WordPress has a tagline: “Code is Poetry.” One of my favorite things about poetry is that there are no real rules, yet there are still good poems and bad ones. Generally speaking, poetry (and really any writing) is best described as a sort of word-sculpting, where the poet dumps the contents of their brain on the page, and then goes about sorting and refining it into a poem.
That’s how a lot of code works, too (which is what makes the WordPress tagline so helpfully beautiful).
The best poets in every age of recorded history, from Shakespeare to Langston Hughes to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, have had patrons. Patrons are people who want them to continue writing poems, because the world is a better place with poems in it. Patrons are willing to pay the expenses of an artist, even though the “services” they get are not as direct as, say, a plumber or a chef.
Poetry is not the type of thing that does well when monetized directly, e.g. “write a poem that will sell 100,000 copies” (Exhibit A: Pop-country music.)
That’s where our “code as poetry” metaphor begins to really shine, so stick with me. See, WordPress is “open source software” which means that (among other great perks) a bunch of volunteers pitch in to help make it. In most cases, the people shaping and refining the code are doing it in their spare time, and not getting paid for it. These code-poets are doing something not directly for the money.
Code, when it’s monetized directly, has the potential to devolve quickly into popups, banner ads, and phishing scams—the Rascal Flatts of web development.
When it’s everyone’s side project, being done for the benefit of the world, code is (good) poetry.
Which brings us back to the need for patrons: people who believe that what we are doing in the WordPress world is worth supporting. That’s why, for my free plugins, I’m starting a Patreon page. Here’s a video that explains in one minute what would take me 15 to coherently write out about Patreon.
I’m still going to be making and improving the plugins for free, putting them out into the wild on http://wordpress.org for folks to download and use. I’m still going to make decisions that are in the best interests of the WordPress community, and do everything that I have been doing to grow my plugin’s user base to 10,000+ overwhelmingly happy individuals. Now I’ll just do it with a digital tip jar propping open my laptop case.
If you like what I’m doing, you can chip in.
Right now, my plugins are generating revenue for me only tangentially, as I meet folks in the support forums who then hire me to do things for them.
If Code is Poetry, It's time developers started thinking about monetization like artists Click To TweetPatreon is a way for me to monetize the actual plugin-building process itself. No longer will it be “when I get some spare time, I’ll look into adding that feature.” If enough people like what I’m doing to chip in a few bucks per minor release, There will be better, and more frequent, minor releases (but don’t worry, you can set a maximum budget so that in the event that I go crazy with releases, you won’t be drained).
If code is poetry, it’s time developers started thinking about monetization like artists
You can support my plugins here: BenandJacq’s Patreon