There has always been a cost associated with running the wiki. We've kept the domain name registered over the years, printed business cards, bought ad space in Wayfinder, and purchased prizes for the editing contest. Since the move from Wikia though, we have some very real ongoing costs. While those costs aren't huge, we are
talking about a several trips to Starbucks each month.
We've had a "Donate" button since the move, but it hasn't seen a whole lot of action (none to be exact). I think we should investigate other ways of making a bit of money to offset our costs. Specifically:
- Amazon affiliate links: I think some of us have been quietly hoping that Paizo would launch their own affiliate program, but nothing has materialized.
- DriveThruRPG.com affiliate links: I know what you're thinking: "But DriveThruRPG doesn't sell Paizo PDFs." That's true, but they do sell stuff closely related to Golarion. For example, Kobold Quarterly (official Pathfinder content), the Book of the River Nations line (unofficial Kingmaker support), and I assume the upcoming stuff from Legendary Games (unofficial support for various Paizo products).
- Cafe Press: This is probably the one I'm least enthusiastic about, but I think Cafe Press has some items that wouldn't be completely horrible to see with a PFWiki logo on.
- Rackspace affiliate program: Rackspace is our hosting provider. They have an affiliate program where we could get a cut any time somebody signs up for one of their services. The best part is that we could have that applied directly to hosting costs. No waiting for cheques, no shuffling money around, no messy book-keeping.
My current thinking is that instead of the "Donate" button, we could have a graphical link to a "Support PFWiki" page. There you could donate via PayPal. Also, there would be a tabular list of products with images and affiliate links (sort of a PFWiki "store"). Finally, in the footer of every page, a simple little "Hosting by Rackspace" link. My thinking is that this broad approach will increase our chances of generating a little bit of income without looking too junky or desperate.
I think these are all great ideas, Andrew. Mark, I just want to check that we're ok doing this vis-a-vis Paizo's policies.
As far as I understand the legalities of it, as long as any money earned is used exclusively for the maintenance and promotion of the project, we're good. So if we made 50% more than we needed in a given month, it'd have to go to the next month, or to buy an ad or whatever. We also can't give the impression that payment is in any way a requirement for use of the site, which I don't think is the direction we're talking of going.
Thanks for that clarification, Mark. Andrew, do you have any personal experience with any of the options you presented? I certainly don't.
does the amazon one give a % of anything bought, or just certain items linked to? I buy lots of things through amazon, but very little of this is RPG products.
Amazon's affiliate program gives you a percentage of items purchased through links from external websites. So if you buy stuff on Amazon that you aren't directed to from this or any other affiliate page, no one but Amazon gets that money.
Boo! At least we're able to link to entire categories from one link it looks like (I didn't look to see how broad a category you can link to, but if we could do all RPGs, that would help)
Hmm, my understanding was that if you followed an affiliate link, you'd get a cookie that would give us credit for anything you bought. I guess the best way to find out is for you to go to User:Aeakett/Scratch3
, follow one of the links and then buy something you actually want.
done, bought Jim Butcher's ghost story pre-order (its a preorder for end of July, so payment might not hit until then) Followed one of the legacy of fire links if that matters.
Yup, that worked. I can see that you ordered the item, but haven't been credited yet (presumably because you can cancel your pre-order). I'll make sure to add a note about this when I write the copy for the page.
Not sure how long it usually takes, but they shipped the book from above today, so you should see the $ from it next pay cycle.
Are we making any money at all through the Amazon links? Or PayPal donations?
I know when i make a amazon order, I go through the link first..... I'm ordering a good amount of my xmas gifts there in the next week, so I'll make sure i'm logged through here when I do it... Not sure about what others are doing
No Paypal donations yet. As for Amazon, that's a bit of a story. Amazon only pays out when you've reached a certain balance of credits. To be mailed a cheque, you have to rack up $100 in referral credits. That means that we'd have to refer $2500 of sales before we saw any payout. On the other hand, they will issue Amazon gift cards when you have $20 of referral credits ($500 in sales). Since an Amazon gift card is pretty much as good as cash to me, that's the route we're going. Thanks to purchases of binoculars, a Kindle, and a fancy vacuum (amongst other lower cost items), we're due to get our first payout next month.
Erm, Andrew, I made a $25 donation to the wiki back in June, did it not go through to you? It shows as having gone through on my end.
Well look at that. Yes we do have donations in Paypal (129.08 USD). I was under the impression that we'd get an email when we recieved a dontaion. I suppose I should make sure our email server is working properly. I'll do up some sort of financial report this weekend.
Whew! Glad that the money wasn't lost in the interwebs.
You should see an additional $200 or so posting to the amazon account today... most likly a bit more in the next few days as well...
I've put together a rudimentary spreadsheet with our cash flow in and out. One thing missing is the domain registration costs which I've emailed Alfred about. If anybody has experience with keeping accounts, I'd be happy to have some input on how to better track our cash.
Wow! Our hosting costs way more than I thought it did! Can you share that document with me so I can edit it and I'll do what I can to tidy it up?
Yeah, that is a lot. Anything we can do to reduce that? I'm guessing the variance in cost is directly related to bandwidth used?
Yeah, our hosting costs started off pretty modest ($10.95/mo + bandwidth), but when we were having performance issues in the spring the support folks at Rackspace indicated that we probably just needed a beefier server. On their advice, I stepped us up to the next biggest server ($21.90/mo + bandwidth), and that seems to have fixed most of our issues. The cost variability you see is
our bandwidth. We pay only for our outbound traffic, at a cost of $0.18 per gigabyte. The higher bandwidth costs that you see April through July are probably from an attempt I made to lighten our server load by serving images from an Amazon S3 account. This proved to be more trouble than it was worth and clearly cost us a couple of dollars in bandwidth between the wiki server and the Amazon image server.
As for reducing costs, I suppose we could look for cheaper hosting, but I think we'll get what we pay for. And while the cost is more than we initially though, it's hardly unmanagable.
For the record, those Paypal numbers are the amount we netted after Paypal took their fee.
On final note I'd like to make... I think the first "bill" we should pay is the domain name registration. Primarily because of its value to the project. It has allowed us to move from a private host, to Wikia, and finally to our latest home all the while allowing us to say "Go to pathfinderwiki.com". Second, Alfred has been shouldering this cost from the beginning, and it seems appropriate to me that he be the first person compensated.
Mark, I've shared the spreadsheet with you.
is there a possibility of adding the amazon affiliate link under the donate button? I hate the fact that I have to find this thread every time I order something from Amazon (and often forget)
I just felt I should note the additional affiliate program option that is available, since I doubt we are recovering the hosting costs based on my Amazon purchases. Noble Knight Games
has stock of a bunch of the modules and things that Paizo no longer has in stock. Is this something that we should be looking into?
I don't think we should link anywhere other than Paizo, if only because then we become a shill for other money-making sites and I don't want to be put in a position where we're picking and choosing who we link to and who we don't.