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Two Ways to Keep the Fountain Flowing

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I’ve been working on an interesting math problem I first pondered as a kid.

One day in the early nineties, my dad heard on the radio that there was a new technology coming called “INTER-NET,” and he struggled to describe it to me.

One thing he said was, “You could type in ‘Michael Jackson jokes’ and see all the Michael Jackson jokes in the world.”

It didn’t occur to me that this INTER-NET wasn’t a physical thing, or that you would have it in your home. I pictured a towering, all-connected computer at the university that people would line up to use.

“And it’s free!” He added.

That part seemed unlikely. I knew that even the lowliest candies cost at least one cent, and this computer with infinite jokes was clearly far more valuable. Even my pre-teen brain recognized there was something unusual about the economics of that.

I wouldn’t have guessed that decades later I’d be fully enmeshed in this futuristic value-distribution system, living on it and for it, supplying it not just with jokes but articles, rants, and some genuine insights, alongside millions of other creators.

Somewhat surprisingly, the internet did turn out to be the fountain of freely available art, entertainment, and information my Dad promised.

It’s surprising because, as even my twelve-year old self knew, worthwhile things can’t be free on the production side. They take time and money to create. If it was free on the output end, but not the input end, how did the math work? How would this INTER-NET, if it was even real, pay for itself?

The Indirect Way

As we know now, the answer for most of the internet—but not the site you’re visiting right now—is ads.

The value of creative work can return to its creator through the circuitous route of advertising. The creation goes out freely to those who value it, but the creator allows a third party to do things to it. They put up billboards, around and within the work.

If things go right, these billboards steer just enough visitors, paradoxically, away from enjoying the work, to instead sign up for a credit card, or food delivery service. That company pays the creator a bit of the proceeds, which they use to continue creating.

It’s a little awkward for everyone involved, and not very efficient. Some of the value generated by the creator does return to them. But it gets bounced around a lot in the process, and much of it gets siphoned away by third parties.

With Raptitude, I’ve been trying to make the math work a different way. I want to spare us all the weirdness of those third-party deals, yet be able to keep creating and offering Raptitude freely. I want it to remain a part of that unbelievable, free fountain of curious things that made me think my Dad was pulling my leg.

One thing I have done is offer Camp Calm a few times a year. Like Raptitude, it’s my own creative work, but unlike Raptitude I charge for it. So it is a direct value exchange—people who want to learn mindfulness can sign up, and get what they’re looking for. But making and maintaining it requires its own sizable pool of time and resources, so it doesn’t really make the math work for Raptitude.

A Direct Way

Recently, another option has entered the picture: Patreon. Some of you suggested I look into it.

I did, and I like it. So I set up a Patreon page for Raptitude.

If you’re not familiar with it, Patreon is a platform that allows fans of a creator to become a patron of their work, like an old-timey supporter of the arts, just on a smaller scale.

If you love what someone creates, or what they stand for in the world, you can pledge a small, regular contribution to their project, which helps them continue creating.

It’s totally optional, of course, and the amount is up to the patron. You can change it or stop any time. In exchange, you receive some fun perks.

My page is here if you want to see what it’s about.

I like the patronage model, and I think it will become increasingly common as we get fed up with the ad model. This way, nobody’s required to pay anything, and anyone who does decides what’s reasonable. And nobody has to view the work through an ever-shrinking slot between two huge car ads.

The work receives support, and remains free. Not just freely available, but free of interference from The Man.

It’s a clever system. You can check out the benefits of becoming a Raptitude patron on my creator page. Patrons get access to a private feed of little posts, reflections, and discussions, plus other fun things. I’m having fun writing these shorter, more off the cuff posts.

If you decide to become a patron, I hope it’s because you’ve found Raptitude to be valuable or helpful, and you want to support it. The motivation should come from a positive place.

I visit and enjoy many websites a day, and I don’t worry too much about what keeps them going. But for a few favorite creators, whose minds seem uncannily like my own, I dedicate a small amount for direct support. It feels good.

If Raptitude is that kind of site for you, great. If not, that’s okay too. Everyone is always welcome here, and that’s the whole point.

I value your support in whatever form it takes. Thank you so much for reading, sharing, talking about, and just enjoying Raptitude all these years.


Photo by Robert Lukeman

A Raptitude Community

Finally! Raptitude is now on Patreon. It's an easy way to help keep Raptitude ad-free. In exchange you get access to extra posts and other goodies. Join a growing community of patrons. [See what it's all about]
Jake Kuyser November 19, 2019 at 2:09 am

Have you considered using brave rewards?

Bogdan November 19, 2019 at 4:55 am

I’d like to second this idea.

David Cain November 19, 2019 at 9:38 am

Ah this is interesting, I hadn’t heard of it… So you can sign up as both a content creator and a viewer? Do you use it? How has the experience been?

Paul Davies November 19, 2019 at 3:30 am

Best. Patreon. Request. Ever. :)

David Cain November 19, 2019 at 9:39 am

Thanks Paul! I am very nostalgic about the early internet these days.

Pebbles November 19, 2019 at 3:32 am

Ooh, I like the Patreon idea. Very nice! Im a huge fan of the gifting community and “paying it forward”. Nearly everything I do is in this vain if it is an option. I dislike the ad culture these days. The majority of these organisations are less than honourable and the products and services often neither useful or of value. In our “click and swipe” culture, a great deal of viruses and fake products are spread this way. We need to make small steps to break this cycle. Thumbs up, David!

David Cain November 19, 2019 at 9:43 am

Apparently the ad model started with newspapers over a hundred years ago, and sounded ridiculous at first. Instead of charging for the news, they offered papers for a smaller fee and filled them with advertising. What surprises me is that we keep squeezing more advertising, and there has to be an upper limit of what people will tolerate. The last time I went to a movie there must have been fifteen minutes of ads before it, and it made me think that there is some quantity of advertising that we will _not_ sit through in order to see the movie. But where is that point? 20 minutes? 30? It can’t grow forever and we’re going to need different models.

Nicole Lamagna November 19, 2019 at 4:59 am

I’ve been a long-time reader and participated in Camp Calm a while back. Your articles have always made me pause and think, and I’m more than thankful you haven’t put ads on this site. I’m very happy you’ve started using Patreon! Count me in ;)

David Cain November 19, 2019 at 9:44 am

Wonderful. Thank you for reading all these years Nicole!

Sebastian November 19, 2019 at 6:49 am

You helped me immensely with your procrastination posts circa 2012-2013. Think I’ve even left a comment or two there.

Happy to contribute.

David Cain November 19, 2019 at 9:44 am

Thanks Sebastian. That’s a topic I’d like to revisit. I’ve come a long way and have a lot to say about it.

Sebastian November 19, 2019 at 2:46 pm

I would love that. Especially now that I’ve “done” kind of full-circle in my life and procrastination is starting to crawl into my life again ;-)

Brian Cornelson November 19, 2019 at 7:16 am

How much of a slice does Patreon take? Are direct contributions to you possible? I want to contribute, and I want to make sure you get all of it!

David Cain November 19, 2019 at 9:45 am

They take 8%, which seems fair because they supply all the infrastructure. So it’s a pretty good cut for the creator.

Catrina November 19, 2019 at 7:44 am

Yes. Setting up a Patreon page for Raptitude makes total sense. I appreciate the high value content.

David Cain November 19, 2019 at 9:46 am

Thanks Catrina. It’s a way to generate support for the site without putting anything in the way of the content.

Linda November 19, 2019 at 2:40 pm

I love this idea! I’ve heard of a few different people using this platform, as well as Ko-fi, which is also cool (one time contributions, not monthly). I had a brief look at your page and, as much as I’d desperately love a haiku, at this time i’ll have to be a friend. Which really, sounds cool enough on it’s own. I’ve only been a follower for about a year maybe, but I love your content. It resonates with me so much. I also signed up for the last session of Camp Calm and didn’t make it past day 4, so I’ll be doing that again at some point too :)

David Cain November 19, 2019 at 3:00 pm

Thanks Linda. I’m really glad you’re enjoying Raptitude so far. There’s nine years of articles waiting in the archives for you! Anyway, I hope you choose whatever tier makes sense for you. I’m also happy to help with meditation when you’re ready to jump back into it. Drop me a note any time.

Ron November 19, 2019 at 4:20 pm

I second the person who said Best Patreon request ever. So glad I can help support your great work, David.

David Cain November 19, 2019 at 5:21 pm

Thank you Ron!

Michele Kendzie November 19, 2019 at 4:45 pm

We’re trying to reduce our spending and debt so I can’t help that way at this time, but I do support you in another way. I often share your posts on Facebook. And I post comments occasionally. I’m a long time fan. I’ve been following you for so many years I don’t even remember when I subscribed. Thank you!

David Cain November 19, 2019 at 5:23 pm

Hi Michele. I appreciate all forms of support! Thanks for sharing, commenting, and reading.

Agustin November 19, 2019 at 11:01 pm

Hey David, I always wondered when you would turn like many other creators and bombard us with ads….. Thankfully that day is never coming as I see how creative you are when you market things. I’ll definitely look into Patreon :). Those old articles about procrastination really helped me.

David Cain November 20, 2019 at 9:06 am

Thanks Agustin. It’s probably time to revisit procrastination; I’ve learned a lot.

Kyle Pennell November 20, 2019 at 2:45 am

Done and done.

David Cain November 20, 2019 at 9:06 am

Thanks Kyle!

Rocky November 20, 2019 at 6:45 am

Hi David…. I have a wealth of personal experience in the area of living as a “Starving Artist.” You said in the past you had entertained offers from publishers. I think you should write a book. I’m sure you have a great one in you, probably several. Then there’ll be no need for patrons. Additionally you will be of vast help to a much greater readership. Win Win :)

David Cain November 20, 2019 at 9:07 am

Thanks Rocky. I’m working on some things behind the scenes.

Pax November 20, 2019 at 1:26 pm

Beautifully written. Sir, I am in awe at your honest confidence. I work as a handyman, and I am learning to be mindful of my worth – I have a difficult time charging enough for my services.

David Cain November 23, 2019 at 7:11 pm

A good handyman is hard to find! Just put yourself in the shoes of the person thrilled to finally have something fixed. It’s worth a lot and people can’t do it themselves.

Valeria Pittaluga November 22, 2019 at 2:52 am

Done! … and very gladly too. I read you regularly, I enjoy every single article you post, I resonate with ALL of them … yes please allow me to keep your light on and look forward to your next “chicca di saggezza” as we call it in Italy. Grazie David!

David Cain November 23, 2019 at 7:12 pm

Grazie Valeria! It’s reassuring to hear someone say you resonate with ALL the posts, because I often worry that the topics I post on have too wide a range, and nobody is interested in all of them.

Joel November 24, 2019 at 1:40 am

Hi David,

I too remember the same confusion about the Internet when first learning of its dark magic! And I have similar misgivings about the ad model of revenue. While it may work for some websites, it can really harm user experience and enjoyment. Hope the Patreon page goes well :)

David Cain November 25, 2019 at 5:07 pm

Thanks Joel. I wonder what the next form of magic will be. It seems like nothing could change the world like the internet has, but it also seems impossible that nothing will.

alice gamble November 25, 2019 at 12:49 pm

You are a gifted writer with authenticity. I found a share for you on a website for people who struggle to be their best living with ADHD and it’s many versions. I was so impressed that this happy accidental discovery of your work is now going to be a daily resource. There will be a way I can show my respect and support. Good work doesn’t come without effort and it’s not free, someone had to make an investment of time. You would be an awesome Life Coach. You also have this uplifting way of responding to your guests who write to you, it’s an art to not come across judgementally or in any way that reduces someone’s self esteem. That comes from having an open heart, a good person kind of heart. Oh boy I am so glad you quit your day job and now do what you love to do. Continue please and add in any accidental humor you find along the way. A laugh does so much to take away some of the rough edges we all experience in life. Someone said….Words Have Wings…..they can travel far and wide, hurt and heal. Yours are all, healing. Stay on earth a long time fine man.

David Cain November 25, 2019 at 5:08 pm

Aw shucks, thanks so much Alice. This really warmed my heart. I will stay on this earth a long time.

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