Let’s get one thing clear
Patreon did a redesign. And it has sent me into a spiral of shame and self doubt.
The day it announced its new look, I made the mistake of volunteering for a tour of its new features. (I have no idea if exit interviews really are a new feature, it probably existed somewhere on the old site, but at least it had the decency to bury it somewhere it mostly couldn’t be stumbled upon). I especially don’t care to know why my former readers unsubscribed. But apparently it was very important to the good folks at Patreon that I know just why they thought my experiment was ‘failing’. Note to designers: it’s probably not such a good idea to direct your creators directly to their exit interviews when trying to whip up enthusiasm for the platform. #justsayin
These people have already unsubscribed. There’s no getting them back. I don’t want to know why they left! Why would I want to know that? What purpose does that serve except to make me feel shitty about my product and myself?
In any case, all but one of my (to be fair, small group) of former subscribers had perfectly legitimate reasons for departing. Mainly changes in lifestyle and the need to tighten their belts. One of them had a baby, (mazaltov!!). Some were polite enough to simply withhold their honesty. But one former subscriber… That one, niggling little exit interview, spent a lengthy amount of time expressing their disappointment with me:
“I expect you would have published more investigations by now,” they wrote derisively. “I signed up for investigative journalism, not opinion pieces.”
With that in mind, I guess I want to take a second to manage some expectations: You can’t crowdfund investigative journalism without a crowd. Pulling your subscription coz it’s not investigative enough has a certain lick of irony to it. I could ask for your money and refuse to publish anything until I have a story to break, but that’s not a very good way to build an audience. Nor is breaking news the only way to produce journalism.
Without being too sanctimonious, a lot of time, research and interviews go into the pieces I publish. The whole reason I started Hello Humans was to devote time and money to making sense of the world around us: how it works, how it came to operate the way it does, and what lessons can we learn to prevent us repeating the mistakes of old. Some of that objective involves investigations. But investigations take time. And money. And lawyers. And red tape. And editors. And sources. And edits. And re-edits and another legal check and so on. They take a long time. And they cost a lot of money. But unfortunately, I have bills to pay and 25 or so jobs currently fund that effort. Plus now I have an exciting new publication I am trying to get off the ground. *Looks around cautiously*. The pieces are starting to fall into place, but they each require a significant investment of both time and resources. I’d like to think the kind of work I do here qualifies as more than just opinion…
Let’s get one thing clear: I have no interest in stats or exit interviews or analytics. I don’t care about my bounce rate. I don’t care how many subscribers I have or how many times my stories are RTed.
All I care about is producing work I can be proud of.
I find little value in this big data bullshit. It serves no other purpose than to make me doubt myself, undermine authenticity and gut feel. Nobody decides to subscribe because the author has a large following. You either dig what they do, or you don’t. It’s either important to you, or it’s not. You either have the capacity to pay, or you don’t. I’m not interested in modifying my product or behaviour just to whittle some more dollars out of someone’s pocket. If people like what I do, I welcome their donations. I also welcome their right to withdraw. But if it’s all the same to you, I’m just going to do what I do. If I can find an audience for that, great. If not, frankly, I am happy to be my own audience. Coz there are particular questions I want answered, and I don’t think many publications are doing a particularly good job of that right now. Which is why, we at Renegade Inc, plan to be the publication that rectifies that little frustration.
I started Hello Humans with the hope of cutting down on my other freelance work so I can devote more time to FOIs and interviews and sticking it to the man. Though, I am still doing all of those things and more, much of which is out of pocket. (I am fine with that, by the way). I would have been doing it anyway, but it would simply take even longer than it is already. Though my subscriptions are increasing month-on-month, I am not yet at the point where it can supplement my other work.
I get it, you can’t yet see the tangible results of your pledges, but trust me when I say, they are already making a significant difference to expediting these bad boys. Every pledge buys me time and resources that I can devote to blowing the lids off these mofos. And I look forward to the day that I can share them with you.But in the meantime, there are only 24-hours in a day and I’m living on four-to-five hours sleep a night as it is. At some point I need to be a decent partner, and friend and daughter and dog-mum.If I had my way, all I would do is work. I am a homebody who enjoys my own company. I have very little interest in other things. I have to make a deliberate effort to live a ‘balanced’ life. Were it not for my incredible long-suffering partner who puts up with a lot from me, and my dog who needs walking, I’d spend my life working. That’s the problem with loving your job, you don’t want to do much else. Or at least I don’t.
In any case, I am going to keep doing what I do while these other stories bubble away. If what I am doing is important to you, then I encourage you to subscribe, or remain subscribed. And if it’s not, that is ok too. I get I’m not for everyone. And in an age of economic insecurity, every dollar counts. (I’m a journalist. I get it. Every. Dollar. Counts). So I won’t be mad if you unsubscribe. But I’m also not going to ask you why. Coz I’m not interested. All it would do is serve to make me even more anxious and self-conscious than I already am and that’s not good for the work, for me, or for you, dear reader.I’m going to keep doing me, if it’s all the same. If you don’t like it, the unsubscribe button is but a click away.