24 October 2018

Preparing for Patreon

Apollo 7 launch, 11 October 1968. Image credit: NASA
It has taken me a while, but I now have worked out how I want to treat my Patreon patrons. By that, I mean what incentives to offer and how folks should expect to be charged.

I've learned that I can charge my patrons by new blog post. I like that idea, because I don't post on a regular schedule, and in the past year I've not posted often because of a new job, new home city, and new health problems. I'd hate to automatically charge people on a monthly basis and then miss posting in any given month.

In addition, I am working on two ebooks, publication date TBD. I like the idea of being my own publisher. I've published print works, so this will be something new for me. I expect I can earn more money this way than by publishing through a print publisher. I can also use access to the ebooks as an incentive.

I imagine it would go something like this - lowest-level patrons get the blog. More wealthy and/or generous patrons get a 25% markdown on the price of the ebooks. Even more wealthy and/or generous patrons get a 50% markdown. Insanely wealthy patrons get a 75% markdown. And the MegaPowerBall winner patrons get a 75% markdown, plus the second ebook for free!

I expect I'll also offer extras related to the ebooks. You know the drill: the more you contribute, the more extras you get. I'm not sure yet what the extras will be. I'd be happy to receive suggestions.

There'll be a Wall of Fame page. Not sure of the details yet, but it might go like this: lowest-level patron name is listed. Next up the scale, name with a link. Then name, image - avatar, picture, whatever - and link. Next up, the same but higher up the page. Then, for the top-level patrons, top of the page and perhaps some "advertising" text if they have a blog, podcast, or other project they want to promote. Of course, your image could be your advertising. No rule against that, but your placement would improve if you pledged more.

As for patron levels - my research indicates that most folks are more frugal than I am. By the same token, they pledge to more creators. I have to take into account the "per post" pledge structure, which I've noticed some folks don't understand. I'd hate for someone to think they were pledging $50 per month, then get a $150 charge if I post three posts in a month. I think that argues for lower pledge levels to avoid painful misunderstandings.

So, I think the maximum would be $20 per post, with lower levels of $15, $10, $5, and $1. I'd feel better about telling someone "You should've read the fine print" at those levels than at higher levels.

I seek a $2500 monthly income. At that level of income, I could live comfortably, freeing me to devote all my attention to the blog and ebooks, and add blog improvements (paid original art and posts based on research at costly archives being the first that leap to mind). That doesn't seem impossible, given the number of people who check out this blog. Most seem to be serious, intelligent people, which might imply that $5 per post would not break the bank.

If I posted twice per month, a $5 per pledge patron would get a $10 charge in that month. If I could do that for a year, they would pay me $120. If I could get just 20 people to post at that level, I would hit my goal.

That doesn't mean that $1 pledges would not be welcome. Change only that parameter in the example above, and they would pay in $2 in a month, or $24 in a year. I'd only need 105 people to pledge at $1 per post to reach my goal - and that's far fewer than visit the blog each day when I post frequently.

I invite discussion of these ideas, especially from prospective patrons and experienced Patreon creators. My plan is to start this at the beginning of 2019, which, being the start of the Apollo 11 50th anniversary year, seems to me to be an auspicious time to call on folks to support this blog.


  1. Best of luck with your project. What's your expected views per day?

  2. Apologies for not replying sooner. I seem to have left a fair number of comments in moderation. I got hit with a lot of spam for a while there and got used to not checking. Very bad of me.


    1. MB:

      Answering your question - it varies enormously. Popular posts can generate a few hundred views per days - sometimes over a thousand. When I don't post, it only falls a little, and sometimes spikes without me doing anything. I think my best day ever was on the order of 10,000 views, reason unknown.



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