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Ben

Covering The Expanding Costs Of TGA

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Hi TGA.

Back in feb (see below for original post) I gave a shout out for help to this amazing community which ultimately resulted in me being told the many varied and wonderful ways that you would all like to support the site.

The gist of this is that the site is getting very expensive to run (I’ve paid out over £3000 in the last 12 months) and as the community grows the costs are ever increasing.

I previously wrote about this in detail so I won’t go into it all again, but the response was just amazing!

Its taken me another 6+ months to get around to it, but over the next few weeks I will be introducing a 3 ways that will help cover the running costs of TGA.

I’ll talk here about how we will be doing this, and why I have chosen each of them.

 

  1. Advertising. 

After thinking about this long and hard, I have decided that I WILL be including display ads on the site.  I was initially very much against doing this as the last thing I want is for the site to look like many other places online where you get bombarded with Ads.

However, if done right I think it can work very well.

I will be finding advertisers that are relevant to our community and working with them to help their business, which in-turn will better the community.  It will also be a way for to support the site without forcing anyone to pay.

The amount of ads will be tiered.  Guests will get lots,  Registered members less.  There will also be an option to ‘turn ads off’ by joining one of the premium membership groups, which leads me nicely onto the next bit…

 

  1. Premium Membership. 

Available right away is just a single membership group. I hope to expand this in future to offer higher and lower options for those that would like to give more and receive move value in return, and also for those who would like to support the site but are limited in what they can afford (or are willing) to pay. That is a further cost to get implemented so fo now we have a single membership group.

TGA Members - £5 per month

  • Fuzzy Feeling – a warm and comforting glow from knowing that you are actively contributing to TGA’s success
  • Less Adverts - We reduce the adverts to members around TGA
  • Unlimited Likes - Unrestricted amount of likes available per day (MOST REQUESTED FEATURE!)
  • Club Badge – special forum badge to show you’re a proud supporter in your posts/profile

Sign up here - https://www.tga.community/subscriptions/

  1. Donations

Donations are a simple and fuss free way of contributing.  A one off payment, of any amount you like, however often you like.  

Donate here - https://www.tga.community/clients/donations/

 

 

====================

 

ORIGINAL POST BELOW

 

++++++++++++++++++++

In April I will have been running the The Grand Alliance Community forums for 2 years and in this time we have gone from a small group of users to an ever expanding membership that is currently flying towards 10000 total members.  

As I type this we have 80 members logged in and browsing and another 100+ guests.  Age of Sigmar communities from all over the worlds are using the site and contacting me with exciting news from their local areas all the time (AoS Maters evening in the Philippines is the latest!!!)

Because we are all nerds and love stats, here are a few highlights and some stats from google.  

The Leaderboard - http://www.tga.community/topmembers/

Biggest Thread -

Screenshot 2018-02-21 08.03.53.pngScreenshot 2018-02-21 08.01.29.pngScreenshot 2018-02-21 08.00.42.png

 

So the crux of all this is that its getting expensive to run.  

2 years ago I started the website on a £30 monthly cloud hosting plan that included the cost of the software.  I did all the work myself and hired in some help here and there where i needed to.  During this time we have had some problems crop up here and there.  Image hosting became an issue.  The sheer number of photos that people were sharing exceeded the bandwidth that the cloud hosting offered so I had to set up Amazon hosting for the images, long term members might remember the loss of images but this has been resolved for quite some time now.  

The next major obstacle was email.  I set up a gmail account to handle all email that the forums send.  This includes notifications and registrations.  after a while i started getting emails from people who were unable to register.  I traced this down to the fact that free accounts only allow so much email per day before placing a block so a proper transactional email service was brought in.  Mail chimp and Mandrill.  This is now costing as much as the actual forum software to maintain.  

Where we are at now is monthly running costs of over $200, rising up every few months as the number of active uses on the site increase.  

Costs at the moments are (all in USD):

Forum software and hosting.  Currently $130 USD
Email service $63 for the plan and first 25000 emails.  Further top ups of $18 per 25000 emails.  most months this is 1 top up, but last months it was 2.  
Amazon AWS S3 Hosting this varies on the amount of up and downloads but is usually $15-20

Total is somewhere between $225- $250 per month and varies a little month to month with the trend being a 25% increase each 1/4.  If the rate stays the same as it has for the last 2 years in 12 months time it will be entirely unmanageable without help.  

What I am looking for is suggestion and ideas from the community of covering these costs.  

There are a few obvious options

1. Advertising.  
I could easily load up the site with adverts and end up looking like Bell of Lost souls.  There is a reason the site has had not ads from the start, and probably that same reason why its become so popular, no-one really wants this, it does however pay the bills.  

This would like like selling banner adverts to anyone interested, and also promoting affiliate links. 

This would also be quite labour intensive of chasing advertisers and making sales.  

2. Members section.  
I could open a premium membership level.  It would have a monthly subscription. £2 per month.  100 members would see all the bills paid.  thats 0.01% of registers users signing up.  

What you would get is the features that the forum has available already but i don’t have the time/skills to put in place.  I can spend time/money to get it set-up and it would be paid for by the first month or 2 of subscriptions, after that the bills will be covered each month.  

More likes, better reputation system.  better titles/profile system.  Members only ‘off topic’ chat area. Groups and clubs system. Most of the things that regularly get requested.  

Importantly this would be ‘bonus’ stuff.  Not things that are essential to enjoying the community.  

3. Patreon system.  

4. A kickstarter

5. a mixture of all of the above. 

6. any other suggestions?  

 So I am totally open to suggestions and ideas and would prefer the community to decide the best way to approach this.  

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Simple adverts like a banner at the top and bottom of the page wouldn't scar eyeballs too much. (none of that autoplaying or autoexpanding stuff though, those are extremely annoying)

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I have to first say “THANK YOU” for the best website that any of us users could have asked for. It’s a phenomenal collection of discussions and users, and it’s hard to believe it started out with such humble beginnings. 

In terms of covering costs,is it possible to add an optional membership cost directly through the site? That way users can contribute on a user-by-user basis as they can without going off-site to something like Paetreon (or however that’s supposed to be spelled). If an optional cost isn’t feasible or desirable, I’d recommend the “members only” sections that you mentioned in your post. Just my opinion, ought, obviously. 

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Problem with adverts is ad blockers . I think either a sub or a patreon would be a simpler solution and bring with it a predictable income 

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a subscriber thing might be good, i don't think the likes an stuff are necessary. this isn't facebook, id rather not create an environment similar to that.

i think the subscriber thing might be a good way to try an maybe use your influence? maybe get some subscriber-only content things from games-workshop, this is the most popular aos forum, worldwide im pretty sure

a monthly subscriber raffle for prizes? pay via paypal, £1 a strip winner gets a new model/box set etc etc 

£50 box set, 300 people buy tickets for it, bam £250 profit - postage fees. do a little raffle on youtube or something maybe to show it

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Congratulations on the success of the site!  Hopefully this site can keep on growing and encouraging the hobby, and be a fun, friendly place where actual discussions can happen.  Regarding the options you listed for continued funding of TGA,...

48 minutes ago, Ben said:

1. Advertising.  
I could easily load up the site with adverts and end up looking like Bell of Lost souls.  There is a reason the site has had not ads from the start, and probably that same reason why its become so popular, no-one really wants this, it does however pay the bills.  

This would like like selling banner adverts to anyone interested, and also promoting affiliate links. 

This would also be quite labour intensive of chasing advertisers and making sales. 

One or two banners on the site would be ultimately harmless.  And though I loathe to mention them, there is a big difference between DakkaDakka (one or two banners) and Bell of Lost Souls article pages (WAY too many adverts!).

And I wouldn't think that finding advertisers would be difficult.  I know it has issues, but what about the Google affiliate program in some way?  I remember back in the day that was the way to get advertising revenue on a blog.  But that was about 5 years ago I last looked into that, and I don't know if it's even a thing anymore.

I remember back in the day when MiniWargGaming added adverts to their forums, and it nearly broke things for a while until they fixed it; several banner adverts put in throughout the forums, and threads were split up and were more difficult to read.

I would tread lightly with this one, and be careful in implementing and placing the ads.

48 minutes ago, Ben said:

2. Members section.  

 

I could open a premium membership level.  It would have a monthly subscription. £2 per month.  100 members would see all the bills paid.  thats 0.01% of registers users signing up.  

What you would get is the features that the forum has available already but i don’t have the time/skills to put in place.  I can spend time/money to get it set-up and it would be paid for by the first month or 2 of subscriptions, after that the bills will be covered each month.  

More likes, better reputation system.  better titles/profile system.  Members only ‘off topic’ chat area. Groups and clubs system. Most of the things that regularly get requested.  

Importantly this would be ‘bonus’ stuff.  Not things that are essential to enjoying the community.  

This would be the first website where I would actually consider a paid subscription for additional features.  But that is only because this site has done much for rekindling my interest and passion for miniature wargaming  in way that I haven't felt in about 3 or 4 years.  If you implemented a paid subscription service for this site, and it was at or under $5 USD a month, I would subscribe without any consideration for the additional features.  And I be many of my fellow forum-goers feel the same way.

This one I would implement, no doubt there. 

48 minutes ago, Ben said:

3. Patreon system. 

Hm....  I don't know about this one.  Patreon has had some recent controversy...

https://blog.patreon.com/updating-patreons-fee-structure/

Basically, they changed up how they charged their fees, and it really screwed over the folks who were getting money from several smaller contributors as opposed to fewer larger.  They did go back to how they did things before:

https://blog.patreon.com/not-rolling-out-fees-change/

But I have learned anything about how the Internet works now, there is no guarantee that they won't mess this up.  And considering that they are wanting to make changes, something will come later.

I would probably avoid Patreon for the time being.

1 hour ago, Ben said:

4. A kickstarter

Eh, maybe?  Kickstarter typically need a product of some kind to provide incentives, don't they?  I haven't looked into what it takes to run a Kickstarter, so maybe this would work out.  I've only ever backed three Kickstarters, and it would be an easy way to get funds from around the world.

However, it would be a large lump of cash all at once that you would have to use for a duration of time.  The subscriber model and advertising mentioned above would provide a steady stream of income over time, which is something to take into consideration.

1 hour ago, Ben said:

5. a mixture of all of the above.

I would say that a subscription method combined with a few banner ads on the sight would be the traditional way to go, and would mesh together well - how about paid subscribers get to view the site ad free!

I'm still not sure that I like the Kickstarter or Patreon ideas.

1 hour ago, Ben said:

6. any other suggestions?

How about products to sell?  There's already a store on this site, isn't there?  How about some more dice and t-shirt options?  I'd wear a polo representing TGA!  This would be a bit more labor intensive as it would require designing and marketing the products some, but it would be a steady stream of revenue if marketed right.

Good luck in whichever you choose!  I will contribute as I am able!  :)  I'd hate to see this site go down because it got too popular.

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Personally I would rather avoid banner ads, but a subscription for a pound or two a month is something I would happily pay. This site has done a great job of growing the community in a positive way and has largely avoided the toxicity that many other forums suffer from.

Thank you. 

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From my point of view I have no issue with say a five pound a month membership scheme.For me this cost is about supporting the production of content for the whole community to enjoy, rather than a transactional quid pro quo type arrangement.

The only thing I would say is that if paid memberships were sufficient to cover the costs of running the site and additionally leave a surplus it would be great to see that reinvested in the creation of more content - maybe some short stories being commissioned, or art work, something like that we can all benefit from.

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I'd throw in for a Patreon or other subscription. This is honestly my favorite miniature-related hub on the internet.

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Thank you for the awesome content & congratulations on such a successful site.

I am not advocating all good things should be free, I do think looking at other sites for ideas could be helpful.

bolterandchainsword opperates  on donations. This on its own could certainly help, even combine with some of the other mentioned ideas like limited advertising.

 

dakka does well with its advertisements and o hardly notice them.

I personally don’t have an issue with advertising, so long as it’s limited to something like dakkadakka. If it helps gets the bills paid then why not?If it works for them and they have a silly amount of people it could work here.

If you do a subscription to post any sort of content that may turn new people away.

I propose minor relevant advertising coupled with donation drives twice a year. Anything extra gained can be used for next year or a way to incorporate minor prizes for forum competitions.(though I guess you could have entry fees for that and the money goes to said prizes).

Edited by Mandzak-Miniatures

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3 hours ago, Ben said:

2. Members section.  
I could open a premium membership level.  It would have a monthly subscription. £2 per month.  100 members would see all the bills paid.  thats 0.01% of registers users signing up.  

What you would get is the features that the forum has available already but i don’t have the time/skills to put in place.  I can spend time/money to get it set-up and it would be paid for by the first month or 2 of subscriptions, after that the bills will be covered each month.  

More likes, better reputation system.  better titles/profile system.  Members only ‘off topic’ chat area. Groups and clubs system. Most of the things that regularly get requested.  

Importantly this would be ‘bonus’ stuff.  Not things that are essential to enjoying the community.  

 

This interests me ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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I would go for a few banner ads and subs for those who want something extra, but I don't throw more regular charges on my charge card.  Period.

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Not an expert, but I would think that "pay a subscription and maybe win prizes" would be at risk of falling under anti-gambling laws?  As a minimum you'd probably need licences etc.  

My own vote would be for ads, with an optional monthly sub to turn them off.  Which I would totally pay.

Edited by PlasticCraic

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Well, there's this article, which talks about ad revenue for a website: https://www.rankxl.com/100-day-traffic/

According to it, 150,000 people/month ~= $100/day. So 50,000 people/mo should be at least $25/day, or the site funded in 10 days each month.

Also, if you choose the right ads (Thinking a number of the online retailers would probably be on board), they can probably pay you up front and you can avoid the wrong ad-sites. Like the one that has the slideshow stories that doesn't have the image I actually clicked on to see. You all know the one.

So yea, ads seem like pretty much bank.

Quote

More likes, better reputation system.  better titles/profile system.  Members only ‘off topic’ chat area. Groups and clubs system. Most of the things that regularly get requested.  

I would want to see this first before signing up for it.

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Thank you for setting up and maintaining TGA, particularly with the cost creeping up month on month. I suspect I would've been asking for help much sooner!

My personal preference would be to pay an amount up front, but that could be either as a one off fee, or being able to pay a number of months subscription in a row and I would definitely rather not see adverts. Paying to not see the ads, as suggested above, might be a good solution.

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I would probably not pay for a subscription or patreon unless there was an incentive that resonated with me that I wanted to obtain (I kinda lump them both in the same boat, as essentially you're paying a monthly fee for some added extra). I guess in general I'm someone that relates more to tangible incentives, not boys club super secret forum spaces.

That being said, I think there are ways you can get it to work.

I know for Bloodbowl the NAF had an annual fee you could pay. As part of that, paying at least once got you on their rankings (Which people love), but more people paid annually because you got new block dice every year. This is the kind of tangible incentive that gets people to pay (The only reason I paid for so long was certainly to get the dice), and I'm sure a portion of that $15AUD I paid went towards site upkeep and the like. Of course, they had a lot of players worldwide and contacts in a lot of countries that acted as a hub of sorts to distribute merch, so there's that postage thing you have to tackle.

But I think it'd be cool, whether you pay monthly or annually, to get something tangible alongside it. Whether that's a yearly combat gauge design, or different coloured TGA dice, or whatever. That being said, no idea on the logistics of it and how many subscriptions you'd need to get to make it work.

 

Otherwise. Ads are unlikely to drive me away from TGA as long as they're not really too intrusive. Definitely something I'd live with.

 

Edit: Also would mention that I would probably pay a once-off donation every 12 months of my choosing than a subscription fee for benefits on the forums. That's just me though, as I said, I like something tangible, and I struggle in a fashion to think of something I would pay a subscription to online on a forum.

Edited by someone2040

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Limited ads and donations both sound good to me. Subscriptions would be alright depending on the cost and the benefits. I don't know how to feel about Patreon or Kickstarter. Patreon would make more sense if this was more than an online forum, like if we organized games and set up an online store, at which point we would be an AoS MiniWarGaming.

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Banner ads, esp to do with the hobby, are great. Other ads are ok, but not my favorite. 

A donation I could throw a couple bucks at a year. On the fence about a sub but I do read and post here a good amount, so it seems worth it.

Best AoS site on the web.

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7 hours ago, Ben said:

6. any other suggestions?  

Paid access to session with fresh news/leaks/rumors and etc or mb some video reports and guides useful for community 

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I'm cool with a couple of banner ads (though I love the clean look without), subscription (cool features yay!) and Patreon. Would not hesitate to support the site.

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Yes, a low subscription, a dollar a month or something, would be my preferred solution. Avoid those nasty adds if at all possible.

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