“If you like what I do, why don’t you help me?”

Almost every free software developer made the experience that many people like his or her work, but very few actually provide help. If you experience this, don’t let it disheart you. Verbal support without practical help sounds inconsistent at first, but it actually is the result of limited time.

Most people who have the skills to help are already committed to other projects, so they cannot help you on yours. They can encourage you from the sidelines (“This is cool! If I had time, I’d gladly help!”), but they cannot dive into the code, understand it and help improving it.

If you have 100 fans, one might actually have the resources to provide help. And this is not limited to software.

See for example how this works in media: A video from acapella artist Smooth McGroove gets 250.000 views on Youtube and 15.000 Likes. It is funded by 750 people (with at least 1$ per video - about 200 give at least 5$). These are the numbers for someone who has 45.000 followers in twitter and 160.000 Likes in F***b***. And who’s a legend in the gaming community - while being funded by only 750 people (including me).

250k viewers, 750 supporters. 3 in 1000 people support him (it’s enough for him to work full-time on his art). That’s the scale I want to show here. And this scale is visible when it’s just about giving One Dollar - the equivalent of 5 minutes of work. Much less than the time it took me to compose this text.

So whatever project you do: If few people help you, keep up your spirits: You are competing against every other project out there for their time and money - and some of these projects might be their own creations.

And when even a single person supports you, remember that this is a huge statement of support - much bigger than it seems when you are focussed on the work you do.

(This is the best time to again thank everyone who ever flattr’d me: Thank you for your support! I don’t yet earn enough to fund the cost of my server, but every flattr I get is like a little star which lights up in my heart and shows me that there are people who care enough to give me something for the stuff I do.)

(Written in a bug-report for el marmalade)

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