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Can a Blogger Live off Donations?

Jason Kottke reflects on the year that he asked his readers to support him through donations in a post titled Oh, what a year. His three week fund drive earned $39,900 from 1450 donations.

Is he going to do it again?

‘I’m not going to be asking for contributions again. Part of it has to do with the reasons outlined at the bottom of this post. I haven’t grown traffic enough or developed a sufficient cult of personality to make the subscription model a sustainable one for kottke.org…those things just aren’t interesting to me.’

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Comments

  1. If everyone who read my site actually made a donation, I’d have about $40,000 as well. Unfortunately, the response rate is about 1% or so.

    This just means I need to be about 100 times bigger. :)

  2. As someone that moved to online-only work after almost ten years in public radio, I can assure you that fund drives are no fun. However, I think there’s a bright spot that Jason’s moving on because his interest is shifting elsewhere, not because there was a paucity of support.

  3. kioshi says:

    Oh I’d love that. I have been sick for 1 year, unable to work (I am a doctor) and since then I’ve been making all kind of websites to try to earn something via adsense or so. I spend 16 hours/day online (I can’t go anywhere anyway) trying to post useful content (not those hateful splogs), never asked for donations, but I guess I’m just not good at attracting traffic except for my Brazilian sites – and here in Brazil most people do not even know about Paypal and stuff.

    This guy is lucky. He must have had a good reason to ask for donations (I’ll still read it), but I don’t think many people can pull this out, whatever the motive.

    Cheers!

  4. mark says:

    wow, just wow! His readers are quite generous indeed.

  5. A.H says:

    I love kottke.org, it’s one of the blogs i really have joy in reading. Not especially because of the content itself (it’s not bad), But because of the way it’s laid…and the wonderful design of course =)

    A.H

  6. Victor says:

    That’s incredible. Unless I had a very good reason to, I’m not sure I’d be comfortable asking for money from readers (not that I’d get much at this point anyway).

    $40k in 3 weeks..*one can dream I suppose*

  7. Steve says:

    Although I don’t know for sure what his traffic is like, based on his Alexa chart compared to my own, and looking at my own adsense earnings, I’m sure that if he’d taken the “evil” step of adding adsense and maybe an affiliate program or two to his site at the beginning of last year, he probably could have doubled his income.

  8. Stephen says:

    Hey Peter, why don’t you just plug your site again, in case we missed it first time? Sheesh, talk about off topic.

  9. Darren Rowse says:

    Peter’s comments were deleted for being a little too much like spam for my liking.

  10. Dave Starr says:

    This is indeed an interesting subject. My first line of thought is always (as many have said) donations are something I wouldn’t care to ask for.

    However, since the blogging community is rather new and tends to be close-knit, I wonder how many have happened upon two other “blogs” that have shaped many of my online experiences, some since the earliest days of the ‘Net.

    Dr. Jerry Pournelle has written a magazine column for Byte Magazine in it’s various incarnation for well over 20 years. He put a ‘Day Book’ on line many. many years ago and has always asked for contributions .. which he certainly gets. His site stylizes itself ‘the original blog’. Jerry’s been ‘blogging’ since before most modern day bloggers were even born.

    Robert Bruce ‘Bob’ Thompson is a writer of computer books and he has had a somewhat traditional daily journal on line since long before the word ‘Blog’ was coined. He operates on the two stage model, free basic service to all, ‘extras’ to paid subscribers.

    There are others successful publishing for donations since long before we had defined a blog (oh, have we done that yet? ;-))

  11. butlimous says:

    I think it not easy at all to convince people to donate for a blogger so a blogger can’t definitely live of donations! Thanks for writing

  12. liz wolf says:

    i think it can’t hurt to ask! I’m sure there’s a way, probably have even read about it (not paypal) where you can just throw a penny or two someone’s way. it would have to be easy. I’d don’t know, just a newbie. Sometimes it seems if it is really quick and easy I’d be more likely to do it. sort of like a tip jar.

  13. Kathy Lester says:

    I have a tip jar on my site and have not received any donations. What did he say to cause people to give him almost $40,000?

  14. Unfortunately for me, I haven’t gotten any donations.

    Of course, I enjoy sharing what I know with my readers and will continue to do so with or without donations. But it would be a nice thing indeed to get some kind of help in this way as I try not to use any other means to incur money on my blog; I want to keep it free from advertising. Yet, I really could use some help to pay for my bills as I am going through a hard time right now.

    Nevertheless, whatever happens, I will continue to blog for as long as I am able to. And I will continue to give my readers my best!

    Blessings to you…

  15. I don’t know about how anyone else feels, but I don’t think I could accept donations to my blog without providing something exceptional. The beauty of blogging is that it shares ideas with other people and I could not accept payment from that. Adsense and affiliates on the other hand :)