Greetings, cybre.space supporters! @chr here.
I'm trying something new this year that hopefully will help me stay more organized and grant you all a better understanding of what goes on behind the scenes of keeping cybrespace humming. Starting with this very post, I will be making a post each month with information about cybrespace's finances and what our various costs are, and what I do with the money in excess of our costs.
To start with, a little bit of background to contextualize all of this. I'm a university student studying computer engineering, and from the get-go cybrespace has been a labor of love that I spend a lot of my free time on in between classes and homework. I come from a somewhat privileged background and thanks to my parents' savings I don't have to worry about working all the time to keep up with tuition and board. Nevertheless, I do cover the rest of my costs, especially for personal projects like this. So for the last year or so, I was partially paying for cybrespace out of pocket, and getting some back from Patreon -- the amounts involved worked out such that it was more or less a wash and I wasn't too worried about finances.
Nonetheless, it pays to be scrupulous with money, and I've been feeling an increasing need to organize my finances, especially around the ongoing growth of cybrespace's costs and patreon income. Also, I was part time employed until August of this year, and since then I've been trying to manage my savings carefully -- my recent efforts which I'll expand on here are a part of this.
So last month I opened a second checking account with my bank so as to properly partition my personal costs (like food, books, and miscellanous purchases) from the cybrespace costs (server bills, etc) and aid my accounting. This seems to have been a successful strategy and will allow me to make posts like this thorough and complete going forward.
The following are recurring costs for cybrespace based on our current server usage, as of the start of January 2018 (there have been some recent changes I'll discuss which change this):
Hetzner CX50 (virtual cloud server): €29.90 ~= $35.97
- The host which cybrespace runs on. 4 cores, 16 GB RAM, 20 TB bandwidth allotted. Under current growth, should suffice for at least a few more months, if not longer.
Hetzner CX10 (mail server): €3.90 ~= $4.69
- The server which handles all the mail and DNS settings for cybrespace as well as a few other domains. No upgrade needed in the foreseeable future.
S3 (storage): $9.57
- This was growing at a rate of about ~$1/mo until January, for reasons I'll discuss shortly
S3 (data transfer/requests): $46.04
- By far the largest cost, this was growing at a rate of about ~$5/mo until January, again for reasons expounded on below.
At the start of January, I got fed up with my AWS bill and decided to move the cybrespace media assets from Amazon S3 to DigitalOcean Spaces, as the latter has two free months and better pricing afterwards. The following recurring cost replaces both above S3 costs going forward:
DO Spaces (storage & transfer): ~$10
- I won't know exactly how much this is until I get my first invoice, but this estimate is based on their advertised pricing model.
The following one-time costs were also incurred as a result of transferring the media from S3 to DO:
S3 outbound Data transfer + requests: ~$25
- This cost should replace the final third of the normal data transfer for the month of January, as media requests are now directed to DO spaces.
S3 PUT/COPY/POST requests: ~$43.74
- This was incurred primarily as a result of a misunderstanding of the rclone tool, which I ran twice assuming a) it was one-way (s3 -> DO) and b) it would ignore files already present in the synced bucket (which it clearly did not, instead transferring back over and replacing everything in the S3 bucket).
Total monthly cost before January: $96.27
Total monthly cost going forward (estimated): $50.66
These were the relevant costs to cybrespace. I have been using excess from the Patreon to pay for a couple other cloud hosting items, which I'll discuss in the section "Extra Costs" below.
As of January, cybrespace is receiving $170/month as advertised by Patreon. However, this is a simplified view of what actually happens. Here's a breakdown, using our December numbers as an example:
$193.50 - Amount charged to Patrons
($15.06) - Processing fees (taken by Stripe/Paypal)
($9.68) - Patreon fee, 5% of amount charged to patrons (before processing fees)
$168.76 - Amount received after fees
The cybrespace patreon then forwards some of this money to various other creators -- neighboring instances, community members, the mastodon project itself, and matrix development (the chat protocol we use).
($30.43) - Amount deducted by Patreon for $27 in pledges to other creators
Total amount received: $138.33
We also have supporters on Liberapay, who are giving €1.85 per week, or about €7.40 a month. I have not yet received enough money there to justify withdrawal fees (it costs €2.93 to transfer to a non-SEPA bank) so I'm not sure if there are any additional fees beyond this, but assuming the entire amount was available this would add $8.85/mo to the above total.
There's about $40 of income over the costs listed above ($70 if payout to other creators is not included). It would be nice to have this as padding in case of unexpected costs (like the S3->DO switchover snafu) but alas, cybrespace is not the only service I run. The following costs are not related to cybrespace, but I'm including them here only because they are bundled in with my other bills, and I've been using the excess from this Patreon to cover their costs. The following are all recurring monthly costs:
Hetzner CX20 (scalie.business host): €6.90 ~= $8.30
- The host that my other instance, scalie.business, runs on. That instance is quite a bit smaller than cybrespace and I don't anticipate needing to increase this any time soon.
DO Spaces (scalie.business media): $5
- Like the other Spaces cost, this is an estimate, based on their advertised pricing.
Hetzner CX10 (personal webserver): €3.90 ~= $4.69
- The smallest tier Hetzner server, which I use for my private git repos, file hosting, and testing other services. Could be considered an R&D cost.
Amazon EC2 Reserved instance: $35
- I'm a bit ashamed of this one, back in May when cybrespace was on Amazon EC2 I decided to purchase a 1-year reserved t2.medium, which in retrospect was certainly a mistake as a) we outgrew a t2.medium a while ago and b) we left amazon EC2 even longer ago. Reserved instances cost you even if they're not associated with a live virtual server, though, so this has been a constant drain on my expenses since then. I've contacted support to try to get this ended early but I have no guarantees it will work, given I technically have a contract for a full year.
Hopefully this has given you some idea of where your money goes as a supporter -- I'm constantly working to optimize my costs and manage cybrespace effectively and efficiently from a technical and financial standpoint, and reports like this will help me improve and stay on track.
Once again, thanks for supporting us on cybre.space, and have a wonderful day.