Become a patron maybe?
I’ve just finished listening to Amanda Palmer’s The Art of Asking. You should totally listen to it or read it. I would recommend reading if you’re not into the kind of music that the Dresdon Dolls or Eveyln Evelyn make – which is totally fine – Amanda is aware that her music isn’t for everyone. I skipped through all songs on the Audible audio book except one – sorry I don’t recall which one it was but when I re-listen to the book, I will let you know.
Amanda’s Twitter feed is where I read about Patreon for the first time. I click on a lot of links and this was just another one of those. I was intrigued by the model. You’d think it’s similar to Kickstarter ( which Amanda has previously and very famously and controversially used to raise $1.2 million ), but Patreon is not Kickstarter. Patreon is more about raising a monthly stipend. Kickstarter is more about raising money for one particular deliverables. Like if I had to raise money for a particular photography commission : like photographing the Indian Women’s Hockey team as they prepare for the Rio Olympics and then go compete at the Olympics, I would typically calculate how much money I would need to make that happen and then I would ask for the money on Kickstarter and include rewards etc. I can do this on Patreon as well – they have Creator Milestones – but Patreon is more about a creator being able to do what they do, without having to worry about basic expenses.
I was led back to Patreon today after I listened to The Joe Rogan Experience with Gad Saad on it. After listening to the podcast, I naturally searched for Gad on Twitter and followed him and then I saw a tweet where he tweeted a link to his own Patreon page asking for patrons to contribute.
When this happened, my brain lit up. I’d seen someone who is regarded as a highly creative whacko – Amanda Palmer – and someone who is a highly regarded researcher, professor and author who runs his own mini-podcast series – Gad Saad – and they both were on Patreon. Maybe I could be too. What could go wrong? The worst than can happen is … nothing. The best that can happen is that I will be able to photograph and blog stories that my actual audience wants to see and read about. How cool would it be if it worked! For all parties involved too.
Maybe this could be an interesting model for independent journalists to follow as well – instead of having to depend on a not-so-regular pay check from all the publications that an independent journalist writes for, where the payments can be delayed for days, weeks, months and sometimes the cheques disappear altogether, Patreon could be a lovely way for them to not worry about rent and expenses and actually gain public funding for the projects and stories that the public would want them to pursue. Without any influence of corporations, brands and those ugly “FAM Trips”.
I love working with some brands but after a recent engagement where the brand asked me, politely, to remove some content from my blog post as it could have been taken out of context, I fumed silently. I border on arrogance when I declare that my blog has never had ads, and will never have ads and that I publish whatever the fuck I want to publish and this incident has not gone down well with me. I agreed to it because I’d signed legal documents – no other reason. I signed those documents because I didn’t think anything would go wrong in terms of my experience with the brand. It’s all highly contextual so it doesn’t fall in the purview of me deceiving my audience but it rattled me enough to expect that something much worse could happen in the future.
And there’s a ton of stories that I’d like to do that no brand will ever touch – not in my lifetime at least. Patreon could help me get a sustainable income, which in turn could then help me work on stories that don’t necessarily need a brand’s sponsorship. Patreon’s tagline is “We want to help every creator in the world achieve sustainable income.” I don’t see many Indians on there and I don’t know how the Indian audience is going to react to something like this or even react at all – no harm in trying. I’m always game for a new game.
So what’s the deal again?
So the deal is that if you like what I produce, what I publish on the blog, the photographs I made, the stuff I write, etc. then you can help me continue to do this by funding a sustainable income for me. The Patreon platform allows payment only in the form of US Dollars and the minimum is $1 per month. Yes you read that right – that’s it. Just ~Rs. 66 per month based on the current conversion rate. Of course you can give more if you like – if there’s a lot of you in the audience who become patrons, I’m set. About 10,000 to 20,000 people visit this blog monthly. If even half of you become patrons ( around 5,000 people ) that’s $5,000 per month. Honestly, I’m not expecting anything from this but just giving you an example of how powerful this can be.
I can work out rewards like if you drop $1,000, I could do a story on you! And if you give a $1 a month for a year and if you come see me, I’ll do a portrait. Things like that. I’m open to suggestions. Anyone who is a patron can suggest what my next story should be about. If you can rally your friends and associates around that story and they are patrons too, you’re basically funding that story and I will credit the patrons when I publish that story.
Someone on Twitter had asked me once if I would consider putting up a paywall on my blog i.e., visitors who come to this blog to read what I write and see what I photograph would have to pay to see the content and I was a little offended by the question. I had started blogging for ME. And I’d like to keep it that way as much as possible. While realities of “rent needs to be paid” are not going anywhere, I will never publish any ads on this blog and I will never put up a paywall. Ever. Not happening. And no, it is never going to change. I am not going to change my mind. I’m open to experimenting with different low-risk options like Patreon though.
I’m not doing this “for profit” really – I do enough of that with paid stories that I work on with brands for their products and events. And I will continue to do those but this thing with Patreon will help me do more stories like the one about the Indian Women’s Hockey Team. I really like that story and it was shared by a lot of people and even by a news website. I’d like to be able to do more of those without having to worry about not having done any “brand” stories. Without worrying about rent.
That would be nice. Yes.
…and with that, Alice jumped down the Rabbit Hole.
An example of the kind of stories you’ll be helping me with : The Indian Women’s Hockey Team
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