A couple of weeks ago I started a Patreon page for This is Writing (you can check it out here – http://bit.ly/2sZMF1S).
Feel free to pledge 😉
I reached out to authors I have already featured on the site and asked them to look over the page and what I was trying to achieve and show their support by either pledging a small monthly amount or getting the word out to their audience.
The support so far has been great! However, I had one author come back and asking, “Why didn’t I make my book marketing services paid rather than asking for donations?”
Which is a good question. I’d definitely be able to make more money on the site that way. However, it isn’t something I want for the site. And I wrote a fairly detailed response to the author as to why I went down the Patreon path.
So, I thought I shared a more stylised version of my response and my reason for not asking authors to pay.
Firstly, here’s my reason for needing a Patreon page and increasing the site’s income.
I’ve reached a tipping point where traffic, book marketing requests and trying to expand the site have become more than I can handle on my own. While I supplement the site with parts of my own income, Adsense and Affiliate links, the commission on a $4.99 book doesn’t allow me the freedom to expand the site in the way that it really needs to best serve authors.
Now for my reasons not to charge writers and started a Patreon page
This site was originally created as a platform that authors could promote their work for free. And that purpose hasn’t changed. For most, being a fiction writer isn’t the path to riches and glory. The majority of writers don’t have a huge marketing budget.
The author who wrote me the original email also pointed out that when people see free that they don’t put as much value to it as something they would have to pay for. And while this is true, as a writer myself, I look at the other paid book marketing services and know when I finally finish my novel that I would only be able to invest in one or two.
A free book promotion service like mine levels the playing field for those authors who may have written the next great novel but don’t have the marketing experience or the budget to get the word out about it.
Wouldn’t it be cool if one of the author’s featured on my site got their first big break as an author from my site and for free?
Why don’t I sell advertising space to authors?
In the email, the author said if I sold banner ad placements that authors would pay for that. While I do have an advertise with us section on the site I’m reluctant to promote it to authors and I’m yet to ask any author to pay for – I usually just give it for free. This is for a few reasons.
Banner ads etc, in general, are more often than not a waste of money if your goal is to sell books. The majority of readers are now numb to most banner ads. And the conversion rates are usually very low. It’s a numbers game. Unless a site has a huge audience, 10,000 plus, the amount of traffic that will take action isn’t worth the spend for an author.
I work on campaigns like this for my freelance work and we always estimate conversions on the very worse percentage before judging if a campaign is viable.
We assume an extremely low click-through-rate of 0.5% – 1%.
Which means for a site like mine of roughly 5000 unique visitors per month the click-through-rate might be 50. If that click is driving the customer to a landing page asking them to take further action, like purchasing a book, we work with a further conversion rate of 1% – 2%.
Which means that from those 50 clicks the author might get 1 or 2 sales. That isn’t really any value for money for an author who is selling their book for $4.99.
While these are the extremely worse case figures and it would much likely be higher, I couldn’t justify a spend on this if it was for myself so why would I expect an author to pay for it?
While I would make money for the site, it wouldn’t be right for me to profit off the backs of authors trying to stretch their book marketing budget as far as they can.
Why My Current Free Book Promotion Services Work
With my other free services; interviews, guest posts, book reviews and the new author pages etc. They have a higher click-through-rate at first launch as the readers are there naturally to read about the author and their work. There is an interest there already compared to a banner ad that provides no value to their reading experience and is often given very little attention.
At the same time, these articles provide static content that stays on the site indefinitely (where a banner ad is there for a set time then taken down). Over time, this static content ranks for various search terms in search engines thus providing more value to the authors in the long term.
Why Pateron? And Why Ask Authors To Support Me?
The choice of Patreon allows supporters to setup a monthly donation. Best of all, it’s optional!
I looked at it in terms of previously featured authors, and future authors, investing a small amount (at $1 a month that’s only $12 per year) in our platform as a form of investing in themselves.
As the site grows, not only do the interviews and articles receive more organic traffic but with the extra money from Patreon, it gives me the ability to setup new features and grow the sites reach. Things like a high converting email list (similar to bookbub but free) can mean more immediate sales for authors the next time they want to feature their new book. With this built it will give us more affiliate and Adsense earnings for the site that can be pumped back into site development and continue the services for free.
Having said all this, Patreon is a test to see if the writing community is willing to support a free platform that is helping them.
If not, I’ll need to look at new ways to bring in income and selling the services I currently give away for free might be the avenue I have to go down but I would like to hold off on that as long as possible as it’s really not the vision I want for the site – there are already enough paid book marketing services and I don’t want to add one more to that mix if I don’t have to.
You can find out more about my Patreon campaign here -http://bit.ly/2sZMF1S