Hi, all. Sorry I missed yesterday’s deadline–I was occupied by my day job. Which brings up an important point I’ve been meaning to write about, namely, the finances of this here blog.
The short version of the story is that I need money and I want your help to get it. This is always a difficult admission for a writer to make, because there’s this misconception that writers should be motivated by our muses (and our concern for issues, like climate change) and not by money. We say “it’s a labor of love,” as though there were something noble about not being able to pay the rent. Where does this bizarre idea come from? Frankly, I suspect it is a remnant of European class consciousness, but that it another topic for another blog. I’m tired of not having enough time to do important work, like write this blog, because I’m too busy doing unimportant work to pay the bills.
So, this is where I ask you for help. There is a lot you can do, ranging from the quick and simple to the impressively involved.
Spread the word
For a donation drive to really work, I need a lot of readers. The more readers I have, the lower the average donation could be and still allow me to do this work full time. Also, of course, this topic is important and more people should read it! Where you can help is by posting links to this blog on your social media and my emailing links to friends you think might like to read it. It takes two seconds, costs nothing, and would help an unbelievable amount. Really.
I have a donate button already. Just click on it. Imagine if this blog were a magazine–would you buy a copy? How much would you pay?
Become a partner of this blog
When I started out, I had a partnership with an environmental organization that gave me a modest stipend to support my work. That partnership ended some years ago when their finances took a hit and they could no longer afford my stipend, but the collaboration had a lot of mutual benefits and I’d like to do something like that again. Could you be this blog’s partner?
The way it works is that you, or your organization, commits to providing a portion of my funding every month because you recognize that my mission (ending anthropogenic climate change) is also your mission. We’re talking something between fifty and a few hundred dollars, an actual chunk of money, but less than if you had an employee covering the same topics for you. I would retain ultimate editorial freedom, but you could request posts on particular subjects and I would publicly acknowledge you as a sponsor or partner. If this sounds interesting to you, shoot me an email; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ideally, I’d have two or three such sponsors, both for security in case one had to withdraw and so that each sponsor’s donation could be smaller and still cover my expenses.
So, what happens next?
So, what would it look like if this blog were funded? What are my actual financial needs for the project? It’s a fair question–if I’m asking for money, you should know how much money I need, what I’d use it for, and how this blog would benefit from being funded.
My primary expense is time; when I’m working on this blog, I am not working on other projects that could earn me money. I also have to pay for Internet and electricity, and I’d use slightly less of either if I did not write this blog. I sometimes have other expenses, such as when I travel to climate rallies and then write about them. But, basically, we’re looking at the opportunity cost I pay when I work for free.
Right now, I spend about ten hours per week on this project, writing and researching. As a free-lance writer, I make about $15 an hour, which is about the minimum living wage in most areas. There are writers to get less. The finances of my industry are seriously twisted. Anyway, $150 per week, or $675 per month, would cover the opportunity cost I currently pay. As a reader, you wouldn’t see much difference, except that I’d be a lot better at meeting deadlines, but it would make a real difference in my life.
So, what if I got more? $300 per week, or $1350 per month, would allow me to double the time I spend on the blog to twenty hours per week. That you would notice, because I’d be able to edit every post (most of my posts are first drafts) and I’d be able to research stories in much more depth. You’d see consistently excellent writing and you’d see more interviews, more posts covering ongoing stories at depth, and more posts covering topics that you might not otherwise find out about. Real investigative journalism.
What if I got more?
I’d be unlikely to go full time with this one project, because the universe is big and exciting and I have a lot of interests. I could, of course, pay myself more than $15 per hour, but I probably wouldn’t. Instead, if I could raise $600 per week or $2700 per month, I’d continue putting about 20 hours of my own time into this blog and I’d pay someone else to help me (part time). What would my helper do? There are lots of options. Maybe my helper would review the scientific literature on climate change and compile monthly summaries of any developments so I could pass those stories on to you. Maybe my helper would be a marketer and expand my readership into the tens of thousands. Maybe my helper would manage an online book store focused on climate-related literature. Maybe my helper would be a fundraiser and transform this little operation into a small but fully funded team doing all sorts of great things.
What would success look like?
As far as I can tell, I have between twenty and forty regular readers, plus occasional readers who come and go. I have never met, or even heard from most of you, but I appreciate all of you just the same. Let’s say that when the next post comes out on Tuesday, each of you posts the link to your social media and emails it to a couple of interested friends. This blog will then be exposed to hundreds, maybe thousands of new readers. Some of them will like what they see and visitation will jump. Maybe my readership will double or triple. That would be great for climate sanity. I will let you know how it goes.
So, if all of you help spread the word, I could go into April with somewhere around a hundred regular readers. If each of you then decides to kick in $5, my opportunity cost for the month will be almost entirely covered. That would be great. I’ll be able to work for the environment and make a student loan payment.
And let’s say that among those new readers there are two or three who are willing and able to become sponsors. Three people who each decide to put up $500 per month for climate-focused environmental journalism. That, plus ongoing small donations from readers, would take me up around the level I’d need to not only make this my real part-time job, but also to hire a part-time assistant.
We’re talking quality writing, in-depth reporting and discussion, and the expansion of this project into a major resource for climate sanity, all because you shared a link on social media a few times.
Let’s do this.