Blog status update (September 2019): The blog now has a newsletter and Ko-fi page

It’s been a few months since the last status update, but I’ve just made a few big additions to the blog.

The blog now has a newsletter

Newspapers and mug
Photo by stevepb (Pixabay / CC0)

I’ve finally launched a newsletter for the blog.

I’d been pondering such for awhile. Newsletters and email mailing lists have become a popular way for bloggers to keep in touch with followers. They also keep control out of the hands of monolithic social networks like Twitter and Facebook. On a related note, since it’s just old-fashioned email, there’s no algorithm-based hijinks, posts lost in a stream of tweets, fewer privacy concerns, etc.

That said, in my opinion the main obstacle to setting up a newsletter is the cost. The United States’ “CAN-SPAM” law, passed in 2003, requires a physical address to be listed in all newsletter-style emails. For most people (who don’t want their home address listed), that means renting a post office box, which means an extra website expense. (Never mind said law or address requirement didn’t do much to stop spam, plus CAN-SPAM overrides any stricter state-level laws.) This is the main reason I didn’t use a newsletter until now. Instead, I relied on simpler tools like WordPress’ Jetpack plugin; it can email subscribers new blog posts, but that’s all.

Recently, I decided it’d be worth investing in a post office box for a newsletter. For a post office box, I signed up for an inexpensive virtual one via a local franchise of Anytime Mailbox. As for a newsletter, I’m using MailerLite, after reading some positive reviews about it (and increasing backlash against rival service Mailchimp).

Subscribers to my newsletter will receive all new blog posts when they go up (currently Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), plus a weekly roundup/summary blog post on the weekend. Since I’ve now got a newsletter, I’ll likely switch Friday’s blog posts back to regular posts (versus news article roundups). Those interested in subscribing can access the signup box in the sidebar, at the end of this post, or through a direct link here.

There’s also now a Ko-fi page

Ko-fi logoI’ve also decided to give crowdfunding another go, after my short-lived attempt at using Patreon. This time, I’ve set up a page on Ko-fi. Ko-fi (pronounced “coffee”) allows users to donate money to a page owner. Unlike Patreon, Ko-fi is set up by default to act like a tip jar, versus a monthly ongoing subscription. As such, it uses a “buy me a cup of coffee” metaphor a lot, including the default donation amount (US$3 or its equivalent in other currencies). Since they’re one-time donations, the idea is users might be more willing to donate versus setting up a recurring payment.

For Ko-fi page owners, Ko-fi uses PayPal for handling funds, and doesn’t charge any fees for free tier users—a big difference from Patreon’s somewhat hefty fees. Ko-fi makes money by offering a “Gold” tier; for $6/month, users can set up a Patreon-like ongoing monthly donation option, gain various customization options, and so forth.

As for why a Ko-fi page? I thought it’d be a nice way (besides freelancing) to see my writing efforts get some compensation. It’d also help to cover the costs of running this site, including the previously-mentioned post office box/newsletter.

I’ve set up a Ko-fi page here; there’s also a link button in the sidebar. We’ll see if it proves any better or different than Patreon. I’ll also still have Google AdSense ads on the site, for those that whitelisted this site in their ad blocker.

Conclusion

Since I put a lot of effort into running this blog, I figure I should also try to improve or modernize things, as well as offer my readers more options. Hopefully running a newsletter and Ko-fi page will be worthwhile. If you have any suggestions, feel free to list them in the comments below.

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