I’ll never forget sitting in Carl Edwards’ retirement press conference in 2017 when he was trying to explain to a baffled room why he’d walk away from a perfectly good job into an unknown future.
“There’s no life raft I’m jumping onto — I’m just jumping,” he said.
That hit me hard, because I had started to tell my media friends the same day that I was soon going to quit USA Today and start an independent website funded through Patreon.
I related to Edwards in a major way, because at the time, hardly anyone even knew what Patreon was. It was a terrifying leap of faith — a trust in strangers who follow me on Twitter — and I found out later my friends were quite worried about my decision!
It was two years ago today when I actually launched the site. I can remember practically being sick to my stomach, because I knew the next few hours would reveal whether it could work or not.
If it didn’t succeed, I was going to be out of journalism. It was this or bust. But if it worked, it had potential to be the most enjoyable job I’ve ever had.
As it turned out, the past two years have been the best of my life. I’m so incredibly grateful to those who have chosen to support this website and podcast and keep sending me to the racetrack. It probably gets repetitive to hear me say THANK YOU all the time, but that’s honestly how I feel every day, so I can’t help but constantly be appreciative.
That said, I often get asked: How long are you going to do this? And also: If another outlet approached you with an offer, would you quit Patreon?
I can’t predict the future, but as of now, my plan is to keep doing this as long as you’ll have me. I’ve actually had some great offers over the past couple years and thought about those possibilities. But ultimately, I feel such a strong bond with those who have gotten me to this point — and I’m having so much fun doing it — that I feel it would be a mistake to change course.
Patreon has given me the freedom to cover what I want, how I want, when I want — and for who I want. And that connection to my “bosses,” as I call them, is something I really cherish.
I’ll give you an example. During a Southern 500 watch party here in Portland last September — a barbecue with some patrons who attended the Portland Grand Prix earlier that day — I was given a major shock. A group of my patrons had secretly raised more than $6,000 for my baby daughter Liliana’s education fund (which didn’t exist yet!) — and presented me with an oversized check! “Speechless” doesn’t even begin to describe how I felt.
And that wasn’t even the only time the group of “Gluckers” (the nickname they gave themselves) had conspired to do something generous for me and my wife, Sarah.
As you can imagine, things like that are deeply humbling. I certainly don’t think I deserve ANY of this and I constantly wonder why people have decided to be so supportive — through Patreon and beyond. I truly don’t get it, if we’re being frank.
But it certainly makes me want to work harder and stick with this, because I view my role as trying to help entertain and inform people about their favorite sport. If they feel that’s being accomplished, then I’m not about to abandon it.
Anyway, today is the start of Year 3, and I can’t wait to see what’s next.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity to post the link to Patreon if you’re interested in signing up for the first time. This year I’m offering a few more patron-only pieces of content, so you can check out the details there. Plus I had 1,000 stickers made with my cartoon face on them, and if you become a patron by the Daytona 500, I’ll send one your way.
Thanks for reading — whether you’re a patron or not — and I’ll talk to you soon.