One of the big reasons I'm moving over to Ghost is so I can invite people to support what I'm doing. Here's how I'm offering pay-what-you-want supporter memberships

Photo by Patrick Tomasso / Unsplash

One of the big reasons I'm moving over to Ghost is so I can invite people to support what I'm doing. One big difficulty I've found with a lot of platforms is that they have very fixed ideas about how and why you would do that; ideas which don't fit with mine. Here's how I'm offering pay-what-you-want supporter memberships.

Why this way?

Firstly, I know that not everyone can financially contribute, and I don't want someone to be prevented from seeing something that helps them because they can't. So the vast majority of my stuff will be available for free, as always.

Secondly, I know that different people have different amounts of money for any of my work, and so like much of what I do, memberships are on a pay-what-you-want (or at least as close to it as I can get) basis.  So each of the paid support tiers are the same, apart from the amount people pay. In the long run, I hope Ghost just adds true PWYW pricing for subscriptions, though.

What do people get?

What, if not special content, do paid members get? The way I see it, people willing to sign up for paid memberships are most invested in seeing more of my work in the future. It's a big part of any supporter/patron model. So paid members can contribute to the direction of things I'm working on; informing topics, suggesting questions to ask upcoming delightful dissent guests, and giving priority to new updates and features on the website. I'm also going to be hosting monthly "office hours" sessions to chat with members.

A big part of what I'm doing differently this time around is sharing what I'm working on whilst I'm working on it. I know loads of people who have great ideas to share but struggle to get them out there. I hope that by sharing some of the stuff I've picked up along the way - and some of the dead-ends - more voices can be heard. If you're interrsted in more detail about plans and what I'm doing next, you can keep track of everything on my Github project page.

What I've done

There's two separate parts to this process. The first is setting up Ghost so that it can take payments. Ghost has built-in integration with Stripe, so I'm using that to manage it all. If you're using Stripe for other things already, like I was, you might want to create another account under your main Stripe login. That not only makes it easier to see where different income is from, but it also means that Ghost can only see and interact with data from Ghost, not from elsewhere.

The second part is to set up the different tiers in for people to become members.

Ghost needs a little tweaking to support the PWYW model a bit better; turning off the annual, discounted memberships. The normal model is to offer people a discount for signing up for longer, but that doesn't really make sense with PWYW. You can make that by going to Portal Settings on the Memberships settings page, and unticking the "yearly" membership option.

The second part is actually setting up the tiers. Normally, I'd like to give people free choice about pricing their choose, but as Ghost doesn't support that (yet?), I've decided to make three pricing tiers with the same benefits and access. Whilst offering more might help cover a few more use-cases, it could get confusing.

Note: Have a think about the kind of pricing you're expecting. Take a look at other, similar sites and see if it compares, and if you think it's reasonable based on what you know about your supporter community. Do bear in mind that you'll not get the whole amount paid, as there are card processing fees, and those can take up a lot of very small (less than £2 or so) donations. If you're in this situation, consider asking for annual memberships instead.

Once you've created your tiers, head back to the Portal Settings page to enable the new tiers, and to see a preview of what your page signups will look like. You're ready to start getting paid supporter memberships!

There are two further optional-but-recommended steps to make sure that subscribers have a good experience. The first is to make sure that you've covered your membership policies in your legal stuff - terms and conditions and privacy notice. The second is to give people a nice landing page once they've subscribed with clear steps about all the new things they can do.

Once you've done all that, you're ready to go ahead and start sharing more of your stuff. Good luck! And if you want to see what my subscriber stuff looks like, hit the "subscribe" button on this page. And perhaps even consider signing up yourself.