23-Apr-2017 (Sun) Wherein I don't know how to promote our Patreon.

Our Patreon has kinda stopped growing.

We have about 330 patrons who are donating a total of about $4k per month, which is amazing! I cannot thank you folks enough. But, you know, more would... help more. Lots of people signed up in January, but since the beginning of March, the number of patrons has stayed basically the same.

So, I need to promote it! Apparently the intrusive "donation" box that exists at the top of basically every page on the site isn't doing the job. (How annoying is that thing, anyway? A little, or super?)

So anyway, we need a poster, a slogan, and we need to run some ads.

But I'm completely at a loss for a slogan, or for a design for the poster. Maybe that's because the most boring possible slogan, "Support DNA Lounge", really is the ideal one, and I'm hoping in vain to come up with something more clever. But I still don't know what graphic to put on that other than our logo.

The ideal slogan would be something clever and pithy that says in three to five words, "Give us your money so that we can stay open and keep doing the kinds of things that you like".

Someone suggested the slogan, "Remember why you moved here?" and I loved that at first, until it was pointed out that it's easy for someone to self-consciously interpret that as an accusation along the lines of, "you don't go out any more so this is your fault". (Probably because they feel guilty about that very thing, but still.)

Got any ideas?

I suppose the Patreon page itself isn't terribly engaging, which might be a reason people aren't signing up? I rarely post there, because when I have something to say... I just post it here, on this blog. When I have something Patreon-specific to say, like this, it doesn't generally make sense to me to go out of my way to make it so that fewer people see it.

So I guess I could post blog entries there first, adding artificial scarcity, but that really rubs me the wrong way. I could cross-post to both, I suppose, but I would assume wouldn't people who are interested already read this blog by other means. I asked over on the Patreon what people thought about crossposting, and of the few who responded, most were against.

Also Patreon posts can't have arbitrary HTML and embedded images and so on (just one image at the top) so that's annoying.

Relatedly --

We have this "Street Team" Facebook group with a bit over a hundred members who have expressed their interest in helping out. We've taken almost no advantage of that. Every now and then at our staff meetings, I ask my managers, "Are any of these tasks something we could point some volunteers at?" and they always tell me no. I don't know how to get over that hurdle and say "yes" to these people who are offering to help.

I have this habit, you may have noticed, of writing really long posts here hitting like five different topics at once. I sit down to write one thing and then the floodgates open. Which is fine, I guess, except it makes these posts really long and probably hits the tl;dr limit of some people; and also it means that in the future when I link back to an old post, the part I want to link to is usually sandwiched between some irrelevant other stuff.

So I'm gonna try to stop doing that, cut this short, and save all the other stuff that I wrote for later.

But one last thing! We have two events coming up this week that I'm excited about: Astronomy on Tap on Tuesday: the first one was really fun! You like exoplanets. It's free, and it's an early show.

Then on Friday, Mercury Soul. The last one was a really interesting mix of dance music and modern classical, and Zoë Keating is performing at this week's installment -- she's fantastic.

Look at me promote. I'm promoting.

Hey, photos:

Gost + Zërowolf
X Marks the Spot
Future Holotape + Xenocircuit
Death Guild

36 Responses:

  1. Amy says:

    Stupid question, asking as an under threshold patreon, but are there any topics that you might be willing to rant about to us patreons only? If so, see if they're ones we'd like to read, and put up patreon only content?

    Totally understand if this is a no go, because it would be the artificial scarcity thing and extra work, but even though I don't make it out to DNA enough, I toss what little I can afford at you in part because I enjoy the blog and all the insight it gives into the way things run. The way you lay it all out, good and bad.

    I guess what I'm trying to say is I enjoy the hell out of the blog, and if it's not crazy to do so, would love to see supplemental content on the patreon.

    • jwz says:

      Well, I haven't thought of such a topic yet! Nothing has come up yet where it has seemed like telling fewer people about it was of more benefit. (Things that are actually secret aside, I mean.)

      • Alan Smithee says:

        "Well, I haven't thought of such a topic yet!"

        Well, perhaps you should think of one, or two, or several! You're a gifted storyteller. Why not customize a few anecdotes for your micro medicis? You know how this VIP shit works!

        Perhaps a spotlight on a different DNA-related employee or alum or promoter or band every month? Something written specifically for the Patreon site, and you can copy and paste a blurb from it wherever else you want, but to read it in full folks gotta click over to the Patreon?

        • jwz says:

          Again, that sounds like something that, once written, I would never intentionally share with fewer people than possible, because, what a waste. Artificial scarcity never sounds sane to me.

          • Alan Smithee says:

            It might not be sane, but it IS human nature to want to have a customized experience that makes ya feel all warm and speshal. So why not create an experience with your Patreon that feels like being invited onto a tour bus, or backstage, or into a VIP lounge? The kinds of conversations and experiences that happen in cozier spaces like those are invariably very different from the ones the general public does. This is absolutely an experience you can nurture for (and with!) your patrons.

          • Jason says:

            It doesn't have to make sense to you, it has to make sense to the people giving you money. And being an "insider" does all sorts of nifty things to a person's brain chemistry, including making them predisposed to giving you more money.

            One thing I've seen that works, with webcomickers at least, is sneak previews. Give a bit of cash a month, get tomorrow's comic today. The only extra work involved for the creator is uploading the image to Patreon. I could see the monthly spotlight working similarly. Make a special page on the DNA site for everyone to see, and Patrons get to read it a day or two early.

            It sounds like you're doing pretty well already but offering something in return, even if it's just early access to public info, may toggle some folks' thinking from "charity case" to "business transaction" (or even "privileged insider") and get them donating. I'd say it's worth a few months of experimenting, but it ain't my time on the line.

          • Shasta McNasty says:

            Maybe think of it this way. If DNA Lounge goes out of business, almost certainly fewer people will come to this blog. Fewer people will see what you write here --> real scarcity of DNA Lounge blog posts. So, a Patreon-specific artificial scarcity of DNA Lounge blog posts--if it actually increased the likelihood of keeping DNA Lounge afloat--would actually prevent a real scarcity of DNA Lounge blog posts.

            That's the touchy-feely version. The filthy lucre version is that artifical scarcity does seem to work--just ask DeBeers or Zynga. I consider myself a highly rational person and yet I have had my curiosity whetted with "first one's free" and gone on to spend real money scratching that itch. You're not forcing anyone to give you their money, they choose freely to purchase goods and services (or donate to your Patreon). That's capitalism. When in Rome, etc.

            Artifical scarcity: an insane business model for an unjust world (apologies to Sithrak)

          • Matt S Trout says:

            It would kinda be a waste. But maybe you can convince your brain that it's "waste, as in selling bottled water because money".

  2. Lloyd says:

    Possible slogan: You're in our DNA? Become a part of our DNA.

  3. nooj says:

    Post some tasks to your volunteers anyway? Who knows what they will be good at!

    I'm impressed your site works so well with both JS on or off! Basic tasks work perfectly fine, even with plain HTML!

    • nooj says:

      And wow, those are some great pictures of Gost! I was at the same show, and down with the plebs, even in the front row, my pictures are mere mortals compared to yours!

    • jwz says:

      You can accomplish a hell of a lot with CSS @media selectors without using Javascript. When I see a site that has a "mobile version" that doesn't use the exact same HTML as their "real version", I judge them. I judge them so hard.

  4. Commenter 2 says:

    “Help DNA Lounge stay open”?

  5. Legolas says:

    So sit down to write something here more often!

    Random slogan ideas: 'Become a benefactor', 'Patreons keep this place open' (variations: 'Benefactors ..', '.. alive'?)

    Volunteer team: Challenge your staff to come up with 1 thing for the volunteers each month (or even quarter)? (Are they afraid for their jobs maybe?) And give the example: you're asking for help here (for a slogan), have you asked there too (I don;t know, I'm not in that group)?

  6. Dan says:

    Your description of your writing style implies that you are in serious need of a copy editor that can take a single blog post and turn it into several articles. Your audience at DNA past and present is full of people with the skills to help you.

    • jwz says:

      I'm perfectly capable of doing that myself, I just don't usually think about it.

      • Dan says:

        Be capable of doing something and actually doing something are very different thing.
        For example, I am perfectly capable of cleaning my house but I pay someone to do it because otherwise I rarely do it on a regular enough basis to keep the other people in my life happy.

  7. Cookie Wolf says:

    "Give us more money, you bastards!"


  8. Chad D Altenburg says:

    I was thinking. And this is totally off topic. Maybe you should do what certain venues in San Francisco do, and like, during an event, have a young gal, who pretty much dresses like a hooker, walk around and try to sell people things like red bull, bottled water, or some flashy lights.

    I bet if you did this for an event like so stoked, like, half the teenage boys would buy stuff from this gal in an effort to get with her! You might think I'm joking, but I have seen places successfully pull this off.

    And don't worry, even if you blow this off as a stupid idea, I'll still stop by DNA Pizza on 11th st to buy a slice of pizza.

  9. ryanm says:

    "Monoculture is death, fight for genetic diversity"

  10. nooj says:

    I prefer the choice of collecting a bunch of irreverent, off-the-cuff phrases a la the "EXERCISE VAGUE CAUTION" tags, and use a different slogan every day for your ads and banners.

    I'll get you started on a few:

    "DIY Disorderly House, Contrary to the Public Welfare and Morals"

    "Give me money, because if I lose my job, I'm coming for you!"

    "Contribute to our Kick-in-the-Head-Starter, starring Ed Gruberman"

    "Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones told me to become a veterinarian and I hate spiders" (fun story)

    "Today only! 10% discount on our Patreon!"

  11. I'm only here for the blog, so I don't even see the "SUPPORT DNA LOUNGE!" donation box on the page. I disabled my ad blocker on dnalounge.com, but even that didn't reveal the donation box on the blog. So perhaps add it to the top of blog pages?

    I do think that the screen real estate taken up by the donation box (on non-blog pages) is significant. Can you tighten it up into a vertical height equal to about two lines of text? I also think it too easily blends into the rest of the flow. So I guess a combination of smaller but more visually grabbing might work better?

    How about some A/B testing? Have various randomly chosen formats for the donation box and see which gets more donations or click-throughs? And then combine that with humor...

    Much humor. Especially insider humor. You're good at it. Use it here. "Help prevent the grim meathook future. Support DNA lounge!" "The ABC does not want you to click this image!" "Support our house of ill repute!" "DNA OMG WTF BBQ! (The BBQ is a lie.)" And oh god oh god oh god come up with a graphic like an old "Netscape Now!" throbber; spin that green logo beyond a vague black horizon and add some "DNA Lounge NOW (or never)" text. Most of my personal brand of humor is based on annoying, absurd call-backs of inside jokes... and I still have friends that call me to hangout and stuff. You can be annoying as long as it is silly and funny. QED

  12. greatevil says:

    Some content creators like Kerby Meets Audio do giveaways that are only open to Patrion members. Free tickets, week long passes etc could be raffled off monthly to the people who donated for the month. Low cost to the club but sane value to the patrions.

    Some others do hangouts once a month. Funny part is the content creators don't need to do a lot of the talking, apparently people end up talking among themselves just as much.

  13. Keiko Takamura says:

    ATTN: musically inclined people with recordings of their own music

    I am still collecting music for the DNA Patreon

    Deetz here: https://twitter.com/KeikoTakamura/status/822148796851232768

  14. andrew says:

    Can you link the Patreon to drink specials? For example, offer a super-special-exclusive cocktail at a standard price to just Patreon supporters, but $20 to nonmembers? (They'd need to show a card or something.) That way you can promote this (artificially scarce) thing as a reason to sign up.

    Just thinking about what would make me sign up if I hadn't already.

    • jwz says:

      We're not giving Patreon perks that have monetary value, because it's not a Groupon. I explained the thought process behind this in the "But what's in it for me?" section on the Patreon page.

  15. David Kaye says:

    It's funny; there's always a lot of talk about doing something "special" and creating an in-group one way or another. But isn't the whole idea of the Patreon site as well as the whole Save DNA campaign to bring people TOGETHER instead of making certain people "special"? We don't need more classism; we need less, unnerstand? As for me, my regular contribution to DNA is going in for an occasional drink and many pizza slices at both locations.

  16. k3ninho says:

    There must be a better version of "Have DNA throughout your body but can't bring your body to our parties? Support our Patreon!"


  17. DDB says:

    Rockpapershotgun.com, who are a games publication that is actively not terrible, do the "early access to posts" artificial scarcity thing and I think it works. Then again, they publish a lot (since their blog is not a sideline for their actual work).

  18. Kitty says:

    Have a Patreon level where you do a Skype call with supporters who pledge at that level, chat with them, spitball ideas for posts / podcasts around, then you write the post / podcasts, and make them available to Patreon subscribers for a limited time before they go public.

    Paying for early access for content that is later made freely available works for one large community-led site I know. If you want to see some numbers, mail me & I will go and talk to them about getting some released for you to have a look at.

  19. Ronald Pottol says:

    What about show your card to the bartender, get served in a blatantly marked cup? Same drink, only some status to people who see you with the cup?