Our situation: We are a small team brought together because of the love for Paintball. The owner and Editor is (Me) Antony (AKA Martello), was a contributor to PBUK magazine back in the early 2000's and an avid Scenario paintballer as part of the UKScenario forum. Producing the 2009 UK'S Annual. Due to illness Antony shifted from playing paintball to capturing pictures and video from 2008 onward. Online magazines became popular and printed magazines became all but extinct. This left a void in his magazine shelf that we want to fill.
We started a kickstarter campaign back in 2014 to fund the first print and hopefully set us up for future issues. The plan was to use the kickstarter money to fund all the rewards, postage and the physical print run, then we would sell issues to cover the cost of attending events, camera equipment, software and training. We would work from home meaning we wouldn't need an office or most things a normal company needs, we'd be able to fund the magazine for a while with our savings and a little extra help from selling pictures from events.
The magazine didn't catch on straight away, it seemed that those that bought the magazine were the same people who backed the kickstarter, although the magazine was met with mostly positive reviews, it was clear that much work and improvement was needed. This low uptake slowed the next few issues to just over one a year and funds ran out quicker than planned. We stood by our commitment to produce 4 issues for kickstarter's and still pledge to make sure everyone gets their tier rewards. The irregular production prevented many potential advertisers to invest, we desperately needed advertising revenue to produce regular issues but no one would advertise without regular issues being produced, a bit of a chicken egg situation.
Now it is 2017. Paintball Magazine has had a slow start but we are proud that we are still here and still developing an enthusiastic readership. In the last four years, we have written and produced 4 magazines, 2 online mags, attend over 80 events, taken hundreds of thousands of pictures. We have improved with every step we take, even WHSmiths have shown an interest in stocking Paintball Magazine, but before this can happen we need more help...
1) We want Paintball Magazine to go on for a long time. The beta test is over. We know it works. We have readers and thousands of fans on social media. We want to re-launch and go for it.
2) We need to make Paintball Magazine self-sustaining for this to work. The kickstarter produced a lump sum to 'kickstart' the project but didn't trigger a regular income. Our savings are now exhausted. Advertisers are interested but need to see a regular magazine that is able to support itself without the need to beg for advertising revenue.
Thinking about the long-term self-sustaining plan, we decided we don't want to fill the pages with advert after advert, although we do not want to turn advertising away, it's a hard job to persuade companies to part with the green. Ads can also interrupt the flow of a magazine and reduce actual content. We also want to be able to review all items without company pressure to make sure reviews are good or prefer a certain brand. We can come up with a better way to do it, so far we have two methods:
1) Sell the magazine along with photos at events and book teams for shoots. This has definitely helped, but it doesn't even get us a third of the way to self-sustainability. Maybe when we have more time to further develop our media packages, it'll do the job by itself, but that's a huge investment, with more training and equipment needed and that won't happen over night. Being in the field taking pictures means we don't have time to 'sell' the magazine at events.
2) Donations. We've received donations from generous companies and readers ever since we started to do raffles, spot the ball comps etc. But a lot of those donors, along with other readers, have suggested that Patreon is a better way for readers to support the site. So here we are!
The way Patreon works is a reader can donate whatever they want per month and the donation is recurring each month after that. So anything from $1 per month up is hugely helpful to the cause.
What We'll Use the Money For.
Our initial goal is $1000 per month. Patreon works in dollars, we are UK based, meaning that the final money we get, minus fees will fluctuate with exchange rates, that money, plus the sales income, will be enough to keep Paintball Magazine going indefinitely. Here are our current costs:
- Hosting: We want to host photos on and off Facebook but we need a robust enough hosting plan to support the highest spikes in traffic after events.
- MailChimp: The service we use to email posts out to the subscription list. This fee grows as the email list grows.
- Ongoing web development: We want to develop our website, we want to live stream and blog straight from events as well as upload to social media. None of the current team has any programming skills, so we need to pay someone to do this.
- Facebook post 'boosts': When we announce a new post on Facebook we can pay to boost the content. This makes sure that the announcement gets onto 1/3 or 1/2 of our Facebook followers' News Feeds. This does work and was an unseen cost when we first started up.
- Video equipment and camera servicing: After 4 years we have to service and upgrade equipment, buy new memory cards etc.
- Physically get to events: Some of us live in the Shire, hundreds of miles from civilization and need to attend events, this costs money in fuel and wear and tear. Some day we would like to afford a hotel room rather than Blakey's tent or the back of a Renault Clio.
- The photographers: Blakey and myself do most of our photography, we need feeding as we don't get a wage. I need to continue to eat the beans, pay for kids dinners, heat my house and provide for my family. I'm a guy with kids and they eat like locusts.
- One employee: Amanda (our Copy Editor) currently handles things like advertising revenue, article requests, spam comment deletion, social media upkeep, physical magazine stall running, and a bunch of other little jobs. These things end up adding up to a few hours every day, and without Amanda, I end up doing it all and have much less time to produce photos, write articles, update blogs and procrastinate over design.
- Reward our staff! we may not be able to pay them a living wage, but we would like to show our appreciation by paying for them to be able to play some paintball, buy their photos or treat them to a lovely day trip to the beach with ice-cream and candy-floss provided.
That's the basics. With those pieces covered, Paintball Magazine can support itself.
If our dream came true we could do amazing things with the sport of Paintball; videos and video reviews, blogging, live steraming, huge competitions, FREE content for all and special things for those that support us. We could afford to carry on producing a quarterly physical print magazine and maybe even get it into the shops! We could event produce a digital edition for download for Patreon supporters or monthly printed magazines.