Haskell at Work, the screencast focused on Haskell in practice, is approaching its one year birthday. Today, I decided to stop taking donations through Patreon due to the negative stress I’ve been experiencing.
This journey started in January 2018. Having a wave of inspiration after watching some of Gary Bernhardt’s new videos, I decided to try making my own videos about practical Haskell programming. Not only producing high-quality content, but with high video and audio quality, was the goal. Haskell at Work was born, and the first video was surprisingly well-received by followers on Twitter.
With the subsequent episodes being published in rapid succession, a follower base on YouTube grew quickly. A thousand or so followers might not be exceptional for a programming screencast channel on YouTube, but to me this was exciting and unexpected. To be honest, Haskell is not exactly a mainstream programming language.
Early on, encouraged by some followers, and being eager to develop the concept, I decided to set up Patreon as a way of people to donate to Haskell at Work. Much like the follower count, the number of patrons and their monthly donations grew rapidly, beyond any hopes I had.
Fatigue Kicks In
The majority of screencasts were published between January and May. Then came the summer and my month-long vacation, in which I attended ZuriHac and spent three weeks in Bali with my wife and friends. Also, I had started getting side-tracked by my project to build a screencast video editor in Haskell. Working on Komposition also spawned the Haskell package gi-gtk-declarative, and my focus got swept away from screencasts. In all fairness, I’m not great at consistently doing one thing for an extended period. My creativity and energy comes in bursts, and it may not strike where and when I hope. Maybe this can be managed or controlled somehow, but I don’t know how.
With the lower publishing pace over the summer, a vicious circle of anxiety and low productivity grew. I had thoughts about shutting down the Patreon back then, but decided to instead pause it for a few months.
By October, I had recovered some energy. I got very good feedback and lots of encouragement from people at Haskell eXchange, and decided to throw myself back into the game. I published one screencast in November, but something was still there nagging me. I felt pressure and guilt. That I had not delivered on the promise given.
By this time, the Patreon donations had covered my recording equipment expenses, hosting costs over the year, and a few programming books I bought. The donations were still coming in, however, at around $160 per month, with me producing no obvious value for the patrons. The guilt was still there, even stronger than before.
I’m certain that this is all in my head. I do not blame any supporter for these feelings. You have all been great! With all the words of caution you hear about not reading the comments, having a YouTube channel filled with positive feedback, and almost exclusively thumbs-up ratings, I’m beyond thankful for the support I have received.
Trying Something Else
After Christmas this year, I had planned to record and publish a new screencast. Various personal events got in the way, though, and I had very little time to spend on working with it, resulting in the same kind of stress. I took a step back and thought about it carefully, and I’ve realized that money is not a good driver for the free material and open-source code work that I do, and that it’s time for a change.
I want to make screencasts because I love doing it, and I will do so when I have time and energy.
From the remaining funds in my PayPal account, I have allocated enough to keep the domain name and hosting costs covered for another year, and I have donated the remaining amount (USD 450) to Haskell.org.
Please keep giving me feedback and suggestions for future episodes. Your ideas are great! I’m looking forward to making more Haskell at Work videos in the future, and I’m toying around with ideas on how to bring in guests, and possibly trying out new formats. Stay tuned, and thank you all for your support!
If you want to get updates on my writing and software projects, I recommend you follow me on Twitter.