I spend a lot of my time talking about how I need help to keep the Forums running. In fact, I have a whole doc dedicated to the ways users can help! However, I have never just laid out how much it costs. So, here is a list of all of the things I need to think about and budget for to make the Forums work. Plus, my goals for how much I hope I can make to keep the Forums running to their best.
Cost of the Forums Server #
For the Forums server, I use DigitalOcean. This started off pretty cheap! When I first started the Forums, it only really cost me $5 a month to have a server on there. I didn’t need any extra storage space or anything like that, so I could stick to the lowest server price. However, as the Forums grew, the increase in traffic caused us a lot of lag! So, I had to up the size of the server over and over again to meet the demands of the growing community.
Now, I’m on the $40 a month tier to make sure that there is no lag on the Forums. I suspect that we will need to change to a higher price soon, but I hope that we’re making a little bit more money before then! Otherwise, I’m not sure if I would be able to justify they costs.
Still, though. For now, $40 a month is ok for me. It’s a cost that I can budget for! I make most of that on Patreon, which gets me just over $35 a month when you factor in Patreon’s fees.
Extra Storage Space #
Lately, I’ve needed to add to my DigitalOcean droplet with some extra storage space. This is because we have loads of pics and other media on the Forums! I don’t want people to feel like they can’t share what they want, so I have to make up for that with some more GB.
Right now, we don’t have a lot of extra storage. Just a little bit more: 100GB. On DigitalOcean, this extra storage is known as a “Volume” and it only costs $10 a month. Not a whole lot more! As with the server cost, though, I do think that this price will rise in the future as we need to store more stuff.
After all, the Forums stop working when we run out of storage for the backups. And we need those just in case there’s a problem! I wouldn’t want you to lose days and days of posts! When that happens. Mo can usually just delete the oldest one. For now. When we get too much content, though, we’ll need to up that cost!
MailGun Emails #
The emails are when the cost of the Forums really start to rise. The worst part about it is that it’s not predictable like the server and storage stuff! Instead, they charge me by the email they send out. That means that it really depends on how many emails we have to send out.
Of course, as we have more users, we’re going to have more emails, too! But the price does fluctuate quite a bit. It use to be around $20 a month, but that’s changed as of late. Now, for November 2020, I had to pay over $100 for that month’s emails alone!
There’s not much that can be done to lower this price. Except, of course, asking people who don’t need the email digests and notifications to turn them off in their settings on the Forums. I covered that in my doc on how to help the Forums.
As I can’t predict the cost of the emails, though, they are the judge of whether I can afford to pay to keep everything running or not. If we have a very busy email month, I can feel pretty trapped!
Cost of the Website #
I run my website through WordPress.com. I’m on their Business plan, which costs £240 a year. That’s about $320 in American dollars (December 2020). I pay it in December. Pretty soon. So, if yo want to help me with that, I’d really appreciate it!
Then, I have to pay for the domain, which costs an extra £15 (or $20) for the year. Of course, I need the domain. I can’t run the Forums without it!
Plus, the site is the only way we earn any money at the moment. Well, apart from donations! Since we lost AdSense and the affiliate link ads on the Forums aren’t making any money, we rely on the WordAds and affiliate links on the website to keep going. If we can get some more traffic on the website, I hope we can use it to pay for the Forums!
Also, I aim to help people with the site. I’m not willing to give it up, just like I don’t want to givethe Forums up, either!
Extra Plugins Needed #
To help with the sit, I also need some plugins. Here are the ones I pay for right now. I’m not going to look up the price of each. It makes me depressed! So, look them up if you want to know more:
- Yoast SEO
- BuddyBoss User Posts
- BetterDocs Pro
- Patreon for WordPress by CodeBard
- FontAwesome Pro
They all help to make the website what it is. Then, there are plugins for Shani’s Tutoring, but I don’t count those.
Cost of Books for the Blog Posts #
When it comes to books, it depends on how much I can afford for that month. I try to keep the costs low, so they stay around $5-10 for the month – if I need a book or two. I try not to buy too much and stick to Kindle Unlimited when I can.
Of course, I’d love to have more books! They really help me to give you the best info! And I read them so that you don’t have to read them all. Then I can recommend the best ones.
I keep the price low by buying Kindle books. Or, if I can find some cheap things in a charity shop, that’s great! Plus, I try to go to the library when I can. That’s not always easy, though, and I mentioned the wish list on my doc about how you can help us out!
Personal Goals #
So, my goal is to make a living on the Forums, site and through Shani’s Tutoring. I would like to make enough to be able to do this as a job! Then, I can write blog posts on a regular basis and make some great content for my tutoring site, too.
Then, once I make enough to sustain myself, I’d like to branch out to the other staff members on the Forums. I want us all to be able to make a living on the Forums and site!
It’s going to take time to make enough money to even make the Forums pay for themselves, let alone give me a profit. I think we can get there, though! I just need your support! So, if you can spare a dollar or two, it would really help. Especially this month, as things are a bit tight.
I made a GoFundMe to help me with the costs for the Forums this Christmas. While we surpassed it, we’re still a bit stretched on finances. If you can help, please do! Otherwise, please check out my doc on how to help us, and read a blog post or two!
Other Personal Costs #
As well as the Forums, I have to pay for rent, food, travel, costs to get through university and much more.
So, I would really like to cover all of those, too! And also the Zoom and plugin costs for Shani’s Tutoring! It takes money to make money, after all! And I want to keep helping people!
How Much I Would Like to Earn #
If I can, I would eventually like to earn around £2000 to £2500 to cover everything. As they say: time is money! And I’d like to be paid for the time I spend making the Forums and the site awesome. It would give me the freedom to move out of my family home, keep helping people on my two sites and keep up with all of my other commitments and responsibilities.
I would save up some money to get a better laptop (this one lags a lot, being 6 years old) and it would help my mental health to have my own space away from my family.
If I could earn that much on the Forums, site and Shani’s Tutoring, I would write at least 1 blog post a week on each, full of great info. I’d also make worksheets for writers and people studying English at school every week, have streams and podcasts for help and advice and help people with their writing all the time.
Right now, I can’t do that, as I need to work to pay my way. The Forums and Shani’s Tutoring are more hobbies than actual jobs. I hope that can change soon!
If I could earn more than that, I would bring the Forum Staff on board with money as soon as I can.