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It’s Membership Time!

posted by Jason Kottke   Nov 01, 2021

William H. Macy on the phone in a scene from Fargo

Hey folks, it’s time for the annual unpleasantness: me telling you about kottke.org’s membership program. Five years ago I introduced the kottke.org membership program so that folks reading the site could directly support my efforts here, and it’s been wonderfully successful. Or to put it another way, without that member support, this site would not exist. Thanks to those members for keeping this site free for everyone to read!

Why wouldn’t it exist? The online advertising market for small sites like this sucks (especially for non-vertical sites) and I’ve nearly stopped linking to Amazon, losing the corresponding affiliate revenue that comprised 15-20% of my total annual revenue. Poof, gone. As much as I like linking to Bookshop.org instead, the revenue from their affiliate program has only filled a tiny bit of that absence. Member support is far and away the thing that’s keeping me going here.

I know these are ųŋųʂųąƖ ɬıɱɛʂ and that can make it tough to support things like non-essential websites. If you can’t swing it right now, please don’t! And don’t worry about it. If you’re currently a member worried about your finances and a refund of this year’s membership amount would help out, send me an email and let’s make that happen. But if you find value in this site and can manage it, I’d appreciate you supporting the site with a membership, especially if you’re someone who values the switch to Bookshop.org and that the advertising on the site is both minimal and relevant. And if you’re already a member and want to remain so (or even to bump up your membership level), maybe log in to check your status — it’s easy for a credit card to expire and you miss the email…

For the past 7-8 years, this Weird Internet Career has felt precarious, dependent on the whims of massive companies that don’t give a shit about individual creators. Facebook and Google sucked up all the online advertising revenue several years ago, Amazon has marginalized their affiliate program, Medium has changed their business model more times than I can count, Substack is going to run out of VC money to spread around at some point, and…I could go on. These companies have also made decisions that have angered and harmed their customers, employees, publishers, and even democracy. None of this provides the stability that small sites like mine need to exist in the world. After five years of the membership program, five years of support from readers like you, this feels stable and sustainable. It feels real and good. Thanks for giving a shit.

Note: I’ve been writing some version of this post for five years now and there’s only so many ways to tell the same story, so I reused bits from last year’s post for this one. Just wanted to let you know in case you were feeling some deja vu.