SharperIron Financial Update

Though SharperIron is not organized as a nonprofit, it has never earned a profit. The site basically broke even in 2008, but it had some debt before that. And, so far, 2009 has accumulated a deficit. Though deficit spending seems to be the “in” thing these days, I’d like SI to operate on wiser principles!

The year has included development costs for the site redesign, editing fees, a portion of my phone and Internet access and some travel expenses. In addition to these, we’ve incurred bandwidth and server costs. 

An analogy may help clarify what that means. If you operate a ministry or business in a physical space, you must rent or buy that space. The same is true of “space” on the Internet. How much space you need depends on how many people are likely to visit each month, how many are likely to be there at your busiest time, and how much extra room you’d like to have in case you have an unexpectedly large crowd there for a while.

Then you have to factor in what your visitors will be doing while they’re on the premises. Those activities determine the cost of supplies, maintenance, heating, cooling, water, sewer, and other features of your infrastructure. Websites have costs analogous to these.

It’s true that the Web offers many places where you can open a small store front almost for free. But if you have heavy traffic—or hope to have heavy traffic—you need something more. And if you want your website to be able to do a lot of things, you need more server power to support that functionality. 

Since SI does aim to be busy and useful,  just being here day after day has continued to cost money. 

Last October, I appealed here for help with the sixth-month bandwidth bill that was due later that month. You all rose to the occasion. What came in paid that bill and also helped defray some of the other costs of the site. But we haven’t had that kind of windfall yet in ’09. Advertising revenue and contributions last spring paid for a large part of the general site expenses, but so far this year, server costs have run in the red.

Due to some technical problems that led us to believe we needed a more powerful server, we moved to a much more expensive unit around June 1. By early July, we had corrected the problems and determined the a $200 per month dedicated server was much more than the site needs. So, on the weekend of July 10, we moved to something far more efficient and cost effective. Our monthly cost is now back to $50.

The bottom line is that, by the end of July, SI will have incurred $675 in bandwidth/server costs, and we need $250 more for the rest of the year, a total of $925.

It isn’t a huge bill. In fact, if each one who has registered at the site since June 1 (over 800 as of this writing) were to contribute $2, we’d be paid up for the year—and then some. So we’ve set up a ChipIn campaign to try to bring that money in. ChipIn is just an entry way to PayPal that tracks contributions toward a particular goal. You should be seeing the ChipIn block in the right sidebar.

Yes, we know there’s a recession on. But for the cost of a good burger, you can help SI keep going and also help it gain some strength for the opportunities ahead. Please consider chipping in.

(Note: Contributions by credit card are welcome, but please be aware that PayPal takes a small cut from SI for each credit card transaction. If you’d prefer to donate by mail, send a check payable to SharperIron, LLC at Box 125 Boyceville, WI 54725.)


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