May 7, 2020
Six Years of AEI Weekly Posts – Just Getting Started
By David Widmar
by Brent Gloy and David Widmar
This week marks six years since Brent wrote the first Ag Economic Insights blog post. As a birthday present to our readers – the Wayback Machine will let you can see what the original site – www.ageconomists.com- looked like. We’re economists, not web designers… and since 2014 we’ve found a few to help us.
When launching the blog, Brent and David’s goal was simple: share their perspectives as ag economists while providing unbiased, data-driven insights. After 300+ posts and thousands of readers, that simple goal remains. Our products, efforts, and daily activities, however, have evolved over time. This week we are departing from our usual post to share our plans for the next six (or so) years.
We owe each of you a sincere Thank You. We are humbled and honored that you have invested a few minutes each month on our website. As Warren Buffett says, “The most important investment you can make is in yourself,” and we are pleased to be a part of that investment you’re making. This is especially true since our usual posts – a few graphs and 800 words of text – don’t lend themselves to being viral or super trendy.
It is kind of funny to reflect on those early posts and wonder how anyone ever found the site. We launched the blog without advertisements, a mailing list, or followers. As proof: the first month had a total of 13 visitors (it’s a good thing we aren’t too superstitious). We kept writing, you kept reading… and apparently telling your friends.
One lesson we learned along the way is that the best ideas have come from readers. Through email or at speaking events, the best ideas have come from your questions. We have also appreciated your help with typos and formatting issues. Keep your comments and ideas coming.
What’s Next? AEI Premium
A question we’ve been asked numerous times since the beginning is “what is next?” Over the last several months we have been making not-so-subtle changes to the website to prepare for a new phase of Ag Economic Insights. Today, we are happy to announce AEI Premium.
AEI Premium is an evolution and extension of our Weekly Insights blog. It is also a further commitment to sharing unbiased, data-driven insights.
There are two primary elements of AEI Premium. The first is additional content. If you’ve enjoyed the Weekly Insights blog posts, you’ll love the exclusive AEI Premium content. In particular:
- The AEI team has grown to include a small cohort of writers to expand the expertise and content shared. AEI Premium will never be breaking news, but always breaking down the details: expert interviews, background research, and more data-driven insights.
- What We are Thinking About Memo- As part of AEI Premium, Brent and David will regularly share their thoughts, observations, and ideas in a weekly (or so) 2-page memo. We’ll cover the issues and reader questions historically put in the “too hard” drawer when previously limited to the weekly blog.
The second aspect is the Ag Forecast Network (AFN). We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about how to improve our decision making, especially as it applies to uncertainty. Questions like “will corn prices go higher” are easy to ask and easier to answer, but are woefully inadequate. In fact, they probably do more harm than good. AFN is a tool that gives users an edge by 1) framing the uncertainty is a tangible, quantifiable structure and 2) providing several forms of feedback. As the saying goes – we can’t improve what we don’t measure. We are very excited about this tool and think that you will find it very helpful in making better economic decisions. We use it all the time and have personally seen the benefits. With your forecasts included, it will only get better.
There is additional information about AFN Premium and the AFN tool on the website. You can start your risk-free, 30-day trial right away. After the trial, you can continue with a monthly or annual subscription.
Why a subscription? With AEI Premium our goal is unchanged: provide thoughtful, independent, and unbiased content. We believe the easiest way for us to do this is with a straightforward, no-strings-attached subscription business model. No advertisements, no sponsors. Our promise is this: “we’ll never try selling you someone else’s stuff; we’ll never sell your stuff (information) to other people.” Give it a try, we think you will enjoy the simplicity of it all.
Wrapping it Up
The past six years have been a lot of fun. We’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the “what’s next” question, and are excited to share AEI Premium and the AFN Tool. We’ll continue to publish the Weekly Insights blog, but look forward to continuing the dialog on the other side. In the meantime, keep reading and telling your friends.