Fansplaining: The Patreon!

The podcast by, for, and about fandom is asking for $$$

BY ELIZABETH MINKEL

A split screen: Flourish and Elizabeth, in action, recording the podcast. Elizabeth holds her cat, Orlando.

Last summer, Flourish and I sat on opposite ends of a long table of panelists at San Diego Comic-Con. We were all discussing a complicated topic, and, as we like to tell it, people on the panel were having different conversations—but Flourish and I were having the same one. At a bar a few hours later she approached me (we’d never met in person before) and asked if I wanted to start a podcast. “Sure, why the hell not?” seemed like the right response over Supernatural-themed cocktails. When she mentioned it again the next day, all business this time, my response was, “Yes. Definitely.”

We’ve just returned from this year’s SDCC and “Fansplaining” is still going strong. We’ve put out 28 episodes so far, spanning all sorts of topics from all sorts of fannish corners (with many more corners to visit—we’ve got a long list). Most weeks we’ve had a guest, sometimes more than one, often experts in their fields, bringing in a wide variety of perspectives on fans and fandom. And somewhere along the way we began to build a community: a group of listeners and readers who are brilliant and generous with their time, always willing to chime in when we float a question or boost our stuff.

But! We’ve long known that the way to keep this sustainable was to start to bring in money. We need to cover basic costs—we’re overextended making this thing from start to finish, booking guests, editing audio, producing finished episodes, and transcribing each one in a timely fashion—and we’d love to upgrade our equipment and production values in the long term.

Flourish huddles under a sheet while recording, to improve sound quality.

The stuff we need help with is the kind of stuff we need to pay people for. We both have long histories in fandom and have done (and currently do!) plenty of unpaid work there, but we know that we can’t keep the podcast going relying on volunteers to pitch in. We want to commission fanart for covers, music for episodes, and—especially!—pieces for our brand-new Medium publication! I, like most journalists, have done far too much work for “exposure” alone; we want to pay writers—professionals, fans, professionals who are also fans—for essays, explainers, meta, and more.

So we’ve decided to launch a Patreon! If you’re unfamiliar with Patreon, it’s like a rolling Kickstarter: you donate as little as $1 a month and we send you different thank-yous, from early access to episodes to tiny zines to the most beautiful hand-knit Weasley sweater you can imagine. You can check out all the levels and rewards here. And to get things going, we’re thanking patrons at all donation levels with a special episode about Harry Potter and the Cursed Child—you’ve got three guesses as to how that particular work makes both of us feel.

We have so much gratitude for all the love and support we’ve gotten for this project in the past year. And if you don’t have the financial resources to donate, no worries at all—even sharing this post, or continually sharing our work, helps a great deal. And if you do have a couple bucks a month to spare, THANK YOU. Whatever it takes to keep Flourish from huddling under a sheet while we record. It gets really warm under there.

 
Flourish and Elizabeth raise beers at San Diego Comic Con.
 

 
 
A headshot of Elizabeth Minkel. She wears a leather jacket and earbuds and holds two thumbs up.

Elizabeth Minkel is one half of Fansplaining. She’s written about fan culture for the New Statesman, The Guardian, The New Yorker, The Millions, The Verge, and more. She co-curates “The Rec Center,” a weekly fandom newsletter, with fellow journalist Gavia Baker-Whitelaw.

 
Elizabeth Minkel