What’s Been Up: The Personal Stuff And The Future

Two weeks ago we headed out by automobile. Five hours to my brother’s place in Tehachapi, CA, where we spent the night.

Then a few more hours to Vista, CA, the next day. Beatrice’s parents live there.

Early the next morning, Bea delivered me to the airport at San Diego where I boarded an Alaska Airlines flight (my favorite, along with Virgin that they just bought) and I jetted to Orlando, FL, non-stop.

I spent the first three days with a friend who moved from California to Orlando only a year ago and loves having left behind the commie state. We did airboats and I got my first taste of VR headsets. Vive: WOW! I’ll have you know that I made it through round two of a Zombie Apocalypse.

And then I checked into the hotel for The 21 Convention.

I spoke the next day, Friday afternoon, for an hour+. A friend posted a 4-minute video clip, fan footage. This is not official 21 Studios video production, which will be forthcoming in the near future.

So, here’s the deal.

The wife unit took me out to lunch with a file folder in hand. This was in early August. She retired from 35 years as a school teacher in June and had been observing me since, with a view towards the future.

She told me I was going to hate what she had in store for me.

The file contained a number of articles she had printed out that admonish bloggers to get compensated for what they create.

Many of the printouts were old and dated, some were new. But I knew one thing: putting up a pay wall would destroy this blog. My wife is not a regular reader, nor a particular fan—though she does love posts from time-to-time and what’s most important, she loves how I write—usually…not so much the vitriol. What’s more, she simply told me she’s watched the effort I put in and on some level, it offends her that I’m not compensated directly. She understands ad revenue and affiliate deals, but none of that is direct compensation from beneficiaries. Nor is it big money. And we don’t need big money. It’s the principle of the thing, for her.

But anyway, you don’t just start charging for what was “free,” and I’ll get to those scare quotes later.

I began chewing on it.

What if I just did an added-value thing? About the same time, I got wind of Patreon, a site for creators to create and receive direct compensation from patrons.

I sat here and created a draft presence for what was to be a hyped-up version of this blog, along with some vague idea of what might be for paid patrons and what might be free. I never got comfortable with it. I knew it would flop and I’d get excoriated over an attempt at something I didn’t really believe in myself.

Around the same time, Bitcoin hit $5,000, long after scoffers had laughed at me when I bought in at $618 in 2014. $5K, and if they’re still laughing they’re just too stupid for me. Most people are, anyway…

I had an idea. What if I create a Patreon presence over something completely different? I floated the idea here, with this post: You Can’t Afford Not To Jump Into Cryptocurrency. It seemed to resonate and ultimately, I used that post as my hook for potential patrons.

In preparation, I began building a portfolio on September 3. I reasoned: people don’t give a shit that I got in at $618 and now it’s over $4k. They want to know what might be accomplished starting now. So, I created a portfolio  beginning that day, with Bitcoin and about 10 other Altcoins so far, new ones being added with each round of buying. Over the month of September, I’ve put about $1,000 into that portfolio. It’s well diversified and so, is holding its own in spite of tremendous volatility. 30% swings in a day’s time are not uncommon. The more diversified I make it, however, the less volatile. 10% swings daily are more common, now.

I launched the Patreon Project on September 8, having no idea if it would flop, I’d be ridiculed, or it would take off. The launch post: Cryptocurrency and the Nature of Modern Money.

I did my Patreon different than most do. Most have a number of different reward levels, so the more you pay, the more you have access to so-called premium content. That rubs me the wrong way. How would you like to subscribe to a magazine and once you get it, there’s blank pages and you find you need to get a premium subscription to see those?

Accordingly, I have one single reward level. Here’s what it looks like:

Screen Shot 2017-10-06 at 11.52.21 AM

See, over the course of this epiphany, it dawned on me that folks will go out of their way for “free,” but then waste untold time and endure enormous levels of over-the-top ad bullshit so they don’t have to spend a single “Starbuck” to get to the content they seek. Of course, one can’t be subscribed to everything, but even that’s not the real issue.

The real issue is that whether you subscribe or not, you’re getting bombarded by ads and upsells. Subscribe to the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, or whatever. You’re literally paying to be annoyed constantly with advertising. It’s particularly awful on a tablet where a good percentage of the time, trying to kill a pop-up actually shuttles you over to the link. It’s just awful. It’s a life drain.

There’s got to be a better way. I think it’s moving that way. For instance, we cut the cable TV. No more $150 per month to be inundated with ads. And DVRs suck. I don’t know which is worse, watching the ads, or doing the fast-forward and then having to go back and forth to get to the beginning of the next content segment. Hulu is one of the services we subscribe to. Originally, we had the basic. One night, I found that for a measly $5 more, we could have all the same programs next day, but ad free. It literally does a short pause, then comes back on. No more futzing with the DVR remote. Duh.

I could go on and on about this issue but suffice to say, I’m in pursuit of a better way. Direct payment of a reasonable amount, no ads, no upsells, and no trolls. Trolls never pay to troll.

…So, here I am, 28 days from launch and there are 141 people who’ve signed up for clean, ad-free, no-troll content with a specific purpose: to make money trading and investing in cryptocurrencies. Douglass Casey, a very well-known investment guru I first read in 1992 thinks crypto will change the world and Bitcoin will go to $50,000.

That’s $705 people are willing to spend on my take, signed up over the course of less than a month. Patreon takes a very reasonable 5% of that for providing the platform. My goal is 5,000 patrons for $25,000 monthly and that would match what I used to take from my business back in the day. It’s not unprecedented. Some Patreon creators are already pulling in more than $50,000 per month. Jordon Perterson, the Canadian psychiatrist, psychologist, and sociology guru hauls in $68,000 monthly.

So, rather obviously, I find myself at somewhat of a crossroads. Free The Animal is my baby. The blog has been around since 2003, I’ve written over 4,600 posts. There’s over 100,000 comments. But, I only have so much time and the Patreon deal is exciting and enticing, and it’s not only that I created it and everyone listens to me and my latest. There are plenty of crypto traders and investors who have signed up so it’s a burgeoning community where information gets shared. There’s not only my posts, but any patron can post, and any patron can comment on those posts.

And all in an ad-free, pop-up-free, upsell-free, and troll-free environment. So refreshing.

…Anyway, thought I’d just share all of that, get it off my chest. I have people to thank, too.

  1. Beatrice Nikoley. It’s good she’s never been a hyper-fan of my blog (or any blog). She saw things from a different angle and made me look beyond what I thought I already knew and understood.
  2. The Patrons who took a leap. You’ve shown me there’s no turning back. This is a worthwhile pursuit that has my full attention.
  3. The Patrons, again, for making my wife happy, and by natural extension, me. When she’s happy, I’m happy. Home life is pretty much that simple for me.

So, I don’t know, going forward. Maybe a second Patreon presence to migrate the best content from Free The Animal to same kinda deal. Think “Free The Animal Unleashed,” or, perhaps, uncaged. I’m very good at producing content regularly because I love to do it. The crypto thing has shown me that I can be really focussed and disciplined. I don’t even use the word “damn.” Totally clean and pro. People are paying for crypto insight, not insight into my emotions.

But, I’m just wondering what I might be able to do in the NSFW environment, getting paid to produce high-quality rants.

Still chewing.

Richard Nikoley

I'm Richard Nikoley. Free The Animal began in 2003 and as of 2021, contains 5,000 posts. I blog what I wish...from health, diet, and food to travel and lifestyle; to politics, social antagonism, expat-living location and time independent—while you sleep—income. I celebrate the audacity and hubris to live by your own exclusive authority and take your own chances. Read More


  1. John on October 6, 2017 at 15:09

    I signed up for the Patreon right after I read your announcement. I’ve always enjoyed your take on money, so I figured at the very least, I’d give it a three or four month trial, as $15-20 is a reasonable price for a book, and I’ve gotten at least that much value from the posts you did about money here.

    28 days in, I can’t imagine any reason to cancel. Great content, and great Patreons there. It was the right move, too. I like the “Professional” attitude there, since it is all about money. Good to have that separated from the rants, which I still enjoy. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend the Patreon to my mom if she was interested in Cryptos, but I know she’d be a bit turned off by the this blog.

    Beyond that, I think your Patreon would be a great model for other bloggers to follow, if they are looking to monetize. Someone like, say, Anthony Colpo, who wanted to monetize his blog, but never finished the set up.

    Lastly, if you do the NSFW, and you want to keep even the platforms totally separate, there is Hatreon. I just think that one’s too perfect of a name not to mention.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 6, 2017 at 17:07

      LOLing my ass off. I thought you were tongue-in-cheek joking about “Hatreon.”

      Turns out it’s a real thing.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 8, 2017 at 14:46

      “…rather than on the stage.”

      Sure, being fearless and all….

  2. fearless on October 6, 2017 at 15:32

    *hauls (not halls)

    • Richard Nikoley on October 8, 2017 at 12:35


      That’s good. Totally essential. You ought to start a blog, being fearless and all, and write what amounts to roughly a post per day over 14 years, and then take pleasure over “fearless” people who correct a grammatical goof for you.

      I love fearlessness. Especially when it’s so on righteous display.

    • fearless on October 8, 2017 at 14:04

      Haha! I am always happy to help. Glad you fixed the error and thanks for the vote of confidence in my blogging potential. I prefer my place in the peanut gallery though rather than on the stage 🙂

  3. fearless on October 6, 2017 at 15:44

    Everyone has their price and I’d pay a buck a month at most. I realise that’s not your price and that’s fine by me. We’ll both get along fine without each other.

    I thought you’d appreciate the feedback so you can estimate the profile of the demand curve for your work. In business, getting the price right can make a huge impact on your bottom line.

  4. Hugh on October 6, 2017 at 20:22

    So happens I signed up today and already got my moneys worth. I’m no stranger to Bitcoin, but this gave me a quick level up that will save me both actual money on transactions as well as time, which I value, to get up to speed.

    LOL at the cheapskate above. Pricing in the cheapskates is the quickest way to kill a business and have a bunch of terrible customers on your hands. Any business advice they give – do the opposite.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 6, 2017 at 20:40

      Yea Hugh, I saw that signup, number 141. Thanks.

      Really glad to know you judge it worth it. Others have told me the same. At the outset I wanted the info and how-tos to be as simple as possible, devoid of the nonsense lots of trading “gurus” put out to give the appearance that it’s so damn hard. The fact is, anyone can go out and scrounge all this stuff on their own. What I’m trying to do is make that an easier process.

      Thanks again.

    • fearless on October 6, 2017 at 20:51

      @Hugh, I take that as a compliment. I will probably sign up in a year for one month and get 12 months worth of articles for just $5 while you paid $60 for the same thing. That extra $55 will buy me a lot of bullet proof coffee. Smart. That’s what I am.

    • fearless on October 6, 2017 at 20:56

      @Hugh, I hope you also appreciate that I offered Richard no advice. I merely stated the terms I would agree conduct business with him. He is free to choose whatever he likes. Such is the liberty of business and trade.

    • Hugh on October 6, 2017 at 21:59

      Fearless – I like your way of thinking. My new pickup line is going to be, “I’ll fuck you for free.” If women get offended, I will calmly explain I’m merely stating the terms I would agree to conduct “business” with them and they’re free to choose whatever they like. Such is the liberty of fucking.

    • fearless on October 6, 2017 at 23:26

      @Hugh, I might use that one myself 🙂 thanks.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 7, 2017 at 06:41

      Just to be clear for anyone else taking a gander at this sub-thread, I’m not going to concern myself with anyone “gaming the system” at the margins either way. I’m pretty confident I’ll be able to retain long-term subscribers and grow.

      When the first monthly charge hit Oct 1, all 134 subscribers at the time charge’s went through and only two out of the 134 cancelled pledges for future charges. Good numbers. Now at about 143, getting new ones at 1-2 per day average at this point. I’m perfectly happy with that.

  5. Bret on October 6, 2017 at 22:10

    Richard, you have to put up a pay wall. I’ve seen too many bloggers sink their hearts and souls into endless work into their free-access blogs, only to eventually burn themselves out and bail.

    The thing is, I wasn’t sad to see most of them go. They weren’t that good.

    This place is different. It’s always been special to me. I waltzed over here three and a half years ago and—-holy shit—-found a guy who was a “libertarian” sort of person (sorry, that was less of a bad word to me back then) who wasn’t also a spineless, compromised pussy Republican. Was also recovering from JimmyMoorePodcastaholism, and—-holy shit—-here’s a guy making an articulate, compelling case to abandon the insanity of ultrahighfatketotardism and incorporate starch in reasonable quantities underpinned by an intelligent strategy to boot.

    I don’t want to see you work your fingers to the bone only to realize you’re not getting any pay off, and then disappear in disgust. You keep writing, and we’ll keep reading. And I’ll happily fork over several dollars a month for a more enriching experience without having to tolerate useless fuckass trolls.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 7, 2017 at 06:46

      I’ll chew on it all for a while, Hugh. FTA has been around for 14 years now and I haven’t burnt out yet, though I’m no longer at an average of a post per day for the last couple of years. I don’t see why I can’t continue at 3-4 posts per week. It does earn $1-2K per month via the ads, Amazon, and Elixa…the latter being the biggest earner.

      Plus, the Patreon income is also attributable, at least at this outset, to FTA.

  6. Hap on October 7, 2017 at 08:00

    Yes….you can’t entirely separate the money business rom the free ranging blog. They are linked.

  7. Jo tB on October 8, 2017 at 03:51

    I used to read Art de Vany’s blog until he decided to put it behind a pay wall. I don’t know how many subscribers he got, but a couple of years ago he suddenly started publishing free content again. Anthony Colpo was another one I read regularly until one day he shut his blog down in an angry mood. I think it was because he wasn’t getting the recognition from the professionals about his book Cholesterol Con. A couple of years later he started producing public content again, but I lost the enthousiasm to read his blog again. The Diet Doctor has done the same, but he still has some free content, but for me it is very unsatisfying, as it is not really worth reading. You can read some content, but it stops when it gets interesting and has wetted your appetite. That irritates me no end.

    I hope this won’t happen to your blog.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 8, 2017 at 11:06

      Oh damn, you mean Andreas says you have to pay him if you want to still read his best stuff? Wow, well, I guess you have to pay him to read his best stuff. Or, you can complain that his free stuff is “unsatisfying.”

      Now see, you can hope all you want, has zero influence on me. It could have, but you went and wrote a really fucking stupid comment. And don’t compare me with De Vany. I fucking popped for the conference anyway, actually 2 tickets but my wife didn’t come and I refused his offer of a refund. The measly buy-in for that conference was the seed of his understandable discontent with leeches. You you didn’t buy in, maybe because you’re a leach. He put up his paywall out of academic conceit and hubris, not as a marketer. He had offered a lot of value for free for years and it’s true he is a founder of the movement, and people like you took a shit on him because he wanted to be compensated for it. I saw it first hand. It was disgusting, the wrath he incurred over expressing disappointment over the low buy-in for his conference.

      I agree he didn’t do it the right way in any respect, and the hubris was sure to tank him, as it did, but to me, that’s forgivable because his content was always worth paying for, for me. I’m happy to have popped $600 or so, as I recall, for two tickets, using only one. What have you ever spent directly for any of the value you’ve received over the years, since you’ve been around a while? And, perhaps you support via affiliate links or Amazon, which is good, but the argument I’m making is that it’s way better for some just to pop for $5 monthly direct, no ads, no pop-ups, no affiliate promotions, no upsells, etc. Plus, it takes the dude’s mind of making money that way. I can’t tell you how truly wonderful it is to create almost daily content in Patreon without a mind at all towards steering anyone to any product, Amazon, affiliate deal, whatever.

      What if I say your comment irritates me to no end? I don’t owe you shit, Jo. Not a fucking thing and what you’re doing is making a plea that I owe it to you not to irritate you.

      I don’t give a shit about you. That’s just being honest. On the other hand, I respect and appreciate the fact you’re here, commenting. Make any sense?

      You don’t seem to grasp the easy. If I do put up a paywall, and it succeeds, why would I give a shit about your irritation to no end if enough people want to pay me for precise content? My Bitcoin Patreon, I think, proves that I do things a lot different when I have paying customers. They’d never get a comment like I’m writing now. Not what they paid for. See?

      You know what irritates me to no end? Stupid people. I should create a Patreon on that subject alone.

      Have a nice day. I hate to do this to an old hand, but, then again, what do I owe you?

  8. Hap on October 9, 2017 at 08:18

    I have a problem with Facebook…..and it transferred to Devany, further amplified by my instincts regarding hubris. However I did modify on this blog and retracted regarding the professor ……but not completely.

    He’s an interesting man. I wish him well.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 9, 2017 at 08:25

      I just like to be a bit abrupt and asshole sometimes, the mere shadow and ungly stepchild of full-blown hubris.

    • Hap on October 9, 2017 at 16:12

      Yes… want to keep your “edge”….. and like everything else it takes practice and occasional , if not unpredictable…use.

      That’s why on my rating system an asshole is lower than a prick……seems like assholism is less “practiced” and more innate/spontaneous than the more developed “prickism”. Pricks can be sort of subtle….an asshole…….never. Too raw.

      Now I have to think about an asshole and hubris. YOu may be right there. Perhaps I should modify my system so it is continuous and not binary…. yin and yang like.

    • fearless on October 10, 2017 at 07:05

      *an asshole

  9. Georgene on October 9, 2017 at 16:39

    Interesting that a person could sign up as a patron, as I just did, pick your offerings clean (of whatever you have available at the moment), and leave outta there with nary a nickel spent before the beginning of the next month, since the billing is always at the first of the month.

    I won’t be doing that.

    Since I know next to nothing (OK, really nothing at all!) about crypto, I figure $5/month is a reasonable investment in education, at least until I figure out whether I really want to make the investment in crypto…or not. And even if I decide not to keep it up, I’ll make sure you get at least a month’s worth of subscription fees from me.

    Actually I really appreciate the opportunity to learn at such a low cost.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 10, 2017 at 07:53

      Thanks Georgene.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 10, 2017 at 11:11

      Also, Georgene, Patreon is Beta testing pay-up-front, such that whenever a Patron joins, they are charged for that month on the spot, then 1st of every month thereafter. So, it will eliminate that sort of gaming the system.

  10. Doug on October 10, 2017 at 10:17

    Instead of Patreon could you expand the Bitcoin economy by continuing to write here with an “Enhanced Content” button which is enabled when the user donates Bitcoin? You could activate the content after the user entered the last 4 digits of the address they sent their Bitcoin from?

    Just thinking out loud…which is dangerous

    • Richard Nikoley on October 10, 2017 at 10:46

      Yea, conceivably something like that could be done, but for right now, I’m happy with the all-encompasing service of Patreon to both provide the platform and manage all the payments. I will be asking them to look into adding Bitcoin as a payment option.

  11. Georgene on October 10, 2017 at 11:23

    Well, pay-up-front seems like a more reasonable situation. Especially when you are paying ALL of $5.00. For gawd’s sake, how anyone could complain about that is beyond me, but I am sure someone could figure out how to belly-ache over it.

    • Austin on October 13, 2017 at 06:15

      $5 was a perfect starting point for me too. $10 would have been too high for my cheap a$$ to try it on a whim…. BUT knowing what I know now with Richards and the communities help, $10 a month is closer to my value. I’ve used this service more than Netflix this month and I believe $10 for Netflix is a steal (but the upcoming price change to $12 will make me think twice).

      I’ve traded <$100 so far and spent around $5 moving it around and making rookie mistakes. With Pateon, my next $100 invested will cost ~ $0.25 in fees.

    • Richard Nikoley on October 13, 2017 at 09:11

      Thanks Austin.

    • Bret on October 13, 2017 at 19:36

      I’d be about ready to dump Netflix even if it only cost $4 per month. The content is absolute SHIT and has been for years.

      I would have canned it long ago if it weren’t for the family being addicted to it.

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