Tip Off

The sidebar of my home page shows a tip jar, and if one should click on it, it’s possible to leave a donation. The icon was created and installed as a gift by a woman I’d only ever met online; it was truly a case of the kindness of strangers. (Visit this wonderful blogger, writer and kind stranger here.) I’d long wanted a simple means by which folks could leave the smallest amount in exchange for the enjoyment of reading – the cost of a cup of coffee – something I myself would happily offer to a friend. Something simple, something that wouldn’t be of any great hardship to most folks. My goals were always what I believed to be realistic; I never held out hopes for a great stream of income here – but that I can count on one hand the number of gifts I’ve received through the jar (minus a thumb, that is) during the eight months or so that it’s been up. And that has been surprising. Now you four kind folks who have left something there (and given far more than I ever intended when I had the vehicle installed) know who you are. While simple thanks aren’t really enough, I’ve conveyed my gratitude, and please know that I’m still thankful.

While I have never been so naive as to expect to generate a stream of income from this blog – I do admit that I’d secretly hoped to buy a box of printer paper, pay something towards the month’s electric bill or fill the tank in my car just once with some blog-related proceeds. But aside from the gifts of those four generous and kind friends, not a penny has found its way into the jar. I’d hoped to make it as easy as possible for folks to leave a quick dollar or some pocket change (while keeping in mind that Mr. Paypal still finds his way to 2.9% of the donation plus 30 cents per transaction. Sigh). I’m not good at talking about money, it makes me slightly uncomfortable. My folks came from a culture where it was not spoken of. Maybe it’s helped contribute to the situation I’m in now, I don’t know. What I do know is that I am good at living frugally, but still I’m beginning to wish that my writing might net me something by way of a modest economic return. I write cuz it’s what I do… but still.

I think the expected return on a direct mail campaign is something like 2% – and that might even be ambitious. But the thousand or so subscribers to this blog are not merely random recipients of an ad insert. I know folks aren’t checking in with us here at The Hillhouse the way they are with the trendy Downton Abbey or their beloved Facebook feeds, but the readership does continue to grow – while the pot does not.

The health of my tip jar won’t in any way affect the content of my writing. I’m clearly not motivated by generating income here, but given the hours I have spent at my craft, I sure wouldn’t mind some return on the investment. But, as I said in the very beginning, I’m not here with any expectations. That I have a thousand followers is, in of itself, rather unbelievable to me. Some days it’s what helps motivate me to get out of bed. Other days I think it might be in part responsible for my resurfaced panic attacks. !! Either way, the idea of each visitor leaving a dollar in my virtual jar gives me a tiny thrill… Can you imagine? Wow. That would take care of the electric bill for a couple of months! Lest I appear to be using flagrant passive-aggressive techniques here, let me clearly state my hopes for the future of our tip jar in no uncertain terms:

Dear Readers,

If you’ve enjoyed reading of our adventures here at The Hillhouse, I hope you’ll please consider leaving a donation in the tip jar on a future visit.

My deepest appreciation for your continued friendship and emotional support!


A Post Script: In an effort to keep this issue living and relevant, I may re-post this or another such reminder from time-to-time. Please do tell me if and when it should become too tedious. Let’s hope it becomes effective long before we reach that point. !!

5 thoughts on “Tip Off

  1. I feel ya. I have a digital tip jar at my web site where I also have 29 albums worth of music available for downloading free or with a donation. I’ve had it up for many years now…probably 8 or 9. In that time I’ve received 101 donations for a grand total of just under $2,000, which averages to a little more than $200 a year. Some of those tips are from the same people, supportive friends who like what I’m doing with my life. Very grateful for that support because net content is widely considered to be free and people feel entitled to it for nothing. I think of a dollar in internet tip money as really about 20 bucks in “poet money”. ;~) It’s strange…I have people who are friends of mine, who come to my gigs or pass by when I’m playing outdoors, people who smile, “like” the music, who have money, but who won’t even toss a buck in my tip jar. Strange world we live in…Anyway, I enjoy your blog and I support what you’re doing so…I’ll go make another donation. ;~) GB

  2. oh dear, Gene. I’m not sure I feel so good about a donation from YOU! sheesh – we’re in the same boat!!

    Yeah, I watch the folks on the street when Elihu busks – many are generous (the cute kid thing almost always works regardless), but then there are some people who look quite well-off who stop to listen, enjoy his playing and even chat about how good he is, and then…. nada. They just walk away. ! I don’t think ‘these folks’ understand 1) the hours behind the work or 2) that it is a (special) product worthy of a price. They just kinda don’t think at all. Maybe all they need is a new perspective on things. It’s worth pointing out to folks from time to time; if nothing else, just to get em thinking.

    Ok, now do I feel good or guilty about you? argh. xoxox

    1. Naaah…no need to feel guilty…I tip all my friends who do good work. What goes around comes around. GB

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