Actually, this post should more properly be called 1100 thanks. You see, that is the number of readers that have signed up for membership since we rolled out the AAC Bookclub on May 24th 2013. Thank you all.
The Last Chance
Back then, when we rolled out membership, having spent 11 years developing the site and having tried several things unsuccessfully to just cover our out of pocket expenses, things were looking pretty bleak.
Sign Ups Are Good
A year later, things are looking much brighter. While advertising sales have proven challenging, new members are signing up at a rate of about 100 a month, which is almost exactly what we set as the minimum we needed to continue publishing.
Traffic Is Up
The other bright statistic is that, despite the warnings the gloom and doomers beat us over the head with when we made much of our content available to members only, our traffic has continued to grow and, in fact, the rate of growth has actually accelerated.
We have always been open about the site’s financial situation and, in the interest of continuing that, we want to share what we need to achieve to keep publishing:
- Pay our incredibly talented correspondents (Colin and Matt) a reasonable and fair fee for their efforts.
- Pay ourselves the same, not only for writing but also for the administration and web maintenance and development that we do.
- Have enough income to pay others to handle some of the administration and web stuff so that we have more time to create great content, not to speak of actually going sailing. You see, about 70% of the time we are now expending on the site (over 40 hours a week for me and about half that for Phyllis) is going to those non-creative tasks, a situation we need to fix.
The Members We Need
Although there are a lot of variables here, a bit of back of the envelope budgeting indicates that we need around 5000 members to achieve these goals. And that does seem possible, although it’s going to take a while.
Expenses—Up and Up
The other issue we are facing is that expenses continue to grow at a frightening pace: professional fees (accounting, tax, and legal); insurance (liability and journalism); a server upgrade, yet again; all new computers with all upgraded software because our aging Windows machines were killing us with crashes and problems; the list goes on. I say this not to complain, but to share that running a site to this standard is a real business with real expenses and that’s where most of the money you pay us goes.
A Big Challenge
The next big challenge is retention of the members we do have because, without that, there is simply no hope of making this work. To that end, going forward, we will be focusing more on content that is exclusive to members. And new posts that are part of existing first or second edition books will, in most cases, be published for members only.
Also, we have two exciting new Online Books planned for publication over this summer that we will be publishing chapter by chapter for members only. In fact, I have completed writing one and the first chapter will roll out in a few weeks with a new chapter once a month thereafter.
Free Content Continues
Thanks to support from our advertisers, there will still be plenty of new content available to non-members, adding to the hundreds of free posts in the archives (see menu above). (Posts without the light blue background book title are free as are the top three of the online books on the sidebar list.)
And anyone can subscribe to new content for free, although some of the posts (chapters) you get a notification about will be available to members only.
We Still Love It
I have talked a lot about money but here is a non-financial thought we want to close with. Even after 11 years of work and the thousands of dollars we spent out of our own pockets getting to this point, we still love writing for and publishing this site. It keeps our minds alive and active, it’s an outlet for our creativity, and best of all, it lets us meet and spend time with a lot of really wonderful people, both face to face and virtually, who share our passion for offshore voyaging. Thank you all, members or not.
We have always been open about how this site works so, if you have any questions, please ask away.