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Ning is now going to charge $20 per month to host BLF for us. Please note that we will lose the video function for this (otherwise it would be $50 per month).


Options are probably:


a) just pay the new ning fee ($20 per month) and make a net loss

b) charge flat fee for BLF ads to cover the $20 per month (not sure how I'd collect the money)

c) create revenue using GoogleAds and GoogleSense (advertisers pay to advertise using GoogleAds, GoogleSense places these ads - by keyword - in the BLF ad-banner space - like it does now - and pays BLF about half of the fee the advertisers paid - per clicked on ad - whereas at present ning get that fee). There is a potential (but not a likelihood!) that this would cover the $20 per month and could even turn a profit.  I think you can also ad your own ads (eg in BLF's case this could include subscribers who haven't paid money to GoogleAds but wish to advertise services on BLF). Note that I only think you can have GoogleSense and customised ads at the same time - but am not positive - need more info from ning - which is coming but not available at the moment. 


I've always said that BLF is not for profit. I'm thinking it would be nice if it's not for loss as well :)


Note that profit could be put back into the BLF community - e.g. events, seed saving equipment (e.g. sieves!), etc..  (NB profit is unlikely with small traffic volumes such as ours)


What do you think about these options? What would be the disadvantages to the different options?


(we need to make sure we don't do anything awful I guess)


Note that you, the members, will not have to pay anything.


Help me make a decision please.




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Hi Scarlett, I think I like option C - it seems to be that it wouldn't be any different from the look of the site we have now, and it would give us a chance to reclaim at least some of the money making it less of a loss. Perhaps if in the end we have enough interest and support from members who wish to advertise then we could consider option B. I agree that we would most likely not turn a profit from option C, but at least we would be getting something.

I don't think losing the video function is a big deal as they are all you-tube videos at the moment and it doesn't get used that often.

Thanks for asking for feedback.

Vanessa (C)
thanks for replying :)
yes but it's only $5 a week - I can just drink 1.5 less coffees downstairs at work
if the seedsavers charged gold coin entry you could use it for seed saving materials / batch projects - then you could sell the seeds that everyone bulks up! (don't waste it on this!)

and it's nice to have something free for users - you guys provide the content and make the effort after all.

it seems fairer to charge for advertising because advertisers get something in return - whereas members put the effort in and would also get charged for it - doesn't make sense (I reckon people would not sign up and just read the content - which would be counter productive 'cos the more the merrier)
Mmm, well there could be issues with collecting, holding and accounting for money. We are not a physical group like an incorporated garden club. Nor is anyone covered for insurance at the garden visits. The last thing I want is complications but I do not want anyone involved in any kind of legal or financial wrangles.

I was a member of an online group which had money to pay for server space. So once a year any of us who felt inclined paid a year's sub by PayPal - it was international, so that was the simple solution. The majority did not pay a penny and no one was bothered by that. I detest advertisements especially the Google-type where most are not relevant. Fortunately for me Camino blocks all those ads while Safari does not.

If 12 of us sent $20 to Scarlett then the site is afloat for 12 months. Currently people anywhere can read the content anyway, so nothing changes. Personally I do not expect Scarlett to be the admin and pay for the privilege.

I don't mind site members advertising their goods and services particularly if the ads are in a separate section (like another group). And those of us who have something relevant to sell (excess seeds, plants, tools) could also advertise for a nominal sum. But that raises the issue of accounting and accountability. As does a coin donation at a GV which is a darned good idea, btw! What goes around comes around and a little practical socialism has my vote.
Actually Elaine, as BSS is a LSN (Local Seed Network) we are covered for insurance at Garden Visits. I currently pay a fee to the Seed Saver Network which covers this.
hmm, that's interesting too - maybe the BSS people could kick in to help Donna cover the LSN fees? (and you guys could batch seeds up - ie all grow one variety at the same time - and sell them, buy sieves etc and do bulk processing together at meetings, have a central storage bank for sales and member use :) !!
I agree that we don't use the video function much, and it's easy to put up a link to youtube...
I also prefer Option C since it won't be any different to now, and no one needs to foot the bill if all goes well. If not we can always top up the difference at garden visits, setting up paypal account is also easy. Or we can sell seeds if that's legal... can't stop people from donating in exchange for free seeds?
I don't know if it's legal or not...? surely you can sell seeds at markets at least? don't know...

yoiks, paypal - but yes, I guess for option b that would be the way to go

i think you're right option c wouldn't be any different to now
OK PayPal - I am a registered business member. To receive money, one needs to be that - you don't have to own a business. I am not in business, I sell a bit of used stuff on eBay and most buyers prefer PP to bank transfer. For a low-end user like me, the charges are a bit fierce and you have to take that into account when deciding prices. PP want .30c per transaction plus a percentage of the sale price. You must link your PP business account to a bank account. Although they have my credit card, they take for my purchases direct from that bank account and the funds from sales are put into that account. On reflection, since someone would need to set up a separate bank account for BLF and allow their CC to be used, it is complicating the situation beyond need.

Perhaps a simpler solution if you decide to ask members to advertise, would be to get them to transfer direct to Ning if that is possible, or to set up a number 2 account for yourself and pay into that.

If you decide to go to the cash route then a big tin sounds neat :-)
I think C is the best option too
I am happy to lose the video functionality, anyone who wants to show a video can add it to YouTube and provide a link anyway.

Option C is fine by me, I have actually clicked on a couple in the past. I am not convinced that it will cover the costs, but probably worth a try and as the membership continues to grow it might start to cover costs.

Scarlett what about an Option D - Sponsorship...
There are likely a few different council/ state things around that we could apply for, although to be honest the amount is pretty small so might not be worth filling out the applications? Or maybe a company that is interested in some sort of advertising at Garden Visits.

I don't think it's fair that you should pay it every month on your own - $240 per year. The Seed Saver Network is only $50 per year. Maybe I will start a totally voluntary donation box at the Garden Visits and split it between the Seed Saver Network & Ning fees on a yearly basis - if we ever get too much then any excess can go towards the Christmas lunch or something!
um.. I like Option D too

$1 per person for 11 garden visits a year, if average 10 people turns up each time that equates to $100/year.. So I think probably option C & D together? Or $2 per person? Still won't cover it... so C & D together I think...


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