I love blogging.  I've been doing it for four years now.  Writing down stories and tips and code and trying to make them understandable to people who don't have my experiences, thoughts, biases, or emotions has made me a much more effective communicator and technical leader.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez / Unsplash

My blogging system (self-hosted Ghost, Digital Ocean, FeedBurner, and others) is pretty reliable, and I've gotten really good at managing it.

However, there are several problems with this setup:

  • I'm currently self-hosting Ghost on an Ubuntu DigitalOcean droplet, which is about the cheapest setup I could come up with.  I've borked my server several times while trying to make upgrades, and the restart process is a giant pain; let's not even talk about the time when I needed to change IP addresses and the blog took three weeks to recover. I am definitely not a Linux guy, and I find that I've caused more problems than I've solved recently.
  • I manage everything myself.  From the design (which is currently a modified version of Lyra, and before that a heavily modified version of StayPuft), to the feed, to the SEO, analytics, ads, promotion, everything.
  • Even with the excellent people at Carbon Ads and Buy Me a Coffee, I don't make enough money to keep this blog running the way I want it to.  Believe me, I hate having to say that because I don't want this whole issue to be about money, but this is the way it is right now.
  • I am thoroughly dissatisfied with my email service through FeedBurner.  (Yes, yes, I know it's free; that doesn't make it nice).  I use high-quality images on this site, and while that's great for the web readers, the email readers get left out in the cold with GIGANTIC images and tiny text.  I want this to change. But changing this requires a service such as Mailgun or MailChimp, and again, for my traffic those cost money.
  • I have been getting a TON of comment spam, mostly of the normal stealth advertising type but more lately a lot of hateful and abusive comments.  This surprised me, and I've been wracking my brain about what to do about it.

What I Want To Improve

In my ideal world, here's what I would like to change.

  • I want to move to GhostPro for my hosting.  To be perfectly honest, I want to have less time maintaining the blog and more time writing for it.  The problem is that, with my traffic, the Standard plan is what I would need, and I absolutely cannot afford that at the moment.
  • I want to have better, more readable emails for my readers who prefer that method.  The primary thing I want out of this blog is not information but readability; I do try to have my information present in a manner that is easily understood (as well as sample code that is easily read), and having good-quality emails goes a way toward that goal.
  • I want to have an option to get away from web ads, because I find them just as annoying as you all do.
  • I want to have a better filter over what gets put into the comments on my posts.
  • I would prefer to not have to rely on Buy Me A Coffee; the concept is excellent in theory, but "micropayments" like this are not sustainable in practice.

Introducing Subscriptions!

So, here's the real meat of this post: Today I am introducing a subscription option for Exception Not Found!

I want to emphasize option: I will never force you to pay in order to read my posts. In fact, here's some things that are not going to change.

  • I am not putting any already-published content behind a paywall. Everything I have already written will be free to all, forever.
  • I am not doing anything to my hosted code on GitHub. That code is free to use for any use, and will remain so. Any new hosted projects will also be free to use for any purpose in the future.
  • I am not going to force my readers to subscribe to read new content. You will have to wait longer after publishing, but all new posts will eventually be readable by everyone.

Subscription Benefits

That all said, there are some benefits to becoming a subscriber to this blog. Namely:

  • Access to new posts two weeks earlier.  Members can read the posts I write the moment they are published; everyone else will need to wait two weeks to read them.
  • No ads, ever.  You will not see any ads, whether they be from Carbon, Google, BuyMeACoffee, or other sources.  They won't even be rendered to the page. You're already supporting me; I don't need anything more from you, and I want you to enjoy my content with no distracting advertisements. In fact, if you encounter an ad while being a paid subscriber, and you report it to me (with screenshots), I will refund you for that month.
  • No "subscribe now!!!" popups, ever. I hate those things as much as you do.  The "subscribe" links and text will be as unobtrusive as possible.
  • Every time a post is published, I will send that post in its entirety in an email to all of my members.  (You can opt out of receiving these emails, if you wish.)
  • Access to comments.  Subscribers will be able to read the comments on all posts, as well as add their own. UPDATE: Comments are now free to all users, members or not.
  • Access to my eBook, "The Daily Design Pattern", which combines many of my blog posts and updates them to new examples and explanations for the Gang of Four design patterns.

I've got a lot in mind for benefits for my paid subscribers, and when more are ready, I'll be sure to let you all know!

Pricing

I've set subscription prices at $3/month and $30/year.  That means if you buy a year's subscription, you get two months free!

A Quick Note

Anything in this post is subject to change.  This is an experiment, one that I think will work, but I am willing to admit that it might not.  If my readership feels strongly enough about any of these changes, I am totally willing to consider their suggestions.  If you need to contact me, feel free to email me at exceptionnotfound1 at gmail dot com, contact me on Twitter, or use the comments on this page.

Balance

Something I would like my readers to remember: I am trying to strike a balance between wanting to upgrade my infrastructure and not annoying my readership. You guys are the reason I write this blog, and I want you to be able to read my content regardless of ability to pay.  But I do need to make upgrades, and as far as I can see this is the least annoying way to do that.

A final note: at this time, Ghost and Stripe only support United States Dollars ($) for subscriptions.  I apologies for the inconvenience this causes my non-American and worldwide readers.  They are working toward including other currencies, and as soon as they are available, I will include them in this process.

So, that's it!  Subscriptions are now open for business!  If you'd like to subscribe, click here or click the blue "Subscribe" button at the top of the page, and thank you very much for supporting me, this blog, and my projects!

Once again, thank you very much, dear readers, for being such an awesome community!  Happy Coding!

-Matthew