Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Money (It's a Gas)

It's something Quakers, it seems, don't like to talk about very much. Our personal circumstances especially, but I've even found that we tend to be reluctant to get into too much detail about our organisational finances unless we really need to. Anyway, it's personal circumstances that come into this post.
A lot of Quaker bloggers out there are either retired, or blogging in their spare time while earning from a day job – or even being able to blog in relation to their day job, if they are in a Quaker-related job. I'm not in that position. Indeed, due to various circumstances, I am reliant on state support. While I do various things self-employed, this doesn't earn enough to live on. There is a pretty decent system of support in this situation. Or there was. It's being taken down and replaced with a much worse system, but that is (for now) fortunately not a current issue for me. However, to get the support I do get, I need to be able to demonstrate that I spend my time on things that could plausibly make me money to live on. Not all my time, but enough of it.
Because of issues around my physical and mental health, conventional employment situations don't work so well for me. I'm generally pretty open about talking about these issues, and have done so in the past elsewhere, but for this situation, here and now, please just take my word for it, and while I'm hoping for thoughts and ideas in the comments, please don't make them about how I could somehow make conventional employment work. That's a whole other conversation – let's keep this post and discussion from it on topic.
What does this have to do with this blog? Well, while the written ministry on this blog is something I do not control, and will always share online one way or another as it comes up, pieces of deliberate writing take time and effort, as does – to a lesser extent – maintaining this blog and social media presence. Putting as much time into them as I want to, as I feel they deserve, takes time that I could spend on things that are arguably more profitable. On the other hand, if I were to be able to earn money out of my Quaker writing, I could put pretty much all the time into it I want – if the money actually matched up with the time, to some extent. Add to that, some of the avenues of earning money that I've been pursuing haven't been working out as well as I'd like, so opening up a new avenue would be helpful both in terms of my income and in terms of being able to satisfy the government that I'm doing what I should be doing. If it ended up doing well enough for me not to need state support, that would be fantastic, but let's take it one step at a time.
So, here we come to it. You may have noticed that ads have appeared on the blog. These are provided through Google AdSense. Please DO NOT treat these ads any differently from those you might see on any other website. This might generate a trickle of income; it's in Google's interest to put ads in place that will perform well on this site and for this audience, so there's reason to hope, but the rates aren't huge and you don't get anything until you've managed to get £100 of earnings rolled up – and that can take a while. So, while this might earn something, it's unlikely to be enough unless the blog really takes off. While I'd love for it to do that, I'm not going to bank on it.
The other route a lot of people try, when they want to make money online, is Patreon. For those who do not know, this is a site that allows those engaged in creative endeavours to attract “patrons”, after the old fashioned route, but with a twist of crowdfunding. An endeavour recruits people who sign up to pay a regular amount, and, much like Kickstarter, offers them rewards for certain levels of contribution, or promises to do extra things or meet certain commitments if the total regular contribution goes above a certain level. Indeed, it's much like Kickstarter, but for ongoing payments.
I'm seriously considering setting up a Patreon. Of course, there's not much point without a sense that people will sign up for it. As such, there's a sort of “poll” below allowing you to anonymously indicate how likely you might be to sign up for it.
Let us be clear – I will always carry on writing up any written ministry that comes to me, and sharing it as best I can. Without finding a way to make it a source of income, I will not be able to carry on producing deliberate writing as much as I have, much less to step up production to the level I would like. If I can make that income, I can step up to write about all the things I want to write about, spending more time on it, including writing up more related to the presentation I recently gave at Woodbrooke. If I can make enough, I could commit to a substantive piece of deliberate writing per week, minimum (barring extraordinary circumstances). If I make more, I could up that commitment to two. As such, I expect that would be the commitments based on total support I would list on Patreon, at least at the lower levels. Perhaps I could also commit to spending time experimenting to find how to encourage the Spirit to allow me more written ministry.
In terms of perks for people making sufficient contributions, I suppose that I could offer one of the typical options – the opportunity to influence what I write about. I wouldn't want to make polls, unless it were for extra “bonus” content above my basic commitment, but discussions and sharing of ideas are possible. If someone makes a particularly generous contribution, I suppose I could offer a more extravagant perk, but I don't know what that could be.
So, I'm asking you, my readers, for two things right now. Respond to the poll below, and share any thoughts on the whole “making money from Quaker writing” situation in the comments. Why I should or shouldn't do a certain thing, what I might do instead, what rewards and commitments I might make on a Patreon. All of it. I want to hear from you.

Would you sign up to a Patreon for this blog?

Survey Maker
If you enjoy this blog, or otherwise find it worthwhile, please consider contributing to my Patreon. More information about this, and the chance to comment, can be found in the post announcing the launch of my Patreon.