Blogosphere

Two years with Ko-Fi — and thank you!

Until about two years ago, I ran ads on this site to help cover its costs. It was an unpleasant experience. Despite my ad provider’s promises to the contrary, the ads generated pop-ups and videos that played automatically. Sometimes music would play, and there was no way to shut it off. I had to keep emailing their support team to make the ads behave. My few inconspicuous ad placements generated about 20 bucks a month. I could have made more if I had plastered ads all over the site, but I think that would have turned many of you away. The money I made wasn’t remotely worth the hassle. I finally had enough and disabled the ads.

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Some of you told me that you’d like to support my work, so I set up an account with Ko-Fi and put their “Buy me a coffee” button on my site. Each time you click it, you can send me $3, or any multiple of $3.

Since then, I’ve dropped that button at the end of every post. I announced it at the time, and I mentioned it one other time, but otherwise I’ve not promoted it. To my astonishment, you have responded generously! In an average month you donate $30 on Ko-Fi! That’s one third more income than the annoying ads, and I do next to nothing extra for it. Win!

Your donations have bought a ton of film and developing as well as several old film cameras, all of which I have featured on this site. They also helped me buy a dedicated scanner for 35mm negatives, which significantly improved the quality of the scans I share with you.

As always, any time you click that button I will be most grateful. Every time Ko-Fi notifies me of a donation, I feel honored and validated — my work matters enough that you’re willing to support it financially. But if you never click it, you are always wanted and welcome here!

I considered other platforms to help me cover this site’s costs, but they were more complicated for me and for donors, and to get the most from it I would have had to create special content for those sites. I’d rather share all of my writing and photographs here!

Ko-Fi offers many of those features, and they keep offering more. They recently announced an integration with the Discord community platform, and soon will release Ko-Fi Memberships where supporters can subscribe monthly at whatever level they choose. But you don’t have to use their extra features to get value from it, as my results show — and the basic Ko-Fi service remains free for creators like me.

If you’ve supported me via Ko-Fi, again I say thank you! And thank you to Ko-Fi for your easy and valuable platform.

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19 thoughts on “Two years with Ko-Fi — and thank you!

  1. Andy Umbo says:

    I go to web sites all the time where I leave before I finish reading the article because I can’t get by the ads! I was appalled by the Indianapolis Star web-site, a Gannett paper, as I thought it was totally unreadable with intrusive ad content, and then the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel was bought by Gannett as well, and ditto for them, they had to adopt the Gannett portal and they went from being a difficult read, to unreadable due to ad content and subscription offers blocking content!

    Newspapers have been trying for years to drive people to the on-line subscription and away from the printed product, except that the on-line product is virtually unreadable due to ad content and design; so good luck with that! All that’s happened to me is I went from a family that used to get all the daily papers delivered, to one that barely has a source for any “in-depth” local news at all. The flip side of this is as the paper tried to force you on-line, they’ve also reduced the fidelity of their delivery process! They can’t seem to deliver the physical paper properly either!

    I worked as an ad content manager part time, for a buddy of mine that had a nationally known journalism critique site; and over the time that we did it before he retired, we found that the least intrusive ads with the highest payoff were the ‘sponsorship’ ads we placed ourselves, much like an “old time” magazine ad. We selected the spot on the site for the ad, usually at the edges, and charged them a set amount that we decided on for the size and how long the run. We got all the money and would bill via PayPal. Many of our clients were schools that were advertising journalism seminars and the like. Based on researching other sites and talking to the bloggers, these seemed to pay off the best. Loading your site with Google Ad Sense boxes usually frustrated the readers, and resulted in LESS people coming to your site, and never paid off except for pennies! I also talked with photography bloggers that made OK money with a “jump box” so that someone could jump directly to B&H to buy something from their site. You have to have a high content of readership, but it was another thing you didn’t have to mess with that generated money.

    Unfortunately, research showed that something like 97% of all websites make less than $100.00 a year!

    Since I retired and am on a limited income, I upped my magazine subscriptions. I decided that I wanted to spend at least $100 a year in subscriptions, and I save for it. I love paper, and I love to read a physical copy of things, and I love the idea that when it gets cold and snowy, someone is delivering read-ables to my mail box every day. Most initial magazine subscriptions can be started for 10 bucks, there’s always a deal, and I change based on who’s got a good initial deal! I get everything from Jazz magazines, to Harpers, New Yorker, Time, Smithsonian, and even an Archeology magazine! The reason I mention this, is that I’ve started to review how many times I go to certain web-sites, and I’m thinking about giving those sites $10 a year, like my magazine subscriptions. Imagine if a thousand people gave you ten dollars a year!

    • You know how you can tell sites that aren’t making enough money with ads? They’re the ones plastered with ads. And the ads are all of low relevance.

      I just let my last magazine sub lapse. It was to Collectible Automobile, a well-done mag that I’ve always adored. But it just keeps piling up here. I read the last six issues — a whole year’s worth! — in an afternoon a few weeks ago just to catch up.

  2. Roger Meade says:

    Andy- It sounds like your experience with news sites and ads is the same as mine. If I read a paper version and I see an ad that interests me I will pay attention to it, otherwise not, my choice. Pop up ads, noise ads, moving ads, just ruin the experience of trying to read or otherwise enjoy the site. They need to come up with a way to pay a stipend for an article without having to subscribe for a long period. I would pay a bit for a good local story about an event that makes the national news, even if I am 2000 miles away!

    Maybe the people at Ko-Fi need to work up a service that would offer that to news papers desperate for ad revenue.

    I subscribe to the New York Times and Washington Post online, as well as the conservative web site/blog The Dispatch by David French. I also look at Reason regularly to get a Libertarian slant on things. I tried the New Yorker and National Review, but they both get a bit too far out in the weeds for my taste, in different directions of course. I wish more americans took the time to get a wide view of news and politics. I think it would be good for the country, as well as for the sanity of the individual.

    • Andy Umbo says:

      Roger, you said it. Reading a physical paper allows you to skim over articles and ads you didn’t want to see or read; trying to monetize the internet by bombarding you with ads that you can’t avoid, is the exact wrong thing to do! It alienates the readership!

      The funny thing is that most all the journalists I knew thought the internet was a godsend back in the 90’s. These were people that when they were in high-school and college, waited at the library on Monday morning to get Sunday the New York Times to read! They shamelessly promoted the internet back in the 90’s, not realizing that they were promoting the very means of their demise! Local physical ad rates paid for city hall and police beat reporters (non existent in most medium size city papers today), and who would pay the ad rates to have an annoying ad floating around on a web page? When I lived in Indiana, I met someone whose wife worked as a reporter for the paper until Gannett took over. She took an early buyout when it became apparent that Gannett was NOT interested in funding long form, deep research stories; and they were eliminating the city hall and police beat reporters, who were always responsible for breaking stories due to personal and secret relationships built up with people in those offices! Now those papers are laughable!

      My sister has a copy of a 70’s era Milwaukee Journal she got at an junk shop for a buck, and the Wednesday paper looks like todays Sunday New York Times! (I used to deliver it in the 60’s, so I know). I think most people would be surprised how much detailed and in-depth info your local paper was responsible for prior to the limited attention span of the M-TV generation!

  3. Roger Meade says:

    I should have mentioned Jonah Goldberg, a regular contributor to The Dispatch. He is worth the price of admission all by himself- very funny and pithy!

  4. Thanks for this overview! I’ve been on Ko-fi for a year or so. I looked into other “support an artist” types of sites, and like you Jim, I wasn’t that excited about the need to create “premium and exclusive” content for supporters, like what is required for Patreon. That’s an extra burden that takes away from creating the content I want. I’d rather channel that energy in the making of silly bike challenges and more zines/comix.

    I’d like to integrate a Ko-fi button into my blog, but I have the basic wordpress.com plan, which doesn’t allow for that stuff. I can upgrade to a business plan, but that means paying more money. Of course, if I do that and put a Ko-fi button on my site, I may see more $$$. It’s a chicken-and-egg thing.

    • You can put one at the end of every post like I do. Copy the button from Ko-Fi and upload it to WP. Then at the end of a post, create an image block and put that image in it. Hyperlink the image to your Ko-Fi page. Then make the block a reusable block. Then you can drop it in at the end of every post in a couple clicks!

        • And I’ve found that while there’s an underlying similarity, there are some important differences to creating a free WP blog and using WP to build your own website/blog. One big thing is the lack of any way to add any sort of payment options to a free WP blog besides a PayPal “donate” button. Back in the dark ages when I still used blogger, I created a janky-but-functional store on my Blogger blog via PayPal buttons. When I migrated to WP I learned there was no way to do it, so I kept that janky page going for a bit until I created an online store via Storenvy. In the end, it was better making a store via a dedicated store-building site, but it highlighted some of the deficiencies of WordPress.

        • And even though it’s been a year or so, I’m still getting used the “Gutenberg” WP revision. In some ways it’s better than before, in others not so much. I know that you can still use the non-Gutenberg editor with the paid sites, but they took that option away from the free sites.

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