The Outhouse needs your help! The Outhouse, that lovable comics website that you love (or love to hate), has started a Patreon campaign to pay for site costs and compensate our writing staff. This is something that we've thought long and hard about, and we believe that this is the best way of "monetizing" the site to keep it thriving and give it opportunities to grow. We're hoping that you, our loyal readership and community members, will consider donating a modest amount per month to help offset the costs of maintaining the site and help it become even better.
To explain more about why the Outhouse has turned to crowdfunding, our site's managing editor, Christian Hoffer, sat down with ace reporter ThanosCopter (who totally is a separate person and not at all an alias of Hoffer) to explain the site's goals and future:
ThanosCopter: Let's start with the obvious question: What is Patreon? Is it a Harry Potter spell?
Christian Hoffer: Patreon is a crowdfunding platform that allows patrons to donate a small amount of money per month to their favorite artists and bloggers. We picked Patreon because it allows patrons to donate a set amount of money per month, thereby creating a continuous stream of income to pay for our monthly website costs.
ThanosCopter: Why did you start a crowdfunding campaign? Aren't the $0.10 Project Wonderful ads enough to pay the site bills?
Hoffer: We've turned to crowdfunding because our current revenue stream has never been enough to cover our site bills. It costs about $120/month to pay our server bills for the month. Unfortunately, Project Wonderful only covers about 50% of that amount, leaving us with a monthly deficit. While occasionally, we'll find other advertisers (OSSM Comics helped pay our site bills for about five months), we usually have to pay the remainder out of pocket. And by we, I mean either Brad Thomson (our sort of unheralded patron) or myself.
That's all fine and dandy, but we've really been looking for a way to stabilize our cash flow and possibly find a way to pay some of our staff writers....which is something we probably should have gotten around to a while ago. If thirteen people chip in $10 per month, we can pay our monthly server costs (and the Patreon processing fee as well).
ThanosCopter: Why haven't you tried finding a better advertiser, like Google Adsense?
Hoffer: We actually were briefly a Google Adsense member, which was really great and all, until they banned us for a forum post about poop back in 2011. That was fine when we were averaging less than 3,000 hits per day, but our traffic has quadrupled over the last four years, and we're now stuck in a bind.
We've looked into other ad campaigns, but we've found their standards to be a bit restrictive. For instance, most online ad programs won't allow you to say "shit" on your site.
ThanosCopter: We wouldn't be allowed to say "shit"? But I love saying "shit"! It goes hand in hand with our site name!
Hoffer: Exactly. We'd rather just have our readers support us and still say shit as much as we'd like.
ThanosCopter: That's fantastic. Wait? Did you say pay the staff? Am I finally going to get paid for all my hard work?
Hoffer: Yes, we're hoping we'll be able to pay our reviewers and other non-managing staff members. It probably won't be much (paying the site bill remains our top priority), but we shouldn't expect them to work for free any longer.
Let's be clear, Jude and I will not take a cent off of this. We'll both remain unpaid, and it'll stay that way until we sell the site to Imaginova in a few years. However, I've long been bothered by the fact that some of our other staff, especially our review team, isn't been compensated in some way for their work. Hopefully, this Patreon campaign corrects this.
Unfortunately, ThanosCopter, you also don't qualify to get paid. You're a fictional vehicle. It's impossible to write you a check.
ThanosCopter: So how much money are you looking to raise per month?
Hoffer: The baseline amount of money we're looking for is $120/month. With the Patreon processing fee of 9%, that comes out to 13 people donating $10 per month.
We also have some other milestone goals, which would allow us to do things like restart the Outhouse podcast, launch a second single use site a la HasDCDoneSomethingStupidToday.com (hint, it has to do with a major Marvel event occurring this September), and launch an indie comics spinoff site.
You can find the full list of goals on the Patreon page.
ThanosCopter: So let's say I'm interesting in donating money. What's in it for me?
Hoffer: We've got a couple of pretty neat perks for both our community members and our readers. If you're a forum member, you'd be eligible for a special set of flair (which will probably be appropriately obnoxious) to denote that you're one of the special people who think the Outhouse is worth keeping alive. If you're a reader, we'll fake quote you in one of our upcoming articles.
Also, at $40, you'd be eligible to receive a "Has DC Done Something Stupid Today" t-shirt, which is something that a lot of people have clamored for.
For creators and publishers, we've got a couple of perks for you, as well. At $30, you'd qualify to be one of the Outhouse's sponsors for a week. All of our Outhouse sponsors receives ad placement on our front page, will get a plug at the bottom of every article that runs that week, gets a "featured article", and we'll plug your comic/website/business on our social media platforms repeatedly throughout the week.
Another thing I should note is that you'd be eligible for our rewards after donating one time at that pledge amount. If you want a "Has DC Done Something Stupid Today" shirt, you can pay $40 for the first month, and lower your pledge in future months (or end it entirely). We're not expecting anyone to pledge more than $5-$10 a month for any set of time.
There's a few other perks available, too, all of which can be found on the Patreon page.
ThanosCopter: Do people need to commit to giving money each and every month?
Hoffer: While we'd appreciate that, you're welcome to make a one time contribution. Simply donate and then cancel your support after the payment's processed. You can also use the donate button on the side of the front page if you'd like.
ThanosCopter: So what happens if this Patreon campaign flops? Will this be the end of the Outhouse as we know it?
Hoffer: If the Patreon fails (and frankly, I have no idea how well it'll do), the Outhouse will find a way to survive. We're not going to go under, or significantly change, or anything desperate sounding like that. This is a not a do or die campaign by any stretch.
We want to create an income stream that will allow the site to thrive. We want to be able to actually have the site grow and expand. But, if we can't raise the money, we can't, and we'll keep on trying to find a way to do our thing.
ThanosCopter: Any final words to inspire people to donate?
Hoffer: The Outhouse really exists as a voice for the fans of the comic industry. We've long prided ourselves on that, and we really hope that you've enjoyed our writing over the years. We want to continue being that voice for years to come and get better at doing it, and we hope that you'll make that a reality.