TLS Patreon

Cthulhu

Administrator
AKA
Yop
#1
Hai gaise.

For a long time, TLS has been ad- and donation supported, with ads only being served on the forums (because I was lazy) and donations being a one-off, whenever you feel like it kind of affair. This has been fine; roughly (VERY roughly) these two covered about half of the costs for running the site, ads having brought in about €1500 over the past ten years, donations errr, I'd have to do some adding up, but not as much as the ads did.

Anyway, ads are shit and I'd prefer to avoid them. They were also not as effective as they could be because our most active users - people that would end up viewing / clicking on the moast ads in theory - are also donators so they don't get them.

I would love to be able to run TLS ad-free. Actually I already can (and am) but that would mean I'd take all of the financial hits :monster:. Donations as they are right now are unreliable, in that it's often a one-time affair until something comes up, or it's mentioned again, or there's a fundraiser of sorts, etc.

Patreon is a service that allows for recurring smaller donations; I'm not a fan of the commission they take (iirc Paypal's fees are a lot smaller), BUT they make it very easy to set up a recurring, low fee donation. Currently our hosting is about €500 / year (paid every six months); we might be able to save a bit on that given our server can handle the load easily, but ehh. OTOH I wouldn't mind a server with more storage. That means that if we could get €40 / month in donations - or 20 people doing €2 / month - we'd be in the green.

On top of that, the youtube channel is doing pretty good - the income from it and our >10.000 subscribers is also pretty good, I've done some math and this year the youtube channel brought in roughly $56 / month. Up until a little while ago, Lex had his adsense account linked to the channel and he'd transfer it over to me, but I've linked my own adsense account to it recently.

So, Patreon + youtube would mean we can easily run the site without having to put ads on there. At that rate it'd still take a few years before I'd personally be in the black again, but I'm not in it to make a profit, so the excess will be put back into the site in various projects:

* The TLS Giveaway, spearheaded and paid for by Mage - please let me know how much it cost (with shipping), if we could do one of these a few times a year it would be great. I would've liked to see more people sign up for it though. I know I will next time, I don't have a PS1 yet :awesome:.
* TLS Movie Night - Fancy mentioned the other day that it cost her about $20 in movie rental fees. Does Rabb.it cost any money to operate? I think paying for a voice/video chat system where a lot of people can join in would be entertaining, as long as it's open, accessible and welcoming to everyone. (I'm personally not a fan because eww people / sensory overload, but whatever floats your boat)
* Software licensing - We bought Xenforo this year, the initial cost was $140, license renewal will be $40 / year
* Re-donating - I'm already passing some monies to Shademp and Hito
* If we get into dankloads of money: TLS Travel Bursary, buying tickets to e.g. Kupocon for our members. Tickets would be a stretch goal I think, if we make so much money we can afford to pay for flights and stays and shit, I think we need a serious reorganization for TLS' finances, put it in a more formal organizational structure (if only because the tax office will start charging me income tax for TLS funds <_<).
* GIVE SUGGESTIONS. We will have money available for any kind of projects you put forward.

NEXT STEPS

I've already registered the TLS name on patreon - or well, have done a setup. However, before continuing we need a few things and I'd like your help with these:

* An introduction text - I've made a proposal, Lex made some edits later on, I'll post that down below, let me know what you think
* A profile picture - a round icon of sorts.
* A cover picture - it needs to be exactly 1600 x 400 px
* An intro video - optional, but it'd help
* Tiers - optional, at least one would work.
* Goals - also optional, IDK what we'd put here (if we get $x / month we will do y)
* A thank you message - please give me something

Patreon intro / description text proposal said:
The Lifestream.net is the number one Final Fantasy fan site with a focus on Final Fantasy VII and its surrounding compilation. We started off ten years ago with publishing news and exclusive translations, and since then have brought to light hidden game data (see the Unused Text article series!), game version comparisons, audiobooks, podcasts, YouTube videos and more.

Becoming a Patron for The Lifestream means you will help us get by. We'll use the donations to help pay for our month-to-month server costs, which for the past ten years have been paid for mostly out of pocket with some aid from advertising on the site.

Once expenses are covered, we'll be spending whatever's left on tools to help us build more content for the people who love it - such as games and hardware for reviews and articles - but perhaps more importantly, archival and analysis. Giveaways are also a possibility, since we have a great community!

If the Patreon becomes really successful, we'd like to start a travel bursary fund. Some of our most dedicated contributors and members are often not able to afford traveling abroad to one of our meetups (such as KupoCon, where The Lifestream tends to have a presence), and we'd like to be able to scrounge up money to pay for their trip and stay.

So please consider becoming a Patron of TLS (that's thelifestream.net!) so we can continue to bring you the best source of FFVII analysis in the FF fandom!
DONATORS / PATREON BENEFITS

Right now we give clear benefits to donators - bigger inbox, upload stuff, etc - actually I need to review this after the move to XF. Do we want to offer Patrons benefits like that, and if so, what should they be? Early access to e.g. non-time-critical podcasts and videos? Early access to work in progress articles? TLS t-shirts? Shoutouts in videos, podcasts and articles? Gibe me something!

Also, I'm going to keep the existing donation option via paypal available - donating is optional, and recurring donations are optional as well. With the Patreon too, it can be cancelled at any point. I want to offer one-time donators and recurring donators the same benefits if possible (in addition to the warm fuzzies for supporting TLS).

Please let me know what you think.
 

Geostigma

Pro Adventurer
AKA
gabe
#5
I'll only sub to a TLS Patreon if there are Cthulhu Lewds and Implied Newds in one of the tiers :monster:

Just playing , this is a great idea and I would be glad to sub in this way :)

as far as content and filling up the various input fields on the patreon itself, i haven't thought of anything but will definitely be thinking on it and try to toss in my 2 cents on that matter later.

In any case this is awesome and exciting :D
 

Mage

Spores!
AKA
Mage
#9
IF PEOPLE DONATE £500 OR OVER TO THE TLS POT BEFORE XMAS, I WILL GET A VII-THEMED TATTOO SOMEWHERE I CAN'T HIDE IT. I ain't joking, you fuckers know I'm a crazy mofo like that. :awesome:
Also if n00dz are an incentive, well, hai. It's not like my arse is unfamiliar with fresh air. :monster:
As for prize-givings, well those were donated by me but I'm pretty good at sourcing olden goldies like that. Dunno about postage costs yet because I haven't shipped anything (I'M DOING STUFF, I need to get some bookings in and completed before one of my parents breaks again. :wacky: ).
Also also you should've said you don't have a PS1, Imma fix that. ;)
 

Dawnbreaker

~Heiress of Her Will~
AKA
Warrior of Light, Daryl Falchion, Dragonsoul, Dawnbreaker, Amy Pond, Cheryl Tunt
#11
It all sounds good. A solid plan. I am only curious about one thing: why would you providing the same benefits to a one-time donator as you are to a reoccurring donator? I would think that the reoccurring qualifies them for additional benefits.

It's your site and your system. I'm not here to be disruptive. It just confuses me.
 

Cthulhu

Administrator
AKA
Yop
#14
IF PEOPLE DONATE £500 OR OVER TO THE TLS POT BEFORE XMAS, I WILL GET A VII-THEMED TATTOO SOMEWHERE I CAN'T HIDE IT. I ain't joking, you fuckers know I'm a crazy mofo like that. :awesome:
Also if n00dz are an incentive, well, hai. It's not like my arse is unfamiliar with fresh air. :monster:
As for prize-givings, well those were donated by me but I'm pretty good at sourcing olden goldies like that. Dunno about postage costs yet because I haven't shipped anything (I'M DOING STUFF, I need to get some bookings in and completed before one of my parents breaks again. :wacky: ).
Also also you should've said you don't have a PS1, Imma fix that. ;)
I want to offer that it would be paid from the TLS proceedings but now I'm not sure if the donators would go for that <_<. Patreon does have dank goals like that though, we could add "Mage gets a tattoo" or "Mage poasts n00dz" as some of the tiers :awesome:.

Also I have a PS2, it plays PS1 games, totes the same :monster:
I'd have already contributed if there was a link somewhere to it :monster:. Am I blind?
Nope; I'm still waiting for either someone to send me an image OR to arse myself - Patreon has a review process, idk how hard it is to get through that or whether they'll outright reject you if you don't have the right imagery.

It all sounds good. A solid plan. I am only curious about one thing: why would you providing the same benefits to a one-time donator as you are to a reoccurring donator? I would think that the reoccurring qualifies them for additional benefits.

It's your site and your system. I'm not here to be disruptive. It just confuses me.
No that's a fair point, and it's something I've struggled with myself for a while. A few bulletpoint thoughts because I love talking in bulletpoints:

* First off, we need to determine benefits. Ad removal was a big incentive for the original donator program, but if the financials are so good we don't actually need it, it'd be morally wrong to add ads to incentivise donations.
* Anyway, before the idea of just not having ads popped up, I was thinking of a grandfather clause - that is, the current donation system would be closed, and existing donators would enter a grandfather clause where they would have the same benefits as patrons for 1 or 2 years after we switch to patreon. That'd conflict with the text / "conditions" on the donator page though.
* as an aside: wow I just noticed we never updated the donator page after updating it, lol. It mentions the possibility of maybe adding ads just in case donations don't cover it. Welp :monster:

Anyway, yes, valid concern. I think we need to reassess the donator / patreon benefits, first off. What we could do is set a base Patreon expectation - e.g. $2 or $5 / month - and compare one-time donations with that (that is: if the baseline Patreon donation is $5 / month for example, a one-time $25 donation would give patron benefits for 5 months).

Another issue - which is mostly laziness on my part - is that I'd probably have to review monthly who is still a patron and who isn't when it comes to benefits and permissions on the site / forums. I wonder if Patreon gives an overview of that.

Of course I'll gladly contribute. Here's some draft for the banner and thumbnail example image for tiers:mon:
I'm not visually inclined (unless it comes to n00dz ;) ) but these look good to me, :monster:. I'll put those up, fgj.

Anyways: please give ideas for Patron benefits, and your thoughts on the one-time donations and current donators and their rights / benefits as well.

EDIT: oh, right at the bottom of the patreon setup page, it already offers patrons access to an RSS audio feed (podcast early access?) and Discord integration, that is, we can give patrons special shit on there. I think.
 
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Lex

Administrator
#18
More likely a "Patron" role on Discord with access to patron only chat or some such, a lot of Patreon peeps do that kinda thing with Discord. Can you link patreon to Nitro? I thought it was a per-person thing.
 

Mage

Spores!
AKA
Mage
#20
Cthulhu said:
I want to offer that it would be paid from the TLS proceedings but now I'm not sure if the donators would go for that <_<. Patreon does have dank goals like that though, we could add "Mage gets a tattoo" or "Mage poasts n00dz" as some of the tiers :awesome:.

Also I have a PS2, it plays PS1 games, totes the same :monster:
I'll cover the tattoo cost, but I am totally down for being an incentive ho. You have photography duty though. :awesome:
Also it's a PS2, which is not the same BUT NOW I CAN MAKE YOU PLAY DIRGE OF CACABUS! :muhaha:
 
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