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PainSci membership program launch

 •  • by Paul Ingraham
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Weekly nuggets of pain science news and insight, usually 100-300 words, with the occasional longer post. The blog is the “director’s commentary” on the core content of PainScience.com: a library of major articles and books about common painful problems and popular treatments. See the blog archives or updates for the whole site.

Over twenty years, I have written two and a half million words of articles, books, blog posts, and scientific paper summaries for PainScience.com. I write a lot. Sure, that’s “only” an average of 340 words per day. But every day, without holidays, since the Clinton administration.

I made pie charts showing how all that content is divvied up (see below). A small slice is now members-only content for premium subscribers. This post is about new features of premium subscriptions and addressed to those subscribers, but I’m sending it to everyone for the obvious reason: to make non-members jealous. 😉

Dear PainSci Premium Subscriber Member (and everyone else):

Your premium newsletter subscription has been upgraded: PainScience.com just got bigger for you. When you are logged in, you just see more content, because you are special. You are literally paying for the place, after all.

Premium newsletter subscriptions were a first step on the journey to creating a true "membership" program, with benefits above and beyond just getting blog posts in your inbox… as I have been promising throughout the fall. 🍁 Membership now includes:

  • A premium subscription to the PainSci Updates newsletter, with a full-text RSS feed and (of course) premium post archives.
  • NEW! Access to ten (so far) beefy members-only sections of articles in the main PainSci library.
  • NEW! Audio versions of seven of my best-known articles.

Putting members-only content in perspective: what content does PainScience.com have?

Much more than the newsletter! Many readers don’t realize that the blog/newsletter — what you’re reading now — is the tip of a content iceberg. Most blogs are just blogs, but here it’s just something I do to promote the real product, part of the process of creating and maintaining two and a half million words of articles and e-books. The “core content.” Time for some chart pie…

What’s still free on PainScience.com?

Lots! But less than there used to be. Blame Todd Hargrove of Better Movement (and then subscribe to his newsletter). Over the years, many friends and fans have encouraged me to charge for more of my content, but Todd has been a persistent cheerleader. I finally listened.

For many years, I offered hundreds of free articles, the free bibliography, the free blog, and then some ebooks with free introductions. Very simple: almost everything was free by page count, and about a third of the site was.

And then this summer I started putting some blog posts behind a new paywall… and then, this past week, some large sections of my biggest articles as well. More chart pie…

As members, you get a couple slices of that pie all to yourself. In terms of wordage, the new slice is big, a 40,000-word piece of the PainSci pie! Just for you!

But the percentages make me look rather miserly: I am giving you just 1.6% of everything PainSci has to offer! Yeah, I write a lot.

But it is your 1.6%. And there’s more coming.

More membership benefits coming soon

Here are some other benefits I am considering. These are definitely not guaranteed yet! But at least a couple of them are almost certain to happen. As of “soonish”, membership might also include…

  • Website features like reading-position bookmarks, a dark mode, and reading history.
  • Discounts on books, perhaps increasing with membership duration, until eventually they become free.
  • Ask-me-anything style meet-ups with readers, perhaps video.
  • A directory to connect science-respecting professionals and patients.
  • Members-only footnotes scattered around the site. I would basically handpick several dozen chattier, rantier, more colourful digressions to set aside for members only.

Like those ideas? Got any other suggestions?

Some of these are much harder to produce than others, of course. For instance, the footnotes would be trivial, while “dark mode” is a major design and programming project that could pre-empt all other work for two weeks — perhaps hard to justify until I’ve doubled membership numbers. More members will equal more and better features.

What’s in these new members-only areas? All the coolest stuff, of course

The dorky details. The members-only areas mostly feel like “bonus” content — nonessential but interesting — that exemplifies my deep-diving style.

My Epsom salts article is a good example. That one is all about whether or not Epsom salt baths are good for aches and pains. It’s a beast of an article at 19,000 words; I have set aside about 4,200 of them for members: about 15 minutes of extra reading.

That article has been delivering the most detailed information available on the web about the transdermal absorption of magnesium for well over a decade now. I really get into it. But that sub-topic is overkill for 95% of readers. Most people just need to hear that soaking in the stuff is kind of a terrible way to get magnesium into your tissues, if it works at all. It’s complicated, of course, but absorption clearly doesn’t work all that well.

But why? The scientific details are superfluous for most people, but genuinely fascinating! Which makes this subject matter ideal members-only content.

All the practical advice is still there. Even without the members-only article, it’s still a huge article.

Enjoy your exclusive reading, and happy holidays!

Paul Ingraham
PainScience.com Publisher