Rethinking the membership model…

Banking on generosity

When Medium rolled out memberships, they suggested this really cool idea: They suggested providing ‘perks’ in the form of premium content to members. Everyone else gets the ‘other stuff’. You know, the ‘free stuff’.

At first glance, this made sense. But after launching it, something in me just felt… ‘off’. Something just wasn’t sitting right.

Here’s the thing…

I’m not liking the idea of so many people who’ve supported this publication over the years not being able to access certain things, just because they don’t contribute financially…

So, I turned to one of my early internet heroes, Maria Popova over at BrainPickings as a shining example. Maria has one of the most popular sites on the internet (6–7 million visitors a month and is included in the Library of Congress permanent web archive). She posts incredibly well-researched and thoughtful articles 3 times a day, every weekday. It’s her thing and she does incredible work.

The only way she can do what she does is through paid supporters since the last thing she wants on her site are lame ads (which she could easily make a ton of easy money from). As a reader, she can’t stand ads (and a good writer thinks of the reader first). The monthly fees for the maintenance of her website alone, I’m sure, cost many times my rent. But she doesn’t give those paid supporters extra goodies while the rest of her audience gets less. No… She uses her patron’s support to provide the whole world with extra goodies. And they come in droves.

This is the true spirit and value of patronage...

Here’s my art. If you want to see this thing last and if you want to see it get better over time, consider throwing me some bread.

So here’s what I’ve decided to do…

All content on Higher Thoughts will remain open to everyone. Whether you support me financially or not, you’ll see both the daily posts as well as serialized content and everything else I plan on doing in 2017 as soon as it hits the interwebs.

Essentially, I’m bearing it all and saying, “If you dig this publication, please throw in a few bucks to keep the lights on and the wheels moving (you know, like the offering basket at church). But if not — you’re just as welcome as everyone else to hang out here, so make yourself at home.”

That said, here’s my current statement on memberships:

❤️ Supporting = Loving ❤️
Higher Thoughts remains free (and ad-free) and takes a lot of time and love every month to sustain. If you find any joy and value in what I do, please consider becoming a Patron and supporting with a recurring monthly donation of somewhere in the neighborhood between a taco and a good dinner.

I create here to get these words out into the world so they can spread. If I lock my best content down to only members, it stops far short of where it has the potential to go and dies before making the full impact that it can make.

Right now, I’m doing a series based on the Lord’s Prayer every Thursday that I hope you’re enjoying (check it out here if you haven’t seen it yet).

Thank you all so very much for your love and support. I’m blessed to have such generous readers. Everything I do here is for you. I’d be talking into a black hole if it wasn’t for your attention — something I’ll never take for granted.

This is my last letter about membership for awhile. I’ll be sending one more Higher Thoughts newsletter at the end of the month with a yearly wrap-up and some announcements for the year to come. Until next time, be well. I hope the love in your home shines bright this holiday season.

As Ever,

P.S. If you care to subscribe via email to get my microsermons in your inbox every day to enjoy with your coffee, click here.