I’ll cut to the chase: in just one week, we’re facing up to $880 worth of premiere reviews with only $500 in the bank.
We need your help, or we’re going to have to reconsider whether we even do premiere reviews in the future.
In this post, I’ll give you details on what we need money for, what we currently spend it on, and what we will spend it on once we’re no longer struggling to survive. I’ll also talk about where we currently get money from, where we do not get money from, and where we could get money from in the future.
However, the main point is this: Anime Feminist is not currently sustainable, and that needs to change.
This is the last time we’re going to campaign for premiere reviews. If we can’t fund them through Patreon by the Summer 2018 season, we’ll reconsider whether we do them at all going forward.
There are two ways you can ensure we continue to review premieres.
1. Sponsor a premiere review
In December we gave people a way to offer one-off payments for the first time, by sponsoring a premiere review for $20 (the amount we pay the writers for them).
It worked beautifully. We blew past our $500 target for an estimated 25 reviews in just three days, and ended up with $620!
I am so, so grateful to our Winter 2018 sponsors (listed here in order of name length purely because it was fun to make the list look that way):
Henry Star Tuttle
Jules Philippe Laurent de Bellefeuille Defoy
+ 11 sponsors who chose to remain completely anonymous.
I watched every one of your $20 payments show up in the AniFem inbox, and was overwhelmed by how fast they came in. I had expected to be hustling for premiere review dollars right up to the New Year. Instead, we met our target before Christmas.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. You kept AniFem up and running at a time of year people are typically already spending more than usual on gifts, travel, and worthy causes. It meant so much to me and to the whole team that you would add our cause to that pile and help us when we needed it.
What does sponsoring a premiere review do?
As a reminder, this is what our sponsors paid for: 28 premiere reviews, for which writers received $20 per review, and a full premiere digest, dividing the new shows into categories so you can easily identify which shows may be for you.
We also pay extra editing and admin costs for ad hoc premiere activity – for example, covering the hours it took to edit thousands of words out of our gigantic, sprawling three-episode check-in roundtable, an experiment we probably won’t be repeating in this format.
We do save some money in this period too. Most significantly, premiere reviews take up all the time our editors would usually spend working with contributors, so we don’t put up features for the heaviest weeks of premieres. This saves us at least $160 per week – $50 per post for writers, $30 per post for their editors.
Where does extra money go?
As we’re not yet breaking even, there’s no such a thing as extra money. The fact is that I have paid – and continue to pay – for a number of AniFem’s costs out of pocket, including:
- web hosting
- domain name and WHOIS
- company registration
- a virtual address with mail forwarding
- project management software
- podcast hosting
- social media management software
- automation tools
This all adds up… and after 18 months, I can no longer sustain AniFem with my own income.
I’ve started to shift all of the above payments from my personal accounts to AniFem’s. Any “extra” left over after premiere reviews could buy us time to build up the patronage we need to become truly sustainable.
And if this post is well received and we reach our patronage target quickly… well, we have some big costs this year which I will no longer be able to cover out of pocket.
Weighing most heavily on my mind is that we need to submit corporate taxes for the first time. Anime Feminist Ltd is a British company, and I’ll need to pay an accountant over £600 (US $850 at the time of writing) to file them for me.
(Anyone at this point thinking of entering the comments section to suggest I do it myself, fair warning that my sheer hatred of numbers, maths, and dealing with HMRC may well telepathically delete your comment before it even reaches my eyeballs.)
(Anyone considering offering to do this work for free, or at ‘mates rates’… I’m grateful for the sentiment, truly, but we’ve built a brand on paying people fairly for their work. This is as true of accountancy as it is for writing or editing.)
Where does the money go once we break even?
If we miraculously get enough to cover all premiere reviews and give ourselves a buffer, and cover all our running costs… then we can work towards other relevant goals, like increasing our schedule to daily publication, or pushing up premiere review fees so writers get $30 per piece instead of $20.
For now though, we just need $880 to cover the mammoth Spring 2018 season.
If we fall short of that, we’ll have to pick and choose which premieres we cover, because I refuse to publish reviews for which the writer does not get paid.
If you can spare $20 to support our work, please click the PayPal button to sponsor a premiere review. If all goes well, this will be your last chance to do so.
(We’d love to thank you by name, as we did our winter sponsors, but if you’d prefer to stay anonymous just leave the name field blank.)
2. Become a patron
I’ve adjusted our Patreon goals to work towards a single aim: breaking even. This is the point at which Anime Feminist is fully self-sustaining. No one is left out of pocket, we don’t have to worry about premiere reviews or accountants, and we have a little buffer.
That gamechanging number is $2000, broken down as follows:
30 x premiere reviews each season, $20 per review (i.e. $200 per month/$50 per week)
3 x contributors each week, $50 per post
1 x contributors each week, $15 per shorter post
4 x hours of copy editing each week, $15/hour
5 x hours of admin each week, $15/hour
2 x hours of podcast editing each week, $15/hour
$250-ish (depending on UK-US exchange rates) running costs each month, covering everything from accounting to hosting to a virtual address
+ 10% to cover 5% payment and 5% Patreon fees
+ <$50 to round up to $2000 and give us a very small financial buffer for ad hoc costs
In the short term, if we hit $1675 in patronage in April and don’t drop below that number, we’ll have enough to cover 30 premiere reviews in July – meaning no more emergency PayPal campaigns.
What does being a patron get you?
We keep our reward tiers low, only $1 or $5, with $1 giving you access to our Patreon feed and $5 giving you access to our private Discord server. Our priority is stability, and someone is far less likely to cancel a $1 monthly payment than they are a $10 monthly payment.
However, from April, we’ll be playing with new ways to offer our patrons more exclusive content within these tiers. Ideas include offering behind-the-scenes tidbits through Patreon’s Lens feature, early access to our weekly features, even AniFem merchandise. We’ll try things out and see what works best.
Everyone will continue to have access to everything we publish, and we’ll always be completely open with patrons about how your money contributes to AniFem’s work.
Patronage is what makes it possible for us to avoid funding from other sources – most significantly, sponsorship and affiliate links. It’s important to us that we retain the commercial distance to be critical, so we’ve deliberately turned our backs on the kinds of funding sources some influencers live off.
Where does the money go once we break even?
Breakeven is where things get really interesting.
We will of course continue to raise money through Patreon. I’ve said “breakeven” in reference to our current output, but if we decide to go up to daily content, that’s an extra $440 ($400 in writer fees + 10% Patreon costs) at minimum that we’d need per month to sustain that. Breakeven increases as our output does.
But I’m thinking bigger than breakeven. I want Anime Feminist to be truly profitable.
My job title here is Editor-in-Chief, because that’s what made sense at the time. And there’s an element of that even now; where there’s an “Is this right for AniFem or not?” question, it’s my call, and I retain a rarely exercised right to veto. But the content of the site is, these days, very much driven by the sterling work Dee does as Managing Editor, and by internal discussions of the team.
My real job, the one I intend to throw myself into for the next six months, is CEO.
To my mind, that means I have a responsibility to grow my company, in line with the values on which it was built, to the point that it creates sustainable jobs.
$50 per feature was only ever supposed to be a starting point.
$15 per hour is minimum wage. It’s an ethical minimum wage, but still minimum.
These payments don’t come with security, or benefits of any kind. I informally offer paid sick leave and holiday for those of the team doing regular work, in that they know I will cover their ‘shifts’ when they need time off, but that’s not the same and we all know it.
I want to get AniFem to the point that we have well-compensated full time staffers working on it – not least because I know what we could offer our community if we made it that far. Manga reviews, parental guides, a regular convention presence, our own books, videos, and events…
But to accomplish any of that, we need to raise $880 this week to cover the next season’s premiere reviews.