There has some controversy over SOFREP switching over to a subscription model last week. Not as much as we expected, there was a possibility that it all could have turned into a Netflix-esque disaster, but certainly some push back. I can understand where people are coming from, it is the principle of the thing more than anything. SOFREP was free to read for about a year and a half, then we changed things up and now charge a small subscription fee ($2-$5) instead. Brandon and I were as clear as possible as to our motivation in doing this. I recently responded on Facebook to a gentlemen who was upset that we had just “commercialized” our website:
“You’re entitled to your decision of course but it isn’t based on an accurate assessment. First, our site has always been a commercial endeavor, you just didn’t realize it until we went to a subscription model but we have had paid advertising since day one. Second, moving to a subscription service actually gives us much less of a commercial bias. Let me explain, when we relied on advertisers as our sole source of revenue we were at their mercy, some did not like us breaking news stories or covering hardcore information. By having subscribers we are reliant on our readers, not advertisers who have a commercial bias. It may appear to you that the information on our site is free for us, but I assure you it is not. I’ve spent months working on some articles. It is extremely difficult to research some of these topics, develop contacts, and write about it. It is very time-consuming at times, time I could be spending elsewhere. I don’t feel that anyone is entitled to my labor, I do deserve to get paid for my work. I’m sure you would feel that same way.”
This is why we moved to a subscription model, it keeps this website honest. Otherwise we would be playing the same game as everyone else as advertisers attempt to wag the dog. SOFREP would slowly morph into just another lame media outlet and would probably publish nothing but ‘gays in the military’ and ‘women in the military’ stories because that is what draws internet traffic, and traffic is what equals money in this business. I can’t think of anything more boring, and I’m glad I don’t work for a website like that.
So on one hand I get that some people are ticked off about the change. I read a number of websites which are completely free and would probably feel like something was taken away from me if they suddenly charged me for access. However, I think that there is so much free content on the internet, and that people have gotten so accustomed to free content, that they can feel entitled to other people’s work over time. This website has always been commercial and our staff of writers, our Webmaster, our developer, and our sales people, do expect to get paid.
We produce content that cannot be found anywhere else. That is a fact. When I write about the history of RRD, the secret assassination program in Libya, or the dirty deals that we had with one of the Benghazi suspects, all of those stories took time and effort on my part. Some stories, like the one I wrote about George Washington Bacon, took months to write. I’m not complaining, it is just a matter of economics. I would not even bring these things up if not for the consternation that our subscription service has caused in a small minority of our readers.
Likewise, the unsolicited and unwanted business advice given to us by those without any track record in this industry has also been unfounded and inaccurate.
What you will find below is a letter we recently received from someone we’ve had exchanges with in the past. It is not in any way representative of our readers, even the ones who object to our subscription service. But it is so incredibly arrogant that I will respond to it point by point. This individual has in the past posted insane fabricated war stories in the comments section of SOFREP articles about bearded, ballcap-wearing, former Special Operations men turned mercenaries, running around Mexico with M4s and getting into wild shootouts with cartels. His substantiating evidence is some old articles in Narco blogs, which say anything but. He also accused me of copyright infringement when I published my novel “Target Deck” because I “stole” his super awesome idea of writing a book about mercenaries in Mexico. This guy then dropped a bunch of Hollywood names that were not his to drop, and every one of them that I contacted disavowed him.
Without further ado, my comments will appear in bold…
Please dont just disregard this message due to the IMMENSE anger i feel about the subject matter…read every word, brandon. You will see why at the end….its going to make you understand and it will maybe make more sense…
Brandon is indisposed at the moment so I’m on dumbass guard today.
I am mad….WHY?
BECAUSE NOW I CANT READ YOUR STORIES UNLESS I START PAYING MONEY I CAN BARELY AFFORD RIGHT NOW? (AND YES I BARELY, BARELY CAN AFFORD TO DO SO, EVEN WITH TWO JOBS).
iF YOU WANNA SELL YOUR SWAG, OR MAKE MONEY, DO IT SOME OTHER WAY…
Okay, first off if you cannot afford 2-5 dollars a month to read SOFREP then please get out of here. I’m not trying to be mean, but seriously, if you are that poor you need to prioritize your life and get back up on your feet. SOFREP should be the very last of your concerns if you are living in poverty.
Dont alienate your fans by MAKING them do so….come on!! Be real here…even if you told me every cent went to wounded vets, I’d say the same thing…and I know plenty of wounded vets who are pissed about this. They dont agree with paying money to this site for gods sakes!! they been loyal to you for years!! for christs sakes Brandon….figure out another way to make your money..
We have other ways of making money, but this way helps us remain loyal to our fans. This is a commercial website, always has been, never pretended not to be. Who are all these wounded vets you speak of? Names?
Isn’t Red Circle selling enough for ya? LOL!!
Nice cheap shot at Brandon there.
Isn’t all the TONS of crap you sell on your site making any money?
Our t-shirts and stickers? They make some money but none of us have any illusions that they pay the bills. That stuff is there because our readers requested it.
Brandon….my family did SOOO much for the Teams…They’ve donated THOUSANDS and my brother donated YEARS of his life to bringing attention to the site he did for you guys…
I love this petty faux desperation. I did soooo much for you. GTFO. Send a squad-sized element of Thai hookers to my birthday party next year and then you can talk about how much you’ve done for us.
I mean, my BROTHER did most of the IT design work for NAVYSEALS.COM (yes check it out…ask Mike about Dustin Rhode!!! and what he contributed to their site! without him working 25 hours a day, they wouldn’t have nearly the quality, store sales, advertising, etc that they do now)…sure….i’ll admit they got another guy later…and they MAYBE coulda quasi-hoped to have the same success with someone else….even he’d admit that (my brother)…but LOYALTY is something i’d expect more from you.
Dennis, get it through your drug-addled brain that I don’t ask you any questions that I don’t already know the answer to. We looked into you and your family after you came to us making claims about Glen Doherty and Benghazi that were so inaccurate, so absurd, that they were completely fucking insulting to any of us who ever served and the memories of our friends. Yes, we know about you. No, you would not want those details published publicly.
No one is bitching about helping here….we’d love to pay you money to help this site…but what you are doing is going about it the wrong way….why don’t you ASK your fans, or better yet, let the writers do the writing when they feel like it and if they don’t get paid, so what? They did it as a hobby or as something they BELIEVED IN (ya know? like how may other similar sites operate??? you know what i’m talking about!)
Another superficial and untrue exaggeration of the facts. We never, ever, in any shape or form force anyone to pay for anything. I say again, we never force you to pay. We only ask you to pay and we keep the barrier to entry as low as possible, 1.99 for those who serve or did previously. Five bucks for civilians. So no Dennis, no I do not know what you are talking about.
You guys really disappoint me….Its so transparent what you are doing. I mean, being FORCED to pay a fee? Not asked to donate (which most of us would!!!)???
Yes, thank you. Transparency is our goal. We want to make ourselves very clear and be upfront and honest with our readers. No one is holding a gun to your head and forcing you to do anything. Pay a small fee or do not pay. This is your decision, not mine. Dennis, I am asking for a donation from you though. If you want to continue to read SOFREP I want you to donate $5,000 into my PayPal account. I’m serious. I’m charging you a special asshole tax. Pay up or GTFO.
Jeez….There was so much to this site before….it was something you could depend on.
Now….its seeking to make money under the guise of “oh we need to do it so we can continue”…BULLSHIT. You did so for years without the need to make money. Is it your god given right to force people to pay? Sure…but it just makes you the same type of asshole you have said you despised…
When did we say that SOFREP would cease to exist if we didn’t go to a subscription model? We were doing just fine by selling ads on the site. However, the writing was already on the wall and certain entities were already trying to water down our content and holding those ad dollars over our heads if we did not comply. This is America and we don’t have to apologize to a single person for making money. Yeah, it is our god given right to ASK people to pay, not FORCE. I’m glad we priced you off SOFREP, Dennis.
I hope you smarten up…I respect what you did in your long career, but using that as a shield (not that you;ve done so, but I could see you doing so as a retort when being called out by those like me who cant afford ANOTHER FREAKIN BILL just to get the news that was already free to read a few months ago….proving that its not needed!!)
I’m not going to hide behind my military career. It is what it is. We’ve explained our rational. As I said above, if you are sweating five bucks this bad then you need to place your concern somewhere else. SOFREP doesn’t need to concern you in the least if you are worried about where your next meal is coming from.
but go ahead…like i said…its America. You have your right to do this…its just such a twinkie-smuggling, queer-as-hell, cheaply done, dog-sucking way of doing it…you’ve become used car salesman or porn site owners in your efforts here.
This is called mistaking your mouth for a bull’s asshole.
I hope you go back to how it was…unless you can give me THREE good reasons why I should pay for something that was for free merely a few months ago (and had been for a LOOOOONG time…so dont give me that “oh well our writers couldn’t do this or that without more money” crap)
No, I won’t give you three reasons. Just fuck off and go away instead.
Brandon, make a decision. Be smarter and cooler than this. You are a good guy, but this is PATHETIC to force your loyal readers to pay when some cant afford to…..this aint wikipedia. That would be different and I would be more understanding (kinda…i think what they did couldve been approached better as well….but at least they ASKED for donations….not acted like dickheads peddling porn!)
Again, we are not forcing anyone to do anything. This is called capitalism. I’m not in the smut business, but I don’t begrudge pornographers or porn actresses who ask to get paid for their work. No one is entitled to the labor of another, that goes double for our porn starlets.
Sorry for the rant…but you sooooo needed to hear that…i hope others have exptressed the same (not many i’m sure, as most have enough to afford to pay all these sites so they can enjoy them). But I don’t sit on the internet all day… i dont use it alot. I dont pay for sites so i can check out a cool story for a brief moment…and you are SERIOUSLY(?) telling me i gotta pay more than a buck (which i would do if thats what it was) to read your people’s stories??
You wrote all this bullshit even though you only briefly browse over our site every so often? You would pay a dollar but that extra .99 cents just put you right over the top and you knew you had to write this manifesto of yours, huh?
I got one for ya…
“No shit there i was… Paying for a site I used to be loyal to the bone towards the end until they started FORCING me to pay what i couldn’t afford to read their crap instead of merely just asking for a donation or maybe figuring out an ad campaign to sell more merch!”
No Shit There I Was: A Self-Centered, Self-Righteous Asshole Who Has No Responsibility and Has Never Had to Feel the Consequences of His Actions.
there’s you next “No shit…” story right there, Brandon. Man, theres some in the community (including Mike and my brother) who would tell you that you could’ve done this a lot more maturely… I mean, whats so bad about askin for donations to keep the site going? If you already were, i never f**kin heard about it….so you might wanna think this over…Lots of loyal readers will leave (i mean, maybe not a mass exodus, but you and i both know they aint gonna come running to pay you their hard earned money when they can barely feed their families…especially those in the Teams community who are so loyal and look up to you).
Again, why in the fuck would someone who can barely feed their family even be worried about this website or any other for that matter? They’ve literally got bigger issues to deal with. This is the ultimate straw man, “you are making me choose between feeding my kids and reading your website.” Get. The. Fuck. Out.
whatever…..I still wish you success i guess, and hope you make smarter and more respectful decisions in the future towards your loyal readers.
I don’t Dennis. I hope I never hear from your lazy, entitled, bullshitting ass ever again. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.
(Featured Image Courtesy: The Telegraph, and we are in no way inferring that the Australian SAS is ‘self-righteous and entitled.’ On the contrary, they’re some seriously badass teams of men.)