Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Reader Feedback on Subscription Service for Stock Trading

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I am soliciting reader feedback on the following....

This website was started to create a transparent platform for readers to follow along a thought process (and trading process) to compare/contrast versus the average mutual fund in existence. [Fund FAQ/Pledges] Due to very good success in a down trending market the pledging by readers took off through last summer - many months I was getting $500K+ in pledges towards my ultimate goal of launching a mutual fund with at least $7 million. Since the carnage of September 2008 investor interest has waned as many have been losing a lot of money in the market. In January 2009 I decided to revamp anew with both a new tracking system that better suits my investing style (both long and short) as well as a new pledge sheet. [New Pledge Sheet - Obama Era v 2.0]

So the conundrums are as follow... I put a monster amount of work into this site; it literally is like a full time job. For the first year and a half I did not even have advertising as I was hoping this was a temporary stop to bigger and better things i.e. "the real thing". But while readership continues to expand on a weekly/monthly basis (thank you) - the ultimate goal of the site has stagnated. I read yesterday that not one mutual fund (out of 9000) was positive in 2009 year to date - than I looked at my results yesterday and I was down 0.8% for the year. I am beating the S&P 500 indexes by 17% year to date (2009) and at times in 2008 was up by 30% versus indexes.

This leads to the question of type of readership - due to the subject nature (stock specific much of the time) I tend to attract active investors, rather than what is typically found in a mutual fund... passive investors. The latter wanting to hand their money to someone else to manage. Those folks seem more interested in letting Fidelity lose them 40% last year and another 20% this year... rather than find a site like this and give someone else a shot. Many people who visit are active investors themselves and looking for trades - whereas the person I need for the mutual fund is (generally, not always) not as market sophisticated and is looking for a money manager to handle their money. So we have a divergence in audience versus goal.

Just about every week I get 1-2 people asking "why don't you charge for everything you are doing? I'd pay!" I've struggled with that because I don't want to be a "newsletter writer" nor is my overall style easy to communicate. (even now I'm just posting "major trades" - not a lot of the small adjustments) I don't wish to make the entire site "fee based" because I now have a long (and accurate) history on economic calls, and sector specific calls which is part of building a track record as well. (speaking reality and standing out from the crowd, when the crowd is selling you Kool Aid) [Economic Forecasts/Track Record]

So my thought process is to keep the economic & general market type of posts here on the main site (free as usual) and potentially move just the stock specific (the "Bookkeeping") type of posts in a subscription model i.e. monthly fee. This would cater to the "active investor" whereas the passive investor whom the website was originally supposed to be going after will still have the broad thought process, my investing track record out in the open [Performance/Portfolio], etc

Hence, I'm going to ask the "trade along" active folks to give me feedback on two questions with the obvious caveat 98% of people prefer something for free rather than pay
  1. Would you be willing to pay a nominal monthly free of say $20/mo for a "look over your shoulder" stock specific service - introducing new ideas, set ups, actual trades on both the long and short side?
  2. And if so, would you prefer a website you'd log into with username/password or an email service?
I ask the latter because if the majority says website that's an entire new cost I'd need to foot for a website that can offer that option (pros and cons to email vs web based model)

Examples of type of posts in a fee based model
  1. Example
  2. Example
  3. Example
  4. Example
  5. Example

Again, I am one of the few people who actually have people send me emails to ask me to charge them ....and thus far have resisted. But until I figure out a way to find the right audience for my original goal, and if I am going to put this level of workload on independent research for an indefinite amount of time - I have to figure out a fair way to do it. In a perfect world I'd have a large subscription base and I could just do this (website) full time and get more than 4 hours of sleep a night while working to the ultimate goal. But nothing works out perfect.

My email is in the upper right part of the website if you haven't sent me a note before. So if you are "active investor type" utilizing the website for the "stock idea" reasons I listed above, please shoot me a message with answers (or general thoughts) on the two questions above and I'll make an assessment based off what I receive as feedback.

Disclaimer: The opinions listed on this blog are for educational purpose only. You should do your own research before making any decisions.
This blog, its affiliates, partners or authors are not responsible or liable for any misstatements and/or losses you might sustain from the content provided.

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