Obsession Thursday: How to ask for help

The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer
The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer

Hopefully by now, you’ve heard about our Patreon campaign that’s changed Knitty from a struggling ad-only supported magazine to one supported by both advertisers and our readers. We are now able to count on a stable future full of opportunity, as we will be able to pay our staff and contributors fairly! And we’re working on our next goal, which is redesigning and recoding to bring this 2002 magazine visually and functionally up to date with the 2016 (and beyond) internet.

One thing I haven’t talked much about through this process is what got me to a place where I felt brave enough to let people know our current financial state and to ask for their help. This book is what did it. I bought it when it was released last fall and absorbed every word, because I was a fan. And because I liked the message the author was spreading.

Amanda Palmer is an independent musician who’s been in the business longer than Knitty has been around. She spent her early days atop a milk crate as a Living Statue, and transitioned into music as a singer-songwriter on piano and (yes) ukulele, where she’s slowly, steadily built her fan base by being intimately connected to her fans, in person and on the internet. Whether you like her music or not (I happen to love it), the way she conducts herself and her business is inspirational. And when I saw that Amanda had launched a Patreon earlier this year, I realized that perhaps this could work for Knitty, too.

It’s easy to read the title and assume it’s all about asking for help. Just ask, and everyone will give and poof, worries over. Except it’s not like that at all. The book shows, in great detail, that building a community first is a key element to establishing a relationship in which the creator can ask for help and the community will want to provide it. Ravelry proved that point when they asked for our help in categorizing their huge library of patterns and supporting them financially. They had already provided so much to knitters that we were glad to help and as a result, we have a robust, super-useful Ravelry available to us today.

But Knitty was my business, and we all know about the demons that sit on our shoulders and tell us we’re not good enough. (Amanda calls them the Fraud Police.) Sure, asking for help worked for Ravelry, but would it work for Knitty?

As we have seen in just 48 hours, it has worked. 

There’s so much more I can say, but I’ve got Patreon work to do. Read the book. I think you’ll find a lot to think about in there.

(189 Posts)

5 thoughts on “Obsession Thursday: How to ask for help

  1. Linda

    I love the whole idea and signed up immediately. I do have a question for you: I presume the new goal of $15,000 is in addition to the $7,000 from the first goal? So the requested total is now $22,000? Just want to know how far to up my pledge 🙂

    1. Amy Singer

      No, the total IS $15,000, which means we need an extra $8000 (and possibly more, but $8k is a good start) to do the website redesign and recode.

      Once we’ve done that, I can set the goal back to what we need on an ongoing basis to keep the magazine paying fairly and strong for the future. Right now, we have expenses to get us caught up to the times! 🙂 Thank you for your support!

  2. Renee Anne

    I read the book over the summer, though I had heard about it when it came out (and while she was writing it, actually). I, too, am a fan 🙂

    I also understand the entire thing from my own experiences, though I’m still working on how to allow the help in. Time will tell.

    1. Amy Singer

      It can be really hard. It’s also really terrifying (ask me about how much kleenex i went through, thinking about the WHAT IFs) to open yourself up to others, letting them know you’re in trouble. It’s scarier than I ever imagined. But it had to happen in order for the help to start coming, and it was absolutely worth it.

  3. Stardancer

    I absolutely am thrilled to know that your designers retain all of the rights to their patterns. I’m not an intellectual property rights expert by any means, but this is something that seems deeply right to me. I am so excited that Knitty supports the community in this way.

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