Happiness is $2.99

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!

48 thoughts on “Happiness is $2.99”

  1. This response is worth the price alone.

    Seriously- I find joy in reading the 1-2 articles a week, a month or less but I do appreciate your approach to writing, your candor in your opinions and most importantly, your advocacy for cyclists. While I’ve moved my cycling to a peloton, I still appreciate the grass roots efforts necessary by a ton of people like you to keep cycling safe – and relevant – for that matter. As I’ve ridden with Velo Playa Larga (the pre-Freddie’s group) and then the Freddie’s, it’s the likes of you and late but loved Mark Bixby that makes cycling the “anti-sport” us aging ex-pretend athletes adore. Keep it up.

    Thank you for the email.

    Tony Morales

    International Director
    CA RE License #00929014
    515 S. Flower St., Suite 1300
    Los Angeles, CA 90071
    T +1 213 239 6050
    M +1 213 700 9000


    1. Hi, Tony–thank you! Your comment got stuck in spam but now it’s unstuck. I appreciate the constant, loyal, and long-term support!

  2. Yes, I sometimes wonder if you’re trying to make me unsubscribe. But then I remember you went to that evil empire in Austin, and it all makes sense. I’m not giving you the satisfaction of my quitting! I miss the days when a liberal would fight for someone’s right to voice a horrible opinion they disagreed with.

  3. David Shulman

    News alert! The curmudgeon has a soft side! I love your blog, I’m waiting for the price increase to fund your bikepacking adventure, and I’m definitely hurt that you haven’t offended me… yet.

    1. Haha! No price increases as long as the price of printing stays at $0! I will get to work on the offending; been lax of late.

  4. I think I need to make sure my “heirs” know that there will be a “2.99” hit against my account after I bite the big one. Until then, blog away, and I’ll keep reading. Though, you may have noticed, I have been slacking in my private e-mails with corrections.

  5. Ok, well I re-upped. I unsubscribed a while back because I was reducing my monthly expenses but I realized that yours is one of the most worthy blogs out there. Don’t let this go to your head!

  6. Even with my new currently unemployed status, I’m going to continue to waste $2.99 on your stupid blog.

    1. That’s the kind of bad judgment I’ve come to like, expect, and respect.

  7. Tim Joe Comstock

    Oh gawd. A blatent begging for bucks before beginning a bike ride that, truth be told…oh, what the hell. I’ve signed on. Go forth, young Seth, and make us proud.

    1. Blatant begging for bucks before beginning a bike …

      That is some first class alliterating right there.

      I will do my best to make you proud or at least no make you un-proud.

      PS: How close to Canada is Flarda?

  8. I got it, Wanky! Sounds like you have the right attitude to boldly continue. I never thought that you had any doubts or insecurities, but I appreciate your honesty and fortitude. You are the most interesting lawyer I know…keep doing what inspires you.

  9. I love some of them, like most of them. That’s a damn good deal for only $2.99/month. Oh, and, I don’t expect you to to write one (or more!) every single day – It’s okay to miss a day or two, just sayin’…

  10. I hope, “you are subscribing to free speech…” was intentional.

    1. It is secured in a small lockbox buried in a cave on the eastward side of Mt. Citheron. Access code is #reducefrivolousexpenses.

  11. Joe Notarnicola

    Thank you for your writing. I think about all of my subscriptions and reoccurring payments and decide if there is value. Not because $2.99 is going to break me but because I’m a minimalist and don’t like to be wasteful (even if it’s just cyber-money). So you can be confident that I think your writing is worth at least $2.99 a month, or much much more… thank you and keep it up.

  12. Wait…I still pay for this??

    Ah, well, good money after bad or however that goes. Looking forward to the upcoming adventure!

  13. I love your writing and the stuff I only like I put off to my own intellectual and rhetorical failings…but in any case well worth the pittance you charge.

    1. Yup…thassit ex*ACT*ly! I thrill jesta bit ever’ time there’s a new post! So fckn excited for you and your trip!

  14. I’m so vain, I probably think this song is about me!

    Dood! Most subscriptions fixed on my end… a *few* other things ended up grabbing my attention in the meanwhile…. I come back to have a peek at my Seth folder and see hundreds of unread missives starting from way back when there was a dearth of “current events” to even comment on. Such an innocent time. Then FF to read the most recent one and…. Hey! This song is about me, isn’t it?

    I’m back, baby.

    *Todays post brought to you by the word dearth.
    ** DAMN! took me like half an hour to sort out my WordPress account. I’ve lost a lot of love.
    *** Now what’s this little bike ride you’re taking? Must read back….

  15. bike camping? isn’t that kind of trendy? Isn’t that what Taylor Phinney & Justin Williams do?
    are you doing it for the gram, bay bay? OK, you can go….as long as you post some photos and make sure you wash your hands & wear a mask.

  16. Seth, dont know much about you but years back when Tillford died was when i discovered your writing. (Miss his stories too)

    Always have enjoyed the read.

    Add me to the list of subcribers.

    Looking forward to your stories from the road!

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