Earlier this week I clocked up a full ten years as a video games journalist (as you’ll know if you’ve already read my article on my favourite memories).
It’s a milestone I’ve wanted to hit ever since I started back in May 2006, because it’s one thing to get your dream job but another to do it to a decent enough standard that you get to stick around for a long time.
At the end of my recent article, I said “here’s to another 10 years”. And I do have a long-term plan that will, all going well, mean I’m still writing about games in 2026.
That’s assuming video games still exist then, of course – for all I know we could just end up paying to have Steam achievements injected into the base of our spines.
The first step of my plan is a potentially controversial one: I’ve launched a Patreon account. To address this, allow me to reuse the tried and tested ‘fake Q&A’ technique in an attempt to convince you that I’ve thought this through properly and that, if you aren’t interested, your Tired Old Hack experience won’t suffer as a result.
Hello Chris. So what in the shit is a Patreon account?
If you’re not in the know, Patreon is a website that lets you pay ‘creators’ (musicians, artists, video creators or in my case writers) a small amount of cash on a regular basis to show your support for their work.
Hmm. So it’s essentially begging.
Not really, it’s just a way of acknowledging you like the work someone’s doing and – if enough people do it – helping give them the freedom to make more of it.
Think of it more like tipping, than begging.
Still sounds like begging to me.
Well, put it this way. If you don’t feel like contributing to it then I’m totally fine with it.
I don’t believe you.
Seriously. I completely understand if it’s not a model you agree with, or if you simply can’t afford to contribute in that way.
I get the feeling you’re saying that to be nice but deep down you’re thinking “fuck that guy, I’m going to save all the good stuff for the people who give me money”.
Look. The content on Tired Old Hack will be exactly the same whether you’re a Patron or not. In fact, I’m committing myself to writing far more regular articles on the site, and those will be available to all whether you want to contribute or decide you can’t.
Exactly. Why are you being so hostile about this, mate?
Because this is the internet. Information should be free. You’re only writing about video games, it isn’t serious or important enough to sit behind a paywall.
It isn’t a paywall. Anyway, did you buy games magazines back in the day?
Yes. After all, most people only know who you are because of Official Nintendo Magazine. Since then you’ve become a tired old ha… AH I get it now.
Hmm. Not really the point I was trying to make, but okay. My point is that back in the day people used to pay for high quality writing, and nowadays the internet gives them it for free. But it isn’t really for free, because ads pay for it.
Ah, but I use an ad blocker.
Exactly. And so do a lot of tech-savvy people, which also happens to be just the sort of people who enjoy reading about video games. What this means, then, is that the ugly-as-fuck adverts on my site just now aren’t really making much of an impact.
But are you writing your website to make money? I thought you said before that it was because you loved writing about games and it was your chance to write with full freedom and all that shite.
That’s still the main reason I run Tired Old Hack, yes. If I wasn’t making a single penny off it I’d still be doing it, because I love it. But at the same time I also value my work – hey, someone’s got to after all! – and I want to give people the (completely optional) opportunity to support me with a couple of quid each month if they do too.
Right. Let’s say I was convinced.
No. But let’s say I was. What’s in it for me?
Other than the warm and fuzzy feeling of knowing you’re helping out the guy who provides you with (hopefully) entertaining video game articles?
Yes. Other than that.
You drive a hard bargain. Well, there are also reward tiers. Depending on how much you pledge a month, you’ll get access to feeds on my Patreon page where I’ll be writing bits and pieces just for Patrons.
I thought you said the site wouldn’t suffer?
These aren’t the sort of things I’d post on the site. They’re extra things like behind-the-scenes news, ideas, polls, and other things. I’m sticking to my promise: the main Tired Old Hack site will be fully accessible to all. Do you want to read about the different tiers or not?
Well, you’re going to have to co-operate. You’re a fake person I’ve dreamt up and if you’re not even on board then this is a pretty bloody tough sell.
Right then, let’s have the tiers.
$2 or more per month – Entry level tier – access to my Patreon feed, where I’ll post regular updates as well as other random bits and pieces like peeks at upcoming articles and the like.
$3.99 or more per month – ONM tier – in honour of the legendary price of Official Nintendo Magazine you’ll get access to both the entry level feed and also a weekly blog giving my views on the week’s gaming news and an update on what I’ve been playing and what I think of it. You can comment, I’ll reply, it’ll be like our own lovely wee club.
$5 or more per month – The insider tier – as well as the previous two feeds you’ll also be privy to the behind-the-scenes process on the site.
I’ll share unfinished articles and work-in-progress versions of videos I’m working on, and give you a say in what I should be working on next (be it through a vote or something else).
I’ll also host regular Q&A sessions where you can ask me anything about games journalism, and occasionally do special insider events, like live-streamed reviews (so you can see the whole process) or tutorials on writing techniques.
$7 or more per month – The feedback tier – if you’re a budding games journalist and you want some tips on your writing, I’ll give you brutally honest feedback on your articles and give you detailed advice, right down to focusing on individual sentences. You also get everything in the previous tiers too, obviously.
$10 or more per month – The maniac tier – if you’re insane enough to chuck me a tenner a month you’ll get everything above, plus every time I add a new article to Tired Old Hack I’ll write up a special post in which I give a sort of ‘writer’s commentary’ on it: my reflections on the article, whether I was happy with it, what I’d change, any other information that I chose not to add for whatever reason, alternative screenshots I didn’t use, what have you. It’s a wee look at my creative process, to sound massively wanky.
These tiers then all add up towards my milestone goals, which will help me improve the site.
What are your milestone goals?
If I hit $40 a month (UPDATE: I just have), that will let me take those aforementioned ugly-as-fuck ads off the site and make it entirely ad-free. This will make the site look a lot better (especially the front page) and ensure those readers who are nice enough to not use an ad-blocker don’t get punished with an inferior-looking design.
I’ve got a couple of longer-term goals too, which I don’t expect to hit for a while. If I hit $100 a month I’ll make my popular 30 Best Games features more frequent, namely monthly. I’ve already written articles on the 30 best Dreamcast, GameCube, Wii, DS and Amiga games and people have given me really positive feedback on them, but they take an absolute age to put together. $100 a month will let me do one less freelance article and use that free time to work on the next 30 Best article.
And if I somehow manage to hit $200 a month, I’ll launch a Tired Old Hack podcast. While I’ll obviously talk about games in it like every other gaming podcast does, since my site has a bit of a focus on my career and the world of games journalism I’ll also try to get some of my former journalism colleagues on as guest stars so we can share stories about the industry.
And beyond that?
One step at a time mate. I don’t see me hitting $200 for a long time (if at all), so we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.
No, cross that bridge NOW. I can’t sleep if I know there’s a bridge ahead and you haven’t crossed the utter piss out of it.
Look, in the future who knows? The ultimate dream is to eventually make the site popular enough that I can make it my full-time job and essentially make a living writing about video games again. But there’s a shitload of work ahead of me before I can even get close to that, because we’re talking Patreon funding in the thousands, which simply isn’t attainable just now.
This is a marathon, not a sprint. I need to grow the site’s popularity over time by bringing in new readers (and I’ll need you to share my articles on social media, Reddit, forums and the like to manage this), and then maintain their interest for long enough that they’ll think “this guy’s actually half-decent, I think I’ll Patreon him because that’s definitely a verb now”.
For now, we’re still only just starting off. The first year of Tired Old Hack was the Tutorial level for me, because starting my own site from scratch and having to build the audience is something I haven’t done (even the Nintendo Gamer site had some sort of following before I came on board).
This year, then, is essentially Level 1. This is where the journey properly begins and, barring some sort of warp zone (which would be someone rich and crazy coming and offering me loads of money to buy Tired Old Hack and make it my full-time job), it’s going to be a long one.
I hope you’ll come on the journey with me. If you choose to support me on my Patreon, then I’ll greatly appreciate it. If you don’t, we’re still cool: just keep reading my stuff and sharing it when you like it and it’s all good in the hood.
That was longer than I expected it to be.
I know. I suppose begging for money is pretty complicated.
I thought it wasn’t begging?
FUCK HOW DO I TURN THIS THING OFF
If after all that you’re somehow still up for it, please do sign up to my Patreon and become a Patron. All your pals will notice a new glow coming from you, a glow that only comes from people who are awesome and that.