22 Oct


It’s hard for me to believe that it’s now been about three-and-a-half years since I started this blog. Over that time it’s come a long way. After beginning with no real direction, I found my forte within the first six months or so, and the blog evolved into the grand history you all know and (hopefully) love. Along the way I like to believe I’ve become a better writer, and I know I’ve become a much better and more thorough researcher, with many more sources at my disposal. I must admit that some of those early articles are a bit painful for me to read now (I really need to do something about that someday). But best of all, I’ve found you folks, a core group of loyal readers who seem to grow by just a little bit every month. It hasn’t been a meteoric rise, but it has been a steady one and a fun one. You’re the best readers anywhere, you know, almost unfailingly polite and witty and perceptive and helpful, and I appreciate each and every one of you enormously. Every writer wants, more than anything else, to know some people out there are reading. Thanks for that!

So, having buttered you up, let’s move on to the real subject of today’s post. After some months of dithering over the question, I’ve decided it’s time to take the next step in my blogging career. As you can probably imagine based on the length and depth of the articles I post, the writing and research for the blog  absorbs many hours of my time per week. If I can start to bring in a little bit more, and on a more consistent basis, I’ll be able to devote more time to my work here, which will translate directly into more and better articles for you to enjoy. Imagine if you will a sliding scale of hours devoted to computer-gaming history that terminates in my being able to make it my full-time job. I’m afraid I’m a long way from there, may indeed never reach it, but every little bit of income the blog does manage to generate shifts that scale just slightly in a positive direction, resulting in more articles published, more games and other topics covered, and more depth to that coverage.

I’ve therefore decided to add Patreon to the existing PayPal donation system. As many of you probably already know, Patreon is a way for readers like you to support the work of creators like me through something like the old patronage model that used to fund art and literature back in the day. It has the advantage for me that it represents a steady income stream I can count on on a per-article basis, whereas one-off donations tend to move through cycles of feast and famine that are impossible to plan for. You need only go to my fresh new Patreon page to sign up. If you do so, you’ll be automatically billed for each substantial article that I write for the blog (i.e., articles like this one are not included). You can decide how much that amount will be. I’m certainly not asking you to break the bank here; a dollar or two (or the equivalent in your local currency) is fine, although if any of you love the blog and are flush with cash I certainly wouldn’t balk at more. On the other hand, some of you may want to pay a bit less, maybe just a dollar or two per month. I unfortunately can’t offer monthly and per-article payments simultaneously, but there is a way around it: just set a per-article level of $1 and also set a monthly limit of $1, $2, or whatever you like. This will have the same effect, with the added advantage that you don’t pay anything if I stop blogging for a month for some reason.

Patreon supporters will gain access to a special members area of my Patreon page, where we can interact a bit more informally and where you can have a bit more of a say on certain things that happen around here. I’ll give sneak previews from time to time of upcoming articles, ask for your input on games and topics worthy of coverage, and if there’s interest host occasional meet-ups via Google Hangouts or the like.

The PayPal donation button to the right will not be going away, so if you do still prefer to make a single lump-sum donation by all means feel free. And whether you can contribute financially or not, I could also use your help in one other way. As just about everyone must realize by now, I’m terrible at self-promotion, and worse at social media. So, anything you could do to help me get the word out to potential supporters would be hugely appreciated.

And that’s that, except to say, as Bartles and Jaymes did back in the year of which I’m writing these days, “Thank you for your support.” Next up in the on-deck circle: a certain spacefaring epic.


10 Responses to Patreon

  1. iPadCary

    January 20, 2015 at 3:37 pm

    Obviously, I’ve zero idea of the metrics of “Digital Antiquarian”, but I can assume it’s substantially more than just 85 people: the number of Patreon supporters.

    Yes, yes: I’m well aware of current fiscal constraint.
    But are you telling me that things are *that* bad where you can’t swing a measly buck per DEEP AND WELL WRITTEN article?!? C’mon, man: GIVE!

  2. DZ-Jay

    March 5, 2017 at 12:58 pm

    Hi, Jimmy,

    As you may already know (of course, you keep track of all your readers individually, right? right??), I started reading your blog just a couple of weeks ago and have managed to make my way to this point.

    As I read your Patreon announcement I must admit it makes a very compelling case. Not one to typically contribute in such ways, I admit that if I ever were to sponsor someone’s work it would be for something like this and to a person as prolific and proven as you.

    Not having engaged in this sort of service before, I do have some questions I hope you could answer, and if you do not feel comfortable sharing them publicly, I would appreciate a direct response; my e-mail is attached to every post I make.

    . How much do you envision a typical article to cost?
    . How much has already been covered by your existing Patreon campaign?
    . How much do you already receive in other types of donations?
    . How much, in your honest opinion, is a “good” amount for readers to contribute per article in order to have a significant impact on your time? (I mean, what is the difference between “it can pay for three weeks at the library researching this particular topic,” vs. “It’ll pay for a couple of beers while I think about the next topic” — not judging either way since both serve their own purpose.)
    . What do you suppose will be the average frequency of your articles, i.e., are you aiming for one article a month, bi-monthly, weekly, fortnightly, etc.? (This can help a fellow understand the expected patronage and accommodate it within his cash-flow capabilities.)

    And lastly,
    . Rather than an on-going Patreon commitment, would you be open to a per-article sponsorship? I mean, say you estimate the cost of research and production of a particular article to be something like $5,000; you could request patronage from your readers to cover specifically that amount. Likewise you could prepare a plan for the next 10 articles or so and seek funding for them. In this way, it works rather like a scholar grant than an art patronage (which always strikes me as horridly anachronistic to the modern culture of scientific and academic progress).

    I hope to hear from you soon. In the meantime, I will see what I can contribute to your work, and I will continue reading on the rest of your articles.


    • Jimmy Maher

      March 5, 2017 at 2:14 pm

      While I do use some of the money I earn from Patreon to purchase research materials, take occasional research trips, etc., it’s really just about earning enough to be able to justify continuing to do this work. This is, in other words, to a large extent how I make my living. You can always see my current Patreon funding on my Patreon page, but I don’t choose to share other details of my personal finances beyond saying that a) I couldn’t continue doing this work absent my readers’ support and b) I’m most definitely not getting rich off this work.

      I encourage you to pay what these articles are worth to you personally — and of course only what you can easily spare. Because these figures are different for different readers, I’m not going to name a figure I deem to be “good” or “appropriate.” I’m well aware that for some people donating 50 cents per article represents more of an investment than $50 per article does for some others. All readers who pay me the ultimate compliment of deciding my work is worth paying for are equally appreciated.

      I normally publish an article every Friday, with occasional disruptions due to vacations, sickness, personal disruptions, etc. So, generally four articles per month, or 48 per year. Note that you can set a cap on your monthly outlay via Patreon.

      I’m not much interested in seeking funding in other ways right now. Rather than “preparing a plan for the next 10 articles or so and seeking funding for them,” I’d much rather spend my time just, you know, writing the actual articles. I don’t enjoy anything about fund-raising. In that light, far from being “horridly anachronistic to the modern culture of scientific and academic progress,” Patreon has been literally life-changing for me, allowing me to do on a full-time basis work that’s incredibly important to me and, I like to humor myself, at least a little bit important to posterity. But to each his own.

      • DZ-Jay

        March 5, 2017 at 4:52 pm

        Hi, Jimmy,

        Judging by the rather cold response you have provided, I seem to not have presented my post properly — or worse, presented it in a way that could be mischaracterized in a rather negative way. For that I sincerely apologize, it was not my intention at all to make any innuendo or judgement on your work, your finances, or your lifestyle.

        Nor did I meant it as an inquiry into your finances, although reading back my questions I can see how it could be taken that way. I may have misunderstood your approach as less of “paying back for access to important work of worth,” and more of “funding the research needed to continue”; but I do understand and appreciate the difference.

        I personally find the work you are doing terribly important and worth more than I could personally afford to pay myself. I would very much like to contribute to it, not only to fund the research and effort, but to pay you back for the work you seem to be doing anyway — work that has proven to me incredibly worthwhile and which has given me significant pleasure and satisfaction (not to mention intellectual stimulus, knowledge, and understanding). I just have never done this sort of thing before, so my questions were more intended to understand how to go about figuring what would be a good sum to make an impact without leaving me strapped for cash. That is it, honest. :)

        Keep up the good work, I look forward to your continued efforts in this endeavor, and I will be making a donation soon.

        Best regards

        • Jimmy Maher

          March 5, 2017 at 5:10 pm

          No worries. There are some folks of a certain means who value my work and have been very generous about supporting it with an eye to posterity, for which I’m honored and very grateful. But for most people, it doesn’t need to be more complicated than thinking about what you would be willing to pay for four interesting circa 5000-word articles of this type every month if they came in the form of a magazine or newsletter. If you believe that good writing has a value and deserves remuneration, just think about what price this particular work is personally worth to you. If you insist on a ballpark figure, think about investing the cost of a good cup of coffee every month. ;)

          • DZ-Jay

            March 11, 2017 at 4:21 pm

            Just signed up. Thanks again for the continued work — it is very important indeed. :)


  3. Kruthers

    July 5, 2017 at 10:35 pm

    Hey Jimmy,

    Just one request: PLEASE STOP! You’ve destroyed months of my productivity, I’m still 3 years behind, and now you’re costing me money…

    Kidding aside, I joined Patreon just for this blog, which I latched onto a few months ago and started reading from the beginning. Thank you for doing what you’re doing.

    • Jimmy Maher

      July 6, 2017 at 5:41 am

      Thank you for your support!

  4. Menneisyys

    July 6, 2017 at 9:37 pm

    Just a quick note: Patreon also seem to add the local VAT to the sum you donate, while manual PayPal donation doesn’t.

    That is, if you come from a high-VAT country like me (Finland), a combination of Patreon (with heavy capping) + manual PayPal (done frequently with a much higher donation than via Patreon) might be the most cost-effective for both Jimmy and you.


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