Thinking about a patreon account…

Mainly because I’ve now got a tremendous legal debt thanks to a certain Jesus-Mythicist asshole, and I’ve got to start bringing in extra revenue to pay that off, especially since we got rid of the obnoxious ads that did provide a feeble revenue stream. I’m trying to think of what I could do that some of you might pay a few bucks for. Some random ideas:

  • Ask volunteers to chip in a few bucks per week for meaty science posts on a regular schedule.
  • Create a patron-only Discord channel for direct conversation.
  • Have a mechanism where patrons can suggest and vote on specific topics for blog posts.
  • Ditto for YouTube videos.
  • The big one: if I get 10 $1000/month patrons for 6 months…live online lingerie shoot.

That last one would clear up everything.

Anyway, you people think about it, suggest better ideas, and I’ll try to do the same, over the next couple of days. Alternatively, you could just tell me you’re not going to ever pay for something you get for free, so I shouldn’t bother, and I’ll pursue other plans…like selling my janky ol’ plasma for the big payola.


  1. wsierichs says

    I recently renewed my subscription to Freethought Blogs, but in the process paid $60 too much. (I did not realize that my first $30 fee had gone through.) I was going to ask for it back, but if it helps with the legal bills, I’ll donate it to you instead.

    You can email me at if you need to.

  2. Morgan!? ♥ ʕ•ᴥ•ʔ says

    Dear PZ, I have been a follower/fan of yours for many years now. I have expended extraordinary effort in keeping a subscription to your deathless prose through many technical deaths. There are a very select few good thinkers online to whom I will contribute cash because, number one, I have very, very little to spare, and number two, every time I fire up the ‘puter someone is begging me for dollars and I am sick of it. Howsomever!!! If you establish a Patreon I will scrape together a few paltry pennies and gladly contribute them on a monthly basis. Carry on, good sir.

  3. John Morales says

    PZ, I think you’re being too diplomatic.

    Just do it; any income is better than no income.

    (One suggestion, though: don’t call it ‘donations’, call it a ‘tip jar’. Same meaning for me, but not for most people)

  4. chrislawson says

    Hi, PZ

    I’d certainly consider subscribing, but I’m not sure Patreon is going to put much of a dent in your legal debt.

    Only 2% of Patreon users earn more than minimum wage.

    Even a site as well known as Clarkesworld is using it as a side-stream. Checking their current numbers, they have 966 subscribers. I can’t tell how much their total monthly subscription income is (the tiers vary from $2-15), so it could be anywhere from $2000 to $14,000 per month — if I was to guess using a Poisson distribution I’d go for around $5-6000 per month. Not bad, but not a lot for running a high-quality professional magazine.

    Despite all this, Patreon could be a good choice. There are alternatives, but you need good web management skills for most of them, and I don’t think they get around the basic problem of needing to build a subscriber base to have a good income.

    As for your specific suggested incentives, none of them really appeal to me.

    “Ask volunteers to chip in a few bucks per week for meaty science posts on a regular schedule.”
    — Don’t you already do that?

    “Create a patron-only Discord channel for direct conversation.”
    — Not for me.

    “Have a mechanism where patrons can suggest and vote on specific topics for blog posts.”
    — I’m far more interested reading about a topic you chose to write about.

    “Ditto for YouTube videos.”
    — Not interested. YouTube is great for music and DIY instructions. Most of the time I’d rather read a written post or a transcript.

    “The big one: if I get 10 $1000/month patrons for 6 months…live online lingerie shoot.”
    Do you have any idea how long it takes to put on eight garters and stockings?

  5. says

    I support several creators that I identify with or enjoy on Patreon, and ask nothing of them other than continue to do what they do. I would gladly add you to that list.

  6. nomdeplume says

    Work out what would be the easiest, most productive structure for you PZ, let us know, and I am sure many of us will come to the party. Though not the lingerie party.

  7. says

    I think he means that the lingerie will be alive. Leaving disturbing questions about dead lingerie for another time.

  8. wzrd1 says

    Well, PZ could always do what I did for money.
    You’d be amazed what money one can get paid for dancing. They paid tons to see me put it on!
    I really cleaned up collecting money to go away. ;)

  9. Alt-X says

    I didn’t mind adds, just not when they make a web page wig out. Can’t you put a whole heap at the bottom of every page? I’m sure no one would mind, you should be at least generating something from the hits you get to your blog, silly!

  10. Wrath Panda says

    Take it to Onlyfans. You can charge a monthly fee /and/ lock additional photos and videos of spiders behind a modest additional stipend for each. You could even livestream the whole lingerie thing if you were so inclined.

    At least, this is how I’ve been told it works…cough

  11. John Morales says


    … I’m sure no one would mind [adverts] …

    You do realise adverts consume resources (among other things, a shitload more data transfer via multiple domains and concomitant speed of rendering), no?

    I would mind. And I doubt I would be alone in that.

    Anyway, this post is about Patreon. And I’ve already noted I think “why not?”.

  12. piscador says

    I’m supporting a handful of Patreon sites already, at $1-2 a month, and I’ll certainly be more than happy to add Pharyngula to the list. It’s a small token of my appreciation for the many hours of thought-provoking text that I’ve read for the last…. well, ever since your SciBlog days. :)

    I’m not sure what kind of incentive you could offer that you don’t already do for free. However, a few hundred subscribers would help make a dent in your legal bills.

  13. Alt-X says

    Wow. What a bad attitude to take. You’re poor iPhone resources! Let me go dig out my 9600 baud modem – I’m getting flash backs. Non?

  14. says

    Also, advertisers are a jinky bunch. Sometimes someone would post something vehement or sexy, or vehement and sexy, and the ad server would stalk off in a prudish huff and refuse to pay their rates. Somehow, the ads would stay up, they just wouldn’t pay us, for months on end. I’d rather censor the ads than our writers.

    Ironically, the ads were often full of demeaning or sexual content themselves. You’d get a face full of bikini babes when you’d log in, and that was often contrary to our egalitarian mission.

    And the popups! And that evil ad that slid all our content over to the side to fill the margin with garbage! Nope, not going back to that.

  15. Bruce Fuentes says

    If you set up an donation account somewhere, I would commit to a monthly donation. Your science posts and musings are must read fare for me. If I can help keep that going, I am more than willing to send some cash.

  16. says

    I’m fairly involved with several small Minecraft YouTube communities and have seen Patreon + Discord enable them to go part time or even full time in some cases. There are 3 factors to making it work.
    A. Large enough audience
    B. Connection to your audience
    C. Incentive to support

    You already have A & B. What you need now is C.

    Having a Patreon members only Discord and being active on it provides C (and reinforces B.) Additionally, You can have occasional members only voice chat/video hang-out events.

    It won’t make you rich, but I think it could certainly help.

    Oh, if you do decide to start a discord server, you will want a few trusted moderators (preferably in different timezones) to help. Mods are the backbone of a community and can make (or break) the whole thing.

  17. Jazzlet says

    Alt-X @#19
    It’s not just one individual’s bandwidth though is it? It’s all of our bandwidth and the servers required to support ads that most people do not want for a variety of reasons. For myself I find it impossible to read pages that have anything flashing or moving on them and too many advertisers use that as a way of attracting your attention.

  18. says

    Even more than ad content and system stress (which is nontrivial, especially outside of major metropolitan areas like in, say, Morris), there’s the fact that they aren’t ads.

    They’re data-collection nodes. The advertising itself and the products/services they’re supposedly benefitting are actually secondary; the ad broker makes as much money from reselling the information it retrieves as it does from the advertising “paying for” the ad. And the more identifiable that data is, the more valuable it is. The point is that “sexy ads” are dangerous even if never clicked on… just displaying is enough to put tracking crap on a machine and read tracking crap that’s already there.

    The simplest mitigation on a Windows computer is to just block DNS entries to ad brokers; it’s imperfect, but it only involves adding entries to the simple-text hosts file, and significantly speeds page loading when on a “slow” connection (I’ll see that 9600 baud modem and raise you a manually switchable 12/2400, or even a handset-cradle 150/300). However, that method doesn’t (and can’t) work on phones… and it’s easily evaded on any *nix machine, specifically including Macs.