[Update] AniFem will pay all writers in 2017

On our 50th day AniFem made it to over $700 in pledges! To do so on a platform like Patreon, known as a beer money tip jar rather than a business model, is a pretty staggering achievement. Again, we started with no community, no name recognition, very limited content – and fandom has showed up for us, ensuring that we don’t have to rely on other income streams like affiliate links or ads. As a result, I am committing here and now to paying every single one of our writers in 2017, starting January 1st.

We still need your help though, because $700 is not enough to pay all our writers. In the terms of our Patreon we’re obligated to create four posts per week, and we will be offering an average rate of $50 per post. I made the commitment to pay our writers from January by banking on being able to pull the Patreon across the $800 line by 31st December.

Every single dollar adds up

This is a really difficult time to ask this, when everyone’s dealing with increased costs like holiday shopping, travel expenses, heating bills and a spike in social events. However, we do have a $1 per month option, and I’m not sure everyone realises how much this option matters to us, how important a contingent our $1 patrons actually are.

Of our current (at the time of writing) $710 in pledges, $80 comes from $1 patrons. Without it, we would be back at $630. If we got the same number of $1 pledges again we would be at $790 already, with no worries at all about meeting $800 by the New Year. Your dollars add up, I cannot stress that enough. Every. single. dollar. matters. We’ve had some feedback that people feel embarrassed to pay “only” $1, that they feel it would be insulting to pay less than $5 or $10. I need you all to know that this is just not the case. We need your help, $1 at a time, until we hit a point were we can consider ourselves genuinely sustainable.

What do we mean by ‘sustainable’?

Sustainable means that all our running costs are covered, everyone involved in AniFem is being paid for their work and we have a buffer for emergency expenditure, all while updating the site with new content every day. Let’s break that down to real numbers.

While I would like to work towards a higher starting rate for contributors, as a freelance writer myself and having discussed with other freelancers on the team, I feel comfortable that $50 per piece is a reasonable starting point for a new website that began with no financial backing. Our minimum aim is one new post a day, which means we need to be receiving a little over $1500 a month to pay writers alone.

We also need to compensate the team for the next level up of work that they do, including editing contributor pieces, arranging interviews, facilitating roundtable discussions, fixing technical problems and pulling analytics reports. Right now, everyone does this work for free. I want everyone to be paid at a starting rate of $15 an hour. Let’s say that all together we add up to a single person doing a 40-hour week in order to keep AniFem up to date with daily content (which I think undercuts it, but just to use as an example). Here in the UK we have 253 working days in a year, which works out at $2530 a month to be divided between multiple people.

So that’s something like $1520 + $2530 = $4050 a month just to have new and varied content up every day.

Finally let’s look at the associated running costs. Yes, there are basics like domain name and hosting, plus some equipment and a couple of precautionary costs like a virtual address, pretty standard for any blog. However, in order to pay people, AniFem can’t just be a blog – we have to be a company. Companies have their own costs, including a 20% corporation tax rate here in the UK and an accountant to make sure I don’t get taken to court for being terrible with numbers.

Want to know how terrible with numbers I am? I’ve been telling people for months that we’ll be sustainable at $2400 in pledges, based on drastically underestimating the amount of work that goes into the site even as I put that work into the site. Our real goal is and should be $5000. At $5000 a month we will be sustainable with new content every day, all workers paid fairly and a small surplus for a buffer. Sounds like a lot of money for a Patreon project; less so for a business with multiple employees and contractors. $700 in 50 days feels great, and it really is a huge achievement in its own right for which we are extremely grateful, but we are so, so far from being sustainable.

The good news, however, is that if everyone who visited our site became $1 patrons we would smash through that $5000 number easily. Sustainability is not some distant, unattainable dream. It is immediately achievable.

Almost half our patrons pledge $1 a month – please join them!

If you are someone who has been holding back from becoming a patron because you wanted to wait until you could commit to a higher amount, please reconsider a $1 pledge. We currently have 80 x $1 patrons; if the number stayed at exactly that level they would give us $960 over a year. That’s huge! Your $1 a month adds up to $12 a year, a negligible amount for many of you but for us the key to surviving and thriving without relying on the goodwill of volunteers. If you support our work and you can spare $1 a month, please, please, please become a patron today.

I can’t say too much yet, but we have some truly huge announcements coming up this month. If you become a patron because you’ve appreciated our work so far, I can confidently say you will get your value for money many times over in 2017.

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