My Patreon campaign has completed its first month. Some people wanted to know how it went. So let’s talk about that. First, the disclaimer:
I want to stress that none of this is an attempt to pressure you to give. I would much rather you read without giving than feel guilted into leaving. I do this because I like to make content and you're here because you like the content, but neither one of us is under any particular obligation. Having said that, we're going to talk money using real numbers so if you're not comfortable with that then you'll probably want to skip the rest of this…
Current pledges: ~1,400 a month.
Amazing. Looks like I’ll take home about $1,200 of that, which means the Patreon fees and credit card charges eat about 15%. The big cost here is credit card charges. Credit cards hate processing little $1 transactions. They ding you for about thirty cents. However, if you support several creators, that same thirty cents will be shared by all of them. So it sort of creates an incentive to spread the love around. And by “love” I mean “money”.
Because of this, I really wish Patreon offered a quarterly payment option. Like, if you pledge $1 a month, I’d be fine if I had to wait until the next quarter, at which point they would bill you for three months at once. (Thus inflicting one transaction fee instead of three.) I don’t know. That might be confusing or annoying for people. I’m not sure what Patrons value most here: Clarity or efficiency?Although I promise you convenience trumps both.
Running the numbers, it looks like I now make a little better than minimum wage. That sounds bad: A 42 year old man with years of coding experience making minimum wage? Insanity! But look, I’m getting paid to blog. About videogames. I am aware that there are thousands of people would would kill for a gig like this. I don’t have to please an editor. Or advertisers. I don’t have to report to an office to work. I don’t have to commute. I can write about whatever pleases me. (As far as I can tell. I indulge myself with non-videogame and non-programming stuff now and again, and everyone has been kind enough to humor me so far.) I’m not sure what drives me to do this, but it’s been clear for years that I wasn’t in this for the money.
This also means that when someone comes along with a bit of boring freelance technical work, I can turn them down without feeling like I’m doing something foolish and irresponsibleOr more accurately, it’s raised the dollar value someone needs to offer me before I’ll feel guilty when I inevitably say no to them.. My only two obligations are to make content here, and to do a column at the Escapist.
Well, it’s not quite that. I have to do the writing, but to do the writing I have to do the coding and videogame-playing required to feed those pipelines. The “how much do I make an hour” question is always a bit fuzzy because of this. I can’t do this job if I don’t play games, but it seems horribly self-aggrandizing to pretend that all of my playtime qualifies as work. Sometimes I’m playing a game so I can write about it. Sometimes I’m just playing a game for fun. Sometimes I play a game for fun but end up writing about it anyway.
It’s also really, really nice to be able to write anything I like without that nagging worry about what sort of idiocy the Google bot will decide is “relevant” advertising. Like if I’m writing about BioShock: Infinite and I feel the need to mention the lowest price auto insurance to optimize your SEO search ranking from home for naturally bigger breasts, no prescription needed! I can do that now. It’s like moving out of your parents house and realizing you’re suddenly free to cook naked. It’s a really bad idea and you’ll never do it, but now you’re not doing it on purpose.
So if you’ve donated, thank you. And if you haven’t, thanks for sticking around despite all the unseemly talking about money.
 Although I promise you convenience trumps both.
 Or more accurately, it’s raised the dollar value someone needs to offer me before I’ll feel guilty when I inevitably say no to them.
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