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So Is This A Good Idea Or Not (Patreon)

Today's plan was to make a book review but...let's just say the book requires a full night's sleep and mental fortitude to write about in the way I want to cover it. 

I have been thinking lately about starting a Patreon. Patreon lets people who like your (free) content become patrons, or "patreons," of that content so that you can keep making it for everyone to enjoy. 

As with most shiny ideas, this one crops up in my brain sometime between midnight and 3 A.M. Alone, looking at a computer screen or a book, this seems like a really great idea.

In the light of day, I realize I wouldn't know the first thing about what I was doing. I've read very briefly about the process, some pros and cons, and how you set up an account. But I don't know the first thing about promoting, tiers (whatever the hell those are), what I would do to give patreons/patrons individual exclusive content as an incentive, or even where I would publish my content. Here? An entirely new WordPress or other blog/site? Would it be limited to just writing or could I do some music? What. 

The idea is shiny and attractive and because of that, I'm very wary of it. I had that same feeling about an Etsy shop years ago that never quite got off the ground. For a Patreon, I more or less know what content I would create. It would be poetry and essays on topics people have seemed to respond well to or have directly asked me about, including, for instance, disability, chronic conditions, and the "spoonie" life. 

I've also got some material that's, well, fairly personal. My friend Ty is publishing a series of essays called "Thoughts I Wrote Down Because I Hate Talking To People" and, in a way, some of what I've written has come from a similar sentiment. It's less a dislike of talking to people and more born from the frustration of, how on earth am I supposed to tell my friends things like this? I don't know. 

Poetry is also tricky because I'm worried any content for this purpose would be seen as basically an overgrown subtweet. People would see themselves depicted or commented on in these poems (or essays, where I would just come out and say it) and...well, I'm also worried that if people saw them, they would be offended about why I didn't just talk to them. For an answer, I would say that I didn't know how, that I wanted to reach other people too, that I tried to disguise my inspiration where I could, but also that basically everything in life is fodder for potential writing projects when you know a creative-type person. Even then, I wince at the idea.

My entry into poetry, for which I would go on to take classes and win prizes, was frustration: things I wanted to say which I couldn't say directly to a person because of absence, awkwardness, social norms, anger, embarrassment, or some other feeling or situation that prevented a conversation from being had. Sometimes the poems helped me work out what to say; sometimes they were more for me. 

When I went on to study it formally in high school and college, poetry still had that attraction of being a form which I could use to talk about ideas that seemed too incompatible with prose. Things that would feel silly if I tried to explain them became decent poems because poems were better at capturing what I wanted to get across. Poetry lets you say things in a certain way that, I don't know, erodes the discomfort of what you're saying by tossing out the "normal" form of prose. Maybe it's just me.

Either way, certain events have convinced me that I want to write about this topic. But this topic (and others) is/are difficult. They take mental, emotional, and physical energy that I haven't expended here because it's hard. And I'm at the point where I've been paid for my writing for years, mostly content that's been written to spec or for others' projects. And if I'm going to do something that's that personally difficult for me then I need some incentive to deal with blistering insecurity and self-imposed misery as I write about some of the most difficult parts of my life in the hope of informing others. 

I also just don't have the time to devote to MORE writing things -- especially personal projects sans deadlines -- without some kind of compensation and the motivation of the kind of secured, invested audience which Patreon helps you develop.

And if I'm going to write these things, I want to write them as myself, on my own platform, with words that I own. I've written personal essays for sites anonymously -- and had them butchered by editors to make my tone more friendly, to remove the entire POINT of the essay, or to help the site itself save face. (I know, I know; I shouldn't be so outraged that they edited the "me" out of the personal essays. That's the point of anonymity.)

I also like this blog a lot and want to keep it...as it is now. I review things here and sometimes post serious things like this but generally have a good time. There's no pressure. I enjoy it. I would not like for it to become the Serious Thing with the Serious Tone and Serious Pieces which I have to monitor via Patreon. 

To conclude this long, late-night-early-morning ramble, I'm interested to hear your opinions, people who read my blog! :) Have you had any experience with Patreon? Would you be interested in reading on the topic(s) or in the writing form(s) which I described? Any other thoughts? Is it awkward to publish pieces publicly that are directly inspired by people in your life who might read them (and recognize themselves)?

Comments

  1. First, thanks for the mention.

    More to the point, I say you have to at least give this a try. That's not trivializing the effort it would take, but from what you've said here, it's an effort worth taking. The worst that could happen would be that it doesn't feel good emotionally, and you stop doing it. But if it does feel good emotionally, is it not worth it?

    As for people in your life potentially recognizing themselves or their situations in your writing, that may not be avoidable. Obviously you can't go around putting someone's full name and address on something, but a writer cannot wholly avoid responding in words to what their life has been. If the people, but not the general public can recognize their thumbprint on something, it is still, in a way, not totally their business if you feel the need to express something in writing.

    As for the platform itself, I admit I have never heard of it until you mentioned it here.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome!

      Yeah, Patreon (patron + eon) essentially lets people subscribe to you (or make one-time payments) if they like your stuff.

      I think the worst thing that could happen is not that I would be harmed emotionally or mentally, but that I could lose friends or lose assistance from my family if they find out what I'm writing and don't like it or morally object to it for whatever reason. (I.e. if I wrote about, idk, experiences growing up or on a topic that they didn't consider appropriate.) So, I'm weighing the pros and cons and risk vs. benefit. All this is pretty hypothetical, so it may seem silly to worry about what could theoretically go wrong or what benefits I might theoretically get out of this (remember the Etsy store that never happened! haha) but I think that you're right -- it's important to start planning in earnest even if it doesn't go somewhere. Sometime. When I have both the brain energy and the free time.

      Delete
  2. I've known two people to go with Patreon, one of which discontinued using the service because she wasn't getting patrons (I might have been her only patron) and another who is still using it, but only has a handful of patrons. Seeing that both of these people have many connections in different communities, I've taken their experience to mean that it's very hard to get patrons.

    I don't want to discourage you from trying it out. In fact, if you do, I wish you a huge amount of success.

    I will admit that I'm not a very serious person (I identify as a squirrel, if that's any indication), so I tend not to gravitate in the direction of seriousness with my reading. Poetry has never spoken to me, mostly because I think I'm too literal and all around ISTJ with my personality. But I like supporting, encouraging, and helping people, and I have the means to do it, so I will probably pitch in if you do join. :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks for your take on it!

      I've read that generally, Patreon itself doesn't do a lot to help people who browse its site discover new people and projects. It's a flaw which has been pointed out by some people who've been using it from the beginning. It also apparently works better for people with visual content like videos and comics. But, hey, like you said, it's always something to look into. I'm wary because I don't have anything super niche that would appeal to a dedicated fan base, and, a bit like a squirrel, I get distracted easily and don't really trust myself to self-promote. Also I would definitely attempt to separate any new platform between serious vs. less serious/heavy writing topics.

      Thanks for your input. :)

      Delete

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