Look at me – getting this out to you on the first day of the month and everything!
I wanted to talk this month about a couple of things in the works – one of which is incredibly important to you personally.
As I talked about on the February Zoom call, I’m currently working on a path away from Patreon. There are several reasons for this, which include, in no particular order:
The fees here are very high for me (around 15% when all is said and done), which could make sense in some cases, but given that I only use them to deliver these messages to you and to process the payments from you, it is rapidly becoming frustrating.
I also don’t like their arbitrariness – they have a horrible history of capriciousness, including changing fees with no notice, deleting entire categories of creators, and other easily findable indiscretions.
And, perhaps most frustratingly, I hate that they are so closed. It’s like the difference between email and Facebook. I “own” every contact in my email address book. If I quit using Gmail and decided to go to Yahoo as my email provider, I can export every email address from Gmail and import them at Yahoo and nothing changes.
But should I decide to leave Facebook and start using Twitter, I lose every Facebook user. I can’t take them with me.
Patreon is like Facebook. When we decide to go somewhere else with this little community, I will have to ask you to unsubscribe here and resubscribe elsewhere – always a business risk, and a decision on Patreon’s part that is antithetical to the indie sort of spirit they purport there.
One reason for their dominance in this space is that they make it easy to join but hard to leave, which has made it harder to replace them than I want - most options are either similar in fees, or hugely overbuilt for what I want to do, or are also locked down communities, like Facebook and Patreon
However! I think I’ve found a solution, and a couple of you have volunteered to be beta testers, so by next month’s newsletter, I should have something to report here. I also want to be clear: Nothing is happening for at least a few months, and there will be lots of notice and options. My goal is to have a June 5th launch of the new system in time to coincide with my 50th birthday, so between now and then I will be slowly getting the new system ready and then inviting you to migrate over.
As I have said several times on various calls, one thing that has frustrated me in my work as an independent creator is the lack of good models out there for people wanting to take this route to do creative work.
This especially limits historically oppressed communities that don’t have deep networks of tech-related folk available to them. With that in mind, I am working on creating more transparency about how I work, the tools I use, and so on so that people can feel empowered to make their own creative projects. Over on my website at hughhollowell.org I will be publishing some pages around this over the next few months.
There are, as of this morning, 103 of y’all. Given I knew we would be leaving Patreon, I’ve been reluctant to heavily work to grow that number, but with the new system, I think we will be poised to offer real value to people who support my work. I’m working on what a sustainable set of “perks” could look like, in addition to this newsletter (see – it’s a “newsletter” now, and only y’all get it!) and the monthly Zoom call. I’m playing with some sort of video offering – mainly because I want to get better at video – and of course, I have some publishing stuff in the works, so of course, y’all will get discounts.
Of course, the main “perk” is that your support enables me to get to write and put my particular brand of weirdness out in the world, but there is a reason NPR offers tote bags to their donors – they work.
If you have ideas of things you would want to see, let me know by shooting me an email at email@example.com.
I am holding our monthly evening Zoom call on Thursday the 17th, at 8PM Central, 9PM Eastern. I’m also considering a daytime call for people for whom evenings are hard, but it will be a few days before I work that out. I’ll send an update when I know.
It’s hard to communicate how empowered this little band of folks makes me feel to do the sort of work I want to put out in the world – work that isn’t terribly commercially viable but that has the power to give people hope, in a world that is desperate for hope.
But thank you so much for making that possible.
I’ll talk to you soon.