It was eleven years ago this weekend that John Hinderaker went to Blogger and set up Power Line. On Memorial Day that weekend he gave me a call and invited me to contribute. Once one of my kids helped me get into the publishing platform, we were off and running. Last year on the occasion of our tenth anniversary I looked back to offer ten thoughts that I hoped might be of interest to readers and acknowledge those who had helped us along the way. John added a few thoughts and thanks of his own.
Looking back this year, I am struck by the fact that we are still here. We have persisted. Many excellent blogs and bloggers have moved on. I want to say once more that I am most grateful to our readers — literate, knowledgeable, encouraging, large-hearted, responsive to every good cause we have supported. You have kept us going.
This year I want to share a memory of our earliest days online, before John had the brainstorm to invite his old college roommate and debate partner Paul Mirengoff to join us. John and I had been writing together for fun on the side of our law practice for ten years at that point. We had had our columns and articles published in a variety of newspapers and magazines. Getting the hang of what we could do together online, we thought we had a good thing going. All we lacked was readers! What to do?
We were early consumers of the invaluable RealClearPolitics. We knew that John McIntyre and Tom Bevan were the proprietors of the site and were running it on the side of their day jobs, as we were.
This was at a time when there was no developed market for Internet advertising, but one of us (I think me) had the inspired idea of buying an ad on RCP. John Hinderaker created an alternating image in Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) that flashed Power Line/Commentary on the News. Readers clicking on the GIF would be brought to Power Line.
We wrote John and Tom at their RCP email addresses to ask if they would run the ad on their site. They responded affirmatively, but asked us what we thought was a fair price. John and I conferred and said we thought that $500 for two weeks (I think) seemed about right. We asked what they thought. They said they thought $500 sounded fair. Even at the time we laughed at the informality of it. Remembering how we did business with John and Tom in mid-2002 impresses on me how long ago it was in Internet time. It seems like ancient history.
Our advertising strategy worked exactly as we had hoped. We saw a steady stream of folks coming over from the ad and taking a look at the site. It helped us add to our then hundreds of readers a day and confirmed my impression that we had a good thing going. Thanks again to all our readers, past and present, for making it so.
JOHN adds: It won’t be long before Scott and I are a couple of geezers stuck away in a home, comparing notes on the good old days. Already our recollections are starting to diverge a bit. As I recall it, we found a Chicago phone number on the RCP site; I called it, and someone–either Tom or John–answered the phone. I asked Tom/John how much they charged for an ad, and Tom/John laughed and said, “I don’t really know, we haven’t sold one yet.” So we agreed on a price and the animated GIF ran for a while, something like a couple of months. (Now, I couldn’t create an animated GIF if my life depended on it, but I must have known how, somehow, back in 2002, as that was well before we encountered Joe Malchow.) Eventually the ad expired. By that time Tom and John had become familiar with our site and liked it, so when the ad ran out they added Power Line to their “links” section. We got a lot more traffic from the free link than we ever did from the paid ad.
SCOTT adds: I stand corrected. I recall that John made contact and that we conferred on what we would pay for the ad. My strongest memory, of course, is writing out a check to John for half the $500.