What Portland Transport Costs (and How to Pay for it)

As I’ve discussed the need for a sustainable funding source, several people have inquired about what it costs to keep Portland Transport operating. So here’s the breakdown. We have recurring costs on both a monthly cycle and an annual cycle.

Monthly Costs

Expense Amount
Hosting $17.00
Feedburner $11.98
Libsyn (podcast) $5.00
Site Meter $6.95
Total $40.93

There’s good news on the hosting front: reader John Beaston from Easystreet has indicated that Easystreet would be willing to provide complimentary hosting. Early in the new year we’ll be looking at the specs on their hosting package to make sure it matches up with our needs (which are pretty basic: Perl, PHP, MySQL).

Feedburner provides enhanced RSS service and statistics for our our three RSS feeds: the main posts feed, the comments feed and the KBOO Bike Show podcast.

Libsyn is a specialty hosting system for podcasts. The two big benefits are unlimited disk space (you pay by the amount you upload per month, not how much total content you have) and specialty statistics that make sense for podcasts.

Site Meter provides basic stats for the site.

You’ll notice my bias for measurement. As a professional web marketer since 1995, I have a strong preference to be able to measure what’s going on :-)

We also have about $250 in annual costs, which include domain name registration (portlandtransport.com, tsrf.us), a Flickr account, a couple of state filing fees required for non-profits and about $100 for legal services related to our non-profit status.

So taking out the hosting costs and amortizing the annual expenses, that works out to about $45/mo to keep Portland Transport running.

So a couple of obvious observations:

  1. It would be cheaper not to be a non-profit
  2. It would cost less with less measurement

I’ve already talked about my bias for measurement (costs about $20/mo). So why take on the expenses of being a non-profit versus just running this as a hobby out of my own pocket? Several reasons:

  1. I really hope that Portland Transport is bigger than just one person, and I also hope that someday I’m not necessarily the driving force. A non-profit provides a structure that allows for succession.
  2. If we take the transit tools much further, having a non-profit structure to own the intellectual property is a good thing.

So that’s full disclosure on where the money goes. My current thinking about funding sources is:

  • Seek a sponsor for the Bike Show podcast (I’m currently in discussions about how this fits KBOO’s policies)
  • Run something like Google Ads on the site
  • See if there are some applications for our transit tools that might generate some revenue

The feedback from the survey was useful in terms of validating that minimally intrusive ads or sponsorships don’t give people a lot of heartburn.

If anyone has other creative funding ideas, I’m all ears!

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