October: Community Update

Hello there, Wacky Writers!

We’re here to give an update on the state of our community. And boy, have we done a lot recently. We’ve set up ads, we’re running a Halloween Contest, our For-Profit category is filling up with hard-working authors and freelancers, the Tip Cauldron and Wacky blog are up and running, and many more ideas are coming! With our community ever-growing, we are excited to offer you all these things and more.

However, one thing has weighed on our minds for a while: monetization. While we have set up ways to help offset the cost of the forum, such as the ads and merchandise, they don’t currently give enough revenue to support the forums. At the moment, running the forums costs $80-$100 monthly. While merch, donations, and ads have supplemented the cost of this last billing period, we are still paying the majority out of pocket.

Based on our growth this past month and the number of active users we have on the site, we know a sustainable monetization strategy is entirely possible, but we want to know what our community would prefer.

What can you do right now? Donate!

For our next bill at the end of the month, anything not covered by donations is coming out of our team’s pockets and while we love this site to death, it’s not possible for us to keep it up.

What can you do next?
Answer these polls below to let us know what you think about different options to support our community. You don’t need to answer all of them, but the more information we have, the better. Polls are anonymous. You are not agreeing to do any of this, just letting us know if you’d possibly be interested.

Would you be willing to help monetarily support the community if you knew it was the difference between us staying open or closing?
  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

Why or why not? Give us your thoughts in the comments, please!

Would you be interested in an ad-free experience for a small monthly subscription?
  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

Why or why not? Give us your thoughts in the comments, please!

Would you be interested in Premium forum features for a small monthly subscription?
  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

If so, what type of features would you be interested in? Give us your thoughts in the comments, please!

Would you be interested in an extra perks system, such as Patreon or Kickstarter?
  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

If so, what type of perks would you be interested in?
  • Additional Forum Features
  • Ad Free Experience
  • Merchandise
  • Access to Exclusive Content
  • Early Access to Content
  • Writing Services - IE: Editing, Reviews, Graphics, etc
  • Other

0 voters

What type of Patreon perks or Kickstarter rewards would you be interested in? Tell us in the comments!

If you wanted to support our community as part of a monthly subscription, what cost would you be most likely to donate?
  • I am entirely unable to support monetarily
  • Less than $1
  • $1-$5
  • $5-$10
  • For the right perk, I’d be willing to subscribe $10 or more monthly.

0 voters

Would you be interested in being able to advertise your works/services on our site?
  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

Would you be interested in paying to advertise your works/services on our site?
  • Yes
  • No

0 voters

Wacky Writers was created as a community by independent writers, for independent writers, without a corporate overlord making choices that hurt the community. But without a corporate overlord, it does fall on us, the community, to keep the lights on.

It’s important to note that all the forum’s current features would remain, these are just ideas for additional features. While we are excited to hear the communities thoughts and ideas, please keep in mind we are an independent team of volunteers doing our best to provide an amazing writing community. You are welcome to ask questions, share concerns, and provide constructive feedback, but we ask you keep the discussion civil and respectful.

Sustainable monetization is just one of our many plans for the future. With NaNo and the next PitMad fast approaching, we’re working on support groups and pitch workshops, and we have much more in the works behind the curtain. We’re a safe haven for all writers, a place where creatives can network and hone their craft. We want to continue providing the community that every one of us loves and thrives in. With you by our side, we’ll be unstoppable.

Our eternal thanks,
– The Moderator Team

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I’m interested in all of these, but I can’t currently get any of them :sob:

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No problem! We are interested in what the community thinks but we know many people, especially with covid, unfortunately can’t help much right now. Its helpful to have as many opinions as possible! So thank you for still participating!

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We want to make sure that we’re transparent with everyone and that the community has the opportunity to discuss stuff with us that may affect everyone at some point or another.

Our goal is to fund the community, improve current functionality, and expand the features and services that we can offer to everyone (even expanding beyond a forum to something bigger, maybe).
Worst outcome is that the community has to close because we just can’t sustain the cost. Obviously I don’t think anyone wants that to happen, so now is the perfect opportunity for you to provide your thoughts or suggestions so we can work towards the goals we want to achieve for our community.

I hope you will!
-CJ

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Are there any cheaper alternative websites that could host something like this? Or will they all be just as expensive to maintain?

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Donated $50, but I’m too dumb to figure out how to pm for the heart badge.

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Holy cow @Lizardclaw, I don’t even know what to say. :sob:

Thank you so much!! :beautifulheart::beautifulheart:

This helps so much. :pleading_face:

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:purple_heart:

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If I recall right (and she can correct me if I’m wrong), CJ has already explored various hosting options and what she settled on is among the cheapest out there, that can also offer all the functionalities we need.

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@K-J-Whitten

Mari is right. Because of how many users we have and how active they all are, we have to have a server that can handle the load, which is more expensive than your regular general server. We also have an email service so that everyone can get their email notifications, plus domain name registration, one-off site costs, the costs for the main site (which isn’t nearly as expensive as the forum but still). Forum and main site are on two different servers - if you spend any time on the main site, you’ll see that it loads a bit slower and isn’t quite as responsive as quickly as the forums are.

Here’s some information via charts to help show just how big our internet footprint is currently:


The cached vs uncached doesn’t matter too much, that has to do with which server it’s sending/pulling information from based on where users are in the world. This is the amount of times we’ve sent something over the internet in the last 30 days.


Over the last 30 days, this is how many pageviews we’ve had per day. At our LOWEST day, we still had nearly 17k pageviews in a day.


This chart is the number of emails we send per week. Same thing, at our lowest week, we still sent nearly 1400 emails. That’s 200 emails a day.

Now luckily, I have associates in the email industry. We get 1250 emails for free each month, and then they’re $.80 for each thousand after that. Considering only our current sending rates, we’re looking at anywhere between $6-10/month.

Now I know that this may not tell anyone much in terms of why the site costs as much as it does without having a greater understanding of what certain services cost, so I will try to break it down in comparisons to what “normal” discourse/forum sites would look like.


This is a screenshot pulled straight from the Discourse site itself. Discourse the software is free, but the management/server costs of it are not, at least not through Discourse. Knowing what you do now about what our traffic looks like, you’ll notice that we don’t even qualify for the “business” plan, which starts at $300 per month. We would have to contact them for an “enterprise” solution which they don’t even price out. I would guess that pricing probably starts at roughly $500/month for forums just barely over the business usage. Our total page views in the last 30 days?

752k page views. With nearly 2 million since we started the last week of July.

We’d probably be looking at something closer to $700/month, if I had to guess.

So instead, I spun up our on server, the starting cost of which is $5/month.

“But CJ, if it’s only $5 month, why are site costs $80-100?”

Well forum friends, it’s because the $5 server is for sites that have like, 1000 views per month. Obviously we’ve got a bit more than that lol. So for the forum to run smoothly, we had to upgrade a lot. Our forum needs it’s own computer space/server space. There’s shared servers and then there’s individual servers. On shared, we basically have “neighbors” we have to share our resources with. That would be okay with maybe 10 or even 20k views per month, but we’re way above that too. There’s not enough resources for us to share with other websites, so we need our own space. And the individual servers get pricey fast. We’re actually on the lowest tier for an individual server, which runs us about $60/month, just for the server.

Now servers don’t automatically mean space. We’re pretty fond of our images around here, as you know. Our server automatically comes with 25GB of space, but half of that is taken up JUST by the software Discourse runs on, plus backups (we have to have at least one).

Additional storage isn’t that expensive when it’s just raw storage. In our case, I’ve got an additional 25GB of space for us and it only costs $2.50/month for us to have that. I’m actually looking into a cheaper (possibly faster) alternative to this, but the site storage costs aren’t as huge a cost suck as the server itself.

Then, for the main site (which we have to have for the forum site to work), we’ve got a $10/month server to host that. That’s the lowest I can probably get away with, because we do have pageviews on that site too. In some cases, our social media team send people directly to our site to get a feel for what we’re about (like via the blog posts) so that they then come hang out with us over here.

So to sum up:
Forum server: $60
Emails: $6-10
Main Site Server: $10
Extra storage: $2.50

That puts us at about $82.50.

The remaining $10-20/month is for the “one off” costs, like domain registration or extra icons for the forums, stuff we can’t get for free.

None of this takes into consideration your friendly neighborhood mod team, myself included. Our entire mod/admin team is comprised of volunteers and I’ll tell you, managing this forum is a full-time job in and of itself. The costs to run the site are strictly for hardware and software and the “tech” things, not “staffing”. This is something that may become a concern in the future, but for now, everyone is okay with volunteering time and, in some cases, their own resources to help keep this place running, because we believe in what we’re trying to do here (so if you haven’t thanked a mod lately for helping out, you should consider doing so :wink: ).

Anyway. All that to say, I want to be transparent and honest at what we’re looking at in terms of what we need to keep the lights on and to keep growing. We have so many plans and dreams for what this place could be, on top of what it already is, but we need the support of the community to get there. :slight_smile:

I’m happy to answer additional questions as needed.

14 Likes

I understood maybe half of this, but thank you to everyone who’s helping run this place, y’all are amazing~

6 Likes

I try to put it in a way that everyone can understand without coming off condescending but I know there’s a lot of complicated stuff in there. :sweat_smile:

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You made your point clear and easy to understand, so it’s alright :joy:

4 Likes

The fact that Wattpad never posted any of this info (to my knowledge), makes me very glad they got rid of their forums. If they ever brought it back, the contrast would be disgusting. I am definitely interested in something like Patreon (ads are so cute or unnoticeable here, they don’t bother me), and if everybody here donated a dollar, I see no reason why this wouldn’t be successful.

For those that couldn’t, there are always lovelies who can pitch in more to cover on those that couldn’t.

I think extra merch would be a good idea, as well. I just donated to the NaNo site, but mostly because they had a notebook and a sticker to go with it if you did.

(Not ashamed of that swaying me - notebooks are amazing :heart:)

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We actually do have some merch already! You can find it over on this link here:

We also have a pretty good selection of notebooks but I may be biased.

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I do like the idea of letting writers pay to advertise their work on the site. It eliminates the irrelevant ads that would otherwise be annoying. I supported this idea from the start. And I think a Premium membership would go further than a Patreon or Kickstarter - those involve people having to leave this site to find the content on another, and I think maybe it’d be better to just keep everything to one site. Maybe you could integrate features you’d put into Patreon here on WW? I think workshops, book reviews, editing services, cover services, you could even offer those for a reasonable fee, maybe taking a commission from editors and artists. It benefits both artists, editors, etc and the site. It’s just a thought.

Thank you for everything you guys do!

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I saw those - was planning on snagging one of those beautiful notebooks soon. I was thinking of just more varied things there? Who knows, maybe I’ll need to buy a notebook every day, and it will cover that haha (I go through a lot…)

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i actually have the wisp notebook if you want to see it!

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So I’m hearing more notebooks is needed :eyes:

But we’re definitely working hard behind the scenes on what we can do for merch. There are a loooot of options. As for design ideas I think we’re still open to having people pitch stuff in the Artistry Castle otherwise we just need to find the time to actually design stuff XD

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Absolutely!! It’s an adorable little thing :slight_smile:
Popularity aside, I still really like aspects of Harry Potter, and the Tenebris schools turned into notebooks was a very cool idea

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