plus, it’s going to be cheaper than any textbook on the market.
We want to do even more reporting! But reporting takes money and time
I don’t think this is ever going to be a newsletter that constantly breaks news before the ESPNs and Athletics of the world. But beyond unique commentary and bad jokes, this newsletter does original reporting. I’m on the phone every day, and I am always trying to produce things that you won’t be able to read anywhere else.
Filing open records requests, obtaining historical documents from university archives, and traveling to campuses, games, and conferences…costs money. I’ve worked hard to cut costs from last year, but given where our revenue is right now, we’ve had to become more conservative about travel. Between air travel, hotels, and food, a weekend reporting trip or a few days at a conference can easily cost a thousand bucks.
I get emails and DMs asking me to cover all sorts of things that I’d love to cover, and I know that I can’t build the sourcing to get the really juicy stuff if I spend the majority of my time at the Home Office. But if the people that read this newsletter want me to go to more conferences, more campuses and more press boxes, I have to be able to pay for it. I do not have that Disney Money or Wordle Money.
Increasing revenues are going to be very important for us in a few different ways this year. Beyond paying for travel and reporting tools, more resources allow me to pay for more freelance stories, so I can maintain this publishing schedule without having a nervous breakdown. It gives us a budget to pay to promote Extra Points, something we haven’t really done very much outside of NIL deals. It gives us the budget to pay for even better reader referral rewards and all sorts of other stuff that could help make a better newsletter.
As best as I can tell, we can get that revenue in a few different ways:
If you get value out of this newsletter, please consider paying for it. We’ll even help you do it!
Not everybody is going to be able to afford to pay for Extra Points, and that’s okay. But if you’re a very regular reader, and especially if you work in the industry, I’d invite you to please consider supporting us with a premium subscription. We also sell bulk and even institutional subscriptions, so if there are students, academics, and athletic department personnel enjoying EP, we’d love to shave down that price. Shoot a note to [email protected], and we can look at some bulk plan discount options.
You can support our ad partners, or better yet, buy an ad!
The other publications in the D1.ticker family (D1.ticker, D2.ticker, Athletic Director U, etc) are all free because they are ad supported. Extra Points isn’t large enough or narrow-interest enough to survive on just ad money or classifieds. In order to spend real time writing about women’s basketball TV deals or mid-major conference realignment or college sports history…we need to use subscription paywalls.
But ads absolutely help lessen our reliance on paywalls! So we’re happy to run them.
If you’re interested in ad packages, we have pricing info here, and I’d be more than happy to be flexible to help you reach your campaign goals. Generally speaking, we get paid more money when people click on the ads, so if you see something that potentially interests you, by all means, give the ad a click!
You can tell friends, colleagues and your friendly local sports radio host about Extra Points!
Over the last two years, the biggest source of new subscriptions hasn’t been Twitter, D1.ticker, NIL deals, or even Google. Typically, our biggest subscription jumps have come from earned media, like when I do hits on ESPN, being quoted somewhere like WaPo or the NYT, or mentioned in another media outlet.
This is my way of saying, sure, I’ll do that podcast. Yes, I’ll do that local sports radio hit, and I’d be happy to give a quote for a story. If you know folks looking for our kind of expertise, I’d love to chat. I have a teeny tiny advertising budget, so every bit of earned media really helps.
They also come from Word Of Mouth. We have a referral program at Extra Points, where we’ll give away free subscriptions, bonus written content, zoom calls, and more. I’m also open to other prize ideas that would motivate you to share the newsletter. If me giving away game tickets or vintage college pennants or books moves the needle more than discounted subscriptions, then that’s what I’ll ship!
I legitimately hate asking for money. I really do. But I don’t think I have a choice!
In a perfect world, I’d cloak all of my self-promotional efforts in irony, so I wouldn’t feel guilty or embarrassed to get on the internet and ask for your email address and a few dollars all the time. But we don’t live in a perfect world.
Instead, we live in a world where the biggest social media platforms might kneecap your ability to distribute your content at any moment. Since I can’t rely on Twitter or Gmail or anybody else to do the asking, I guess I have to do it.
I am so, so lucky to have the support of so many readers, support which has allowed me to turn my pandemic desperation plan into a successful small business, one that allows me to write about the things I find most interesting, without pandering to gambling companies or media rightsholders or search algorithms. It’s the best job I’ve ever had.
For as long as I can, I’m going to wake up every day and work at building the best newsletter I possibly can, one that informs, educates, and entertains.
Your help and support will help me continue to do that.
If there’s anything else you’d like to share, you can reach me at [email protected].
Thanks for indulging this ad. We’ll get back to some #reporting in tomorrow’s newsletter.
If you have ideas for future Extra Points newsletters or #tips you want to share, our new tips line is [email protected]. To sponsor a future Extra Points newsletter, please email [email protected]. I'm also @MattBrownEP on Twitter, and @ExtraPointsMB on Instagram.