So this is a bit of a different post. But it is that time of year. As of yesterday, the payment to keep both the site and the webdomain running for another year—ad-free—has been paid.
I want to focus on that for a moment: “Ad-free.” As you might imagine, I get a lot of pressure from both the domain hosts and other sources, such as Google, to put advertising on the site. Just clicking to my daily stats for the site quite often puts me face to face with an ad that advertises the “financial virtues” of advertising to all of you.
I’ve steadily ignored that for years. Why? Because online ads suck. And I wouldn’t have control over them either. The last thing I want to hear about on this site would be someone reading a Being a Better Writer article to find their text split by an advertisement that had nothing to do with the site. Or worse, advertising something I myself wouldn’t agree with having on Unusual Things (which could be anything from competing books, to autoplaying noise, to lewd ads).
So no, Unusual Things remains ad-free despite these constant bombardments to me “explaining” to me how much money I’m missing out on. In a similar vein, I’m also constantly advertised at that the site could be running on a subscription model. Being a Better Writer, WordPress really wants me to know, could be behind a paywall! As could all my other content.
Now, there is one “upside” to all this. I could, if Amazon made changes I absolutely couldn’t stomach tomorrow, sell all of my books direct from the site using this service. Yes, it would let me sell files. So there is that option if I really needed it. But that’s a small upside I hopefully won’t need to take advantage of anytime soon.
Okay, so what’s the point I’m getting at here? My point is that there I receive constant encouragement to monetize advertising on Unusual Things. Which, given the regular traffic, isn’t that surprising. I choose instead not to monetize the existence of the site through ads because ads suck and make the site a lesser experience for everyone. Instead, I pay out of pocket to keep the site going while remaining ad-free.
Again, because I hate ads, and don’t think they’d add anything (hah) to the site.
I do, however, have a Patreon account set up, and noted with a single button on the side on the right. Because, well … Unusual Things isn’t free to run. But past that it also requires a good amount of time and dedication. To date, Being a Better Writer has been running each Monday (barring a few holidays the like) continuously now for almost six years. And along the way it’s become a staple of some writers’ Mondays. It’s featured in various college courses, cited/quoted on Wikipedia, linked to from Reddit and Facebook … Being a Better Writer has become for many a source of writing advice akin to Writing Excuses.
All right, maybe I am singing my own praises a little bit in that last statement, but the idea wasn’t to aggrandize things. It was to draw attention to how much Being a Better Writer has done over the years, and continues to do, while being given with zero up-front cost or adveritising.
But it’s still a lot of work. Hence, the Patreon.
Patreon is a way for those who find Being a Better Writer to be useful to help support it—and myself—in continuing to exist. Patreon supporters help pay for the costs of keeping Unusual Things going (as they did a few days ago when I paid once again for the site and domain, something I was only able to do due to Patreon funds). Patreon also helps keep me going. No matter what anyone says, time isn’t free, and Being a Better Writer represents a significant number of my hours each week.
In turn, Patreon supporters do get the occasional sneak peek or tidbit at something coming down the line. Such as preview chapters of books when the only other people that have seen them are Alpha and Beta Readers. Or small shorts that will eventually appear on Unusual Things or in collections. These aren’t frequent—the primary goals, after all, are to keep Unusual Things ad-free and myself (the creator) in a place where Being a Better Writer can continue to exist—but they do exist.
But here’s the real kicker. If just a quarter of Unusual Things’ monthly visitors donated $1 a month via Patreon, not only would it pay for the running of the site, but also my rent and a few other things besides (providing for both “keep ad-free” and “keep the creator in a place where Being a Better Writer can continue to exist”).
Yes, Unusual Things sees a lot of monthly traffic. Like I said, readership has really grown over the years.
Now, this post should not be construed as some vague threat of “Hey, pony up on Patreon or I start charging for things!” Being a Better Writer started out free and shall remain free. As shall access to the whole of the site. This isn’t that kind of place. And I will continue to keep it that way as long as I am able to produce content and pay for it.
It’s the second one that’s a potential issue. Before there have been weeks where Being a Better Writer has been delayed by a day or more because my old part-time job got in the way. There was even the time it was on hold for several weeks because an accident at said job almost cost me my right hand (no joke, multiple doctors stated it was a literal miracle that it wasn’t sheared off). And despite one reader contacting me to explicitly tell me they hoped I became homeless because it ‘wouldn’t be that bad’ and would give me ‘more time to write’ (yeah, that one still boggles me, for a number of reasons), I’d imagine that the larger majority of those of you reading this or frequenting the site aren’t wishing that I end up on the street and Being a Better Writer cease.
Ultimately then, this is a post asking those of you who regularly make use of Being a Better Writer (or just want to help support the site as a whole) to please consider taking a look at the Patreon page and consider offering your support. It doesn’t have to be large at all; even a donation of a single dollar each month from a fraction of the site’s regulars who can donate would make a massive difference.
So if you can, I’d ask you to take a look at the Patreon page and consider it.