A few weeks ago, Eric D. Snider launched a Kickstarter campaign, whereby he would agree to write 50 (almost) weekly “Snide Remarks” columns for an entire year if people pledged $5,000 for him to do it. I’ve read Snider’s “Snide Remarks” on a number of occasions and I think they’re hilarious and frequently brilliant. I’m also a fan of Kickstarter, which allows people to allocate money via Amazon Payments towards exciting projects that would never otherwise get backing. So, I threw in a few bucks for the cause. Here’s what Snider had to say about it at the outset:
I thought: How much would I need to be paid per “Snide Remarks” column for it to be worthwhile as a writing gig? The answer I came up with was $100. I did some quick math and determined that if I wrote a column every week for a year, minus two weeks off for vacation and to make the math easier, that would be $5,000.
That is my project bid for this gig. For $5,000, I’ll write a year of weekly “Snide Remarks” columns, starting the first Monday in March 2011.
I’m pleased to report that as of right now, Snider has hit his goal of $5,000! I asked Eric via IM how he felt about achieving his fundraising goal. “I’m excited to write the column again regularly and glad that at least 190 people are interested in reading it,” he said. In the past, Eric has also opined that people are generally unwilling to pay for things they read on the internet. I asked him if he still had that opinion, and he responded:
Yeah, and I still believe that. I mean, that’s not an opinion; that’s a demonstrable fact: people in general don’t like to pay for online content. That’s why the Kickstarter thing is so genius. 190 people pledged money for Snide Remarks. But if I had used a subscription model — pay X dollars per year to access it — I bet most of those 190 wouldn’t have done it (Unless the X dollars per year was something comically low, like a dollar.) With Kickstarter, it doesn’t feel like you’re paying for the content I’m producing. Everyone will be able to read it, not just those who contributed money. So it feels more like backing a good cause, which people *will* pay money for.
Indeed. Eric’s success proves that if you work hard enough at building your online persona into something distinct and entertaining, people are willing to pay to continue consuming the content that you put out. They just need the right channel through which to do so.
[I realize others have demonstrated this theory before, but Eric’s a good colleague and with the exception of people like Ebert, few have had a lot of success with this type of thing in the realm of film writing. So, I felt it worth writing about, because I think his success has implications for many of us in the online community.]