7 December 2017
Every year I release 100 blog entries and 100 videos (more, now that I’ve been filming crowdfunding videos too). That amounts to about 5-7 hours a week writing this crowdfunding/entrepreneurship blog, filming content for my game design YouTube channel, and replying to comments/questions about this type of content on the respective platforms and social media.
It’s a labor of love. It really is. I love processing information in written form, I love sharing my insights, mistakes, and observations with others (hopefully helping other creators), and I love seeing what people think in the polls and comments.
This is hard to say, but I’ve always struggled with the idea of asking my readers/viewers to directly support the blog/channel. But I must admit that when I’m in your shoes, I genuinely like the opportunity to support the creators whose content I regularly consume. I like pledging a few dollars to Watch It Played, Gaming with Edo, The Secret Cabal, and many others–it’s a way for me to express my gratitude for the immense value I gain from them. So it’s started to strike me as odd that I don’t provide you with the same opportunity to show your support for my blog or YouTube channel.
So I’ve started to brainstorm some possibilities for a campaign of some sort in 2018 to specifically support the written and video content I already create. That is, it’s not about making more content on top of the 2 blog entries and 2 videos I create each week, nor is it about selling promos or anything tangible. I might offer a more expensive limited reward for me to publicly dissect your live Kickstarter campaign as a post on my blog, but otherwise supporters would not get anything (other than the 100 blog entries and 100 videos I currently create each year).
There are a number of different platforms that could serve this purpose. Here’s a summary of each of these sites from a backer perspective:
- Drip: Support a creator on an ongoing basis (during or after an initial “founding period”) for the variety of projects they create.
- Patreon: Support a creator on an ongoing basis (per time period or per piece of content created).
- Kickstarter: Support a creator during a set funding period that covers the next year or “season.”
- Indiegogo: Support a creator during and/or after a set funding period that covers the next year or “season.”
- Shopify: A flexible e-commerce platform that can be integrated into any website. It’s typically used for buying merchandise.
Drip is a new site now run by Kickstarter, and I’ve written in the past about my admiration of Patreon. Their ongoing funding models fit well with the weekly content I create. Update: A few people in the comments mentioned Podpledge, which is kind of a hybrid between Kickstarter and Patreon, and ko-fi, a virtual tip jar.
However, there’s a big problem with ongoing subscriptions that I’ve discovered as a Patreon supporter: If you ever decide to cancel your pledge to a creator, it comes across as a timely rejection. Like, say that you’ve been pledging your support to a podcast for a few years. At some point you realize that you haven’t listened to the podcast in months, and you’d rather have the $2/month ($24/year) to support a podcast you’re more interested in now. If you cancel your pledge, the creator gets a notification saying, “Jamey in St. Louis has canceled their support of your podcast.” It comes across as an active rejection of their hard work, even if it’s not a big deal to you. This isn’t good for the creator-backer relationship.
Update: I learned that Patreon just recently added a change to their payment structure that results in higher fees to patrons. Read more about it here.
So what about Kickstarter and Indiegogo? I think they’re both fine, particularly with the “fund the next year/season” format that many content creators use. It’s also nice that the 3,673 people who follow me on Kickstarter will get a notification if I launch a project there. The problem is, I think there’s the strong perception that Kickstarter is about making something new and tangible, which is quite the opposite of supporting ongoing content. As for choose Kickstarter over Indiegogo, I have a few articles about that here and here.
There’s also Shopify, which would translate into a page hosted on my website. This would give me lots of control–I could have a focused funding period and then allow for additional pledges on an ongoing basis. It’s fairly low-tech, though, as there wouldn’t be any official funding tracker or countdown.
So, pros and cons for each platform, both for me and for anyone who creates ongoing content. What do you think? I’ll post a poll below.