Great content. No business model.
This site has always been a hobby. A “labor of love” as the cliche goes. It’s not a business, even though I have to report what meager earnings I make to the IRS, paid in the form of self-employment taxes. If this were a business, it would be a failing one. There’d be no way I could pay myself for my time. But that’s not why I’m doing this.
But that also doesn’t mean I’m against making money. Not at all.
My attempts to monetize Jammer’s Reviews have been minimal, to the point that I wonder if I’m stupidly leaving money on the table. (Probably not that much; my audience isn’t actually that big.) But my revenue-generation efforts have existed in their minimal form for a long time. I’ve had Google AdSense on the site for many years, and back in the day I used to be in the Amazon affiliate program — before it was discontinued years ago in my state because of Amazon’s then-refusal to collect state sales taxes. (It has since been restored, which was itself a number of years ago, but I never bothered to take up the program again. Earnings there also had always been meager.)
I get spam emails all the time asking if I want to enter into various advertising and/or paid content agreements. I have no idea if they are legit, or worth any consideration whatsoever even to research. I never reply, because I don’t want to look into it. I would never put “paid articles” on my site in a million years, because I hate that kind of crap. When it comes to editorial versus advertising, I’m a firm believer in church-and-state separation.
I have put exactly zero (0) dollars or effort into marketing this site. It has always been a word-of-mouth and just-found-thanks-to-Google state of affairs. Before the days of Google (yes, my site’s been around that long), my marketing solely consisted of posting a URL in the footer of my reviews that were posted in Usenet. Also, I listed myself in a Yahoo directory under TV > sci-fi > Star Trek. That’s about it.
So that leaves — crowdsourced funding. It has come up a few times, and it came up again recently: Why don’t I put out a tip jar to accept donations? I’m not sure. I just haven’t. At least not permanently. Back in 2005, I used PayPal to collect donations to fund a purchase of the TNG DVDs that would allow me to watch and review that show over time (eight years, as it turned out). At the time, they cost well over $500 and I decided that if I was going to review the show, I shouldn’t have to put in the time and the money purely out of my own pocket. The funding was successful; a lot of people participated. I took some criticism for it from some people, but I never really understood why — if I’m being upfront about what I’m doing and making it voluntary, why would it be wrong to accept payments for a service I normally give away for free? (And that wasn’t even really funding the service, but merely funding the raw materials allowing me to provide the service without going into my own pocket.) After I funded the TNG DVDs, I left up the donation button for a while, but people didn’t seem interested in donating once I’d announced I’d collected the money to cover the DVDs. I felt kinda weird about it, so I took it down. And that was the last time I tried anything like that.
After a little bit of discussion in a recent comment thread, I’ve decided to give the tip jar idea another whirl. The web has evolved more than 15 years since that last effort, and now there are all sorts of platforms for crowdfunding. I’ve decided for now to go with Buy Me a Coffee (BMAC). It’s a little simpler and less involved than Patreon, but allows a few more features (including the possibility for exclusive content) than if I just threw a PayPal link out there again.
Right now I have no plans to produce members-only extras. Reviews will continue to be released the same way they’ve always been, and you won’t get any special privileges for contributing, except, of course, my gratitude. If I can come up with members-only perks to incentivize membership, maybe I will. But at the moment I don’t have the time or creative bandwidth to come up with those things, so don’t expect them. (What about posting my original, unreleased TNG Season 7 and DS9 Season 2 review books from summer 1994? That’d be cool, right? Ugh, no; I think I’d die of embarrassment.)
So what do you get as a one-time or ongoing contributor? Right now, nothing, except the 1,300+ reviews and articles and the user community with 80,000 comments that you already get for free — and maybe the good vibes that come with supporting this little corner of the internet. Contribute as little or as much (or as rarely or frequently) as you want, or nothing. This is just something out there to give you the opportunity. No pressure. I’ve placed a coffee button at the top of the pages with the other navigation, and added some other unobtrusive links. That will be the extent of it, other than this blog post. (Naturally, any announcement I make has to be accompanied with a thousand-word trip down memory lane. “I cannot help myself!” as Data once said.)
However, that “no pressure” goes both ways. By donating, please think of it as a tip for services already rendered, and not something that buys you future services or my consideration of special requests. You can certainly ask me questions; just don’t be too disappointed if I decline. I’m just trying this out to see how it goes. No expectations. As always with this site: Great content, no business model.
Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee.