So I don’t mind answering this stuff in the least, but it might be a bit of an overshare. I’m putting it behind spoiler tags because it’s not really pertinent to whether or not someone wants to support me. But for anyone who wants more specifics about what they’re paying into, I have no problem explaining it!
[spoiler]Suffice to say I make money from the site. Our server costs are more than paid, and they probably would be if I just ran a single Google banner ad. Instead, we have a total of two ads on the forum, which is the bulk of our traffic, and five (!) ads on the front page. The ad network gets half of that money. Half. Which seems like a lot, and it is. But it’s fair, because they’re out there selling ads specifically for gaming sites, sometimes specifically based on this site’s reputation, and sometimes at far better rates than I’d get from a blanket Google ad. The network is also very conscientious about non-annoying advertising (although there are occasional issues with mobile redirects that are hard to track down, which I find infuriating because that should never happen).
So although I could make more money with Google, I’d rather run a site that doesn’t annoy people. I’d rather avoid the headache of people thinking they’re getting malware from Google ads. I don’t want to run any advertising that prevents someone from coming back. Because I know what it’s like to go to a site, get some goddamn annoying pop-up ad or interstitial or audio blaring through my speakers, and decide to not even bother reading what I was going there to read, much less ever coming back. Also, dealing with Google is such a black box. We’ve been shut down before for barely specified violations of their terms of service. You get an email saying you’re cut off because of a certain rule. Then you have to track down where the rule has been violated! I come to find out it’s because there’s a potentially NSFW image someone flagged, or a drop down menu covers the edge of an ad, or someone clicked an ad 100 times or whatever. They’re so vague about these shutdowns, and I would be very nervous about having to count on Google’s non-existent interaction with the people who carry their ads.
So, all that said, I don’t make enough to, say, pay my rent. There is no way I can making a living based on what I earn from this site currently. Through 2014, I was been running on the income I made from the Sci Fi Channel before I lost that job at the very end of 2010. Since then – I feel a bit embarrassed saying this, but I suppose it’s fair to mention in a situation where I’m soliciting crowdfunding – what’s sustaining me is the donations I received from a GoFundMe campaign a friend of mine set up when I was diagnosed with cancer. That was such an incredible gift. It was like being blown backwards by an outpouring of generosity and sympathy and caring that I didn’t know existed to that degree. I was staggered. It made my life so much easier while I was dealing with this. But that was a year and a half ago, and I won’t be able to coast on it much longer. Hence the Patreon campaign and the attempts at video. Because otherwise, I would have to try to get a staff job somewhere, or maybe look for work as a producer in game development (shudder!), or a PR gig (quadruple shudder!).
In fact, Kotaku posted an opening for a staff writer last month. The recent push into video (which seems about as lucrative as podcasting…) and now the Patreon campaign is a direct consequence of me having to decide whether to apply for that position or continue to make a go of running Qt3. I decided to try this. Being a full-time writer with an actual job might not be awful, but I prefer what I do here.
And for what it’s worth, I don’t want anyone to read this as an ultimatum about whether Qt3 would still exist! This is a community that I will maintain so long as even one other person wants to come here to talk about games or movies or to post animated gifs to make us each smile.[/spoiler]
As for what you can give that might actually be useful, regular visits to the site without an adblocker are all I really ask. Barring that, a couple dollars a month on PayPal – although those jerks take, like, 40% for anything less than five bucks – or Patreon is fine if you want to tell me you’re using an adblocker without me making some dumbass passive-agressive attempt at a guilt trip. :) That said, we get about 500 registered accounts visiting every day. If each of those people gave $4, I would be able to make my living entirely running Qt3. So there’s a concrete number for you!
Anyway, sorry for the dump of personal info. But for anyone comfortable asking, I’m perfectly comfortable answering.