As we discussed last time, Patheos is making the Cranach blog “premium content”, available by subscription. It will start next Monday, April 4th.
You can access the homepage as usual. You can see what the posts are about, along with the title and a brief summary. It won’t cost anything. When you click “read more” to actually read the post, a pop-up will appear, prompting you to subscribe. (If you have a pop-up blocker, you’ll need to temporarily disable it for this.)
The cost will be $5 per month. If you add another $1.99, you can get not only the Cranach blog, but all other Patheos sites ad-free as well. (You can leave at any time, though you’ll still get the whole month you paid for. Plus, we’ll customize the “nanny-bot” so it no longer censors your comments for innocent words.)
I typically write five posts a week or 20 posts a month. So that’s 25¢ per post.
What else can you get these days for a trimester?
So why do I feel guilty for agreeing to the plan to put my blog behind a paywall?
I recently calculated how much I earn with Patheos, based on the page view rate, considering the time I have devoted to this blog. It ranged from $2.10 to $5 per hour. I would only need 42 subscribers to do what I’m doing now, so anything over that would be gravy.
Typically, I get around 2,000 page views a day. About half of them are regular readers. The rest falls because of Face Book links, Google searches or Patheos navigation.
If all 2,000 were to subscribe, at $5 a month, I would have an income beyond the wildest aspirations of a dust bowl kid like me. I know that won’t happen.
If all of my 1,000 regular readers signed up, I would have an income that would greatly enhance my retirement fixed income. But I realize that keeping all my regular readers won’t happen either, and that’s why I feel guilty about charging everyone. But I don’t think I need feel guilty, don’t you?
I don’t think I’m selling myself in any sense. I’m still not likely to make large sums of money doing this. Most people get paid for what they do, with no one expecting to get the goods or services they provide for free – why should internet writers be any different? Inflation hurts everyone, and I hate adding even $5 a month to anyone’s budget. But inflation hits us particularly hard, us pensioners – social security gives adjustments to the cost of living, but these are based on the previous year, not now; pensions stay the same no matter what; and Individual Retirement Accounts will down with falling stock markets. I have to do something to stay within our budget, and the fixed $5 per month/25¢ per post fee will become even more negligible as inflation increases.
Plus, as I said last time, there are other benefits to writing for subscribers, from my ability to moderate and participate in comments – because there will be fewer of them – to building a real virtual community, free from trolls and vitriol.
I am also interested in participating in this new development in the writing profession.
Historically, authors make 10% of revenue from their books. This was reasonable, since a book is made of paper and must be manufactured, transported, marketed and sold. Also, publishing houses provide editing, design, indexing and many other services to the author. Their expenses are high and their margins are low, so I’m not complaining about that at all. The types of books I write don’t usually sell massively, but those royalties that come in year after year have been very helpful.
Now, however, with paper, manufacturing and distribution strictly speaking not necessary due to our information technology, it is possible for authors to get a greater share of what they make. Many have turned to self-publishing, although this may highlight the added value of a publisher in terms of publishing, design and marketing. Publishers give authors a bit more of a share of e-book sales, but it’s not much more, although I think that’s about to change.
With this new subscription model, the platform, whether Substack or Patheos, only takes 10%, which was previously the author’s share, with the rest going to the author.
So this is progress, as far as writers go, and I really appreciate Patheos for selecting this blog, along with only two others, to experiment with this model, which I guess is the wave of the future.
I hope you will be able and willing to join me in this adventure. If not, I completely understand and thank you for logging in when you did.
Photo: Self-portrait by Lucas Cranach, blog logo in 2008. From Stolzenfels Castle (1531), Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons