Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Cotemplating Patreon

As I mentioned in passing at the top of my last post, I've been scribing this blog since 2008. Over six years now. I've never really been one for anniversaries or milestones, but I've been thinking about word count recently.

As far as I know, there's no easy way to get a word count out of Blogger, but my stats tell me I've posted 490 times since 2008. Some of those posts were no doubt mere trifles, but I do try and provide some kind of substantial content (at least to my own mind, if nothing else) every time I hit "New Post" - mine is not a blog merely for links to new product announcements. (Not that there's anything wrong with that.) As the Great Blog Roll Call put it, "A lot of reasons to like this blog, not the least of which is that the author tends to think critically about everything he writes."

As far as my own word count goes, my meatiest posts, my Solo GPC updates, clock in at an average of about 7,000 words a piece. I just tallied that up on the old adding machine, and that comes out to a probable average of 420,000 words written just on the yearly updates alone. In case you're not familiar with word count benchmarks, that's somewhere between Middlemarch and War and Peace. (Which proves, at the very least, that word count alone is not a very good indicator of literary merit.) But regardless of value judgments, self-imposed or otherwise, it certainly represents a fair amount of work on my part.

I'll be honest: when I started this blog, it was with a completely solipsistic goal in mind. I had no plan or pretension towards connecting to any sort of community or providing any sort of focused content; I just wanted to have a place where I could ramble on about gaming and maybe have a handful of people read it and leave the occasional thoughtful comment. This had been about the extent of my prior online involvement and experiences on message boards, newsgroups, LiveJournal, etc.

Maybe it's because I started this blog right at the dawn of 4e's release and the rise of the OSR, but I rather quickly found myself pulled into an active, vibrant community and idea mill. This no doubt encouraged me to blog more, although I've certainly gone through times of much more frequent posting than others, influenced by available time and inclination. After all, this has always been something I've been willing to do with no recompense other than the occasional virtual high-five and a few shekels here and there via the RPGNow affiliate link in my sidebar.

Which sort of brings me around to the point of this post. See, I've recently become aware of a site called Patreon, and of the fact that some bloggers use that site to help make their blogs pay a bit. I certainly like the Patreon model much better than the idea of putting ads on the blog, something I've resisted from the start. Essentially, Patreon is an ongoing crowd-funding site; you pledge to pony up a certain amount of money every time I post, and you can set monthly limits and/or opt out at any time. If I have, say, five patrons giving 5 bucks a post, or 25 patrons giving one dollar, and I post once a week, well that's a cool 100 bucks in my pocket at the end of the month, which certainly makes the whole venture a bit more tangibly rewarding.

I'm contemplating setting up a Patreon for, at the very least, my Solo GPC posts. I know there's a hardcore cadre of folks out there who are itching for me to push on and finish off the series, and I'm not going to lie: adding a monetary incentive would kick my writing of those posts up the old priority ladder by more than a few rungs. In fact, if I raise enough money, I might be able to bring in a layout person/artist to help put together a swanky PDF collection of the posts once everything's in the bag.

But I'm sort of further contemplating just making Patreon a general option for all blog posts. As with the Solo GPC project, a fiduciary reward would definitely result in a somewhat more frequent posting schedule.

There's a certain tendency among writers and other creative types to devalue our work (especially when you're writing about elfgames), but goddamn if I haven't written somewhere between and half-million and one million words on this blog over the past six years. That strikes me as something that should probably start providing a return at some point, right? And so I wanted to float this idea out to the general readership, see what you guys thought:

If I provided a Patreon option for the blog, what would you like to see that would give you the incentive to shell out a few bucks a month? Would you only want to fund the Solo GPC posts, or would a more general model be of any interest? Is there something else you'd want to get back out of your patronage other than seeing more posts from this blog? Any other thoughts? Do tell.
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