Patreon is Replacing the Premium Membership Program

For a long time now, I have had a “Premium Member” program for folks who wanted to help support the site. It has proven to be a bit clumsy for me to manage, and I was not able to secure the shooting industry discounts and special offers that I was hoping would make it a big success and a good investment for you guys. So, as of today I am closing it down and replacing it with a Patreon account. Patreon is a central hub for crowdfunding creative projects like Forgotten Weapons, and it will handle all the administration so I can spend my time on guns.

A little over 6 and a half years ago, I registered the web site ForgottenWeapons.com and created my first online repository of firearms information. It was a pretty small site at that time, with mostly archival photos from the Aberdeen Proving Grounds.

About 5 years ago, I took the next step and relaunched the site as a regularly-updated blog. This then became a more significant endeavor, posting new content 6 days/week. From the beginning, the focus has been on rare and unusual firearms, the more mechanically diverse the better. I have touched on common guns as well intermittently, as it is essential to have an understanding of the common guns in order to understand the development that went into them and their offshoots.
My private goal from the very beginning of this project has been to create a comprehensive encyclopedia of firearms development. That is such a Quixotic goal that I don’t generally mention it, but the project has grown so far beyond any of my expectations in the past years that my impossible goal looks a bit less impossible these days. It is still a lifetime’s work at least, but I can’t imagine anything I would rather be doing.

DOLLARS, CLAMS, ONIONS, BUCKS, DUBLOONS, AND GREENBACKS

Of course, it takes money to do. From basic things like paying for food and rent and insurance to supplying obscure ammunition for shooting to the much more significant costs of traveling to the museums and private collections where the rare and unique guns are housed. Thus far, I have funded my work with video advertisements on YouTube and Full30, and with the help of a couple sponsoring companies. However, my work is distinct from the vast majority of firearms media in that I rarely look at guns which are actually in production – and that really limits the possibility of finding corporate sponsors.

On the other hand, that limitation is also a blessing in disguise as it prevents me from coming under the editorial control of any corporate overlord. On those occasions when I do discuss modern guns, I can say the truth as I see it without looking over my shoulder and worrying about the consequences of not properly buttering up any company. I cherish that independence, and I will not give it up.

So what is the best way to fund an endeavor like Forgotten Weapons in today’s world? Advertising has been the standard answer for a long time, largely because of simple carryover from places like television and print media. The Internet changes things, however. The Internet allows us to find any information we like without the overhead of printing presses or a finite number of cable channels. The potential audience for any information is unlimited, and that offers the prospect of sustainable micropayments. Having our daily lives flooded with advertisements is not a good thing, it’s just the system we are most acclimated to. I think that a tiny amount of support from a huge number of people is a far better system, and Patreon looks like a way to achieve that model.

MY PROPOSAL

From the very first HTML web site, I have had a policy that there will never be a paywall in front of Forgotten Weapons. First and foremost, my goal is to create a public archive of this information, and a paywall is anathema to that.

If you enjoy what I am creating and curating here at Forgotten Weapons, this is a way you can contribute a buck a month to ensure that it keeps happening. If you want to contribute more that’s wonderful – but a buck a month is all I am asking for. If there are enough people who find value in the work, that will be plenty sufficient to keep it alive and vibrant.

Most Patreon creators offer a handful of different perks to entice people to donate more. I am not doing that, for two main reasons. First, I don’t want to make special content accessible only to people who have paid – that goes against the “free and public” foundation of the endeavor. Second, I want to focus my time on the guns and history which are the whole point of Forgotten Weapons, rather than devote time to what are basically marketing gimmicks. You came here (presumably) because you like what I am doing already, so more (and better!) of that is what I am offering you. If the broad-based support is there, it will allow me to start traveling more, and visit some of the really unique collections in factories, museums, and private hands in Europe and beyond.

I am grateful to the cadre of folks who joined the Premium Member’s group – thank you all! If you would like to continue to support my work, please consider going over to Patreon and signing up for a $1/month contribution. I am not sure what I will be doing with the Members’ forum; I will post in there in a day or two and chat with you guys about what we should do.

 

43 Comments

  1. Done and done. I am a premium member, so please let me know what to do with that aspect when you decide. in the meantime, I’ll be switching to Patreon. Thanks again for all your work, Ian! Best gun content on the internet by far.

  2. Ian,
    I would prefer the option of a one time payment as opposed to a monthly payment. It would be easier for me to manage the expenditure.
    Thanks.
    Jim

  3. If only I could contribute… I’m operating on a shoe-string budget and unlikely to contribute even a dollar without my parents finding out and thinking that I might become a terrorist.

  4. I am back and having a rant,there are 4 sites i follow (2 i think that are money wise ok.).F W.& wasabi cars. Need more support.but old farts in uk like me on a small budget.Can do nothing to help but give you my moral.support.I Hope this means something to you.tony & Floss

  5. The following is the text of an e-mail I sent to my various gun-buds after reading this:

    Ian McCollum of Forgottenweapons is trying to ‘crowdfund’ his site to provide for better & more content…I believe this is a worthwhile cause – and am trying to convince momma to give ONE DOLLAR a month…read his article…I know that those of youze familiar with his sit will agree with me that it is the BEST of its type (actually it’s the ONLY ONE of its type) available. His blog today on the Chauchat MG is the best I’ve ever seen on that infamous automatic rifle, explaining the realities and busting the various myths that have persisted over the past 100 years. I wish I had HIS job!!!

  6. Great work! Of course Im in. I asked a question about youtube, full30 and your site in the comments section of the jackhammer video. How do I help you the most? Ive pledged my cash, thats done. How about the likes and so on? Where do i contribute the most? Just by watching and liking. Does it make any difference?

  7. I appreciate the valuable public service you provide, but I can’t wire you onions to support your endeavor.
    Do you not have a post office box. Or an accessible Western Union vendor in your desert to receive funds, which you could purchase onions with? I haven’t any clams… Or access to a digital medium of monetary transfer, this Patreon idea is a good one but perhaps it would also be worth considering enabling other means of crowdfunding. If a Pirate wishes to physically donate some dubloons how would they achieve this, for example.

  8. Damn, I’ve always wanted to get a premium membership here to see what was in that forum.

    It’s worth noting that I’ve heard very bad things about Patreon, it might be smarter to look into other similar services, or perhaps just trying to manage something similar yourself.

  9. Ian, keep up the great work. I consider your channel and content some of the best out there. You are doing an awesome job and, because of your request, I am now a contributor to supporting the work you do.
    John

  10. Ian; Have been lurking on your site for some time. Happy to contribute to the monthly “nut”, but when I went to Patreon they required registration with Facebook. That’s not happening now or later for a variety of reasons completely unrelated to your fine site. I see your admin email addy listed above. Will be setting up payments through Paypal. Keep up the good work!

  11. Done, excellent move. I was a subscriber, but don’t live in the USA, so it was always the supporting the website, rather than discounts/”gimmicks” that appealed to me. Hope it goes well!

  12. Hi Ian,

    Tried using Paypal to send you money to the admin@forgottenweapons bit, and failed miserably. Do not know why, they are asking for a valid phone no- even though I entered your account details. Have you got anything else I could try.

    Jan trussler

  13. …Hey Ian, just a wee message t’say that I’ve paid your requested amount (and set it up for every month thereafter) Love the website and YT channel. ’tis Braw so ’tis! 😉

  14. Really appreciate your stance on “never going to be a paywall for FW.” I can remember when Chuck Hawk’s firearms content was readily available, and was much chagrined when it went PPV. I’ll be looking into Patreon in the near future; just getting off work so it’ll have to wait until I get home! 😉

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