After that rat, another and another. I’m with you on this challenge. I completely understand the ethic @exodus is using here and it’s the right one. Maybe having a set, relatively small fee paid out for articles ($50, say) but then also having an easy option for the submitter to wave the fee - perhaps as a donation back to the patreon - for those who don’t need or want it. This leaves room for those who really could use the money to take it, and others the option to just publish for the likes.
I’m thinking back to my dad, who after retiring from teaching taught part time at his parish Catholic school. They desperately needed people and were losing money by the bucket (they’ve since closed). So they paid my dad whatever the salary was, which was very little (I used to joke that they paid him in prayers, or bibles, or rosaries, or whatever other Catholic paraphernalia came to mind). He would then turn around and donate the same amount of money back to the school. The school got the labor for free, and he got a nice tax deduction.