Hi everyone! I get a fair number of questions from friends, acquaintances, and internet followers on how I got started with A Lesbian And Her Laptop, what it takes to start a blog, and how I get paid. So, I thought I’d put together a quick and easy guide based on my journey: missteps and transparencies included! A huge part of keeping this blog afloat has been with the use of Ko-Fi, a crowdfunding platform for creators, without which I probably would’ve dropped AL&HL years ago.
A Lesbian And Her Laptop: A Brief History
I started this blog back in 2017 after getting my bachelor’s degree in writing and film. I took that summer off to travel and enjoy life while my girlfriend visited the US for the first time, and I wanted to keep my writing skills and passion well-practiced.
I did some digging on blogging, if I could make money off of it, what to expect. I learned that picking a niche for the blog was a must (if you couldn’t tell, my blog is about the Queer Experience), and that I needed to dedicate a lot of time to make blogging a sustainable career.
It’s been a handful of years and I’m here to tell you that my blog is not a sustainable source of income, but it is one of the many income streams I have in my freelance writing career. Like many creatives, I didn’t have the luxury to spend a year writing and developing content that I care about without having to worry about other financial responsibilities. However, I did have the privilege to live at home with my parents for the majority of that time and find part-time contract work allowing me to work from home and still have time to dedicate to the blog. But even with that cushion, balancing work for pay and work for “fun” led to easy burnout.
Ko-Fi and Patreon: Blogging Income Streams
When researching how to make money off my blog, Ko-Fi and Patreon were both obvious options. I also looked into affiliate links, WordAds, and other advertising options.
I learned that I needed more than triple my readership to make anything more than a dollar a month. Right now, A Lesbian And Her Laptop gathers about 3-6k views per month, and after two years, my WordAds collection total is less than $3. What you Make from WordAds depends on a lot of varying factors, but I expect unless my views grow ten-fold, I won’t be counting on WordAds for much income at all.
Essentially, I (correctly) assumed that advertisers wanted little to do with my readers. At the time, I published mainly posts about how I met my girlfriend, and everything else followed very closely to my personal experience. My writing here held little “commercial” quality. AL&HL wasn’t a lifestyle blog, it wasn’t a place quick tips or “how tos.” A Lesbian And Her Laptop just served as a place for other queers to feel understood, and that’s always remained my top priority for AL&HL.
Even though my readership was small, they reached out to me a lot on Twitter, telling me how much a particular post meant to them. And I knew a past version of myself needed a place like this to find my footing. A creator-focused funding option works perfect for such situations. I knew that a version of myself with money would want to donate to something like this.
Patreon & Ko-Fi
I have both for A Lesbian And Her Laptop, and I plan to keep it that way, as they both provide different yet valuable ways to stream money in. Ko-Fi’s process is much simpler, requires much less setup and thinking, and I got started with Ko-Fi right away. Once you connect PayPal or Stripe with the Ko-Fi account, you can start receiving money from anyone who donates.
With Patreon, I put considerable time into developing different “tiers” for subscribers to my page. Patreon’s system runs primarily on monthly subscribers to your content, which can be difficult for blogger because a lot of times that can mean creating additional written content on top of your regular blogs. In attempt to fuel other tiers, I’ve ordered branded bookmarks and buttons, offered special blog topic choices, promised updates on my book-writing journey, and more. And while Patreon has the great benefit of loyal followers and consistent pay based on subscription commitments, it does take more energy to maintain well, whereas Ko-Fi is always ready to collect donations without any effort on your part aside from linking followers to your page.
How Ko-Fi Works
- tip jar
Ko-Fi has a lot of options available to supporters. First and foremost, Ko-Fi works like a tip jar, allowing supports to give one-time donations at the default of $3. But on top of that, supporters can also commission artists on personal pieces. For me, that comes in the form of advice blogs, particular content reviews, and other blog posts on hand-picked topics. In addition, Ko-Fi lets users set up a shop. There, I sell stickers and mini-badges with my blog logo.
Perhaps my favorite feature of Ko-Fi is the “goals” display, which lets users post a goal on their page, describing what the Ko-Fi money will be used for, how much money total the user needs, and the percentage collected towards the goal so far. I use this for everything I need to buy blog-related, including website hosting, book funds, postage for shop items to keep international shipping costs down, etc.
Ko-Fi Gold Benefits
About a year into using Ko-Fi, I purchased a Ko-Fi Gold membership (which was paid for by Ko-Fi donations). The Gold-level platform allows donors to subscribe to monthly payments (just like Patreon, but without the commitment to creating monthly content), which is the single-best feature of Ko-Fi Gold. As a freelancer working with fluctuating clients, having a number I can count on each month is incredibly important, even when the number is low. But between Patreon and Ko-Fi Gold subscribers, I at least know my phone bill is getting paid every month, and that’s a big deal when it comes to budgeting.
How I Use Ko-Fi to Make Money
Essentially, I link my Ko-Fi page any place it seems relevant. It’s linked on this website, at the end of every blog, in my Twitter bio, in my Patreon, etc. Anytime I work in collaboration with an organization or with other writers, I ask to have my Ko-Fi link included. When I’m involved in LGBTQ+ writing spaces, I share my Ko-Fi page like it’s a personal social media account. It took me a while to get used to “pushing” my Ko-Fi page, but the reality is that writing is work. There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be paid for that. People have the opportunity to thank you for what you write. That’s a choice they can make; you aren’t guilting anyone by merely posting your Ko-Fi page. I never expect donations; I simply appreciate it anytime someone donates.
That being said, I like to use three particular yearly markers to push AL&HL’s Ko-Fi page a little extra hard:
- My birthday
- Lesbian Visibility Day
- Pride Month
A $3 birthday present is a great way for people to post “Happy Birthday” on your Facebook page and actually mean it. The other two days–okay sure, maybe I’m playing at cisgender heterosexual guilt a little bit. But it’s not MY fault if they feel guilty. I get $3; they get to feel like a good ally to the community. It’s a win-win.
How Ko-Fi Kept my Blog Alive
Over the years, Ko-Fi funded plenty of essentials for blogging. It directly funded upgrading the blog’s WordPress package, paid for my Ko-Fi Gold membership, gave me the funds to buy wrist brace supports and a new inhaler when mine expired, helped me buy a new laptop when mine stopped working, and I even made a few student loan bill payments from my Ko-Fi funds.
Even though I still take unscheduled (and if I’m being honest, unprofessional) blogging breaks from A Lesbian And Her Laptop due to working on other (guaranteed paid) projects, having Ko-Fi behind AL&HL makes prioritizing content a possibility. It’s not always at the top of the list, but it gets to be there. I’m 26 years old, launching my freelance writing/editing career, and I still get to keep this blog I created fresh out of my undergrad because of Ko-Fi.
I struggled to pay the few bills I had (the largest of which being my student loan repayments) during 2019-2020, and without my supporters on Ko-Fi, I simply would’ve had multiple late payments. I’ve dealt with anxiety all my life and ran into the most issues with it during that period. I struggled to find the confidence for stable work, I needed keep my work-at-home path so I could still see my partner once a year without losing my job and starting over, and those factors made finding work (and paying bills) really hard. With Ko-Fi and with the reader support I had for A Lesbian And Her Laptop, I made it through. Ko-Fi support allowed me to keep writing, keep creating, keep filling this gap in LGBTQ+ content that connects most strongly with young queer people. And Ko-Fi still allows me to do so do this day.
I feel exceptionally grateful that Ko-Fi and my supporters helped me through such difficult times. I expect finances to remain a challenge for most of my life (I still have thousands of loan repayment to go and my partner still lives abroad! [place sob emoji here]), but Ko-Fi’s support came to me at a point in my life that set me on the path of following my dreams. Now, I have stable clients, I work from home, I create my own schedule, I don’t live with my parents anymore. Money is still tight, but I have confidence to keep growing and expanding. Because of the support for A Lesbian And Her Laptop during those few years, I kept creating. I kept writing. I kept blogging. Without the support, I wouldn’t have been able to do that. I owe AL&HL to the people who propped me up then.