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Priceonomics | Staff Writer | San Francisco

The Priceonomics Blog is hiring writer #5 to join our staff. We're looking for data-driven people who are curious about the world.

Details here:


I work at Priceonomics, so maybe I can shed light on our motivations.

We make the kind of content we love and we sell products so that we can afford to make more of that content. The two products we actually sell (data crawling for companies and books for people) aren't particularly well-suited toward SEO (though our original idea, a Price Guide which we killed years ago, was).

Anyhow, we're a content site that's trying to get by without using ads. I think most of our regular readers appreciate we're trying to pay the bills by selling things instead using ads. We'd like to avoid jamming our site with advertising if that's possible.

Happy to answer any questions you have.


I miss the price guide :-)


Thanks for the feedback! Right now the Social analyzer pulls how many people shared that one specific page on FB (or liked it or comment it), rather than how many followers a Page has or Users an FB App has. We could add that per your suggestion though.

We currently use it to see how popular various articles are on the web since FB likes is a good proxy for overall traffic. FB like are public whereas page views typically aren't.


I ment more about extracting that the page's twitter account is @..., and the Facebook page is fb.com/...


Don't feel bad about the joke, that's how we think of ourselves too (I work at Priceonomics). I think it's actually an interesting advantage versus a content site that just thinks of themselves as a content site.


I miss the old price guides, but I enjoy the blog (it's in my RSS feed). I may even buy the book one day.

For those of you who missed the story of Priceonomics' pivot, Techcrunch has a good writeup: http://techcrunch.com/2013/11/26/priceonomics-data-services/


Hi, I work at Priceonomics so I can sort of answer your question.

The blog posts we do that use data crawled from the web pay off enormously in terms of generating leads and revenue for our data business. Here's an example.


The rest of the blog posts are done because we want to make them. In the past, there wasn't any direct financial payoff from them. Now, it seems like they lead to book sales which is neat.


Interesting. Thanks.

For the hedge fund market (or for any market for that matter) you might want to append this statement:

"via API or spreadsheet" on http://priceonomics.com/data-services/ to also say "via Spreadsheet, Web interface or API".

You should probably also dedicate a complete "sell" page to each industry you are targeting. Hedge funds deserve a dedicated page if that is a (and I suspect it is or will be) big whale for you. I'm guessing you know this but PN hasn't done it yet.

When making buying decisions people lock onto things that say "ok they have exactly what I need and are experts in helping my industry and my competitors are using them".

"We help financial service firms crawl data"

"We help hedge funds crawl data"

"We help retailers crawl data"

"We help non-profits crawl data"

And so on....


Hi there, I work at Priceonomics. Thanks for the suggestions. We'll probably do a blog post about our marketing strategy of this book, but I wanted to address your point that the book had reviews as soon as it launched on Amazon. How is that even possible?

Many people had advanced copies of various drafts of the book. When the book went live this morning we emailed all of them letting them know it was up there. Hence people (all of whom are regular readers of our blog and seem to like us) could review it even though the book was only just released. Hope that clears up your questions!

BTW, do you have any data on the optimum pricing of an ebook being $2.99-4.99? I would love to see it.


Ah, yes, the amazon page went live this morning. That makes sense. You may have wanted to curate, or to pull out some specific talking points for your reviewers. I think good good reviews are better than bad good reviews. But I understand the challenge.

As to the pricing info.

I like this post, though it's old and prices may have changed --


Here are some more current discussions.



(see pricing barometer above)



At 266 pages, I think you $16.95 book price is perfect. You might have even been able to push it up to $18.95 because of your brand. But being conservative, I think $6 a copy profit is good.

I would have priced the Ebook at $5.95, and I would've signed up for the free matchbook service, so when you buy the book you get the ebook for free. I'd drop the DRM too.

But these reviews are just stinkers:

"I was taught to question everything when I was in school and have practiced that ever since. Everything Is Bulls* is a fine example of that. Love it!" & "Love it! Rohin and the guys really put together a fantastic book. They did a great job using stories to explain the concepts. Very engaging - I highly recommend!"

Because, you don't actually use 'stories' to explain concepts. You use data. And his 'questioning everything' isn't really the gist of your work. You don't question everything, you examine some things in great detail.

Still, congratulations. I think that your marketing/content/service structure is really the future. Instead of you wanting to be bigger than the NYT, I could see the NYT following your model - if they could build a service structure that isolates it from the content structure.

Who knows. Even Porlandia wadded in on the topic.


*Note -- Charlize Theron NSFW (not actually it's part of the joke)


"you don't actually use 'stories' to explain concepts. You use data."

In fairness, some of the Priceonomics posts are more overtly "story" driven, and even a fair number of the data-driven pieces involve interesting stories as framing devices. Using data to explain and analyze is the primary mission, but presenting that analysis in a compelling way is at least half the battle.

I have been fortunate enough to have written a few pieces for the Priceonomics blog. I don't speak for the company, and my impressions are my own $0.02... But if anything, my experience was that they'd ask me to tone myself down if I was getting too dry, too wonky, or too data-centric. The data needs to be there, as it needs to ground the analysis. But there should be a story behind it, too.

A big reason why Priceonomics' blog is so good is that it's not just a data dump. The team there has a very strong editorial focus. Believe me; there were some articles I wrote where we'd hop in a Google Doc and collaboratively edit for days and days on end, searching for the right narrative thread. Or the right way to phrase something. Or the best way to break wonky topics into approachable pieces, while still maintaining intellectual depth. I'd consider their editorial process to be at least as rigorous as that of any national publication I've written for.

"Questioning everything" seems a little much; I'd agree. It's not so much about "questioning everything" as it is peeling back the layers, and understanding why certain things are the way they are. Oftentimes, peeling back the layers of an industry -- diamonds, wine, etc. -- reveals a healthy amount of bullshit. Hence, "X is bullshit" is a semi-recurring theme in the blog. The beauty of it, IMO, is not just calling out bullshit -- but using it as the starting point, and explaining how bullshit works in specific contexts, and why it exists.


Now THAT'S an excellent review. Include the relevant disclaimer of having written for Priceonomics, but even this alone, explaining the process of getting the stories, is better than anything I've seen so far about the book.

Why the book? Why Priceonomics? Because this ^^^^

Well done.


Thanks. I was assuming some fake reviews were a ironic piece of guerilla marketing :)


I can't imagine that condoning astroturfing would be good for business, either as a retailer (Amazon) or a book author.


Unless it's a case study for their NEXT essay


> BTW, do you have any data on the optimum pricing of an ebook being $2.99-4.99?

I smell a new post!!!


> Many people had advanced copies of various drafts of the book

Seems like you cherry-picked who got the advanced copies...


You made a mistake in your calculation because you ignored leverage. Most people buy a house using some combination of equity and debt (usually 20% / 80%).

You need to calculate the return based on the equity invested. Assuming they paid 20% down that's $125K. The house appreciated $773K over the initial purchase price. That's a 6x return on equity, not a 2x.

But thanks for the lecture about how other people don't understand inflation / math.


You are correct, of course.

My point was more about how journalists too often spout "PRICES DOUBLED!" to get attention like blood in the water, including here. And, in too many cases, it's over a time period that's 10+ years, so it's not really doubling, but 6%/year.

And, yes, leverage can profit, but it can bite hard too. Plenty of people bought at $500k with $100k down, then saw the value drop to $300k, meaning they lost 200+100 = $300k if they had to sell.

All fun math, with, yes, GROSS simplifications here.


Well, when debt is involved, prices doubling is a big deal! Prices going down 10% is a big deal too though.


Author of the article here. No, it was a straight-up cash purchase with no equity involved.


Yeah. (original domain owner here).

I really struggled on this point, but was coached by someone I trust that legal gymnastics were not in anyone's best interest.

What I really want is for experiment.com to become wildly successful, so that I can take part in some science projects.


Hey, not sure if you'll see this, but we'd love to write about the decline of the domain parking business at Priceonomics (or feature a guest post on the topic if you're interested).

If you have any interest, you can email me at rohin@priceonomics.com


Rohin from Priceonomics here. Thanks for the kind words.

Well, we're trying to build a company that one day has hundreds of writers and engineers working together. So, we've been writing all along and want to do more of it for sure.



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