Patreon As Support

June 24, 2019 by Tim

Yesterday I posted to remind people of the Ctrl+Alt+Del Patreon, a campaign I’ve been running for the past four years that lets people directly support this website and, in return, get some bonus material as well.

I’ve posted in the past about the shoddy state of the online advertising industry and how it’s not as strong as it used to be, so I won’t rehash that here. Long story short, Patreon is a big part of keeping things running, and so I have to mention it once in a while so people are aware it’s an option.

My post sparked some debate, however, and part of that was a result of me assuming that since I’ve been running the Patreon for so long, and talked about it in the past, that most of you would be familiar with it at this point. As that doesn’t appear to be the case, I wanted to make this post so I can be as clear as possible about what Patreon is and is not, and how I approach it.

First, let me point out that for the past seventeen years I have provided free comics every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and I pride myself on having never missed an update day. And let me state, unequivocally, that I will continue to do so for as long as I am able.

The comics that I create for Patrons are in addition to the work I do here on the website. Not once have I have I taken content that would have been released for free and locked it behind Patreon instead. I do more work than I have in the past in order to fulfill my personal commitment to my website, and also provide value to the Patrons who directly support my work.

While I create an additional Analog and D-Pad comic for Patrons each month, I do so in a manner that in no way affects the storylines that I tell on the public site. The Patron comics are stand-alone one-shots that have no impact on the stories I tell, and are in no way required reading in order to enjoy or understand the plot.

When I moved The Starcaster Chronicles to Patreon in order to fund more issues, I was very clear to my audience and potential Patrons that those issues would still eventually be released to the public, for free, specifically because I was not comfortable with taking a story people had started reading for free, and locking it behind a paywall.

Patreon is not a perfect system, but it is a system that works well for me and my business. It handles payment processing and content delivery, and allows me to focus on creating content for my readers. Its archive system leaves something to be desired, but for the most part, it has had a positive impact on the comic’s sustainability and, more importantly, my peace of mind.

Most of you are used to having a very clear idea of what your time is worth. Whether your job pays you salary, or hourly, you have a reasonable expectation that if you work X amount of hours, you will receive Y dollars. It’s something you can plan around.

I don’t have that with my job.

With my job, traditionally, I do the work, I give it away for free, and then I hope I get paid for it after the fact, via enough unblocked ad views (or I do the work and then hope, years down the line, people buy it in book form). I’m not complaining; I love my job, I feel honored and privileged to do it, and I choose to do it. And I will continue to use ads for as long as they can reasonably contribute to my income and support a free-to-read website.

But ads are unreliable. Some people use adblockers. My pageviews can fluctuate (up in the fall when people go back to school, down in the summer when people are outside more). The value of ads changes with the season (companies go hard on advertising budgets right before the holidays, and then prices drop off a cliff in January). So advertising income can bounce around. You don’t know what you’re going to get until you get it.

That’s fine, if you do it long enough you can plan around, you recognize shifts in the season, in the industry. But it is something you’re constantly worried about.

Patreon, to a degree, gives me some income I can rely on. It gives me a relative concept of “If I do X work, I will earn Y dollars” that helps with planning things like mortgage, daycare, groceries, etc and also funding work on new projects. It’s not just me anymore, I have a family to support, and so having that peace of mind is huge for me.

It would be great if ad companies hadn’t fucked things all up, and ads were something people could reasonably ignore. You could come and read my comics without a care, I’d get paid, and we’d both be happy.

That’s not how it is, though. People hate ads (with justifiable reason). I hate ads. I’d get rid of them if I could. But seventeen years ago it’s how websites were supported, and I launched this comic as free to read, and I am determined to keep it that was for as long as is possible. So, for now, ads are a necessary evil for me.

If you can stomach some ads for the few moments you’re on my website, making sure my site is whitelisted is a great way to help support the site with no cost to yourself but a little tolerance.

If you’re dead set against ads, I won’t argue with you. I get it. If you like my content and still want to see it supported though, I think Patreon is a great alternative. At minimum, a dollar a month, $12 a year, to support the approximately 144 comics I release here (plus the extra 24 comics you’d get as a $1 Patron). That’s $0.07 per comic. It may not seem like it matters, but if I could get even a quarter of my readership to Patron at that level, I could get rid of ads altogether.

Merchandise is another way to support us. Buy a t-shirt once in a while, or a book whenever I get around to putting them out, if you’re so inclined.

I’m not asking or expecting anyone to do all or even multiples of the above. Just asking you to consider that, if you enjoy my work, there are ways to help me keep doing it.

Regardless of your decision on the matter, I hope this post has adequately explained both how I use my Patreon and why I use my Patreon.


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Clifford Anderson
Clifford Anderson
1 year ago

At the end of the day, my fear with whitelisting in my ad-blocker is the results when Forbes started to block the ad-blocker, and in the process, were caught feeding virii to their customers via advertising.

If Forbes can’t guarantee that they are not serving up virii, then nobody can.

Jonas
Jonas
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim

Hi Tim, thanks a lot for your great work, can’t imagine how hard the fluctuations may impact your family :-\
As for the ads, they made it impossible for me about half a year long, to even visit your website because of popups I could not even block.

Would there be a way to pay for “no ads on the free content”?

Thanks,
Jonas

Paul
Paul
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas

Jonas, if you do Patron at the $1 level, you get all the free-content on this site PLUS some extra comics. And they are delivered via Patreon (via email or just on the patreon site, your preference). So you wouldn’t have to visit the site and could read them ad-free.

I don't know how to register
I don't know how to register
1 year ago
Reply to  Jonas

“Would there be a way to pay for “no ads on the free content”?”

That’s what Patreon is for. Chuck a dollar or two (or however much you want) in there every month and don’t feel bad about ad blocking anymore.

Clifford Anderson
Clifford Anderson
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim

I’m not saying I expect you to… I’m just pointing out that the real issue with the death of advertising is not that it’s annoying. If it was just annoying, yeah, I’d whitelist the people like you who give away your blood, sweat and tears.

The advertising business is never going to recover from the Forbes thing. It was already on the ropes. You are doing the best you can with a shifting landscape.

TheSnowedOne
1 year ago

I agree on issues with whitelisting; I don’t tend to whitelist either for similar reasons but I do support on Patreon instead. I kinda wish there was a place kinda like Patreon where you could set a pool of money per month to go to a bunch of creators and have it break itself up somehow automatically based on what you view of their works per month. Kinda like a Spotify for creators only without most of the money going to record labels but instead directly to the artists. In the meantime Patreon works; it’s not a perfect system but… Read more »

Diasdiem
Diasdiem
1 year ago
Reply to  TheSnowedOne

I read a lot of webcomics and such that have Patreons, but I can’t afford to subscribe for $5 a month or whatever to all of them. It would be cool to have one service that would let you split one payment among several content providers. But in the meantime, I’ll white list for whatever that’s worth.

octav3k
octav3k
1 year ago
Reply to  Diasdiem

CAD’s lowest Patreon sub is 1$. I don’t know how much less you’re expecting to give to someone who provides you 12 comics per month (almost 1 every 2 days) for free and adds in several more when you pay, but I think it’s already the best quality/price in the business.

Blaine Moore
Blaine Moore
1 year ago
Reply to  TheSnowedOne

Have you heard of Brave browser? That’s exactly how it works. It’s a chromium spin-off browser that blocks tracking by default, and you can (optionally) invest in BAT cryptocurrency and allocate how much you want to support the sites you visit each month. You can set it to give a set amount directly to a site, or you can have the browser anonymously allocate it based on how much time you spend on various sites.

I don't know how to register
I don't know how to register
1 year ago

Forbes is actually bottom of the barrel trash and I wouldn’t be surprised if they served viruses on purpose. Don’t hold them up as some paragon where if they fail, nobody can succeed. They aren’t. They’re garbage.

D R
D R
1 year ago

Sorry you’ve evidently had so much blowback for this Tim. Best of luck!

Dreka
Dreka
1 year ago

I don’t have any problems with you monetizing additional content via Patreon. I’d like to believe most of your regular readers don’t either, but after that comment thread on Saturday I’m not so sure anymore. I think most of the blowback came from the admittedly bad choice to make the Patreon ad look like paywalled content for a normally free feature. There are far too many scenarios where a reader may not take the time to read a longer explanation as to why and jump to the wrong conclusion. If I saw something like that on my first visit to… Read more »

Kris
Kris
1 year ago

TIM,

I love your comic. I read it free and i support u by not blocking the adds, buying books, and even a tshirt or 2 over the years.

I would LOVE to see a set of refrigerator magnets or two. I collect magnets and would cover my fridge with your characters.

I would also LOVE to see you at San Diego Comic Con. Its the largest comic convention in the USA and i believe you’d be welcomed with open arms.

Let me know what you think about either.

THANKS! Kris

David
David
1 year ago

The only reason I don’t support you via Patreon is because Patreon is run by a lying liar from Liartown who makes ban level decisions based on political beliefs. They have banned people for things that they specifically said would not get them banned.

If you add another service with a more well defined free-speech policy, then I will happily support you directly.

Vivek Wilson
Vivek Wilson
1 year ago
Reply to  David

The ‘Free Speech Violation’ David’s speaking about seems to be the homophobic, toxic and otherwise hate inspired speech being blocked on Patreon.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Patreon#Controversies

David
David
1 year ago
Reply to  Vivek Wilson

Except I’m not. I’m talking about things which did not occur on the platform and were directed at insulting the white supremacists and Nazis.

FM-96
FM-96
1 year ago

Which Patreon tier do I need to be able to vote in the upcoming Starcaster Chronicles comics? From what I can see the tier descriptions don’t mention that.

Tom B
Tom B
1 year ago

I know ads are the best you have as far as simple way to support revenues, other than Patreon. My real issue lies with the browser companies that enable ads to skip past settings on volume and visibility – that’s ridiculous. And the ads not only do that, but some are infested with various security threats and I don’t have a VM setup to view with. I kind of wish there was, as another commenter brought up, a service where I could list a few services I care about and make one annual payment and have it parcel some out… Read more »

Tumbleweed
Tumbleweed
1 year ago

Yeah, sooo, I became a Patron, it isn’t much, but maybe it will help.

Vivek Wilson
Vivek Wilson
1 year ago

A creator should not have to explain his means of income so carefully because some folks online didn’t like the fact that he didn’t give them a free comic one day. I understand your situation, Tim, and heartily sympathize. For what it’s worth, I’ve whitelisted your domain completely, so all ads come through now. I have an anti-virus program, so hoping it’d prevent the whole Forbes debacle mentioned by Clifford below. As for Patreon: I don’t mind joining the $5 tier per month, but just a curious question. You said you’d be sharing pdf versions of your comic books as… Read more »

I don't know how to register
I don't know how to register
1 year ago

Oh yeah, merch. That’s another point I forgot when people were suggesting downright terrible ideas like “make the comic itself an ad so people have to whitelist to see it” or “put in one of those pop-ups that doesn’t let you use the site unless you whitelist”. Driving people away with tactics like that also means you can’t sell them merch. I used to have shirts until they wore out and I had to toss them. I have posters and prints on the walls around me right now. I have books, the old animated series on a DVD, I think… Read more »

KeithM
KeithM
1 year ago

I stopped by to read your explanation regarding your Patreon account, and was greeted by a health ad with a graphic that kind of grossed me out. I am sorry, but after that encounter, I now use an ad-blocker. 😕

Shiva
Shiva
1 year ago

CAD, it has been and still is 1 of the pages with ads that work totally fine.
I checked Forbes and it is a bit irritating. I have seen way better news pages.

Thortok2000
Thortok2000
1 year ago

Another thing I see on some sites is a ‘progress bar’ with a goal for the month from donations.

Being able to accept paypal donations directly rather than going through paypal may not be ‘dependable’ but it’s a good way to show to your readers whether your goal for the month has been met or not, and how much you’re struggling (or not).

Erica Heathrow
Erica Heathrow
1 year ago

While I didn’t see any of the backlash from the last reminder comic, I can only presume that there was some… I felt it, certainly, but I don’t tend to post those sorts of feelings or responses since there’s more than enough unhappy words in the world already. I think what a large portion of it may have been over, though, was not any kind of resentment for Tim making a living from his work… Especially since he seems to be one of the relatively fewer people who still understands that Patreon itself is not intended to function as, and… Read more »

Jacob Keller
Jacob Keller
1 year ago

I think it’s about time I joined up to Patreon. Been reading the comic for 12 years now.(wow doesnt seem like that long) And I dont want to see it ever stop.

Brantley
Brantley
1 year ago

I know my reaction to the comic was more on the end of “Whoa new comic out on the weekend!” only to see that 1/3 of the comic was blurred out making me think “Tim is covering up new comics and trying to force people to pay? Well that sucks!” I immediately went to read the blog post and saw that you were mentioning “extra content” so as a fellow content creator, I realized that you must be pushing Patreon showing that readers can get more via subscribing to it. I think the backlash came from people doing as I… Read more »

Phil
Phil
1 year ago

I added you to my list of people I support. I had closed this article, though, so I came back to it to find the link. I’d suggest putting a Patreon link up in the top-right corner, along with YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook.

Scott
Scott
1 year ago

Have you considered putting out paperback comics of the series? I love reading your comics, and I bought the Vol 1 collection. I would also buy paperback comics if you made them.

mkearns
mkearns
1 year ago

I don’t block ads, I block JavaScript execution from untrusted sites. cad-comic.com is a trusted site. I cannot unilaterally allow unknown third parties to run scripts on my computer; I used to have sites trying to hack my browser several times a week before I installed NoScript. I really don’t mind advertisements at all, but there must be some other way than allowing strangers to execute code on my machine without pre-approval…

SpazMan777
SpazMan777
1 year ago

What I took away from this thread is that… you think people still go outside. I mean, don’t get me wrong: I go outside to reach my car, to eventually reach my workplace… then I return that journey, in reverse. I go outside due to necessity: not desire! Who goes outside for *leisure*?! I jest; at the end of the day, Tim, you have supporters 🙂 – When I landed on your comic over a decade ago, I’ve made this page my home. I own all four signed books, Kickstarter compendium, Zeke plush, Winter-een-mass blanket, heck even the O.G. Blind… Read more »

RanchRifle
RanchRifle
1 year ago

I would love to support you on Patreon! However, I refuse to give any money to them because of their anti-free speech stance. I will just have to keep buying your Merch!

RanchRifle
RanchRifle
1 year ago
Reply to  Tim

It is not a first amendment issue, but is is a free speech issue. But you know what? We can disagree and still speak to each other. I don’t have to try to shut you down, and obviously, you have not shut me down. Even though this is your privately owned space, you are honoring the principle of free speech. This is why I can support you. You are awesome!

Benjie
Benjie
1 year ago

Hi Tim, I’m happy to inform you that I have just become your Super Hero Sidekick with new socks ^^

shotcable
shotcable
1 year ago

Do you have a paypal address I could donate to directly?