For the past two months, I've been hosting private online seminars for patrons supporting me at $25/month or more. The first one was good, but the second session really took off. Participants became comfortable sharing their projects, raising questions and constructive criticisms with each other, and the whole thing seemed to find its rhythm. After working out some kinks, I'm now opening up the seminar to anyone interested. If you'd like to join, you can now sign up with me directly rather than going through Patreon (although you can still do that). For the moment, I'm only asking for $25/month, which is a steal compared to any other currently existing structure of this kind. (If I get many subscribers I might have to increase this later.) You won't be charged until after your first seminar, so if you don't like the experience you are encouraged to cancel your subscription before it charges. Obviously I am looking to make money, but I'm trying to be as transparent, generous, and generally non-grubby as possible. I don't want your money unless you are genuinely happy with whatever I'm offering you...
So I made a nice splashy landing page that introduces the basic idea and provides an easy, secure payment checkout.
The main rationale behind this experiment is that 90% of the value derived from grad school is just structure, social accountability, and support from someone with a PhD. I know many people who spent a lot of money on a one-year MA program when the honest truth is that they really just didn't know what to do with their life. They needed help finding intellectual motivation, and/or they just needed someone to force them to complete a meaningful project. Those are perfectly normal needs, but it's kind of crazy that so many people enter expensive institutional degree programs just for those things! Obviously I offer no accreditation or degrees, so it's a very bad grad school — but for a certain type of person, I can give 90% of what grad school gives for literally less than .1% of the price. By making groups of no more than 6 participants, participants get a cozy, focused seminar experience akin to what they would get in grad school, and I can earn a decent hourly rate (less than average consulting rates for PhDs, but enough to make me happy for now!).
Academics privately talk about how guilty they feel even teaching on some MA programs, knowing full well they are cash-cows for universities but of dubious value to students. But we do it anyway, just because if you're an academic it's part of the job. But as I'm increasingly estranged from my moorings in the Academy, I'm more and more inclined to call bullshit on stuff like this, and at least try — in my own typically experimental DIY fashion — to start building minimalist, independent, digital alternatives. It's already running and working for one group of 6, so it's not unrealistic. The only question is how many other people might like to join. I'm curious to learn. What do you think? If you have questions, critiques, or suggestions, leave a reply below or feel free to email me. And remember if you want to try a session for free, all you have to do is subscribe and cancel your subscription after your first seminar.