(I initially wrote this over at our forums, which is over at dunesteef.freeforums.org, but I thought I'd repost it here, so all my rambling wouldn't only be witnessed by the three users not checking those boards at 5K marathon rest stops.)
I'm not sure if it's obvious, but I really hate asking for donations on the show. Partly, it's my personality. It feels to me a little like like begging for money on a streetcorner, or at least asking a girl out on a date (repeatedly), and I'm no good with that. In my day to day life, I find it incredibly difficult to ask people for money (or sexual intercourse, but I think that topic's been covered).
The other reason, though, is that I often hear it on other podcasts: the obligatory plea for fan support. I know it's obligatory because it FEELS obligatory, as vital a part of their shows as a commercial break on television:
"Please give us money to pay our authors and cover our hosting costs!"
"Please vote for us in the Parsec Awards (or Hugo awards)!"
"Please give us five stars on I-Tunes or Podcast Alley!"
"Please tell your friends about us!"
"Please, please, please, let me get what I want. God knows it would the first time."
When I hear the way the other shows so shamelessly whine about needing money (jeez, there was one who said, "Look, we only got $100 in donations in the last two months. If we get even one more month with that little listener support, we're gonna have to quit doing the show." It repulsed me more than any "Me love you long time" prostitute spiel because it not only had no dignity, but Big and I would be dancing a merry Irish jig with KISS makeup on if we ever got $100 in donations), I shudder and/or roll my eyes. Because I could never do that. I could never come on that strong, hammer it home in such an uncreative, pontificating way, or act like somebody owed me money for the show that I do.
Instead, I've always tried making it funny. "Now's the time to BEG for donations!" "What, Bullwinkle, again? That trick never works." I try to make a mockery of the process, and switch it up every time. And my guess is that they're never funny (mostly because it's a drudgery, and it's hard to be funny when you're doing something against your will), not in the way that other parts of the Dunesteef might be.
I realize it's important to ask for donations. And that there are new listeners every couple of shows, who haven't heard that a free podcast isn't really free. But I simply won't read the same scripted thing every week (unless it's as a joke), and Big and I will even switch up what Announcer Man says at the end of every episode (hope you've noticed).
It's hard, though. Hard to humble myself and say, "We need your help. Don't make us pay for the show out of Big's pocket. We rely on your generosity to be able to buy Catastrophe Baker and Popoca and CHEMO and butthelmet-sorcerer-scorpion stories. Obi-Wan Kenobi, you're my only hope."
But do I really have a choice? I mean, we NEED donations to stay afloat. Big takes care of the financial upkeep of the site and podcast and payments, and he has more money problems than Peter Parker. Big constantly tells me he wants to pay the authors more (and he feels that the higher the payment, the higher-caliber of writers will submit, whereas I think we have pretty great writers now, and paying them more will just get us more submissions), and the only way to do that is to get the fans to toss us a few bucks now and then. If just a handful of people subscribe to that monthly/quarterly thing, we stay afloat.
We've got the whole incentive episode scam--er, service as well, which I think is a good idea, since I enjoy producing my own stories almost as much as Well-Told Tales used to, but Big thinks that is a case of diminishing returns. So what else can we do? Do listeners hate the pleas for donations as much as I hate asking for them? Do people even listen all the way to the end of the show? Is my way truly better than the shows that have a script they read from every week, asking people to send them money?
I don't know. Do you?
Rish "The Scrounge" Outfield