It’s time, it’s here, it’s finally come!!!… cause I was too lazy to write this earlier!
But now, we can dig into the results of that little project we all did together a few weeks ago and find out how most consider subsidizing blogs. I want to really thank everyone who shared the post in an effort to get more data. I know for a fact that convincing people to take these isn’t easy but we got a decent sample size.
First a little disclaimer/context. Bear in mind that the results here are representative of readers of this blog engaged enough to read through an entire post about blogging and more specifically monetizing, AND willing to spend the time to fill out the poll. This is an extremely specific demographic which may not accurately represent the larger audience for our blogs. It is a good place to start though and I think certain trends apply to all.
I did gather a few Twitter comments as well. I’ll share the most relevant ones here and the contrast is telling. For some reason there are bloggers who prefer to comment on my posts on twitter rather than here, so you may not have seen their opinions. Oh if you have no clue what I’m talking about, it’s this.
I started off by concentrating on method and commitment issues.
Unsurprisingly, the majority (39.58%) of people prefer being able to give money as one-time donations through apps such as Ko-Fi. This is inconvenient for creators as it makes cashflow completely unpredictable but it allows the donors freedom to give money whenever they want (to mark special occasions, reward particularly hard or good work or whenever they have the money to spare for instance) and doesn’t put them in the difficult position of having to cancel donations if their circumstances change.
A close second ( 35.42%) had no real preference between individual timely donations or monthly plans. While a marked minority (25%) prefered monthly payments despite the reward incentive. Now this may be because as bloggers we haven’t yet figured out interesting enough reward tiers (more on that later) or it could simply be that patrons see the blog itself as the only incentive they need and anything more is relatively trivial.
In any case I think the important takeaway here is that if you’re only going to have one method of giving money to your site, you should go with Ko-Fi or something similar. Of course there’s absolutely no need to limit yourself to a single method. As long as you have the time to keep up with whatever reward structure you decide to put in place, you should feel free to have a Patreon as well. In the end, monthly donors are the only sustainable way to ensure a living off a niche blog with limited advertiser appeal.
Just don’t skip out of the Ko-Fi altogether as you may be robbing yourself of potential blog income from people who are uncomfortable or unable to commit to monthly payments. And as a quick sidenote, don’t call people out publicly if they decide to stop funding you. You don’t know their circumstances, there’s no need to make them feel bad. It’s like punishing them for ever having given money at all. End of mini rant.
Let’s move on to the slightly more substantive issue. Product! What type of blog is most marketable nowadays. It’s fine to set up all these payment options but at the end of the day, people need to want to buy what you’re selling. It’s not only a question of traffic and readership (although the more readers do increase the likelihood that some will contribute). At the end of the day, a smaller blog with a dedicated audience could bring in more money than a much larger one with disengaged readers. You need to be providing something people actually want to pay for.
In my original post I laid out several options for types of blogs or posts that may invite readers to donate a bit in support.
As you can see, most people really value originality. I didn’t really know what to expect from this one but I am surprised consistency isn’t higher up. Personally, if I’m donating on a monthly basis, I would like to be fairly certain the blogger will post something that month. I’ve seen to many blogs just suddenly disappear for various reasons, and knowing me I would probably end up paying for inactive blogs for months. I also think that it’s sort of a contract with your readers. Patreon rewards are nice and all but at the core, they’re paying for posts.
However, it seems I’m in the minority for this. Most readers are not that bothered about when and if posts come out and more interested about what’s in them… weirdos. The poll can give us a general idea of what readers empirically value. I like how clear cut it is with no two options being more or less even.
This said, the truly interesting info lies in the comments. I went through the comments left on the original post as well as a few I got from Twitter. One interesting side discovery where how different the blog and Twitter comments were.
Blog comments emphasized how they like posts that showed a lot of individuality and some personal perspective. They wanted the blogger to be genuine and unguarded. There was a lot of praise for people that could inject enough personality in their writing to really stand out and create completely unique posts. After all nobody else can be you.
There was tons of good comments and I couldn’t fit them all in. I encourage you to go read the first post.
Twitter had an almost opposite message where the commenters pointed out that opinions were too easy to come by to be worth paying for and deeply researched and long posts that where there was an obvious effort on the part of the author were far more worthy of being sponsored. Basically an anime textbook. Although I think both opinions have value of course, I did find it funny that people on Twitter were uninterested in opinions. Context free opinions and reactions are pretty much what the platform is built for.. it’s really inconvenient for deploy research thesis.
Finally, my bonus question asked you guys if you had any tier reward suggestions and a few of you really came through:
The watch-a-long is my favorite by far. I actually really wish this existed. I understand time zones can be tricky but hey, they don’t need to show up if it’s in the middle of the night for them. I would watch anime with most of you I’m just too lazy to organize it.
So I do hope some of you got a bit of useful information out of this. Don’t forget me once you get rich! We can watch anime together!