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Freeloader Time And Attention Sinks

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Over the years I have always endeavored to do two things, and those were to be as engaging as possible with all who read this blog—even if it culminated in an FU either way. Up until April of last year (’21), that required reading every comment, replying to about a third of them statistically, overall, and personally replying to nearly every email, even if just to personally acknowledge with a “thanks” or “got it.” It takes more time and focus than actually writing the blog. I take pride in reading every email.

Last April I transformed into to a membership space for free and paid members. But I still do plenty of public posts and the older archives are mostly public so crawlers will keep them indexed in the search engines, an advantage of having thousands of them.

After a while, I began to notice a trend. It’s a very stark one in terms of from which category I get the most emails. It should not be as surprising as it is, but it’s stark.

From whom do I get the most emails and why do I think that is?

To answer my own question and thinking about it a lot, I’ve concluded that it’s a solipsistic way of being a paying member without being a paying member. I’ll explain.

I always got plenty of emails, but only since I turned the blog into a membership site last April, nearly 10 months ago now, did I begin to have a look at who was who.

Here’s a solid list of email volume over the last 10 months, from most to fewest.

  1. Non members
  2. Free members
  3. Paying members

That’s in absolute terms, but adjusting it for relative population sizes would not make much difference since #1 so overshadows #2 and #3 combined, and even #2 overshadows #3. I get very few emails from hundreds of paying members.

How can this be? Perhaps some paying members can shed light?

For months I did nothing and simply conducted business as usual. I couldn’t anymore, because of raw time and attention. Taking time to be the guy standing at the door welcoming everyone was beginning to compromise things. Instead of going head down and writing something for the people who pay me, I’m out in front of my place shooting the shit with people who aren’t coming in.

That’s rank stupid and I’m fucking guilty!

I alluded to the issue back in this post from about a month ago. The guy had been emailing me for damn years, perhaps 3 or 4 years—sometimes a half-dozen emails a day. When I looked into it, not only was he not a paid member, he wasn’t a free member…and he wasn’t even a subscriber to the newsletter and had never contributed by even posting 1 comment on a single post.

Since then, over the weeks, I looked into numbers and began noticing the very stark trend. The less they’e invested in any level of this blog (paying member, free member, commenter, post sharer, etc.) THE MORE THEY EMAIL ME, CONSTANTLY.

Needless to say, that shit gets fixed today.

Yesterday was the final straw. Some guy, “MrUnconventional,” emails a half dozen times per day. Enough is good stuff and that’s why I wasn’t bothered. Then he becomes increasingly insistent during and even after I published the post about the Canadian Trucker Convoy 2022. I finally tell him I’ve already published the post and got an FU back that I’d not included even more alternative funding sources than the primary one I did give out (up to over $4 million US, now).

I finally realized that with the constant emailers who have zero investment in my blog, I’m dealing with solipsism with a certain righteous hubris.

  1. Only what’s in their own mind counts
  2. You are required to see and acknowledge that what they see is real
  3. To the extent you do or do not determines your level of value to them

Another aspect, I believe, is that the constant emailers who don’t buy a membership—or otherwise engage within the blog—harbor a solipsistic fantasy that what they do for me by emailing 6 times per day is better than money or in-blog engagement. They stand above that dirty fray.

This post disabuses all of them of such silly notions.

You can probably guess how I’ll manage email from now on…

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

14 Comments

  1. Matt Miller on February 7, 2022 at 22:02

    Would you say that emails from your paid members are more interesting and add more value?

    My guess is that the answer is yes, and that’s because your paid members respect you and your time.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 8, 2022 at 07:20

      That would be too tough to be definitive on. Most emails I get are good value. People do have a good sense about what’s likely to be interesting. I don’t think I get any of the really out-there conspiracy stuff from free or paid members, but that said, I don’t get a ton of that anyway.

      It’s just more about sheer volume and entitlement over my time and attention from those without even the decency to be at the free level of membership and even worse, when they’re not even signed up for the email notifications…they can email me at will but are only interested in my emails if in direct reply to them.

  2. Ed Dudley on February 7, 2022 at 23:43

    As someone that has followed you for years and is a paying customer, I have nothing of value to add or ask. I enjoy most of these ramblings, that’s good enough.

  3. D.M. Ward on February 8, 2022 at 01:46

    I personally think it’s playing into cabalistic hands if we think money takes priority. I think it better to simply handle each commenter as unique – if they bombard you then need a bit of a slapping! I detest money and don’t pay taxes, don’t have bank accounts and only use cash so I am out of the system. I too write – I write for free and anyone can use my work. I do this not because I’m some kind of martyr, but because I believe money is a mindfuck and that information must be free and open. That is the best kind of world I can imagine, a world that allows everyone to learn and think, so I act accordingly. if we think money is all-important, then yeah, make it the ultimate goal. You don’t seem like that. However I agree that it’s better to add comments than emails so thanks for that hint. I prefer everything to be public anyway. I love your grit. Really love it!

    • D.M. Ward on February 8, 2022 at 01:49

      Just a point of clarification – anyone can use my work and I can use anyone’s work. I credit them when possible but in actuality we all use other people’s work. I repudiate copyright and intellectual property of all kinds and believe this is the kind of world we need not this numskull system we have that we had no say in. Cheers to all!

      • Richard Nikoley on February 8, 2022 at 07:34

        I actually mostly agree with you on patents, trademarks, copyright, etc. It’s a form of state-sponsored monopoly.

        The best way to gain a monopoly is to do shit in a way nobody else can quite do. You compete on value and quality.

        I don’t begrudge anyone going exclusively for “free” content on the internet, mostly with the burden of enduring lots of ads or using blockers that often compromise browser function. But, if you do stuff good enough and consistently enough, enough people will pay you direct to make a go of it and you don’t have to tarnish what you do with all the corporate shilling stuff. It also tarnishes your integrity.



  4. Jackie Danicki on February 8, 2022 at 08:27

    I’m not surprised. Similarly, while consulting for a luxury services business, we found that the most difficult, time-consuming, apt-to-complain customers were those who’d gotten a freebie or discount. It wasn’t even close.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 8, 2022 at 08:46

      Yep, it’s metaphysical…or at least psycho-epistemological.

      Similarly, when I did B2B debt restructuring and workouts for small-to-medium sized businesses in the 90s, the toughest clients were the ones who would balk at any retainer, or ask to lower it…even on relatively small stuff with a $500 retainer. Bigger jobs, where I ask for $10,000 up front, no problem and smooth sailing.

      • Matt Miller on February 8, 2022 at 10:26

        This resonates because I had a similar epiphany recently.

        I am a professional artist. I’ve done ok professionally, but I also rely on other supplementary sources of income. The quality of my work has improved, but my prices plateaued. Eventually I realized that I wanted to ask for prices that only the top few percent can afford. Most people don’t have the means or the desire to spend four (or more) figures for an original painting.

        What I’ve done recently is double my prices and step up my networking. I’m getting myself around “greedy” capitalists and business-building types, many of whom have a lot more wealth and status than I do (for now). But as long as I can have confident interactions with these folks, they treat me better than any other professional class that I ever worked with. They know and respect the value someone’s time and expertise. This is very different from, say, working with a non-profit organization run by do-gooders who don’t understand business.

        Anyways, I happily pay for this blog because I want to support the good work you’ve been doing for more than a decade. Also, the thing that got me hooked into the paid membership was the series you started on liberating yourself mentally and financially from the insane world that we live in. I forget the name of the series, but I’m looking forward to reading more of that kind of stuff.



      • Richard Nikoley on February 8, 2022 at 20:10

        Matt, the series is basically, Permanent Crisis Profit Anyway. #3 in draft for a while.

        Thanks for the shame. 😉

        I’ll get my lazy ass on it.

        Good on ya for the audacity and courage to double your prices, you ballsy cunt.



  5. Samuel Handley on February 8, 2022 at 17:29

    No. I don’t pay you. But I do subscribe and have been subscribed to your musings for several years. I don’t know what value I bring to you but I do pass these on to Fakebook where they might engender a new and appreciative audience. And, when something catches my attention…. And seems to have slipped past everyone else’…. After a while, if it still looks relevant, I’ll forward it on and let you see if there’s anything you can do with it since you have this venue and audience and I do not.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 8, 2022 at 19:15

      You’re a member at the free level, which is open and welcome. I also see you’ve commented as long ago as 10 years!

  6. Gordon on February 8, 2022 at 17:58

    As a paying member I wish I had more time to contribute, knowing now that you appreciate it. I usually try not to say anything unless I perceive a decently high value in it AND the thought is fully formed. I don’t want to waste your time or embarrass myself.

    I also feel like it is odd to email you as if we knew each other. Maybe that’s old fashioned? I’m not that old though.

    I’m always glad to see a post from you show up in my inbox. Thanks for keeping it going.

    • Richard Nikoley on February 8, 2022 at 19:17

      I recognize your name, even email address, so obviously whatever you’re doing impresses me. Your comment count here is now 34. Thank you for your value.

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