How to Keep Learning

Before reading any of the following, know that I despise April Fools Day jokes, and will not subject you to one on this site.

Recently I mentioned that online ad revenues are way down, and asked you to use my Amazon Affiliate links (Available for the US, the UK and Canada). In the time since, lots of you have used the links (Huge thanks, by the way!), and many of you have sent me ideas about how I can increase my income from the comic. More on that in a moment.

If I seem to be radiating extra urgency regarding my finances, it’s not because I’ve suffered some horrible shortfall, or that I have a loan-shark threatening to “take my thumbs.” It’s just that I recently put you all through over a month of partial reruns, which I find unacceptable. As Charles Schultz once said, “I didn’t work so hard to get this job to not do it.”  During the same period I had a secret writing opportunity come up, and I was not able to put the time and effort I’d have liked into it. All this was due to the amount of time I have to spend at my day job (which, I admit, is a pretty nice problem to have).

So, I have a catch-22. I want to put more time into the comic so it will do better, but I can’t while working full time, and I can’t stop working full time until the comic starts doing better.*

I mentioned that I was sent some ideas. Many of the ideas were quite good, and all were well-intentioned. Having read them all, I have devised a three-pronged plan.

Prong 1: The return of the donate button.

It’s back. It’s up there in the upper-right corner of the site. It’s self-explanatory.

Prong 2: Sponsorship.

I had a reader who has a blog of his own generously offer to sponsor the comic for two weeks!
In about a week all of the ads on the site will be removed and a large banner leading to his blog will be placed at the top of the page. There will also be a text link to his site after the comics posted during that time.  

Prong 3: The Basic Instructions Subscription Service.

The site will continue to be free, and the posting schedule will remain unchanged, but for the trivially small fee of $2.50 a month (that’s $30 a year, roughly the cost of lunch for two at Red Robin) I will e-mail my comics directly to your inbox at a higher resolution that you get on the site, at least a week before they appear online. I eventually plan to start offering special subscriber-only content, but I don't know right now what that content will be.

I have set myself a lofty goal of 800 subscribers (I have, depending on how you count them, around 20,000 regular readers, so 800 subscribers is ambitious but realistic). If I make my goal of 800 subscribers, I will be able to scale the day job back to part time and start giving the comic the full time attention it deserves. That means more time spent on writing, on products, on related side projects, possibly on conventions and appearances, and definitely more time spent on proofreading!

The downside for you is that I am going to be shamelessly flogging the subscription service every chance I get until I reach my goal. As with the donation button, the subscribe button is in the upper right corner of the Basic Instructions home-page.

Thanks for your patience.


*I didn’t call this a chicken/egg problem because THE EGG CLEARLY CAME FIRST!! Life forms were laying eggs MILLENNIA before anything we’d recognize as a chicken EVER EXISTED!!

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Reader Comments (13)

So then the 2011 date on the comic means it's just one that took you a while to publish? I recall you saying the old copyright dates were because they represent when it was made and it usually takes a month to catch up with when the year of publication, but four months?

Or maybe you don't "despise April Fools Day jokes" and this is a very subtle one. Well played, Mr. Meyer. Well played.

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCovarr

However, the chicken/egg debate becomes more interesting if you assume that "egg" is referring exclusively to chicken eggs. Was the first chicken egg the one that a chicken hatched out of, or was it the first egg that was laid by a chicken?

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAha!

7,000,000,000 people on the planet…
300,000,000 in the USA…
yet only 20,000 readers…

We need to do something about that…

And, uh, instead of buying lunch for you and your wife at Red Robin, wouldn't us paying an electric bill or a water bill help you out more? Or, maybe you guys need new wheels for your shopping carts while living on the streets? Don't be ashamed, let us know y'all need a new umbrella for making your cardboard box last longer.

Oh, wait. Were you suggesting your readers are the type to eat at Red Robin? Hmm, maybe you were. I'm not sure how to take that…

Here, consider this instead: all-day downtown parking is $30-$40 a day, people usually work 5 days week while paying that, so no big deal paying that once a year. Surely there's a holiday they get off from work where that saved parking fee could be used for a year's worth of education from Basic Instructions.

And isn't $30 about three packs of cigarettes, or less? That's one less cigarette smoked every six days, for a year. Probably shouldn't claim it'll improve their health much, but one less cigarette a week should be pretty much unnoticed.

And at minimum wage, depending on location, $30 is probably not much more than five hours. Just five hours working minimum wage to support the continuation of Basic Instructions for a year. Or just one hour if earning $60k a year. Or only a solitary minute if earning $3.6 million a year! Surely some of your illustrious readers, perhaps living on "The World" (the world largest yacht), can spare a minute of their hard earned money.

[BTW: The chicken/egg question is only a problem because there is no question. There is no question because there is no chicken. Every creature is new of and by itself, perhaps resembling other creatures but not the same. Therefore, anything referred to as a chicken of today is neither the chicken of lore nor of the future, even if everything does continue to taste like chicken.]

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterThom

I disagree, Burglar and Whip Enthusiast would look great on a business card. I would totally buy something from somebody with that card.

Bill N in VT

April 3, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBill N.

The "dino eggs came before chickens ever showed up" answer always annoys me. The question is almost certainly talking about chicken eggs. Yet, the egg still came first.

Here's why:
1. Chickens hatch from chicken eggs
2. Chickens have not always existed
3. Chickens have therefore developed from a different species.
4. The genetics of a creature do not significantly change during a lifespan

Therefore, the first chicken to exist must have been born from an egg that was laid by a creature other than a chicken.

Ta-dah! Science murders another Koan!

Note from Scott> I had sworn that I wasn't going to go this far down the rabbit hole, but here I go. IF you assume that the egg being discussed is a chicken-egg, not an egg-egg, then it becomes a question of definitions. Is a chicken egg an egg laid by a chicken, or is it an egg that contains a chicken embryo? If it's an egg laid by a chicken, then the Chicken came first. If it's an aegg that contains a chicken embryo, the egg came first.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZ2

What happened to all the posts?

I only ask because I'd like to get the subscription but my current situation I do not have a credit card, Paypal is what I use most often. (I also suggested Google Wallet.)

I wonder how many others there are that are in the same situation.

Note from Scott: Human error happened to the comments. In this case, I am the human. The modify post button is right next to the delet post button. I ended up losing all the comments and having to reconstruct the post. Good times!

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnonymous

The egg comes before the chicken, because breakfast comes before dinner.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterR2

Clearly the egg came first, if you think about it reasonably. Consider.

1. There must have been some species which was one mutation away from being considered a chicken.
2. If the chicken came before the chicken egg, that would mean that a member of that species spontaneously turned into a chicken, which would require a mutation in something like every cell at once.
3. More likely: a member of that species laid an egg which then mutated into being a chicken egg.


I bet there's a fatal flaw in my argument that renders it totally invalid, isn't there?

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterbenzrf

Some of the subscription-only content should be x-rated or nude comics, so that we can easily avoid them.

April 4, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteroldestgenxer

On the subject of the comic...

April 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVictor Grunn

Can you get ad impressions going through the RSS feed? I read web comics exclusively through Google Reader, and and only click through when I think specifically how I want to support the creator with ad impressions. Or, could you set up RSS as a subscription-only service? Or would that ultimately kill hits?

April 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKyle Potter

For the answer to the chicken/egg question, Google CLEIDOIC EGG. Its the egg type with a shell hard enough to be laid and incubated on land, rather than water (amphibians) or in dirt mounds (reptiles). All birds eggs are cleidoic. I figured this out my near my last semester in college.... Made the $80,000 I spent on tuition (worked my way thru) getting that Zoology degree all seem worth it! (Nah, not really.)

Anyhow: LOVE your site - great writing AND great graphics! Love best the workplace ones -- they're like stills from a live-action 'Dilbert' movie with Ed Norton playing Dilbert.

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCat B

Actually it has scientifically been proven that the chicken came first. They have found that there is a protein in the egg's shell that is impossible to recreate, or exist, without it coming from a chicken. Thus there had to have been a chicken to lay that egg. Chicken comes first says biblical scholars and scientists. WOW! Something they actually can agree on for once.

April 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPhathom
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