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Thread: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

  1. Default Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    There has been some disturbing discussion on the forum in the past few weeks of making Gotmead a Pay site, and I must admit I was rather surprised to read about it. I met Vicky at Meadfest this year, and learned quickly how incredibly passionate she is about this site. She would love to make Gotmead her fulltime job, and as members of the forum, I am sure we would all love to see it happen for her (and maybe for us too. The more time Vicky has for GM, the better GM gets for us right? ). There are a lot of expenses involved with GM, and with the site growing as fast as it is, the expenses will only get larger. If Vicky is to make this work, GM needs to get some funds coming in.

    It is my opinion that making Gotmead into a subscription site is a mistake, and will only work to isolate itself from the growing mead community. There are far too many part time hobbyists that do not post enough to justify paying a fee to do so. More importantly, there are a growing number of people discovering the magic of mead every day. We invite them to visit GM, and tell them that it is one of the largest databases of information on mead. That the members are some of the kindest, most helpful people anywhere on the net. Having to say "For only $19.95" at the end of all that praise just seems to cheapen it.

    Gotmead needs to start making money in order to stay alive. Vicky cannot do this alone. So it is up to all of us to find a solution. This thread was started to brainstorm some ideas about how to raise money for Gotmead.com.

    Throw out a donation if you can. They can be made through paypal to:

    gotmead@gotmead.com

    Or mailed to:

    Vicky Rowe
    131 Cedar Creek Lane
    Youngsville, NC 27596

    But what else can be done?

    1. Having a paypal link just sitting on the site somewhere is great, but active fundraising must be done every 6 months or so. Post everywhere. Heck PM members about it just incase they have not been on in a while. Active fundraising is very helpful.

    2. Get an apiary to donate some honey or trade it for ad space or something. Then raffle it off. $1-5 per raffle ticket. Draw the winner, and drop ship the prize from the apiary. We might even be able to get away with doing a big one during Meadfest each year!

    3. My homebrew club raffles off home brew every couple months for charity. Each member brings a bottle of their prize brew, and then the bottles are split into 3 groups and raffled off. The members buy tickets for $5 each, and the winners go home with big smiles. We could do the same thing online. If members are only shipping one bottle, it is incredibly easy to do.

    4. We could put together a book of our favorite recipes, and print it through cafe press or lulu.com. Let members buy it and use the funds raised to pay the one time fee to get it onto Amazon.com

    These are just a few ideas. I know that some of you out there are smarter than I am. So let us help out as best we can. Where my marketing people at?!

    I know we can do this. Please do not let GM become a subscription site.

    Cheers!

    John( aka Greenblood)

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    Greenblood, these are all very sincere suggestions, but it all comes down to begging for money. Gotmead has value. If it didn't 60,000 people a month wouldn't visit it. Begging sits very sour in my mouth. I've worked very hard to see this site sucessful, why shouldn't I see a bit of funds from it.

    How many here pay for newspaper subscriptions? Or magazine subscriptions. I don't hear anyone griping about coughing up for Zymurgy, or Ken's book. Why is the info here worth any less?

    You keep saying how paying for info isn't good. But you do it every day, without thinking about it. Yet you keep saying that *this* isn't worth paying a small sum per year for (don't know about you, but I cough up over $100 a year for my newspaper, and at least that much for magazines, including Zymurgy).

    I'm beginning to realize that while folks *love* the site, they don't *value* it. My fault for giving too much, and expecting people to realize it. Now I just have to decide on a close date, 'cause this ain't working.

    Vicky - greatly saddened to see that this site isn't worth what you pay for a case of beer
    Wassail!

    Vicky Rowe
    Owner & Webmistress, Gotmead.com
    Executive Director, American Mead Makers Association
    http://www.mead-makers.org
    Making Mead since 1995

  3. #3

    Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    Vicky knows I'm happy to pay for subscription, but I'm voicing it here again to show support. I agree that a subscription is the most efficient method of keeping the site in funds, with the least hassle for Vicky.

    Miriam
    Miriam the Mead Bubeh
    Israeli Kitchen www.mimi54.wordpress.com

  4. #4

    Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    Vicky,
    I don't think that you should see the fundraisers as begging for money. I think they sound like a great idea that would do a number of things:

    -raise awareness of the site (your stats grow, and you should be able to expand investment by the paid advertisers?)
    -raise awareness of the community involved in the site which will help the site to grow. (I know I was hoping to hunt down a couple of the folks that I think were going to Estrella)
    And probably a few more things that will all help THE CAUSE.

    That said, I think that those activities probably need to be supplemented at this point to keep the site AND YOU solvent.

    As I said in the other thread - Do what you need to do for you. But also, asking for help isn't a crime (does take a little honey to swallow at times )

    You have something wonderful going here!
    Holly
    Holly

    Empty Carboys thinking of mead...

  5. Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    The point about subscriptions - I have none. No newspaper. No magazines. All the info I want is available on the net for free.

    But the point about paying for something of value? absolutely. I'm not in this for a free ride. Gotmead would be the first service that I'd subscribe to, because of the value *I* see in it.

    I also threw out the idea of making a mead recipe e-book earlier in the other thread and got no bites on that. Same with looking at trimming things down. I don't know the details of where the expenses are. For example, the logo is 63k in size, I saved it down to 12k with no noticeable loss in quality. Does that help? I don't know how many times it gets loaded from the webserver.

    What it looks like is that, since it appears by Vickys post in this thread, that our donations are not cutting it and we need a viable gotmead.com cashflow business model and an analysis of where the costs are so that we can look to see where we can trim to save.

    To start: what is the current monthly bandwidth usage, average?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    Hi Vicky-

    I'm not certain Greenblood was objecting to paying to play. I think he was pointing out that a lot of casual users may, and that could result in discouraging growth in our hobby. I think that most of us here on the board would have no problem paying for the privilege of keeping the site up and running. I know I wouldn't now but I certainly may have when I first began this hobby.

    That being said, I too think there are other ways of generating income. I also make wine and belong to a couple of other sites. One site is owned by a guy who has a home brew shop, www.finevinewines.com, and it's a great marketing tool for his online business. The other site, http://www.winepress.us/, claims to be the largest wine making site on the net and generates income through donations, t-shirts, etc, and a DVD of their recent 2005 Winefest. I know it's too late for a DVD of the International Mead Festival, but what a great income generator that would be! Think of all the people who would love to see a DVD of that event.

    Bottom line: I don't want to lose this site. I know you're time is just a valuable as anyone else's and if you need help, let us know. If you plan to keep the site active (I hope), let us know and hopefully we can at least generate some donations as a sort of band aid until you can figure out a way to generate inome.


  7. Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    I would almost certainly pay if it were a one-time thing like Something Awful, but I'd rather not have to have a recurring subscription fee, as my finances are limited. I'd participate in fundraising raffles from time to time, and I would absolutely contribute mead to them.

  8. Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    SummerS hit the nail on the head.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicky the Gotmead Webwench
    Greenblood, these are all very sincere suggestions, but it all comes down to begging for money. Gotmead has value. If it didn't 60,000 people a month wouldn't visit it. Begging sits very sour in my mouth. I've worked very hard to see this site successful, why shouldn't I see a bit of funds from it.
    As I said earlier, I believe that the info on GM is priceless, and I would love to see you make it into a full time job, and see some fundage from it. I know you have worked incredibly hard on this site, and I for one can not express how grateful I am.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicky the Gotmead Webwench
    How many here pay for newspaper subscriptions? Or magazine subscriptions. I don't hear anyone griping about coughing up for Zymurgy, or Ken's book. Why is the info here worth any less?
    Gotmead is not a newspaper, nor is it a magazine. Members of the forum do not frequent GM to get the advice of a named author or panel of certified experts. Members frequent Gotmead to share our own personal experiences openly with one another. While the occasional (albeit increasing in frequency*thank you Vicky*) article does make its way onto the GM website, the majority of the traffic that the members contribute is on the forum where WE give each other advice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vicky the Gotmead Webwench
    You keep saying how paying for info isn't good. But you do it every day, without thinking about it. Yet you keep saying that *this* isn't worth paying a small sum per year for (don't know about you, but I cough up over $100 a year for my newspaper, and at least that much for magazines, including Zymurgy).
    For the record, when I said ďOpen exchange of information should never be taxed in such a way.Ē I specifically meant information on an open forum, and I only said it once. It is my personal belief that once a forum is started; the information shared does not belong to the host, but rather the community that surrounds it. There. That is my hippie for the day. I am going to go and scrub the patchouli stank off now. At NO point did I say that GM isnít worth paying for. I made my donation. What I did say is that I believe forcing people to pay to become members will isolate a large portion of the mead making community who for whatever their personal reasons will not see the value in paying for a forum, and as a result will never join. Those people may never learn the joy of meadmaking, and that is not ok in my book.

    Vicky, please understand that gotmead.com IS worth a lot to the members who have made a home here. I love it here, and would pay whatever I could to keep it open if it came to that. I see the value. I can afford it. It is my addiction. However, it took me a long time to build my obsession and see the value in all of this info. I do not want to see new and existing (though less obsessed) members of the mead community not participating because of a subscription fee.

    I do not believe that making GM a subscription site will bring in the funds you anticipate. As you stated earlier, the donations received in the last few days total around $200. Those funds are from the most dedicated of the group; and while I truly enjoy the company of You, Wrath, LostB, Oskaar, Miriam, BrewB, and all the other addicts here, I would be truly disappointed to have the forum become a 10 member hangout.

    If you believe that GM will work as a pay site, then by all means make it one, but if the funds do not come rolling in, please do not give up. Let us try a different route. You have people here who will volunteer their time *raises hand*.

    Cheers

    Greenblood


    The most obvious path is rarely the most fulfilling one. - John Monaghan

  9. Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    Since this is an open discussion, I feel the need to add my $0.02Ö

    I think that converting Gotmead to a play-to-pay site may end up hurting it in the long run. The reality is that there are currently several free forums available on the net that can provide advice/recipes/discussion on the brewing of mead. In addition, there are many other free resources available on the net for general mead information. When it comes to shelling out dough, I think that many people would opt to spend their money on books or magazine subscriptions over a forum due to the fact that they are investing in a hardcopy reference library that is available at their fingertips for as long as they keep the material around.

    Although there are currently a high number of visitors to this site, I would bet that that number would decrease dramatically if it were a pay site. Many of us who have spent time here have come to learn that it is a good resource and see it as being worth money to keep it going. However, how many current posters would have turned away if their initial surfing brought them to a pay site? I bet many would have kept right on surfingÖI have to be honest and say that I would have. The bottom line is that with a forum like this, you do not realize its worth until you have spent some time here.

    We also have to keep in mind that the vast majority of folks who currently visit this site are casual lurkers/ posters. Many of these people will simply stop dropping by if they are asked to pay. The core group of frequent posters who ďdependĒ on this site is relatively smallÖIt would take a rather large individual investment from this group to keep it profitable. In addition, one of the strengths of this site is the continual influx of new ideas from new posters. Keeping the member numbers small could end up hurting the exchange of ideas.

    I think that the tightness of this community is admirable and I am sure that all of us want to see it continue. I also understand Vickieís need to obtain financial support for the operation of the site. As mentioned below, a good alternative may be to generate financial support through paid advertising. This is where the current high visitation rate can be used to our advantage and will justify advertising charges. All of us can help out with this by recruiting advertising from meaderies, homebrew shops, book authors/ publishers and the like as well as recruiting new members. We can make sure that paid advertisers stick around by frequently clicking on banners and giving them our business when we make purchases and letting them know we used their link on this site when we do. In addition, support can be provided by making purchases as often as possible from the Gotmead store. (Make all of your gifts Gotmead items!) Operational costs can be kept low by keeping the site simple, bells and whistles-wise, and by assistance from computer savvy members.

    Peace.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    I think Homebrew kinda captured my concerns as well...

    I recommend to people on several other forums that they bring their meadmaking questions here. If they have to pay to do so, they won't...

    I am scratching my head a little bit. Without knowing any of the details it is hard to put a picture together. But I have bought a shirt and paid for a copy of Miriam's story to help pay for this place. I suppose the amount being paid depends on the goal, full time salary ($50k - $75k - 100k?) plus travel expenses plus server time? That seems like about the same cash flow a start-up winery would have and they sell their stuff in cases at so much per bottle. It's ambitious...

    Anyway, I'd be willing to subscribe initially, but I think the change that we would see as a result of those not willing to pay would make GM less attractive by the second year. Dunno...

  11. Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    Pewter echoes a concern that has been dancing around my head as well.

    To put it plainly, are we talking about financial/technical support for the maintenance of the site as is, or is this an attempt to turn the forum into a money-making venture? These are two completely different animals and reactions will vary accordingly.

    I also fear that discussions on this topic have the potential to cause splits in an otherwise tight community.

    Peace.

  12. Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    How about sponsorship from one or more commercial meaderies?

    Steve

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    Ok Folks,

    Vicky is simply speaking out of frustration, eight years worth to be exact. I just got off the phone with her, so I have a pretty good idea of where she stands on this subject. Bear in mind that she's not thinking of forcing anyone away from Gotmead and turning it into a subscriber only site. Subscriptions would be more styled to allow members certain accesses that other non-subscribers would not have. Non-subscribers would still be able to access the site and browse the forums, but certain sections would be reserved for subscribers. There are a number of successful websites that spring to mind (Wine Business Monthly, Cigar Afficionado, eRobertParker, etc.) and a couple that I belong to with a similar paradigm. They are all growing so I think that the pay to play in exclusive areas model is established and viable on the web. Further, Iíd argue that it is a successful paradigm.

    Would subscriptions to access members only areas decrease the number of visitors and traffic to the site? I think thatís debatable, and that it remains to be seen. Certainly people who are used to playing for free, or just lurking to read up on what goes on here would probably not be motivated to subscribe. But, if the same content theyíre used to seeing is still there, then I doubt that they would leave. If there is a large out-flux of regular posters, contributors and general lurkers then the consumer has spoken and the site will have to change in order to re-engage those disenfranchised lurkers. Again, I say that if the accessible content does not change, I doubt that theyíll leave. I havenít seen any market research, or been involved in any business endeavors that support the contrary.

    New forums and discussion threads will start up in the members only sections pretty quickly because letís face it most of us who post have plenty to say and/or ask. Again thatís based on experience. I know I havenít posted up a lot of my recipes, or other brewlogs because there are just so many in the brewlog section currently, that Iím not sure I see the value in adding one more. But in an area where we have fewer and more focused postings, Iíd be more inclined to put more information out there.

    I know that there are other people out there that Iíve spoken to on the phone who donít publish their recipes that would be more inclined to do so if there were a more limited crowd, at least thatís what theyíve indicated on the phone or in person. You all know who you are.

    As a bit-surfer I find recipes and research on the web much more attractive than books. Books are old school and take up space, time and need to be dusted. I like being able to go to an article on line and doing a word search to find out exactly what Iím looking for without pulling a book off the shelf, and then flipping pages for a while to find what Iím looking for. Books have intrinsic value and I have a lot of them, but I gotta tell you that I use them a whole lot less now than I did when I couldnít use the web to find the info that I want. I donít come to Gotmead to read novels, or appreciate artful binding and illustration (except in the case of the e-book by Miriam). I come here to browse posts, interact with other posters and offer help when requested to do so.

    Right now Vicky is going through the kind of momentary financial anxiety and anxiousness that is like receiving a notice of a tax lien on oneís property, or that someone is going to repossess the car that youíre using to give people a ride to school. When one asks for money, one finds out in a hurry just how valuable the ride to school really is, and whether or not people are willing to help pay for the ride.

    I think Vicky thought because everyone is so willing to donate their time to help the site, that when it started to suffer financially people would also be willing to support the site financially in the form of a subscription. I also think she wasnít prepared for the responses she received when she put the idea out there for a subscription based site. To her it was kind of like a knife in the gut. Rightly or wrongly she expected a completely different response. The one she got floored her.

    Certainly all the regulars stepped up to the plate in the form of financial support (tee-shirts, Miriamís story, donations, etc.) and that is FULLY appreciated. At this point itís still in limbo as to where the site is going. Iím personally working on some things to help out and to forestall the need for subscriptions because I think there are alternatives that are viable, just as many of you do. Bottom line is that I think weíre all here for Vicky, and she needs to hear that affirmed more than whether or not the site should be pay-based.

    Again, bear in mind that Iíve read all of the posts and understand that no one is saying that they wonít/donít want to help. I know everyone of the core members has stepped up in one way or another and I for one am very proud to count myself as a member of that group. Iím saying that all alternatives need to be mined, including subscription. Plenty of people walk away from subscription based websites, but there are also plenty of success stories out there to consider.

    Cheers,

    Oskaar
    Is it tasty . . . precious?

  14. #14

    Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    Been very out of the loop since I've been dealing with a family emergency the past 3 weeks (which just resolved itself this AM).

    Couple things I want to put out here:

    First and foremost Vicky, thank you.

    Secondly, I would be willing to do a subscription along the lines of what Oskaar has suggested as I think it's a very viable way to run a website. We all know how much work gets put into this site, and for me, it would be no-brainer to support it somehow. Finances of late havent allowed me to do so as yet, but that will be changing soon I hope.

    Just wanted to put my support in here. There are certainly ways out there to make this both viable for Vicky, and still a wonderful resource for anyone.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    Is there a "Donations" button somewhere on the site? I would suggest that as a first step... And if there is could someone point me in that direction?

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    Donations can be made via paypal to gotmead@gotmead.com


    David
    David Baldwin
    Michigan Meadery LLC

    www.michiganmeadery.com

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    OK, now that I've calmed down (thanks, Oskaar), let me address a few of the questions here:

    1. Is this need for financing to support the site, or to support me? Both. I work a full time job (actually, more like 40-60 hours a week in addition to my paying work) keeping this site up, and adding to it. It also costs money to run it, by way of bandwidth, software and the like. I'm not looking to get rich here. But it would be nice to have my time compensated. Right now, its compesated at about minus $30/hour, since every hour I work on GM detracts from time I could be using to build websites for someone who will pay me. Realistically, if I could cover costs and make around $25K a year, I'd be happy. That would mean GM would have to bring in around $35K a year. Not exactly a winery startup, Pewter.

    2. Is there a 'Donations' button somewhere on the site? No, not anymore. I had one up, and *no one* used it. It was on the top of the forum, and on the main site in the right column. No use there. 'Donate to support' doesn't work.

    3. How about sponsorship from commercial meaderies? That would be great, except many commercial meaderies have less money than I do, in fact, *most* of them do. I can often get them to give $20/mo to put up an ad for a while, but they can't do it long term, and many just don't seem to get the benefit, no matter how well I explain it. Then there is the issue of how many ads can I put up? You can only rotate so many before the advertisers aren't getting their money's worth. And, if I put them too many places, people bitch and leave. I'm trying *not* to turn GM into a site where there are more ads than content, but if the subscription thing doesn't fly, as it seems it won't based on what I'm seeing here, then you'd better get ready to see so many ads you'll have to push them aside to read the forum, 'cause thats what it will take to bring in the $3K/mo (before taxes) that the site needs for me to be able to devote the time and resources to it.

    4. I'll pay once, but I don't want a subscription. -- That would be great, if nothing here ever changed. However, not only is new info on the forum every day, new info is on the site every day. One-time payments would ensure that site updates couldn't continue. Not a viable solution in a growing, changing site.

    And finally, Greenblood: Dude, I like you loads, and wasn't trying to dump on you. But your comments (though well thought out and sensible) just sort of pushed my already heavy load of stress into overload.

    As far as the articles, we *will* be getting stuff from panels of experts and known mavens. Dewey Carron, Professor of entymology and a mead judge at the IMF, who has also written many articles on beekeeping and mead, has met Kimes, Morse and Crane, and who hobnobs with a who's who of honey and mead folk has agreed to give us articles. There will be data from the old AMA coming in, and articles from Julia Herz, meadery owners and the like.

    This week I got *hours* of awesome input from professional meadery owners on not only how *their* operations run, but how to brew better and more efficiently, how to make your own cool brewing apparatus and lots of other stuff.

    From Greenblood:
    For the record, when I said ďOpen exchange of information should never be taxed in such a way.Ē I specifically meant information on an open forum, and I only said it once. It is my personal belief that once a forum is started; the information shared does not belong to the host, but rather the community that surrounds it. There. That is my hippie for the day. I am going to go and scrub the patchouli stank off now. At NO point did I say that GM isnít worth paying for. I made my donation. What I did say is that I believe forcing people to pay to become members will isolate a large portion of the mead making community who for whatever their personal reasons will not see the value in paying for a forum, and as a result will never join. Those people may never learn the joy of meadmaking, and that is not ok in my book.
    My bad, I was hurting a lot over what looks like the loss of a project I've poured my heart and soul into for over 8 years, and to have a friend come in and seem to nix the only funding effort I've been able to come up with that seemed to have a basis hurt a lot. I lashed out, and I'm sorry. I know you made your donation, and thanks.

    I'm not going to rant, and have to go and pack to get ready to go home tomorrow, but that's my input for the day.

    Bottom line: somehow I need a steady stream of income to keep the site going. I'd rather do it with something other than a subscription if that is possible. Hopefully I can find that before I run out of credit card.

    Vicky - heading off to pack
    Wassail!

    Vicky Rowe
    Owner & Webmistress, Gotmead.com
    Executive Director, American Mead Makers Association
    http://www.mead-makers.org
    Making Mead since 1995

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    If all 817 members each paid $20 for a subscription or whatever we are going to call it, that is still only $16,000 a year and short of Vicki's goal. That is really why I was asking the question, not to criticize but to get an idea of the goal...

    I will also echo everyone's comments and raise them two glasses of mead in thanking Vicki for making this site available to us...


  19. #19

    Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    You figured at $20/year Pewter? I just ran the numbers, and it's around $3.50 per month per member to get Vicky her goal. That's if everyone paid. When you break it down like that, it's not so bad. Works out to maybe $50 per year I'd guess, which IMO isnt all that bad considering the VAST amount of resources available on GotMead. I'd pay it, and I'm a brokeass soon-to-be-student myself. It's also possible to run it like other subscriptions, and have 1 month, 3 month, 6 month and 1 year options. Makes it a bit easier on the pocket book.

    I know subscription is not the popular option, but this will give an idea of what might be involved. Add to this ideas about fundraising, advertising, donations, GotMead gear etc, and it might be doable.

    Chin Up Vikkers!! Also, please! let me know if there's anything I can do to help maintain stuff. I have a tolerable knowledge of some web type stuff, and NOTHING to do at work most days, hahah.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Raising Funds for Gotmead. A brainstorming session.

    The $20/month figure isn't supposed to supply *all* the revenue, just some of it. I expect to also bring in other revenue from ads, etc. to make up the difference.

    Problem is, that figure works if *all* decide to pay it. Oskaar and I have worked on this, and figure maybe 25% will go for it, the rest will leave. Not a happy thing.

    Mynx, thanks for the offer of help, I will take you up on that. I'm compiling a list of 'whats left' to move over to the new site, so I can finally take down the old one. After that, I'll be going for articles and such, so we'll be out beating the bushes for new articles.

    Vicky - done packing, getting ready to crack a mead with Julia
    Wassail!

    Vicky Rowe
    Owner & Webmistress, Gotmead.com
    Executive Director, American Mead Makers Association
    http://www.mead-makers.org
    Making Mead since 1995

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