The world of internet content creation is ever changing. I’m sending out this post to give you a behind the scenes look at what’s going on with my websites and how I’m going to utilize Patreon in the future.
A little history…
I started my blog in 2012. It did very well with exponential increases until around 2016. Since then, viewership has been steadily lower each year. At my site’s peak, I was getting 1.6 million visitors and over 6 million page views each year. In 2019, I had dropped to 820K visitors and 2.8 million pageviews. The stats for year to date 2020 are even worse.
Why the big decline? How people are using the web is changing. When I started blogging, 70% of my readers consumed my content on a desktop computer. They found my site through bookmarked favorites on their internet browser. Very few people do that any more. Now 81% of my readers are on a phone or tablet. Sixty percent of my readers come to my site through a shared social media link.
Most people are not directly visiting the blogs they like to read anymore. Now, almost everyone finds me through social media. That’s problematic for a guy who doesn’t have a huge social media presence and who focuses on long-form written content that isn’t optimized for quick social media consumption.
I’m active on Facebook. I share my links on Twitter, but don’t engage with anyone there. I don’t use any other social media sites. We all know what Facebook thinks of gun and self-defense related content. Many of us in the shooting industry regularly have our posts throttled or have been “shadow banned.”
Fewer and fewer people are seeing my stuff. That means less money is coming in.
I make money from the site in three ways. The first is through your generous donations on Patreon. I also run advertisements and affiliate links. At one time, my Amazon affiliate income was almost three times what it is now and was the largest single source of funding the site. Amazon has reduced its affiliate commissions four times in the last five years. That income now is just a fraction of what I once earned there.
Ad commissions are based on total page views and have therefore been gradually decreasing as well. Now my Patreon supporters are the largest single source of funding for the site. I think ad and affiliate money is going to continue to dry up in the future.
I’m going to double down on my Patreon subscribers and reward those subscribers who support me there. I’m hoping to increase contributions enough to cover the money I’ve been losing in affiliate sales and ad revenue.
I’m going to be rewarding my Patreon supporters with additional content and some benefits regarding class registrations. I’m starting by releasing a bi-weekly Q&A column published only on Patreon and not on my site. Patrons at the highest tier can ask me questions and I will respond.
I will also be sending out every article I write in an ad-free format suitable for printing via the Patreon email system. You’ll get my articles delivered straight to your inbox in a printable format with no ads whatsoever.
What do you need to do?
If you are a current Patreon subscriber, you don’t have to do anything. I will be sending out benefits to all of my current subscribers.
If you are not a current subscriber, sign up. For $1 a month, you get digital copies of every book I write. At the $5 tier, you get ad-free articles delivered to your email and access to additional content. The $10 tier brings all of the benefits from the lower tiers plus the ability to ask specific questions for the bi-weekly Q&A email and early class announcements.
I worry about the biased nature of our current social media platforms. I’m going to short circuit their influence by producing content directly for the people who choose to support my writing. I think that’s how many content creators will be operating in the future.
If you want to get my writing in an ad-free format without any social media “throttling,” please sign up for the Patreon. If I get more supporters there than on my original site, I will probably start to release the majority of my content to my patrons rather than on the public site. Stay ahead of the game. Subscribe now for uninterrupted access to my writing.
I thank you all for your support.