Patreon

Thatababy. Comic strip by Paul Trap – www.gocomics.com/thatababy

Don’t worry. I’m not asking for money.

Last week, I subscribed to a Patreon page. Is that terminology correct? Subscribe? I have no idea. To say it my way, I decided to pay a dollar a month to the podcasters who make Discord & Rhyme. “A dollar? Can’t you do better than that?” I assume this is the dialogue running through your head right now. Yes, I can do better than a dollar. I’m trying it out. I’m new to this. I’d rather add money in the future than take it away. Plus, kids in college…

I say I’m new, but am I really? A year ago, after I got a raise, I set up a recurring monthly payment to our local NPR affiliate, WITF. They call it a donation, but in my mind, I’m just finally paying for the access I’ve been stealing for decades. This is how it went down: I opened the WITF website, set up my recurring donation, received a thank you email immediately, and then I got an email solicitation every. single. day. for nine months.

At the same time, Susan set up a recuring payment to Jonathan Foust, a spiritual teacher. After three or four months, I checked in with Susan. “Does Jonathan send you any emails?”

“Yes, he sends a short monthly newsletter.”

“Does he ask you for more money?”

“No, he always says thank you.”

I stewed. In my twenties, I made a thirty-dollar donation to the American Foundation for AIDS Research. For years after that, I received a parade of fancy, full color invitations to attend various galas or participate in big-dollar fundraisers. Just the postage for these solicitations usually ran around a dollar each. The invitations themselves must have cost two-fifty or more. They featured posterboard and cellophane and mixed media artwork. AMFAR quickly took a loss on my contribution. I felt unappreciated.

I probably brought up my WITF complaint with Susan three or four more times over the next few months. My daily emails asking for more money brought back the trauma that AMFAR inflicted on me throughout the eighties. Finally, she said, “Why don’t you just opt out of their emails?”

Patreons: I read two comic strips on Facebook every day. One is Thatababy. I’ve been a huge fan since cartoonist Paul Trap drew a tribute to the rock band the Ramones when Tommy Ramone, the last living original member, died. I’ve had a couple of email exchanges with Paul over the years, and he even read one of my blog posts. I won’t name the other comic strip because the artist is a bit of a hot-head. I’ve seen him fly off the handle at readers in the past. Anyway, he posted a link to his Patreon page recently. My knee jerk reaction was hmmm, no one pays me to read my blog.

A few years ago, before I had even heard of Patreon, a fad popped up on WordPress. “Like my blog? Buy me a cup of coffee to say thank you.” The blog included a link to Paypal with a two dollar price tag. I asked a few bloggers if anyone ever bought them coffee. As far as I can tell, no one makes any money on their blog.

Instead of the cup of coffee trick, I tried to get people to buy my eBook. I put a link in the sidebar: …if you’d like to give something back, please buy my book… At $3.99, it’s about the same price as my go-to drink from Starbucks—a small dark roast with an extra shot of espresso. This drink has a name, it’s a red eye. For a while, I ordered it by name, but more than half the time, the barista said “What’s a red eye?” It drives me nuts that such a simple drink costs more than three dollars, so I only ever go to Starbucks now if someone buys me a gift card. Like my blog? Buy me a twenty-dollar Starbucks gift card. To the best of my knowledge, no one has ever bought my eBook because of that link.

Like my podcasters and that cartoonist, I think it would be great if we all made a bit of money for the entertainment we create. It simply isn’t feasible. There are already too many things to spend money on. When I graduated from college, TV was free. If you wanted to rent a movie you plopped down two bucks for a video at Blockbuster. That was the cost of home entertainment. Where I lived, cable wasn’t available yet. Netflix and Hulu were still decades away.

I deemed the quality and effort of Discord & Rhyme to be worthy of a bit of extra money. If all their listeners sprung for a buck a month, it might add up to some real money. I’ll leave my ‘buy my book’ link up. I won’t turn down any money earned, but really, I Just want to be read. Much like the writing on my blog, I’d be happy to give that book away for free.

21 thoughts on “Patreon

  1. I feel your pain, Jeff. I don’t imagine anyone would pay to read my blog either. But what you (and I) have to say is valuable. All you can do is keep doing what you do best; writing about how you view this crazy world and your place in it.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m pretty sure I bought and read your book. Did I leave a review? I usually do for Indie writers 🤔
    I’m too lazy to look thru my Kindle Library 🤷🏼‍♀️
    I have two Patreon memberships. I also have a handful of YouTube memberships. With the exception of one YouTube, these are people I’ve been following for ages, and like my WP Buddies, they feel like friends.
    The charity solicitations can get very annoying. So far the ones I donate to haven’t bombarded me with requests for more money.
    “Save The Redwoods” even sends me a calendar every year, and I know you’ll agree they’re worth saving 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I think there’s a review on good reads. I’d like a redwood calendar every year. I’ll need to look up that charity. Although truthfully, I feel a lot of pressure to give more to my own nonprofit than I already do.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Pre ABI, I arranged to make donations to the Salvation Army as an optional incentive for Doctors completing a survey for my market research company. It was actually just the chance of making a donation. The other option was a chance to win a dozen bottles of wine.

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  4. An accidental send…to go on…
    I had a lot of fun choosing those wines by the way.
    Half of the winners made a donation. Half of about 150 survey rounds! I think that the point of this is that many of us would rather give a gift if we can.
    Incidentally I asked the salvos to never send solicitations to me for more money. They were fine with that too.
    Regards
    DD

    Liked by 1 person

      • I committed to certain charities and told cold calling chuggers that the business had a giving plan in place so they should send me a proposal, including details of the proportion of donations spent on the target audience/ activity. I never got one.

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  5. I used to make regular payments to a variety of what I view as “socially beneficial organisations” including Wikipedia and Amnesty International. That was when I had an income that was above the national average. These days my income is literally 12% of what I earned 20 years ago, at around a quarter of the average NZ income, so I’ve had to stop many contributions.

    However I did stop two on principle and not for financial reasons.
    (1) I will no longer support Wikipedia because of their editorial policy of removing content by or about non-verbal autistics.
    (2) Amnesty International because they persist in phoning me monthly with requests to increase my contributions. No matter how carefully I explained my change in circumstances, they continued to apply what I felt were pressure tactics every month. They still continue to pester me regularly. When they call, I either hang up on them, or more usually put the phone down and let the caller ramble on. Sometimes it’s more than 5 minutes before the caller realises no-one is listening and terminates the call.

    I have occasionally, but very rarely, have “bought a cup of coffee” for something I’ve felt was deserving, but never for any of the bloggers I follow. Not because I don’t think they have anything of value to say – invariably they do – but because I view them as blogging buddies or friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really is maddening when an organization always has it’s hand out. I’ve been working for nonprofits for 20 years, so it’s all very close to me. I’ve never ‘tipped’ a blogger either. Although one time when I played the lottery, I decided if I won I would set up a fund to give stipends to my favorite bloggers. I feel many people on wordpress deserve to be paid for their effort. BTW, I didn’t win.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Such an interesting topic. Well, several topics really. Do we ask for money for our blogs? Why would we do that? Some kind of recognition, I guess. I’ve often wondered about the fluctuating readership and unpredictable engagement with blogs. Can’t imagine asking for money would improve anything.

    There’s also the pay-to-support vs pay because you are getting a service. I usually chip in to Wikipedia because I use it almost ever day. I make a tiny monthly donation to the Humanist Society because I support their existence and wish to do something that aligns me with non-religion. Have done a couple of very small one-off gifts to content creators, but then feel a little guilty as they deserve more. Sigh.

    In the end, there is something old-school and comforting about putting content out there simply because you want to, and accepting whatever comes back (or doesn’t). No-one’s forcing us.

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    • I think some people, my podcasters for instance, ask for money because it helps justify the ridiculous amounts of time they put into the project. They can at least say to their spouses ‘see, I get paid for this.’ When I first published a book, I thought I would make a lot of money. I made almost nothing. My next book I published on a platform where I could give it away for free. That experience helped me understand my motivation for writing. I write to write, and I blog so someone will read it. That’s pretty much the extent of it. I do feel guilty when I don’t support certain efforts. All my daughter has asked for as a christmas gift is a patreon subscription to her favorite podcast.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. You make some interesting points here, Jeff. However, can you please enlighten me on the acronyms (WITF and NPR)? Thanks. I managed to Google AMFAR, so figured that one out. I’ve often seen ‘Buy Me a Coffee’ on blogs and have never bought anyone a cuppa, although I was quite tempted to do this with one of my regular bloggers, who I like very much.

    You used to have a section on this blog page advertising your book. You mentioned that no -one purchased it from that section. Perhaps, I was the only one, then, as I purchased it having seen your ‘ad’ on your blog. Do you know how many copies of paperbacks and e-books you’ve sold to date? I’d quite like to publish a book of my poems, but apart from the cost, I read somewhere that if I were to publish, I would have to remove the poems going into my book from my blog! No way! My blog, blogging buddies and readers are worth more to me than that. Anyway, I’ve digressed (nothing new there, then!).

    I’ve supported some charities and organisations in the past; Greenpeace is one because they care about the environment. I’ve stopped my contributions to them now, partly because I can no longer afford it and secondly because they were phoning me every three months asking that I increase my donations. In the end, I got so fed up with them phoning I stopped my payments and blocked their number to stop them from pestering me. I do try to send a small annual amount to the Stroke Association as this is close to my heart, given that’s what caused my dear Mum’s death.

    Looking forward to reading whatever you write during the holidays.

    Liked by 1 person

    • See, this is the problem with an international blog. Terms and acronyms that I take for granted can be completely foreign to somone in another country. NPR is national public radio (but everyone calls it NPR). WITF is simply the local radio station that plays NPR content. Once reading a blog by an Irish woman, she mentioned her hob. That’s a term I’ve never heard in my life. And now that I know what it is and I’m attuned to it, I think I’ve ever heard it just one time since then (5 years). A couple of Australian blogger throw out phrases every now and then that I need to look up. I love this aspect of blogging.

      It’s nice to know that someone used that link to buy my book. I have no idea how many books I’ve sold. Not very many, maybe 100 but probably less. I did a big push right at the start and because I was part of the management team at the local community center, I think a lot of people were curious. These days maybe 2 per year.

      If you self publish using the Amazon platform, it’s practically free to create a book, but it’s a lot of work. My only real expenses was buying a couple of demo versions to see if the book looked right before I called it done. Essentially, when someone orders the book, a big machine makes one on the spot. So there’s no inventory needed. Also, if you self-publish, you can publish things on your blog, no one cares. I can’t tell you what a cool feeling it was to have a book I created on my book shelf. But wow, it’s a lot of work.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks for the extra info, Jeff, I, too, like that we learn international terms from each other. I’m guessing the person that mentioned a hob was talking about where she cooked using her pots and pans. I have a separate electric oven and also a gas hob (gas is cheaper to run than electricity and I find it more controllable).

        I’m glad I can keep my work on my blog if I decide to self-publish. It sounds like a bit of a ‘faff’ but it would certainly be an achievement even if I only sold one copy! That’ll probably be to myself 😁!

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        • Yeah, see: Faff. Learned something new. My favorite international term is “Spitting the Dummy” – do you say that in England? I know they do in Australia. The US is moving towards outlawing gas hobs for environmental reasons. There will certainly be a civil war over this. Those of us who use gas are generally rather dismissive of electric stovetops (that’s what we call them).

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        • We don’t have ‘Spitting the Dummy’. Is that equivalent to having a tantrum? Or being very annoyed by something, or we also say, ‘Having a Paddy’. Faff really means – something is too much effort to bother with or a bit of a performance.

          I love my gas hob. I hope they never get rid of them over here.

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