Wendell

is creating resources for Land Surveyors & Geomatics Professionals

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Apprentice

$1
per month

If even just one-tenth of our registered users pledged $1, that would bring in about $900 per month.

Chainman

$5
per month
You will experience eternal gratitude from the surveying universe for helping keep RPLS Today online.

Crew Chief

$10
per month
What would you pay for good advice from your peers? Many of our users have pointed out that RPLS Today is a great support forum.

14

patrons

$122

per month

About

Online communities have been a "thing" since the 1980's and have continued to progress over the years. What started as scrolling green text has now become vibrant, engaging conversations that are shared all over the Internet. Surveying has not escaped this phenomenon. Mark Deal, a founding father in online communities for Land Surveyors, originally established rpls-dot-com in 1996 to resounding success. Since then, many other surveying communities have popped up.

TL;DR

For those who don't want to read the novel below, I'll give it to you straight right here. RPLS Today basically requires about $800 per month to operate and keep online. That's what I'm hoping to generate via this campaign. You can get all the details about how and why if you keep reading. :-)

The rest of this is going to be long-winded, but I want you to know everything about my current projects as they pertain to this campaign. I will explain what they are, how they are performing, and some insight into my future plans. Plus I'll give you some time and cost information so you will better understand why I need your help.

How it all started

In 2010, I started a new forum called BeerLeg. It wasn't long before the name was changed because too many users were blocked by corporate firewalls. It grew quickly and continues to grow on a daily basis. As of May 2016, we have about 330,000 posts, 6,000 registered users, 13,000 Facebook likes, 3,500 Twitter followers and 7,500 LinkedIn group members. We're currently averaging about 36,000 unique visitors every month with an average visit time of 6.5 minutes. Our bounce rate is only about 16%.

That should give you a pretty good idea of how RPLS Today is performing. It has basically become a 24/7 meeting place and support forum. I've made a point of keeping non-surveying content hidden to guests so that Google and other search engines only index content that is relevant -- this helps keep a high relevance level in our user base.

All of these great statistics come at a cost in both time and money. But before I get into detail, let me just point out that the intent of this Patreon campaign is not to fund the past -- the purpose is to fund its future so that we can keep this train rolling. I've put a lot of my own time and money into RPLS Today -- some of which has been funded over the years through donations and advertising, but certainly not all of it. At this point, I'm writing off the past losses and looking at how we can fund my efforts on RPLS Today going forward. With that, here's some numbers that might interest you:

Hard costs

I have a great relationship with my hosting company, going on 14 years now. Our managed VPS server is quite the monster and, despite that, costs less than a third of what you'd pay for the same elsewhere. The owner regularly chats with me on Skype and personally performs much of the maintenance required to keep it online and in good health. He goes way above and beyond the call of duty and I consider myself lucky to have this company working with me. Even if we paid "normal" pricing, the level of support we receive is priceless. Here's a list of the hard costs:

  • Managed VPS Server: $60 per month = $720 per year
  • Domain registration/renewal fees = $60 per year
  • Annual software support/updates fees = $160 per year
  • Total hard costs: $940 per year ($78 per month)

Labor costs

The time I spend on RPLS Today is mostly behind the scenes. On a daily basis, I respond to 3-5 support requests via email, moderate 2-10 new users that the spam catcher isn't quite sure about and evaluate 2-5 reported posts. These are the tasks that I'm alerted about throughout the day. Then there is the time I spend reviewing posts and member profiles, looking for spammers and other violators that the software didn't catch. I keep an eye on things as best I can, attempting to thwart the bad guys before they have a chance to do damage. Then there is the time spent on software upgrades, server updates and maintenance, backups, official announcements, etc. For the record, I don't account for my time spent responding to posts as a peer, as I don't think that would be appropriate.

Anyway, it's hard for me to settle on a pay rate that would be considered fair to all of us. In the past, I had looked at it from a minimum wage perspective. But recently, I got to thinking that's not really all that fair to me -- I should probably be getting a wage that is inline with someone being paid by a firm to provide the same services I am providing to RPLS Today. In other words, what an experienced webmaster would make. From my research, this amounts to anywhere from $33k to $86k per year, but that's assuming a 40-hour pay week. The median rate is about $66k, which translates into about $32 per hour at full-time. So if use that rate for the following labor estimates, I think it's a pretty reasonable rate to ask for.

  • Support requests: 15-20 minutes per day = $283 per month
  • Spam and report moderation: 15-20 minutes per day = $9 per day = $283 per month
  • Miscellaneous announcements, content updates, etc.: 1 hour per month = $32 per month
  • Software updates: 2 hours per month = $64 per month
  • Server maintenance/management: 2 hours per month = $64 per month
  • Total labor costs: $726 per month

Profit

There are those who say that I should be making a nice profit for my ongoing work on RPLS Today. It would be awesome if my sole living was provided by RPLS Today, and I hope to get to that point.

Summary

So... wiping the slate clean and looking forward, I'm thinking I need about $800 per month (after processing fees) to keep RPLS Today going as the most popular community for Land Surveyors. At least for now.

Bringing it all together

Recently, I've merged the forum into RPLS Today. The intent behind RPLS Today is to get away from the advertiser-influenced articles that we typically find in industry magazines. We want to report news and helpful information by our peers without paid influence.

Furthermore, I have big plans for RPLS Today but I want to maintain our integrity without commercializing the content we provide. This project is already exhibiting signs of potential success and the feedback I'm receiving is nothing short of wonderful. Here's a quote from a fellow surveyor that nicely sums up what RPLS Today is all about:

"The articles in industry magazines are simply an avenue for advertising. RPLS Today is a refreshing departure from that concept."

I'd also like to find a way to compensate authors. Right now, the best we can do is give them some notoriety and share the heck out of their articles. And maybe that's enough. But I think we can do better.

How you can help

By supporting RPLS Today, you are giving me the opportunity to not only keep RPLS Today online, but also to create other great services that benefit Land Surveyors everywhere. Surveying may not be my 40-hour job anymore, but it is indeed a 24/7 part of my life that I will never let go. In fact, I continue to stay involved, accrue my education credits, and keep my license current.

Based on the information provided above, RPLS Today needs to net about $800 per month to stay online. This covers hard costs as well as my personal time spent on maintenance and overall management. Then if you consider processing fees associated with funding campaigns such as this, it's a pretty safe bet that I'll go home with about 90 cents on the dollar. That's not too bad, actually, since this is a great vehicle for handling the funding with as little fuss as possible for all of us. Anything more than the $800/month is greatly appreciated but certainly not expected.
Goals
14 of 100 patrons
Ongoing costs and labor associated with the software, hosting, maintenance and overall management of RPLSToday.com.
1 of 1
By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 2 exclusive posts
2
Writings
By becoming a patron, you'll instantly unlock access to 2 exclusive posts
2
Writings

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