My “application” for a “job” on the Interwebs

So…

…how ’bout that devastating pandemic that has laid bare the callousness and cruelty of the wealthiest and most powerful nations on the planet, huh?

Just so no-one’s worried about me, I’m fine. I went home to New Zealand in March, and over the course of the last three months, New Zealand has become more or less the safest place in the world as we eliminated our COVID-19 outbreak through swift and strict lockdown measures, and we are continuing to impose quarantine on all visitors to the country to prevent reintroduction of the disease.

Meanwhile, the US is…

uh…

uhhh…

uhhhhhh…

uhhhhhhhhhh…

…fine.

So my situation is actually pretty peachy compared to what I assume the majority of my readers are looking at (my analytics page says the vast majority of my traffic comes from the US, which is not surprising since I write in English and the US makes up the majority of the English internet). However, I do have to… let’s say “reevaluate” a lot of my plans and priorities. I’m not going back to the United States in August to continue working on my PhD, because… well… on the one hand you have New Zealand, with its stable and fairly competent government, absence of deadly pandemics and relative lack of civil unrest, and on the other hand you have… Ohio. Er… no offence. In theory I could work on my PhD remotely and my department would almost certainly approve that plan under the circumstances, but I only have one more year of funding. Using that year to work from home, without access to my department’s resources or academic environment, would almost certainly be a waste; I would probably fail to complete my thesis within the time I have left and lose my chance. So, with my department’s support, I’m asking the university for a leave of absence. In theory, I’m going back in August 2021. In practice… well, I guess we’ll see what the state of the world is in August 2021. In the meantime, I’m applying for jobs in New Zealand. Maybe I’ll just have a job for the year and then go back; maybe I’ll find a job that I turn out to like and be good at, and just change over to that (hopefully getting a leave of absence from that job to finish my PhD later); maybe I’ll be part-time; maybe I’ll be full-time; maybe I won’t be able to find a job and I’ll just starve to death. Y’know, options.

But… another way of looking at it would be that we have a crisitunity on our hands.

I resisted setting up a Patreon page and asking for financial support from my readers for a long time because, frankly, I’ve never been in a position where making money off my writing would change my situation all that much. Even if I were receiving a few hundred dollars a month in donations, I would still have had classes to teach, research to do and a PhD to write, and you can’t exactly ask your PhD supervisor to give you fewer work shifts. Those obligations were irreducible, and a hard limit on the time and energy I could realistically devote to my dumb hobby project of ranting about Pokémon. But I did eventually set up a Patreon page anyway, and I make a little bit of money off it, through the kindness of people who seem to really believe that what I do here is worthwhile and interesting. For over a year, I’ve made enough monthly donation money to cover for the cost of hosting this blog on a WordPress Premium plan, which gives me more control over how the site looks and functions than a free plan does. It’s honestly kind of huge that my writing is worth even that much to my readers – and I’d like to take a moment here to thank long-time supporters Leo MR, James Crooks, Don’t Call Me Bradley, Hugh_donnetono, Esserise and Hamish Fyfe, some of whom I know have been reading since I started this nonsense on Blogspot in 2011. But I’d also like to particularly thank two new supporters who’ve signed on in roughly the last month: Miame Irohara and Intonyeon, who’ve both pledged $12/month to join my Dark Council and start commissioning extra articles from me, on topics of their choice (I’ve just published one on Staryu and Starmie for Miame, and at the end of July I’ll have one for Intonyeon, a character study of his favourite Pokémon villain, Ghetsis). A month ago, I was very much thinking “my life and the world are so crazy right now, I don’t know how consistent my writing can possibly be over the next year – can I, in good conscience, keep accepting money through Patreon at all if I don’t know how much I can deliver?” But… now I’m on $35/month, and that’s still not a lot, but it kind of is enough to make me start wondering “maybe this thing does have legs.”

So… hello, Internet. I’m Pokémaniac Chris. I’m a researcher, a historian, a scientist and a gamer. I write about Pokémon for fun, to help people see deeper into their favourite media, and to learn more about science and history while sharing what I find. Wanna give me a job?

There’s two big questions to think about here, and I want to hear from my readers on both of them:
1) What can I promise for everyone if my support grows?
2) What can I promise my patrons to make their support worth it for them personally?

On question 1); I never really run out of ideas for Pokémon-related projects I’d like to do. I’d like to write more about the Pokémon anime and movies; I’d like to write about the (for lack of a better word) philosophy of the Pokémon games from a real-world perspective; I’d like to write a heavy worldbuilding series on the lore of legendary Pokémon. But I also think I’d like to branch out of Pokémon a bit more. People seem to like it when I talk about my research as a classicist, and I get a lot of questions about Greek and Roman history and mythology. I’d love to write some pieces about representations of Greek and Roman civilisation in games, or about the way games portray history generally and can be used as educational tools. I’d love to write about some of what I call the “insane bull$#!t texts” of Greek and Roman literature – things like Pliny’s Natural History or the Hippocratic Airs, Waters, Places or the Presocratic philosophers, texts that explain theories of science and nature that are wildly off-base but still amazingly creative and incredibly revealing about how their authors saw the world. I suppose in theory I could even branch out into other media like podcast or video, if I were to pick up the skills. There’s possibilities here, is the point. I’ll keep writing no matter what, but it’s honestly a struggle just to get through all the Pokémon reviews when I’m doing this as a hobby.

On question 2); at the moment I have a Patreon reward structure that looks like this:

– $1/month makes you a Minion: There’s no formal “reward” as such, but I periodically ask my Minions for feedback and sometimes solicit opinions on what my priorities should be for different projects.

– $4/month makes you a Cultist: You get your name on my “Acknowledgements” page (I’ve recently started also giving this to people who’ve been Minions for over 1 year, but they still get lower billing). You can also submit questions to me through Patreon, and get priority over questions I receive through my question box. This latter reward is pretty significant for those who choose to use it, since at the moment I have about 20 questions in my queue at any given time, and I can imagine that will only increase if I manage to grow this blog’s following.

– $8/month makes you an Acolyte: This gets you higher billing on the “Acknowledgements” page and access to “behind-the-scenes” content on Patreon. In practice, although I post things in this category from time to time, I haven’t thought a lot about what regular “behind-the-scenes” content would look like, because no one has ever signed up for the Acolyte tier. I’m not really sure why that is. Maybe the difference between $8 and $12 is small enough that anyone willing to go this far would prefer to sign up for the highest tier and get its special voting power, and maybe that will change if larger membership starts to devalue the $12 tier (see below). Or maybe I need a more structured and better-advertised vision of what behind-the-scenes access should include. Or maybe this tier needs additional benefits. Or maybe behind-the-scenes access should come at the $4 level, with something completely different at $8. This is probably the tier that needs the most workshopping.

– $12/month makes you a member of the Dark Council: This gets you a unique personal title on the “Acknowledgements” page, and the ability to suggest and vote on any topic for me to write about once per month. This tier is kind of a problem, because its main reward will get less valuable the more supporters I have. With only two Councillors, I can give them each one article every two months. If I ever have a dozen Councillors, that’s great for me, but their individual voting power is diluted. If the Council grows, I’ll need more ideas for benefits I can offer to its members that won’t consume as much time as writing full articles. Otherwise, what’s good for me is bad for my supporters, and that’s a problem.

(As long as I’m talking about this, though: the world is ending. You are absolutely forbidden from feeling bad about it if you don’t have any money to spare to help me. The majority of what I write for this blog will always be free.)

So tell me, here and now: what projects would you like to see me tackle if this were my “job”? What rewards could I offer to Patreon supporters that you would find appealing? Is this a completely ludicrous thing to attempt at all? You can leave thoughts and suggestions in the comments, or submit them to my question box (I won’t publish these like I normally do with reader questions, unless you specifically ask for a response).

In the words of Professor Oak, “this is a great undertaking in Pokémon history!” and if there was ever a time for Pokémaniacal to get serious… it’s now.

17 thoughts on “My “application” for a “job” on the Interwebs

  1. “Is this a completely ludicrous thing to attempt at all?” No. If you ask me, this was a long time coming and I applaud you and Jim for making the leap.

    On the topic of Patreon, may I ask why you set up the tiers in the current way? You expressed some problems with the Acolyte and Dark Council tiers, so my suggestion would be to merge them for a more middling dollar value, and rework the Minion and Cultist tiers correspondingly. A possible new structure could look something like this: $2 for the feedback and acknowledgment perks, $6 for the BTS and question priority perks, and $10 for the personal title and topic suggestion perks. If/when you get a dozen+ Councillors, you can then change the model to *taking* topic suggestions once a month – of, say, five topics that interest you the most, since you’re the one who’ll have to write them after all – and then put up a poll on Patreon for the Councillors to vote on so you can see which one would be the most worth writing for that month. As a bonus, you can extend the voting rights to the $6 tier as an additional perk (to entice possible Patrons to go to that level?), which has the added benefit of capturing a larger picture of what your Patrons would want to see. I’m not sure how the math would play out in that scenario exactly, but it’s a start.

    Ooh, here’s another idea! Remember back in the Tumblr days when everybody and their mothers wanted your insight on their own Fakemon designs? Say you keep the current four-tier structure; why not add ‘you can send me one of your Fakemon designs for me to give feedback on on the blog’ as another perk for the Acolyte tier? Between that and possible voting privileges on Council-suggested topics, I could see this tier becoming decently attractive. I would certainly consider it, personally!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. The original setup was… sort of ad hoc, to be perfectly honest. Originally I didn’t intend to have tiers at all, since I wasn’t planning for my Patreon to be anything other than a space for people to give me “tips” if they enjoyed my work. I didn’t think anyone would *want* to give me much more than $1/month. But the advice Patreon gives when you set up your page is that multiple support tiers seem to attract people more effectively, with four or five apparently being a sweet spot, and that if you can come up with rewards, there will be people who want them. I’m very much not married to the system I have – as long as people who are *already* supporting me feel like they’ve gotten what they paid for, I have no particular attachment to the existing reward structure. That 2/6/10 model, with $1/month being purely a “tip” with no specific reward, might be worth trying out.

      The Fakémon idea… hmm… that’s an interesting possibility. Maybe do a “Fakémon workshop” every other week, where I discuss someone’s design, offer suggestions, maybe write some flavour text stuff for them. I’d have to think about it, because there’s an angle where that means I’m making someone else’s ideas into my “content” and they’re paying me for it, and I’m also not an artist or even really an art critic, so I can’t help much with what I think most people see as the most important aspect of Fakémon design. On the other hand, though, people do like having their ideas featured on a larger platform, and having that be a Patreon perk means I don’t have to provide that kind of detailed feedback to just *anyone*… I’ll definitely give it some thought.

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      1. Ahh, alright. That’s an interesting tidbit of information. I do think that it might be better to figure out what rewards you can offer and then match that to a tiering structure, rather than creating a tiering structure and figuring out what rewards should go where.

        And yeah, that’s about roughly what I have in mind! If you keep the Fakemon feedback perk to Acolyte and above then I think you don’t have to worry about it being something too demanding. At least not until you reach supreme new heights on Patreon, but hey, one bridge at a time. Also, honestly, your readers who’d care enough to be a Patron should be aware of how you operate and expect feedback accordingly; for instance, if I were to send you a Fakemon design of my own I would expect minimal input on the visual design and much more insight into flavor text, how the mechanics and flavor reinforce each other, and how it might fit into the existing Pokémon world. And therein lies the core incentive of the Fakemon feedback perk: I don’t want it to be on just *any* larger platform, I want it on *your* platform, where you and your f̶e̶l̶l̶o̶w̶ ̶f̶o̶l̶l̶o̶w̶e̶r̶s̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶F̶a̶l̶l̶e̶n̶ highly educated readers can all participate in group workshops.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Okay, non-Patreon-related thoughts and comments.

    On the question of what projects I personally would like to see you tackle, I still hold that Anime Time was some of your best and most thought-provoking work. I would love to see that come back, and hey, might even capture that portion of Pokémon fans who watch the anime but don’t really play the games. And while I know there’s next-to-no chance of *this* returning, I miss your X Nuzlocke playthrough.

    You mentioned wanting to branch out of Pokémon a bit and mentioned you’re interested in seeing tangential learning experiences of culture/history/mythology in other games. This is where I will throw my hat into the ring and say: if you haven’t yet, you should most definitely check out the Persona series. Start with 3, then move to 4 and 5. They have some of the cleverest writing in JRPGs I have ever seen, and as a cognitive scientist who’s fascinated with mythology I cannot sing Persona 5 praises enough. Although Persona 4 Golden recently got added to Steam, so you could also start there if you don’t want to jump to PlayStation consoles.

    Another thing you could perhaps use your knowledge as a classicist for is to clear up common misconceptions about Greco-Roman topics. As an example, you could write a short article covering Julius Caesar’s assassination and separate the facts from the popular fiction (hello, Shakespeare!). You could also cover lesser-known trivia about lesser-known figures, like how Heracles had a twin half-brother as a result of superfecundation whose son became Heracles’s charioteer. I don’t know, does that sound too run-of-the-mill?

    Finally, and you didn’t ask this at all, but I think that if you’re really aiming to take Pokémaniacal to new heights and reach even broader readership, I *highly* recommend having an FAQ page or an About Me page. That’s always one of the first sub-pages I check out whenever I stumble onto new websites!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. FAQ/About Me is probably a good idea; I guess I’ve always resisted it because of this vague principle that what I’m doing isn’t supposed to be “about me,” but you’re absolutely right that it’s information people will want when they first show up here.

      I’ve heard a *lot* of people recommend the Persona series and I’ve never really looked into it beyond the very surface because I’ve never owned a Playstation and in fact I don’t even own a TV, and those just aren’t investments I’m going to make for these games… but I think Persona 5 is available for the Switch, isn’t it? So I may have no choice but to check that one out. I have a Mac, and I don’t think there’s a Mac version of Persona 4… I *guess* I could get it for Bootcamp but I never play games I buy for Bootcamp as much as I think I’m going to; having to restart in Windows just makes it harder to fit playtime around whatever work I’m doing.

      I agree about the anime stuff, and I do *really* want to do something about Pokémon Journeys; that’s honestly the biggest thing right now that I want to do and feel like I don’t have time for. I really want to write something about the movies as well, because I watched *all* of them late last year and I have… thoughts. I’m actually working on a ranking, but that’s very much a background project to everything else I’m working on. As for the X Nuzlocke… well, part of me even now does *kind of* want to finish it. I know *roughly* how I wanted it to end, assuming certain characters survived (I didn’t finish the game, but I do still have the save file); it’s just a matter of figuring out what would happen in between, which… is always the hardest part. So, like… I’m not going to lie, it would be a verrrrry low priority, but it’s actually not *completely* off the table. I would, for instance, write a chapter at the behest of the Dark Council.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. Are you trying to tempt me to become a Councillor just so I can squeeze the remainder of Ruby and Spruce’s misadventures out of your corrupt, rotting soul?

          Because it’s working…

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Not… exactly? I mean, to be absolutely clear, even then you would still need to sway the rest of the Council. You definitely shouldn’t increase your pledge *just* for that, and that’s not the *only* imaginable reason I might decide to work on finishing the story. But… well… the Council *can* tell me to write anything, within reason, and there would be nothing unreasonable about that assignment.

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      1. I hear you on the About Me thing, but the flip side of looking at it is that it helps newcomers decide whether or not they want to commit their time (let alone money, potentially) to such a reading-heavy medium.

        Ahh, yes, unfortunately you’d need a TV to play the Persona games… No, Persona 5 is not available on the Switch; a Persona 5 *spin-off* game is, but there’s little reason to play that without having played P5 first. I believe Steam runs on Mac? I don’t know if you have a Steam account or not, but if you can get Steam running on your Mac you *should* be able to play Persona 4 Golden on it. If it’s too much hassle though, don’t worry ’bout it!

        I haven’t seen Pokémon Journeys yet so I’m not too familiar what it is…? Is it like Pokémon Twilight Wings (which I also have yet to see)? Sorry for the non-feedback on that… On the subject of the movies, ooh rankings! People LOVE rankings! Maybe sort them into tiers using Tiermaker or some such? Loads of people on YouTube do that and those always seem to do pretty well.

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        1. Oh, “Pokémon Journeys” is just the name of the new series of the anime. I can’t call it “the Galar series” or something because it isn’t actually set in Galar and doesn’t follow the games like previous series have: the premise has Ash and his new traveling companion, Goh, based in Vermillion City and working as research assistants for one Professor Cerise, a role in which they travel all over the Pokémon world. Also Delia’s Mr. Mime is there.

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  3. As much as I wish I COULD help fund you, being in the “greatest” country on Earth *coughs awkwardly* …yeah, let’s not try to sugarcoat it, the US is a train wreck right now and finances are incredibly fragile for me. I already was barely getting by and planned to ask for more hours in March and… well, the world sorta gave me a giant middle finger before I could open my mouth and at this point I’m thankful I’m still working at all, though my hours are cut for the summer (something I wanted to avoid happening again but the university is not in a place where I, a part time librarian, can really ask for more hours) and given 20% of all private colleges in the US are projected to shut down in the next two years due to the effects of them being forced to close down and the lack of many students eager to come back in the fall… at this point, I’m considering the financial benefits of long term fasting.

    You would THINK that I, someone who was working as an “essential worker“ while most of the state (and many other states) were forced to stay home, would have a financial advantage in all this, but the US economy defies all logic (and honestly barely even exists) at this point so somehow I STILL am living paycheck to paycheck.
    This is all a roundabout way of saying that I would love to support you but am unfortunately in the most precarious financial time of my life and am trying to put every penny I can into savings before capitalism collapses and makes them all worthless anyway.

    But what I’m also saying is DON’T COME BACK, IT’S SOMEHOW WORSE THAN THOSE ARTICLES SEEM! Given the election coming up, there’s a legitimate chance the country will implode before you return anyways (or at least be decimated by the super volcano that may have been awakened by our ruler). You’re in a really good place and I’m glad New Zealand is handling things well. I’d ask to relocate there too but at this point I’m not sure any other country wants American immigrants, we literally could be bringing them the plague.

    That being said, if my ranting a concerned you, I am in a relatively safe city with a very low infection rate that’s actually falling so the bigger concern is to try to get our law enforcement to stop killing innocent people. I’m safe, family is safe, and a lot of areas where the virus hit hard so far are actually recovering, it’s the areas that didn’t get hit too hard that are now getting hammered because they refuse to quarantine – I swear Florida is that one uncle ruining Thanksgiving every year.

    Anyways, sorry for the rant, I’m safe, things are fine, America is currently on fire but it’s fine! I hope more people can donate to you though, this is literally the only blog I check daily!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. This comment somehow got picked up by the site’s spam filter for some reason; sorry it blocked you at first. Anyway, yeah, absolutely: I don’t want money from anyone who’s barely getting by as it is, which… has occurred to me as a reason this might be a *terrible* moment to make a big pitch for more support, but… y’know, desperate times. There are more important things in your life than paying for Pokémon research. Good luck, and stay safe!

      (Also I didn’t think I should mention it in the body of this post, but the election has also occurred to me as a reason I might *really* want to be anywhere else in the world other than the USA this November, because… what can I say but “yikes”? Not sure whether I should be more worried about Trump winning, or Trump losing and refusing to acknowledge the result…)

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Not everyone is struggling right now so it’s a fair time to still ask for support, no worries! But I will support the site with viewership if that helps, and I do share your posts with friends from time to time so maybe that will lead to more support!

        And… yes. I don’t blame you for being apprehensive about being in the country during this time, I’m apprehensive about it and I’m a citizen. It’s… a crazy time and I hope it passes over smoothly.

        Anyways, thank you so much for the content you provide, both on Pokemon and history! It’s a nice distraction from current events!

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Honestly, the real nightmare scenario is for Trump to accept a loss… because it was successfully explained to him that he could get more done by bribing politicians than being one.

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  4. From one ABD academic to another: best of luck to you in finding a job, and may the US get its shit together soon! I always appreciate catching up on your writing in between bouts of dissertation-writing.

    Liked by 1 person

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