A sustainable Almanac? $5 on the 5th of every month

A letter from the Almanac’s accountant:

 

Dear Almanac Readers (and Writers)

 

The best way to do this is to tell it straight. Money doesn’t grow on trees. If it did there would be no concrete driveways.

 

I have been the Almanac accountant for a decade. When I started I had hair. Leather elbow patches were still very big in the accounting profession. Well, among the men anyway. Now we see less patches and more man-buns. But one thing hasn’t changed: I am consistently amazed at what the Almanac is able to do despite limited resources – through sheer slog.

 

While we continue to publish many pieces on www.footyalmanac.com.au and attract many readers, the costs of doing all we do remain significant. We have to make a change in how we think about things and go about things.

 

I have just read that Google’s market capitalisation (that’s accounting talk for how much your business might be worth) is around USD$777.7b. Yes, that’s a B for billion! The Almanac is fighting to catch up. We’ll never surrender.

 

We publish over 2000 articles on our website each year. During the footy season it’s 50-70 pieces each week. It takes a lot of time to read, edit and post each piece and then follow up with monitoring comments and to generally administer the site. We also publish books which take time to coordinate, edit, distribute. John Harms has edited a lot of words and packed a lot of AusPost satchels over the years. He’s got forearms like Popeye as a result.

 

We have always employed a coordinating editor for www.footyalmanac.com.au but the relatively small budget (from sponsorship, advertising, book sales, and memberships) has always limited that to a part-time role.

 

Our sponsors and supporters have been fantastic and they provide a foundation. But we are certainly not within cooee of the league of mainstream media. So we have had to be pretty creative to survive.

 

As you know we have fought hard (and worked hard) to keep the website free. No subscriptions. No charges. Nothing. Memberships have been encouraged, but they’ve been optional. We don’t want the Footy Almanac to be the thylacine of free things. Something has to give.

 

The only reason the almanac has made it this far is that John Harms and our squad of volunteer editors have stepped up to filled the gaps. They have given, and continue to give, generously of their time.

 

To help make those gaps smaller, earlier this year we asked our writers to become members. Now, only Almanac members can post on our website for free. We felt that this was reasonable given the service the Almanac provides: to give people the opportunity to have a voice and to become involved in the lively Almanac community. And you get to be called a writer too! I’ve added it to my Linked-in profile: Accountant, Futurist, Writer.

 

We are now inviting readers to make a financial contribution too. We feel that the richness of pieces contributed to the Almanac for your reading pleasure, and the work required to get them ready for publication, has a value. We trust you do too. We are asking readers to make a monthly (or yearly) contribution, to ensure the Almanac is sustainable. Readers also have the option of becoming members too. You can find more information about memberships here. http://www.footyalmanac.com.au/memberships/

 

So how about this for an idea? Set up a regular EFT. We think $5 on the 5th of every month is a modest request. (One pot, one Big Mac, one coffee – they’re all  about $5). Or even $6 on the 6th. Or $7 on the 7th. $x on the xth of the month. If someone out there is up for $28 on the $28th of each month we’d love that. You choose your day!

 

We are doing this to maintain what we believe is a valuable social, educational, sporting, creative, artistic resource.

 

Please contact me if you want to discuss this further. Otherwise here’s the details you need to get the ball rolling. EFT to Malarkey Publications, BSB 633000, Acc 154103428. (Bendigo Bank, Clifton Hill). And please feel free to send us an email to let us know you’ve set something up. We would love to thank you.

 

 

We hope we’ve explained why we are doing this and that it will not affect our vibrant writing and reading community.

 

Regards,
Dips O’Donnell

damian@hillardodonnell.com.au

PS You will see these words at the bottom of some published pieces from time to time:

 

WRITERS AND READERS! Do you love the Almanac concept?
And want to ensure it continues in its current form, and better? To help keep things ticking over please consider making your own contribution.
One off financial contribution – CLICK HERE
Regular financial contribution (monthly EFT) – CLICK HERE
Become an Almanac (annual) member – CLICK HERE

 

 

About Damian O'Donnell

OK - which is the odd one out: Love the Cats and flannelette shirts, especially in winter. I get on extremely well with red wine. We just seem to hit it off. Love horse racing in Spring. Used to love cricket. Go to Stawell every Easter and contemplate life around the fire. Love water skiing, especially in summer. Love a great oil painting. Will read most things put in front of me. Thought 'The Sorpranos' was the best TV show ever made - by miles. Run an accounting practice in Melbourne's suburbs.

Comments

  1. There’s no doubt that we, the Almanac readership, have been spoiled rotten over the years by the free availability of this unique service. Harms is his own worst enemy because he is too generous, too willing to take the punt on others and too committed to the ideals of the Almanac to seek out the corporate dollar to make life easier for both himself and the Almanac. I’m the first to admit that I’ve ‘used’ the site for entertainment and the odd contribution over the years. I finally became a member this year and I feel a little less guilty about taking advantage of the service. There’s an old saying about how you don’t know what you’ve lost until it’s gone. Heaven forbid that we should lose the Almanac! And we just might unless we heed this call by Dips to put our money where our collective hearts/interests/sense of community/etc are. So I encourage readers to come on board to show your support for and appreciation of something we all value.

  2. Brilliant Ian. I reckon the Almanac is a stroke of genius. I reckon it is part of Melbourne ‘s fabric (and hopefully all other States), it is waaayyy ahead of its time, it is a doorway for readers and writers to a new world. Thank you for your words of support. But most of all thanks for recognising avaluable resource.

  3. Peter_B says:

    I totally support what Dips and Ian have said. I have been a financial member of the Almanac for 2 years after ‘freeloading’ the first 4 years. My reasons for why we all need to contribute to keep the Almanac alive:
    – The website is very effectively monitored and moderated. That is why it has such a generous and inclusive tone. Insults and crap in comments and articles gets weeded out; mostly before it hits the site by JTH, Kasey and voluntary editors. Many pieces are originally submitted as drafts in unpunctuated Swahili. The editors ensure these appear as sparkling, erudite English (and we keep it confidential and educational). It all takes a lot of time and persistence. If you want boofheads and you and your team being regularly slagged, Big Footy will gladly accept you.
    – Buying a membership buys you a readership. Many writers assume that the world is hungry for their insights, wit and team allegiance. Its a harsh competitive world out there in web/reader land. The Almanac site gets about 2,500 hits/sets of eyes most days in the footy season. I know from the site stats that my articles get around 100 to 150 readers and about a dozen make some sort of comment. Building up that sort of following takes time, but if you think you will get that sort of appreciative considered readership out of Facebook or a personal blog then I suggest you try it. An echo chamber for the self absorbed.
    – Lastly and maybe most importantly the Almanac is a community much more than just a website. When I started writing in 2011 I was a sad, lonely git attending Eagles matches. Now I am a sad lonely git who gets to share his ramblings with hundreds of other sad, lonely gits. The Almanac community thrives beyond the website in emails, texts, lunches, bars, coffees and phone calls. Its there for celebration and its there for communication in good times and bad. It is invaluable to find a community of kindred spirits in an increasingly atomised and isolated world. As Perth resident I know that my connections and the Almanac’s boundaries extend far beyond bleak city on the Yarra. People I never would have got to know as friends without the common linkage through the website.
    – Ask not what the Almanac can do for you (plenty). Ask what you can do for the Almanac ($5 or so a month).

  4. Phillip Dimitriadis says:

    With you all the way Dips, Ian and PB. Have been a member for 4 years. When I think of all the wonderful writing, ideas and friendships that I’ve made through JTH and The Footy Almanac, I just can’t imagine not having this site around. Each year new writers, perspectives and voices come through that otherwise may not have been seen the light of day.
    It’s as close to a community writing group as one can get. As a bonus, I get to learn about sports culture from diverse parts of Australia. No longer just an Inner Northern Melbourne institution, the Footy Almanac has been national for a while now. I wouldn’t trust anyone else with my writing. $5 bucks a month is less than church money.
    Hey Dips, is there any way we can become a religion like the AFL and not have to pay tax?
    Church of the Latter Day Fan?
    Pillsong?

  5. Dave Baker says:

    I renewed my membership, mainly to look forward to the 2018 Tigers Almanac ?
    #gotiges

  6. E.regnans says:

    G’day Dips and all.
    You paint a compelling case above.

    The site seems to be used by many.
    For a variety of purposes.

    Excellent idea of $X on Day X of the month.
    Chip in what we think it’s worth. What we can afford.

    ==
    Also – as all writers should be doing – I think anyone with an interest in this should advocate for it.
    Do people do this?
    Facebook, email, Twitter, conversation – encourage, encourage.
    Push it.
    Spread the word.

    #manyhands #reach #fight

  7. Rulebook says:

    While I totally agree with paying a membership and have done so I have always felt that there is not enough requirements for writers to get as many hits as possible it should be COMPULSORY for every writer to do what ever they can to get hits and comments by what ever social media they prefer
    ( when I see articles written and not even a single comment for mine that means they have not tried hard enough be HONEST every article should be able to get at least 150 hits and 5 comments minimum )
    Comments generate activity as well while you don’t have to be a lunatic like me there should be far more daily activity if every one,REALLY tried as I have said be HONEST) more hits means more advertising potential revuenue also I feel v v strongly about this

  8. RB spot on. But we need to start a step back. We need to value the Almanac. I think most people do. We’ll find out.

  9. Yvette Wroby says:

    I am with you all the way fella’s. Great initiative Dips, JTH and the Almanac. All aboard! I hope the women of the Almanac get behind this initiative. The level of work and commitment it takes to get The Women’s Footy Almanac produced, and the articles on women’s sport and footy up on the site, as well as all the general footy writing, it takes an army and it takes money.

    Go you girls/women. Let’s see us rise all together.

  10. Marcus Holt says:

    Quick (solo) brainstorm of some fundraising slogans:

    #NoFreeKickAlmanac ?
    “Pay up or we’re nackered” ?
    #ACalltoArmsForHarms ?
    “All you can read $5” ?
    “Remember, too much footy is just enough” ?
    “Football, Meat Pies, Kangaroos and Almanac” ?
    #5BucksDoTheWriteThing
    “Loose Change Everywhere”? (apologies to JTH)
    “Pass the Member’s Bill, a Fiver”
    “Don’t do SFA for TFA!”

    OK, I’m reaching now!
    Reaching for my wallet too, I don’t get here often but I always enjoy it when I do.
    And I concur with Ian, JTH Is his own worst enemy, tried to let me pay under the odds for the Dark Years (2013-15) back catalogue.

    Keep up the good work!

  11. Apart from AFLW, when women contribute, I have often wondered why there aren’t more of us writing stories for the site. Women often control the purse strings, so if more were involved…..!!
    Would like to hear what you guys (the Almanac certainly seems to be a male domain) think. Why so few women?
    Or am I mistaken?
    Good luck in the fund raising!

  12. DANAE GIBSON says:

    I like to think of The Footy Almanac as my Aussie Rules Union. I know it’s more than just (my type of) footy and there are other platforms and places for me to be heard & counted but this is where I choose to pay that little bit extra. Nice work team. Now as most coaches say, ‘let’s follow the processes and the results will take care of themselves.’ Love from your paid-up, rusted-on wharfie in the West.

  13. Mark Duffett says:

    $5 is also about what an AFL Record costs, if I recall correctly. Tens of thousands shell out for it every week, never mind monthly. Yet despite the Record’s estimable quality, there is no doubt in my mind the Almanac leaves it for dead in terms of value to the footy community. If you can afford the Record, surely you can afford the Almanac.

  14. Yvette Wroby says:

    Love your work Marcus Holt.

    Especially #acalltoarmsforharms

  15. Long term member of a great community even here out West. Has given me an outlet to create which is something I’m forever grateful for. Right behind this.

  16. Rulebook says:

    I still go back to my comment above re responsibilities of writers to try and get hits and comments
    Thoughts of the Knackery ? Thank you

  17. Joe De Petro says:

    I’m relatively new to the Almanac community. Writing nonsense about footy is fun. Ican’t remmeber what i did with the extra hour each week before I realised that I could join a community that attracted people who would actually read my nonsense. Seriously, Dips has confirmed that someone actually reads it. How good is that?

    It just goes to show that reading nonsense about footy must also be fun.

    So five bucks a month is all it takes? Bargain.

  18. Great, positive responses here. Lets hope we can make this vibrant enterprise even more vibrant.

    And remember an Almanac Membership is a good birthday present for a sports loving mate/brother/sister.

    RB – you are quite right. The more hits the more circulation. The more circulation the more the audience gets involved.

  19. Mathilde de Hauteclocque says:

    Agreed, Dips. That emotional, intangible value we feel every time we check in, browse, comment, contribute does need to be translated into hard, tangible value. I’m in.

  20. Stainless says:

    Totally support this proposal. It’s extraordinary that the Almanac has flourished as it has on such a shoestring. The new arrangements for writers and this proposal for readers are incredibly modest, all things considered.
    Can I just voice some hesitation about urging writers to self-promote. It might sound a bit precious but this isn’t something that comes easily to me and, I suspect, many writers. And as someone who point blank refuses to do social media, I have limited communication tools beyond word of mouth. I get that there’s not much point writing if no-one’s reading and that the Almanac itself needs to be promoted. But my primary motivation is the personal enjoyment I get from writing “nonsense about footy” (nice one, Joe). I’ll always talk about my writing when it comes up naturally, but I’d prefer to have my nonsense read by a few genuinely interested folk than feel that I’m forcing it on people.

  21. Malcolm Rulebook Ashwood says:

    While I see your point Stainless I admit I feel really strongly on this I can’t see how any one hasn’t got enough mates and family to at the very least email a article and ask to comment surely 150 hits and 5 comments is a pretty easy target and is our responsibility as writers,it’s our privilege to write not our
    right in general to have articles published on the almanac
    ( I reckon each of us can do a bit more eg I now send Luke’s Collingwood articles on to pie supporting friends and I put Swish Glenelg article on to SANFl Facebook page and sent on to Glenelg mates and ex players in general us regulars can all help a bit more )

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