all the content is for everybody
I posted this message on my Patreon page today. It’s about patron-only access, and why I’m not doing it anymore.
Dear Patrons, Matrons, and Theytrons who support my work not just with your attention, but with your resources,
I see you and need you and love you and appreciate you!
You make all this possible. You pay for the childcare that gives me time and space to think and write and learn and then write better. You pay for website hosting, for small business taxes and fees. You are my bread and butter. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
That being said, I want to make sure you know that if you decide to join our Patreon community, you will receive my deep gratitude and the happy feelings that come with supporting a voice that you find valuable.
But you will not receive exclusive access to patron-only content.
There are two core values that seem to be at war with each other in my business model:
1) I don't work for free.
2) I don't charge for access.
I believe in valuing artists not just with words and emojis, but with resources. You know how committed I am to valuing artists on par with other professionals? My kids can earn extra spending money in two ways:
do extra chores to do around the house (not their regular household responsibilities, but extra special stuff)
create a piece of commissioned art. Writing, drawing, painting, music, dance, whatever. There are effort guidelines. We work together to figure out what it's going to be and decide together when it's done. It's not like, "Cool crayon scribble Chicken, here's a hundy, don't spend it all in the App store." But yeah, I pay my kids for art.
We think of “work” as a very specific breed of labor, tied to industrial and corporate talismans like spreadsheets and hardhats and neckties and nametags and wrinkle-free uniform shirts. True, that's all work and of course you should get paid for it. But work is also floral arranging, btw, and diaper-changing and coloring. What distinguishes work from hobby isn't the tool you use, but the effort and focus you bring to mastery of that tool.
Oh, and a paycheck. A paycheck is pretty important, too.
Art is a labor of love, this we know. But too often, Mr. Moneybags coughs in his hanky through the “labor” part and hits love REAL hard. "Isn't love all you really need?" As a result, artists feel that if they are dedicated to their art which feeds their souls, then they shouldn't have to be compensated for it. Moneybags loves when this happens. Moneybags loves getting free art for "exposure" or "clicks" or "shares."
Art is a labor of love = Art is a LABOR = It's WORK.
As a writer, I feel the temptation to work for free all the time. Writing is a part of my identity as much as drinking coffee or raising my children, and I don't get paid for that shit either. What, am I going to start charging the city for taking my trash out to the curb on Wednesdays? "You're Welcome, City. Look for my invoice in the next 3 days."
What, am I going to do an organized walkout of me, myself, and I if my children don't scrape together enough capital to ensure paid sick leave in the coming fiscal year?
I don't expect to be paid for the work I do on my own life, obviously. The tricky part for artists is that our art is part of our inner lives, as important to our daily routines as taking out the trash or getting the kids to school even when we feel like ass. Writing is part of my life. It's also my fucking job. While I love writing and would do it for free, my kid's preschool teachers and my electric company and my dentist don't feel the same way? Huh. So weird.
Actually, now that I've said I love writing and would do it for free, I need to clarify: I love writing and would write in my JOURNAL and BIRTHDAY CARDS and maybe my kid's CLASSROOM for free. But I love writing and writers and storytelling so much that I absolutely refuse to do it for free, because I refuse to be part of the force that normalizes voluntary emotional and creative labor. It's work. Pay me.
But what if they can't pay you, Katie? What are you gonna do? Slam the gate? No blog for you?
Of course not. I believe that artists should be fairly compensated for their work, and I ALSO believe that ideas are for everybody, paywalls propagate inequity, and access to my content will be open and equal for anyone who cares to read it.
But you just finished telling me to pay you.
I KNOW, I’m a riddle wrapped in a conundrum topped with a wtf reduction.
It reminds me of one Valentine's Day a few years ago. I was working in an open-plan office space with a big, loud, fun, colorful crew. By that time my husband and I had celebrated like 10 V-Days together so when I told him not to do anything for me, I genuinely meant it. I truly, madly, deeply, did not give a shit about Valentine's Day. On February 13th.
But then February 14th rolled around. One by one, all the girls in the office blushed and tried to hide their delight as bouquet after bouquet landed on the desks around me, adorned with cheap blond bears, bobbing balloons with scripty-font declarations of love, and cellophane-wrapped Russel-Stover chocolates. I didn't want any of that stuff. I did want some mothafuckin’ flowers, though. I wanted them bad.
I did not want my husband to perform some meaningless public ritual of courtship on an arbitrary date in midwinter. I did want my husband to make a heartfelt gesture of love because he was inspired by the power of our love. And I wanted it on fucking Valentine's Day. I called him and asked him to pick up something special on the way home, and the poor guy came home with a bouquet of tattered yellow roses (they were out of pink, purple, white, and red), and he pounded a double scotch as he told me, with a quivering voice, of the horrors he had seen in the Hallmark aisle that night.
Empty racks... as far as the eye could see... and the men who wandered there, the terror behind their eyes... I'll never forget it, Kate. Not as long as I live.
(Collapses in sobs)
Charging for additional blog content access feels like sending you to the flower store at 7:30 pm on Valentine's Day after I’ve insisted I don’t need flowers.
I believe that the content should not force compensation, not on a blog.
I believe the content should inspire compensation.
If I'm doing my job here, then I'm providing you with jokes you laugh at, observations that make you think, stories that make you feel, and a little something to tuck in your pocket or chew on as you go about your day. If I'm doing my job, then you value my work. And if you value my work and have the ability to literally VALUE it, then you do that on Patreon or Paypal. And I'm incredibly grateful for you.
Full disclosure: I've experimented with producing patron-only content in the past. But it always gave me an icky feeling, even as it was a move that a lot of friends and advisors thought was smart. And as I reflected on what I wanted this community to be in 2019, it quickly became obvious that patron-only content would be left behind in the festering pustule that was 2018. I'm done with paywalled access and patron-only content. If that's a deal-breaker for you as a patron, that's cool, but it's nonnegotiable for me. All the content is for everybody, regardless of their ability to pay.
I don't believe in creating a financial threshold that people have to meet to engage with content or with this content creator.
If I only invite people to my table who can afford to shell out money to be there, then I’m pre-selecting the voices I want to hear based on class and economic privilege. That sucks and I try really hard not to suck.
Furthermore, I often write about equity and social justice, and anyone who writes about those things needs to meditate deeply and often about accountability. Who holds me accountable? Who am I accountable to? One of the reasons that I don’t use advertisers is because I want to be accountable to YOU. Yet if I create an inner circle of people selected by their level of disposable income, then I’m only really accountable to the people who had the ability to pay for access to that circle. Again: that sucks. That sucks and I’ll fail. And if there’s anything I hate more than sucking, it’s failing.
I need to be accountable to all readers if I’m going to get this shit right.
LOL, this post is the literal opposite of selling. I’m supposed to motivate you to pay me with extra content and access and remind you constantly how much better the KatyKatiKate experience would be if you just dropped a few bucks in the kitty. To that, I say: stop calling me kitty.
Nah, you won’t get extra content. Nah, you won’t get the right to a special one-on-one video chat with yours-truly (that’s a thing people ask for, I guess? I cannot tell you how monumentally disappointing such a discussion would be for you unless you love talking over the sounds of a Disney soundtrack blasting in the background while Buster screams I AM MOANA into a cheap karaoke microphone.)
What you will get, if you become or remain a Patron/Matron/Theytron, is the pride of knowing that you made it possible for this content to be for everybody.
You held me accountable and you ensured my accountability. You kept KatyKatiKate a bullshit-free zone.
If you have the ability and feel moved to jump in and invest in this lady's voice, then PLEASE DO! $5 or $10 a month might not mean a lot to you, but to me, your investment is meaningful, purposeful, and incredibly important. My Patreon earnings aren't donations - they're investments. You're not donating to my cause; you're investing in my work. Every time I get a new patron, whether they’re pledging $15 or $3 a month, I feel like I’ve earned your respect and faith, and that’s fucking priceless. But whether or not you pay me:
All the content is for everybody. I want all of you at the table.
So my darling, my patron, my matron, my theytron, my nottodaytron, by now I hope you know I'm in it to win it with you. And by "win it" I mean "smash the patriarchy" and "break the silence" and "make you feel mighty today."
Thank you for being here.