Need Feedback on a Potential Patreon Campaign

January 3rd, 2017 by Benj Edwards

Benj Edwards Patreon Header Draft

[ Update – 01/09/2016: I just launched my Patreon campaign this morning. You can see it here. ]

The Problem

Here I am. It’s 2017. I’ve been writing professionally for over a decade now, and I’m not going to lie: I don’t make much money. I support a family of four, health insurance keeps going up every year no matter what I make, and freelance budgets at publications are trending down. Competition is fierce.

What I’m trying to say is that my professional focus, as it stands now, is not sustainable in the long run. I can see the writing on the wall.

So I’m considering various options. One is a career change. But that is a hard trick to pull off. Maybe I could be a professional graphic designer, as I once was many years ago. I don’t have a degree, so getting a full-time job is tricky. Maybe I could run off and join the circus. Maybe I could run off and join Burger King.

The Solution

In lieu of making burgers for the rest of my life, I am guessing is that you guys would like to see me keep doing what I’m doing: preserving video game and computer history — telling the important, forgotten stories that need to be told. But it’s really hard to make a living doing that these days. It’s possible, but hard. I could use every bit of help I can get.

If you want to see me stay the course, continuing to build on what I’ve been doing since 2005, this is your chance to help.

I’m considering launching a Patreon campaign that would supplement my freelance income (or replace it entirely if it comes to that) by funding deep dives into history and never-before-seen interviews that will be published on this site, VC&G.

Right now I mostly do slideshows to make ends meet, but I’d rather spend all of my time writing meaningful history work and interviewing historically important people before their stories are lost forever. Support from Patreon will help me do that.

I Want Your Feedback

What I’d like to know from you guys is what you’d think about this idea, and I have some specific questions for fans of my work.

Would I be compromising my reputation to take money from crowdfunding? Do you think the campaign would be more successful if I promote it as a way to support me personally, or as a way to support Vintage Computing and Gaming as a site?

Also, what kind of work would you like to see from me the most? Any ideas for rewards? (I’m considering an eBook collection of the interviews I’ve conducted over the years, or maybe some kind of Retro Scan of the Week collection.) Your feedback, in whatever form, will be greatly appreciated.

So before I announce the Patreon campaign to a wider audience, here’s your chance to either encourage me or talk me out of it before I make a fool out of myself.

You guys have been supporting my work spiritually for years, so I deeply respect your opinions. Your support is the reason I have kept at this job even in the years when it was very hard to make ends meet. I keep doing this because I love it, and because I feel I am doing a service to history itself.

So take a look at my Patreon promotional video above, and let me know what you think. I appreciate your help, as always.

13 Responses to “Need Feedback on a Potential Patreon Campaign”

  1. Mike Shaffer Says:

    I fully support the idea and will gladly donate/support your efforts! I look forward to Retro Scans…I think I’ve owned more than 3/4 of them…

  2. tortimer Says:

    Hi Benj. It’s not easy asking for help. Quite a lot of people these days who, through no fault of their own, are finding it difficult to make ends meet. It shouldn’t be this way and we need a better system of wealth distribution in this country. My feeling is that crowdfunding (if not already) is going to be the norm and one of the ways we as a collective society can properly value the talent and efforts of others. On the other question the focus of the pitch ought to be about supporting the work and keeping the great articles and insights coming here on the site.

    There’s no question this work deserves the support of computing and gaming enthusiasts.

    Also, Great video!

  3. Jim Says:

    You wouldn’t be the first creator I’ve supported on Patreon. There are plenty of people whose content I could get for completely free but I choose to support knowing that I am doing my part to make sure they keep creating content that I enjoy. I follow your site on my RSS Feed and check any new posts you create, and enjoy every one of them. So without a doubt I would throw a few bucks your way a month to keep them going.

    I also love your idea for more interviews. As we’ve seen recently, many pioneers are reaching their twilight years and we have already lost many others. While there are plenty that people have heard about and know their stories, I assume there are many more that have great stories to tell and have never told them. It would be a shame to lose those stories and that history and you would be doing incredible work getting their stories and immortalizing them.

    I look forward to your Patreon and do not see it as pandering in any way.

    Thanks and good luck!

  4. Benj Edwards Says:

    Thanks for the feedback. Someone emailed me some thoughts as well, which I appreciate. It sounds so far like you guys think Patreon is a good idea (and I’m glad you like the video), so I am planning to launch it next week after CES is over.

    I’ve done some digging into publishing a Retro Scan collection book as a reward, and it would be very expensive ($100-$200 a copy) to make a full-color book that fit all the Retro Scans in it. So sadly it is not practical. I could do a “Best of Retro Scan” with maybe 100 scans in it, but laying out the book would be a month or more of unpaid work. If I do it, I will have to work on it a little bit on the side over a long period of time.

    The interview collection book reward (a collection of extended notable interviews I have conducted since 2005) would be much cheaper to print, but I will still have to put a lot of work into formatting and editing everything. But it would be fun to have, so I might just do that anyway.

  5. Philip Says:

    I like your site and want it to continue. I like the idea of Patreon and could support you with a few dollars.
    For what it’s worth, high priced rewards don’t interest me personally and I’d hate to see you spend lots of time or money on something that might have a limited audience. I’ve seen Kickstarters get bogged down creating and fulfilling endless tiers of rewards. Some backers may be into that and if they pay then that’s great. Maybe just be sure to keep it simple so you can handle it.
    I would rather just support the day-to-day work of the site. I look forward to your future output! Thanks!

  6. XCALIBR8 Says:

    I love what you do, and definitely will help support to keep this going. Another thing to consider is maybe just stepping back while things get settled and take time for yourself to adjust to see what works best for you.

    Although the money isn’t always great, I have been doing some sort of tech support job now for about 15+ years. Helping others is fun, and it can be very rewarding. It hasn’t burnt me out yet, I just try to avoid call centers now as it is far too fast paced for me. I’d rather tinker with an old laptop and put a smile on someone’s face when it is fixed in person.

  7. V Says:

    You would most definitely NOT be compromising your reputation by crowdfunding. You provide something of value and hey, we’ve all got to eat. There are lots of people out there with an interest in computing history, not to mention future generations of techies who will be interested in knowing the roots of the technologies they use. You’re doing the hard part (finding the material, researching, writing great articles), I’d be very happy to some of the easy part (contributing funds).

  8. Keith Lutener Says:

    I think you could make a fantastic go of this and you would get my support. You should have a look at Jeremy Parish and the Nostalgia Nerd on Patreon as they have done similar things.

  9. Benj Edwards Says:

    I am very grateful to have all of your support. Thanks for the feedback — right now I am planning on launching the Patreon on Monday, January 9th. We’ll see how it goes. I am thinking of doing a live stream most of the day to promote it.

  10. Justin M. Salvato Says:

    JUST DO IT! We know you provide great information on the vintage computer scene and hate to see your take on it disappear.

  11. Somak Mitra Says:

    I don’t know how Patreon works, but if one time donations are allowed, I could pitch in every other month or so. My job is fairly new and I don’t make that much and the exchange rate of the rupee vs the dollar is rather steep.

    The part I like the most about the blog are the retro scans and gifs. They make me oddly nostalgic about a time in a country I wasn’t even born in, but it is a pleasant feeling nonetheless.

    Also, I would love more articles on doing stuff with old computers, like how word processing or other stuff would be done in the early days of personal computing.

  12. Benj Edwards Says:

    So here it is, guys — I launched my Patreon campaign today. Thanks for all your help and advice.

  13. Jarson Says:

    Have you considered a Youtube Vlog? I would love to see some of your work in video form, and the video above is a good indication of your abilities in that regard. I watch many Vloggers that make ad dollars on Youtube for very niche subjects, usually enough to support themselves. I would posit that your computer history published work would be even more mainstream than some of those, especially as that generation ages and finds themselves watching lots of Youtube on AppleTV, Roku, Chromecast, Playstation, etc. Your content would also be family friendly I suspect, which is needed for us with kids now. Anyway I will be supporting you any way you feel you need, good luck!

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