When is it appropriate to monetize?

6 years ago | D. D. Webb (Member)

Let me just say that I'm well aware nobody gets into webfiction (if they have any sense) looking to strike it rich, and most of us would be wise not to bank on ever making a living at this. That said, a little extra income would be nice, especially as I, for one, do hope to earn a living with my writing one day. I'm just wondering at what point a person should start.

I'm at a place right now where I feel a discomfort at the thought of putting up a donation button on my site--which is pretty much my only monetization option at present, as I have nothing to sell. The Gods are Bastards has been updating for about two months now, and is 22 chapters and about 110,000 words of material; young and fairly small as serials go. Its listing has only been posted here on WFG for the last few days, and I'm getting about 100 readers a day so far. Basically, I'm pretty pleased with things as they are, but it's still an early stage. The thing is, I realize there is no magic cutting-off point where it suddenly starts being okay to ask your readers for financial support. The block is, of course, in my head, so I'm really just asking more experienced--or heck, less experienced, I'm interested in anyone's opinion--authors what they think on the matter.

Is there a sign that it's time to put up a donation button? Is it presumptuous to try it too early? What other avenues exist to make a little income off your writing?

Inquiring minds want to know!

The Gods are Bastards Cowboys! Demons! Elves!

Read responses...

Page: 123


  1. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    If you're putting in the work on a serious level, then leave the door open to get repaid in kind. Put up a button, start a patreon page.

    I put up my button in Feb 2012, with a modest goal, and I did it alongside an offer - if they supported me, I'd put more work out there. A bonus chapter per $75 donated. I've increased the asking price as the donations came in. To $120, then $200, $300, $500, and ultimately $1000. There was a brief period I had it up to $2500, but that was more to keep things sane while I helped my brother with his wedding. I've since lowered it.

    I started patreon in Feb 2014, too, and that's been helpful. I made an average of $100 a month in 2012, $1600 in 2013, and am sitting around $2500 a month average in 2014. I attribute my success in 2014 to Patreon. It really gives my income a backbone.

    I think it's important to repay your readers in kind, give them an incentive to give, and everyone wins. But if you're putting in the work and treating it seriously, you shouldn't feel abashed about asking to be paid for what you're doing.

  2. Madiha N. Santana (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    I agree 100% with Wildbow. If you're putting in the effort there is no shame in starting a Patreon or putting up a donation button or both. People will give money if they want to; it's not like you're forcing them to do so! To be quite honest I've seen Patreons go up promising way, way less than a series of consistent written works. If you're worried you're being frivolous I can tell you there are a lot more frivolous things out there.

  3. D. D. Webb (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    Thanks, Wildbow, you're kind of the big name in this and your opinion counts for a lot. Dennis, you raise good points too; I appreciate it.

    I think part of my hesitation is wanting to take the time, strike a rhythm and be sure I can consistently keep up with it. Disappointing readers is one thing; it becomes something worse if they're paying me. I have bipolar disorder, which sometimes is a great boon to my creative abilities and sometimes torpedoes them totally. Basically, I just want to make sure I'm not going to let anybody down.

    The Gods are Bastards Cowboys! Demons! Elves!
  4. Madiha N. Santana (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    What I did with my Patreon is I set it up so that it pays by chapter rather than on a monthly basis. I write two complete chapters a month, each 10k-15k words. If I don't complete that, I don't charge my Patreon, and I'm up front about that. This way nobody is "paying me for nothing" if something happens and I can't write or I fall behind. I have depression and anxiety disorders, and due to my financial situation I'm completely without healthcare, so I know how you feel there. I am really aware that if I get into a really bad spell, I could be out of writing for a while, just like that. So that's why I set mine up that way.

  5. D. D. Webb (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    Interesting! I've not taken a close look at Patreon, so I don't know the possibilities, but it sounds like something along those lines would suit my situation exactly.

    I recall reading in a previous thread that there were potential issues with Paypal, where they can and have been known to freeze people's bank accounts with no notice and for specious reasons. Does anyone have valid information on this? And Patreon being a younger platform, is it a better, worse or simply different means of monetizing?

    The Gods are Bastards Cowboys! Demons! Elves!
  6. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    I made the mistake of patronizing one webcomic artist I like, and missed the 'per comic' line, assuming they were monthly like virtually everyone I'd seen. Was $50 or $25 per, and they put up four before I realized what was happening.

  7. D. D. Webb (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    Yeesh, ouch. That's the kind of thing that can really alienate fans if you're not careful... So people are going to expect a monthly setup from Patreon, got it. If I do the by-the-chapter style I'll have to make it VERY clear how it works.

    Does the person setting up the Patreon set the amount, then? Or do the donors?

    The Gods are Bastards Cowboys! Demons! Elves!
  8. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    You set up the how (ie. weekly, monthly), they decide the how much.

    I wouldn't get my hopes up too high. I'm something of an outlier. Even Alexandra Erin, who has a definite fanbase and years of work under her belt (I heard other authors refer to her as a Generation I serial writer) is just shy of making $400 a month at the time I'm writing this. As far as I know, though, she's not offering reward chapters anymore? I dunno.

  9. D. D. Webb (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    Yeah, I'm not banking on making a killing at this, though fans would, of course, be nice. I have a finished novel published as an ebook; to be honest more of my financial hopes are pinned on that. If people like my serial, I'm hoping they'll like my other work.

    Really, my big emphasis is on community-building and exposure, which is why I want to be very careful about monetizing my work. Coming across as greedy is a great way to get a bad reputation.

    The Gods are Bastards Cowboys! Demons! Elves!
  10. Unillustrated (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    Haven't seen it mentioned but does anyone have experience with ad revenue? Worth it or no?

  11. Wildbow (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    I avoided ads because I tend to surf the web without them - only allowing them on a case by case basis for sites I support and trust. It'd be hypocritical to slap them on my site(s).

  12. Madiha N. Santana (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    I have friends who run certain websites with ad support, and they make barely enough to cover the cost of their web hosting through it. Their traffic isn't huge, but it's probably more than most of us will get starting out. Might as well try it if your ads aren't intrusive and see if it ends up saving you some money in the long run, but I wouldn't rely on it. And yeah, a lot of people just block them out wholesale, so.

  13. Chrysalis (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    I'm not sure ads are a great option, especially if you also have donation buttons or are planning to add them. A lot of web users nowadays use adblocker, and even if not - thinking that you get your money from ads might stop them from clicking the donate button. In terms of steady income, patreon is probably the best thing that can happen to you. It adds up over the years (see Wildbow). Especially if you also let readers of your other works know about it.

    Anathema, a web serial about the effect superpowers would have on our world. http://anathemaserial.wordpress.com/
  14. Psycho Gecko (Member)

    Posted 6 years ago

    One difference with Wildbow's model is that there was an incentive to donate. I'm fairly certain that in stories that don't do an extra update upon reaching a goal, you don't see nearly as much in donations. I think Patreon also tries to do some sorts of incentives as well, but I haven't looked further into it. It's worth pointing out that Wildbow is an anomaly compared to the rest of us in terms of donations and patrons.

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