Well, actually $2.96 after PayPal takes its bite.
It’s not often I take the time to thank my subscribers, but I’m doing it now. Here’s how it works. You sign up for a monthly subscription and every month PayPal charges your card and sends me a little notice via email.
The notice says “You Received a Payment,” and lists your name and the amount, $2.99.
Do you know how that makes me feel? Pretty darned great. To you maybe it’s only $2.99, or maybe to you $2.99 is a real expense. Either way, I get those little notifications and feel happiness, satisfaction, and the dopamine rush that comes when a few bucks find their way into my pocket.
Why happiness? Because every subscription makes me a professional writer. I may be a lawyer or a cyclist or a memorizer of Chaucer, but I’m also someone who makes a partial living as a writer. That’s thanks to you.
And truth be told, thanks to you I could quit my day job and still live on my blog subscriptions. On oatmeal. In a tent.
All you have to do is google “how much money do bloggers make” and you’ll see that everyone who blogs is a millionaire. Blogging is easy! You work in your underwear! You spend your life on exotic beaches! Everyone is dying to know about your toenails!
The reality is that no writing is easy, and no matter how good you think you are, it is almost impossible to be anything more than a thousandaire, and a small one at that if you’re depending on blog subscriptions. According to the Internets, no one makes money “blogging”; they make it through direct advertising or through affiliate links which are driven by traffic. Even gnarlier, the only real niche of blogging that generates substantial traffic is blogging … about blogging.
Cycling in the South Bay is simply writing. People who appreciate the stories and/or the effort and/or the voice subscribe. Let me tell you how satisfying that is in an Internet world where long pages of nothing but text are dead-on-publish.
In other words, your subscription validates, encourages, and supports me in a way that no advertisement or affiliate link ever can. And even more importantly, because there aren’t any ads or links, the only people whose sensibilities I have to consider are yours. No advertiser has ever been offended because there are none.
Of course I’ve offended countless readers, some so mightily that they have unsubscribed. And you know what? Those unsubscribes HURT. Just as the “You Received a Payment” is an upper, “Bill Billson has canceled his recurring payment” is a blow. If I’ve pissed you off and you’re going to exact revenge with a cancellation, trust me, it works. Chagrin hath no bitter taste like a canceled blog subscription. It’s a fuck-you more beautiful and elegant than any other.
If you really want to make it sting, cancel and then send me an email saying something like “You really crossed a line when you insulted my mom’s rear derailleur. Fuck you, you jerk!”
This is the price of having, as Michael Marckx told me early on, a point of view. You may not think I’m aware of it, but for you to hang onto your subscription year in and year out means that you are putting up with a lot of shit you disagree with, sometimes violently, and I know it. You appreciate this and are willing to suffer the chaff for the occasional grain of wheat.
Either that, or you’ve forgotten you subscribed, it goes straight to junk, and for some reason you don’t check that recurring $2.99 charge on your credit card statement.
On the other hand, it is your subscription that makes me shrug at the stalkers and voyeurs and critics who read religiously and never contribute a dime, or who run to the Bike Palace to yap about the latest outrageous thing posted in CitSB, or the angry people whose tirades wind up in spam. Fuck all y’all. I have a core of supporters who are with me through thick and thin. Don’t like what I say? Pony up your $2.99 and maybe I’ll care.
In the biggest picture of all, as preposterous as it may sound, you are subscribing to free speech. It’s free speech that has gotten me in hot water before, and will do so again. Many readers who support the First Amendment support it a lot less when they’re in the crosshairs. Your subscription ensures that I’ll carry on a long tradition of exercising the ideas and opinions that the First Amendment was written to protect. Not everyone has a platform like this; it’s taken ten years and several million words to build. And not everyone with a platform is in a position to say what they really need to say. Your subscription reminds me that I have a duty to speak freely regardless of the subject, and as long as at least one person out there is willing to support that duty with a monthly $2.99, I’ll keep exercising the First Amendment muscle. We all know that when you stop exercising the muscle, it atrophies.
It’s no exaggeration to say that the countless times I’ve decided to quit writing, I’ve been brought to heel with this one thought: “How would I explain it to my subscribers?”
The things that get discussed here can be as silly as bike clothing and as essential as the structure of our political system. Somehow, you think that’s important enough to pay for. You may not know how much I appreciate your $2.99.
But after reading this, I hope that maybe you do.
Read this far? Then maybe it’s time to Go ahead and hit this “subscribe” link. Thank you!