It costs about $250 a year to operate NerfHaven. This includes hosting, recurring software licensing fees, and domain registration. This does not include contest prizes or one-time software upgrade/install fees. All of the above comes right out of my pocket, and some very generous contributions from our moderation team over the years.
2015 has been a particularly tough year for me, and the bills are all coming due at once. I would like to make NerfHaven more self-sustaining, so that when I do have money to spend on the hobby I can spend it on contest prizes, nerf war venues and equipment (like mobstacles). To that end I'd like to talk about some options for how we can do that, because this site belongs to the community and I want to be completely transparent if I'm going to ask anyone for money.
NerfHaven has been proudly ad-free for over a decade. I'm hesitant to change this, and if I'm going to put ads on the site I want to make them as unobtrusive as possible. Here are some criteria I want to meet before I put ads on the site:
- Ads will only be displayed to guests. If you are logged in, you will not see them.
- Ads will be static images of a reasonable size. No animations, pop-ups, or sound.
- Members will be allowed to 'buy off' the ads for a period of time. For example, if you donate the equivalent of 1 months operating costs, you can optionally disable ads for everyone who visits NerfHaven for a month.
- Ads must get us at least 1/3 of the way to breaking even. There's no reason to keep them if they aren't helping. If we do better than breaking even, the extra money will go back into the community.
- Ad revenue will not determine how we run the site. The community comes first, and we will not make sweeping changes purely to maximise page views.
A number of members have expressed interest in helping pay for the cost of running the site. Here are some thoughts on how I would like to handle that.
- Members can donate to the operating costs of the site in increments of time (1 week, 1 month, 1 year etc). We'll only spend the money on operating expenses and we'll guarantee the lights will stay on for that length of time.
- Members can optionally sign up for a monthly subscription. This will be kind of like a DIY version of Patreon, where you commit to donating a set amount over a set period of time.
- Information about who donates will be kept private. We will not nag you to donate again on the basis that you donated in the past.
- Aside from an optional custom title and recognition on a donors page, donating will not grant any extra benefits beyond regular NerfHaven membership. You will have the option of donating anonymously.
NerfHaven Store (t-shirts)
I would love to run NerfHaven entirely on the income from people buying swag, but it just isn't going to happen. The margins on a t-shirt on cafepress or zazzle are just too small to sustain the site. That having been said, I'm going to put together some designs and some amazon affiliate links and add a 'Store' tab to the site. Anything we get from that will probably go into contest prizes and giveaways, since store credit is the easiest way to receive income from those sources.
Let me know if you have any comments, questions or suggestions, or if you are interested in supporting NerfHaven. If this doesn't stir up a shirtstorm, expect to see a 'Support the Site' tab pop up in the next few days.