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I mentioned after buying Arts & Faith that I wanted to get a sense of what the costs were before making a budget, accepting donations, or pursuing funding plans. 

My current sense is that the annual costs will be between $350-$400. I recently renewed the web hosting, which was $300 for one year. The Invision software license is currently $25 for six months. I'm not sure how frequently I will have to renew domain registration, but that's usually about $15-20 per year.

I had some money set up for start-up costs/transitions, and purchase, so we are paid through 2019 (with the exception that Invision license will need to be renewed in July). I'm not looking for revenue now, but I do want the community to have a basic awareness of what the costs are so that if we grow or revive it won't come as a shock if we ever need money for financing. 

Let me know if there are questions or comments.

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You may see some temporary changes as I experiment with the "donate" box and the ad settings. For right now this is to see what they look like. RAW set up the donate box along with doing the latest software upgrades, but I haven't decided when (or for how long) to make them "visible."

 

 

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It has now been one year since I acquired the site from Image. One of my goals for the first year with to get a sense of how much the site costs to maintain before thinking about ways to address that cost. I figured a year was about the right length for things to come up and give me a sense of cost. 

I seemed to remember Greg mentioning a number at one point of about $300-$350/year. Not surprisingly, that's about what it turned out last year. (I am not including the purchase price paid to Image which was a one time thing.)

That costs includes (more or less in order of expense):

--Software licensing fees to Invision for the forum software. 

--Periodic donations to tech expert for technical assistance (mostly software updates but also dealing with security issues, etc.)

--Web hosting.

--Domain registration.

Some changes (none drastic) in my own financial situation makes my underwriting the cost as a patron more problematic as a permanent solution, though it is not an immediate problem. 

Some ways that have been discussed or tried in the past to defray costs have been:

--Memberships.

--Advertising.

--User donations.

I'm open to other suggestions.

In my opinion, memberships is a non-starter. A&F should be free to use and the issues surrounding ways to try to make access restricted are problematic and not worth our time. I know we did have voluntary memberships for a time that allowed "members" some sort of bonus (like altering their profiles??) that weren't available to everyone. I'm ambivalent about that, but certainly if there was some feature that people really wanted that would be an incentive, I'm happy to make that happen.

As far as ads, I'm against any kind of pop-up or adwords (things that insert ads into posts) or sponsored content (posts with link backs that are really ads under the guise of content. I wouldn't be against an occasional banner ad or something in the header/footer or sidebar. 

The forum does have a donation box function that I can turn on/off, and that will probably be a first step, though I haven't decided (a la PBS pledge drive) how long to keep it open and when to run in. 

I have also defrayed costs by moving the NCFCA web site and my personal blog onto the Virtual Private Network through the web host so that some of the redundant expenses of web hosting can be shared . 

The most likely first step is that sometime in October I'll turn on the donation skin for a week or two and see if we generate any money that way. But before I do, I just wanted to post this to give people the lay of the land and invite any other suggestions.
 

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Thank you to Evan and Nathaniel for contributions while I had the donation sidebar up. 

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I'm travelling at the moment, so limited consistent time on the internet - but if you could put the donation bar up for a few days next week, I'd like to donate as well.

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Thanks, Andrew. Thanks also to Joel for his recent donation. It is gratifying to see people willing to share this cost. 

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So, buy a website you get a forced education in all sorts of things you didn't know existed.

I've recently had to do a crash course in Search Engine Optimization because of periodic requests I get to put sponsored content on A&F (or, for that matter, my blog). According to one site, A&F has a domain authority of 43 (https://www.seoweather.com/domain-authority-checker/)

According to another site, the average fee for a sponsored post with a dofollow link at a site with a Domain Authority of 43 is 300-350 pounds (https://www.lifeasabutterfly.com/charge-for-a-do-follow-link/).  Price quotes vary wildly, because (if I understand correctly) some sites will charge by the month so that the content will eventually go away. Others charge a one-time fee because the content is permanent. 

I don't accept such posts at my blog because the majority of them don't want to be labelled as ads and labeling is part of my blog disclosure policy. I'm not sure how I feel about accepting them at A&F since the line between promotion and content has always been blurred (i.e. there are many, many posts at A&F that essentially serve the function of directing readers elsewhere for content). A difference is, of course, that those endorsements are coming from the community members who have established ethos. Plus, while such sponsored posts would be annoying, I might find them less annoying than other ways of generating revenue, especially if doing 3-5 a year could underwrite the entire site. 

I would be interested in user feedback about attitudes towards "sponsored" content with dofollow links, ranging from:

--Okay with it.

--Find them annoying but acceptable.

--Find them annoying but less onerous than other ways of paying for content. (I.e. I would rather donate to the site so I don't have to see them vs. I'd rather see a few ads so that I don't have to harangued with pledge drives and donation requests).

--What is/should be limits to number of these? (I feel like there is probably a huge spectrum between, say 3-5 a year and 3-5 a week). 

--Okay with it as long as ________________ (they are limited in number, don't link back to certain sites [porn obvious would be out, but would there be other sites that should not be accepting advertising from], identified as paid/sponsored content).

--Not okay with them (i.e. would be less likely to frequent or contribute to the site if such content were accepted).



 

 

 

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It wouldn't prevent my participation here, but I'd rather keep A&F ad free if possible.  A yearly or semi-yearly fund-raising drive would be preferable in my book.

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On 10/30/2019 at 6:44 PM, Andrew said:

It wouldn't prevent my participation here, but I'd rather keep A&F ad free if possible.  A yearly or semi-yearly fund-raising drive would be preferable in my book.

I'm inclined to agree.

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On 10/29/2019 at 9:04 AM, kenmorefield said:

the line between promotion and content has always been blurred (i.e. there are many, many posts at A&F that essentially serve the function of directing readers elsewhere for content). A difference is, of course, that those endorsements are coming from the community members who have established ethos.

This difference seems pretty key to me. I love it when actual board users promote/link their stuff here.  I agree with Andrew and Nathaniel, but I also would (find it annoying but) totally understand if it were just a few ads per year and they were clearly labelled as such.

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Just by way of transparency, I'd like to report that I received $180 in donations during last month's window when the donation sidebar was open. 

Thank you to those who contributed.

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12 hours ago, kenmorefield said:

Just by way of transparency, I'd like to report that I received $180 in donations during last month's window when the donation sidebar was open. 

Thank you to those who contributed.

Thats awesome! 

Thanks to those who contributed.

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