April 11, 2005
How Microfinance Worked Out For Kottke

Jason Kottke, who launched a drive for funds from “micropatrons” in February so he could blog full time, reveals today how the drive shook out.

Short version: he raised plenty of money (about 1/3rd of his former annual salary), but only 1/3rd of 1 percent of his average monthly visitors contributed, so he’s wondering if this is a sustainable model — since when he goes back to the well next year, lots of contributors from this year are bound not to come back (since the novelty will have worn off).

First observation: considering that he essentially only mentioned the drive once on the blog, and didn’t flack it to a mailing list at all, this is a great result.

I think he’s probably right to worry about the model’s sustainability, though. Right now the value proposition he’s offering his “micropatrons” is weak — basically “pay up or I’ll go away”. This is PBS style fundraising and even PBS doesn’t depend on that to keep the doors open.

What he needs to do over the next year is look to find ways to strengthen the community around kottke.org. People are much more likely to contribute to a site that they feel they have a stake in than one they don’t. Right now there isn’t much community at all around kottke.org — indeed, there isn’t even a comment facility, just TrackBack. That’s not to say that “comments == community”, but finding ways to involve people in the site is going to be crucial to keeping them as micropatrons.

For now, though, congratulations to Jason — I’m psyched to hear that he’ll be eating better than Ramen for the next year :-)

Posted by Jason Lefkowitz at April 11, 2005
About Your Host

Ant's Eye View is edited by Jason Lefkowitz, a consultant and Web developer in Alexandria, Virginia. Got a question, comment, or concern? Let me hear it!

Obligatory Disclaimer

If you think anything I write here represents the opinions of anybody but myself, you need more help than I can give you. The opinions are all mine, folks. Nobody else's. ESPECIALLY not my employer's.

If that's too hard to understand... well, I'm sorry. There's only so much I can do. I'm not a therapist, and I'm not a miracle worker. (Unless you consider staying employed in this economy a miracle.) I wish I could help you work through your delusional belief that I'm speaking for anyone else but myself. Honestly, I do. But in the end, that's a monkey you'll have to get off your back on your own. Sorry.