I want to focus on building for the Beeminder community. Is Patreon the answer?

I love building things for the Beeminder community. Things I’ve built so far:

Things I’d like to do:

  • Publish TaskRatchet to the Android Play Store
  • Fix a long backlog of bugs in TaskRatchet, the autodialer, etc
  • Get my fork of Echo Nolan’s defunct Beescheduler fully operational
  • Build an unofficial Beeminder integrations platform for integrations that don’t yet make sense for Beeminder to build and support in-house
  • Experiment with AI, GPT, etc, and how it could be used to enhance Beeminder and help people with ADHD, autism, etc
  • … and many more

The problem

Currently I need about $2000 a month to cover my monthly expenses. Unfortunately, TaskRatchet simply isn’t covering this.

Screenshot 2024-05-30 at 9.44.58 AM

As you can see, my average income from TaskRatchet is between $200 and $400 per month. My business expenses are roughly $650 / month, not including what I pay Nicky (support) and Luke (programming). So, taking TaskRatchet alone, I’m operating at a loss.

The way I make up the difference is through contract web development work. I’m very grateful for all the work on interesting projects I’ve been able to do for clients, however it has downsides:

  • Contract revenue is unpredictable, which can be a major stressor when I’m not sure where the money to pay the rent is going to come from this month.
  • It demands almost all of my time and attention, making it very difficult to put time into TaskRatchet, the Beeminder community, and all the other ways I’d like to build value and give back to the community.

Patreon, maybe?

One possible solution I’ve been thinking about lately is the possibility that Patreon might be a way to both make my income more predictable, while simultaneously allowing me to spend more of my time on the things that create value for you, the Beeminder community.

Below I’ve listed my first pass at tiers, their prices, and perks. I have a lot of questions:

  • Do you think it makes sense for me to pursue Patreon as a solution to the problems listed above?
  • How likely do you think it is that I could get to $1k recurring revenue this way? $2k, covering all personal expenses? $3k, covering personal and business expenses?
  • If I don’t use Patreon to solve this problem, what other things could I try instead? Or in addition to Patreon?
  • Which perks listed below most excite you?
  • Are there other perks I should consider adding?
  • Is this too many tiers? Too few?
  • Do these prices make sense? Should tiers be more or less expensive? Should perks be shuffled around?
  • Is using Fibonacci numbers for pricing too silly?
  • How should I go about promoting my Patreon?

Perks

Each tier also includes all perks from lower tiers.

$1 / month

  • My undying gratitude.

The reason for this tier would be to allow people who wish to support me but for whatever reason don’t wish to pay more for a higher tier to contribute to social proof by increasing the number of Patreon supporters shown to potential new supporters.

$3 / month

  • Complete post archive

Presumably I’d start posting more extensive development updates to Patreon, and link to there from my dev update thread here.

$8 / month

  • Exclusive voting power
  • Access to TaskRatchet Discord server

Polls could include voting on what features or bugs I prioritize fixing, or other product decisions.

$13 / month

  • Monthly livestream group hangouts

$21 / month

$89 / month

  • Monthly 1-on-1 call

Maybe 30 minute calls? Supporters at this tier would be able to choose what we discuss–programming, TaskRatchet gripes, ADHD coaching, whatever.

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kofi looks to have a less expensive pricing structure than Patreon, fwiw.

I don’t have any useful insight into how much income you’d be able to make, but it’s a niche community of a niche community you’d be exposed to. That said, i think there’s essentially no downside to at least setting it up!

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I don’t have a useful response here either… Just wanted to say that that you made 10k to cover part of your costs is very cool!

Hope you keep having fun and making it work for yourself in a sustainable way. Good luck!

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Count me in personally as a patron if you set that up. The Beeminder community is massively in your debt!

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Would similarly be happy to support this.

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Not to be a downer, and maybe it’s worth setting up, but realistically I don’t see this working. If you want to spend time creating value for this (or any other community), I think by far the most straightforward way is via normal market interactions. E.g., make something and sell it to people.

If you’re not making enough money doing BM work now, I’d be surprised if this changes things. I think charity/sponsorship almost always brings in less money than selling your work for a price. How much money do you personally spend sponsoring people on Patreon or GitHub? How does that compare to spending on normal things or software subscriptions you buy?

If you’re losing money, then you’re probably either not creating enough value for people or haven’t yet found a good way to scale that value to enough people to support yourself. Sometimes people like to look at the latter as being separate from the former, but it’s not. Realistically, distribution is part of selling something too. Many great, value-producing ideas don’t work because you can’t figure out how to economically find the people who want to buy them.

That said, a few hundred bucks a month of recurring revenue is not nothing (though should you count TaskRatchet penalties as recurring necessarily?) and more than 99% of businesses can say.

Patrick McKenzie has a tweet about how any business with X recurring revenue can become one with Y (where Y > X, sorry, he said it better but I can’t find the tweet). So this might be a toehold to making more. Either way, it’s definitely something to be proud of.

That said, as it sounds like you’ve been running into, moral victories you can be proud of don’t help with living expenses. And he also says, “if you have product-market fit you know it and if you’re not sure you have it, you don’t,” so if you feel you’re struggling with that, it might be time to rejigger some stuff too.

Good luck!

PS: I’ve found this helpful when thinking about how to look at building stuff to support yourself - https://x.com/levelsio/status/1457315274466594817

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Thank you all for the kind support and advice!

Oh, good call. Hadn’t thought to consider them.

This seems plausible, though a big part of the motivation behind the idea is that I haven’t felt like I’ve ever been able to give my full attention to TaskRatchet etc, so even though TaskRatchet brings in revenue, it’s never been properly marketed, and there are potentially many bugs and missing features that could be limiting its revenue potential.

Agreed.

Yes, this is a concern, especially considering the niche nature of the market, as @rperce pointed out.

Still trying to think all this stuff through… :thinking:

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And here it is! :sweat_smile:

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