(Also see Update below.)
Last Week, I Noted I Had a High-Risk (but “audacious”) goal for True — and came up with a way to take most of the risk away.
The Goal is This: I want to be able to have only one edition of True — Premium — and everyone would get it on a “Pay What You Want” basis.
I think that could do several things: bring in more financial support, since the “free” edition readers might pitch in something; the “free” publication would be more compelling with more stories, and thus grow; and (the big one): If True is changing even just a corner the world for the better (and I think it is), then let’s expand the audience to have a bigger impact.
Imagine if more people actually thought before acting! That, after all, is True’s mission, and it needs a bigger audience to counter the growing …well… obliviocy in the world.
What’s That About Risk?
The risk, of course, is what happens if that doesn’t work? That instead of getting more support, Premium subscribers stop paying because they get the whole thing for free? I certainly know many of you will continue to support it, because quite a few of you already pay more than the asking price because you believe in the mission and want to support it. But if there are not enough of you to balance the other side, well, then the publication could, and probably would, fail. There may be no way of going back in time to save it: I’d have to go get a job or something to pay my mortgage.
Don’t care? Don’t want to do that? No problem: stay on the regular subscription program.
For those of you who do want to try reaching that goal, I’ve set True up on Patreon, a “crowd funding” site designed especially for creative endeavors. Unlike sites like Kickstarter, which try to get new products off the ground with a one-time funding target, Patreon allows for more consistent, ongoing funding: patrons provide funding either every month, or every project (such as, every time a new music video is released). I’ve chosen the monthly option, since obviously True consistently comes out weekly. The beauty of it is, if enough people sign on, even modest contributions multiply out to provide truly meaningful support.
There are multiple funding levels, starting at $2/month, and corresponding multiple “reward” levels. Once the “crowd” meets the ongoing dollar goal, it triggers some benefits for everyone, not just those who contribute. Unlike product crowd-funding, there’s less risk: there, if the project fails, you’re out the money and don’t get the product. (Whoops! Too bad!) With Patreon, if I don’t produce, you simply stop your pledge, and it’s over.
My Patreon campaign has several steps:
- At $1,000 $1,500/month, the remaining ads disappear from the True web site (I’ve been experimenting with non-Google ads, and they are helping bring funding) — with the exception, of course, of Patron badges and links, which are available at certain pledge levels.
- At $2,500/month, the free edition gets the full text of the Honorary Unsubscribe, rather than having to click a link and go to the web site to read it.
- At $5,000/month, ads disappear from the free newsletter, too (with the same exception).
- And at $10,000/month, the “free” distribution gets the Premium edition every week.
“What If” after that, the support level drops below the goal amount? Then the free list goes back to the truncated newsletter (just 5 stories, vs. the “at least 10” of Premium), or ads reappear, or whatever.
Do I expect you to pledge on Patreon in addition to your existing Premium subscription? NO! I’m not “expecting” anything. If you’re already a Premium subscriber and do pledge at a level that includes Premium, I’ll consider that a “recurring” subscription and you’ll stop getting renewal notices (or I’ll cancel your other recurring payment), but there’s no “must” or “expect” here: it’s simply a viable way to try to meet the goal I’ve been thinking about for two-plus years now.
The Flip Side to those potential negatives though, is what if this does work? Then I get to spend much less time on marketing and promotion, and will thus have more time to do what I do best: write. I have articles I want to write, such as the one I’ve mentioned before about parents teaching their kids about “the real world” by reading True to them; I want to explore that, but haven’t had time to do it yet. I have book ideas I want to pursue, such as a deeper exploration of Zero Tolerance, and (yep!) an all-Florida story book. And more: I have the ideas, but not the time to accomplish them because I spend so much time just keeping the basic publication going.
The Amazing Thing is, I’ve not announced this yet, except to one small group: the This is True Community members — the Super Premium effort I launched last year. But an amazing portion of that very small group have already jumped in: a dozen Patrons who have signed up at $4 to $100 a month! None of them have even gone for the lowest level yet.
Note that no matter what the level, you can change the actual dollar amount. For instance, there’s no $5 level, but you can click $4 and edit it to $5, if that’s your desire. There’s a $2 minimum, since otherwise the fees outweigh the support.
Note: to simplify things, they charge Patrons’ cards on the first of each month. If you sign up mid-month, they charge your card immediately for that month.
Thanks, and let me know what you think: comments are open below.
In December 2017, Patreon announced a change that really rattled a lot of people: that Patrons, not Creators, would be charged more than they agreed to to cover processing costs. Creators, especially, were irate: that seemed like a breach of faith with Creators and Patrons alike, and I suggested Patrons not use the service.
Well, Patreon quickly backed off, but by then I had created an alternative that allowed the same sort of support, but directly with True’s shopping cart rather than Patreon, which reduced the fees we pay too. Plus, I was able to program True’s to be more flexible: while Patreon only has one recurring payment option — monthly — True’s direct system allows for monthly, bi-monthly, quarterly, semi-annually, or annually!
The Bottom Line: if you prefer Patreon, it’s fine to use it: that’s here. If you prefer True’s direct solution, great: that option is here. Either way, Thank You for your amazing support for This is True, and you can see some of the readers who help sustain the publication here.