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!

4 Comments

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

  1. Adron
    December 28, 2006 at 12:18 am Link

    http://www.webhost4life.com/ provides ALL the things above plus serious stats and reporting.

    As for Feedburner I’m unsure of exactly what you are getting for that cashola… I’d suggest strongly that you check out webhost4life

    I host my own site, which has 6 blogs, file sharing, and other such items. I have 2+GB of storage & I even have a PHP/mySQL site hosted under a virtual directory (www.topherama.com)

  2. Miles Hochstein
    December 28, 2006 at 11:27 pm Link

    Chris, I understand you’re just talking about your out-of-pocket costs, but it seems like any discussion of sustainability would require you to include the cost of your time. Give yourself credit, or if you don’t want to put a price or comp rate on your time, at least include how many hours you devote…. That’s a donation you are making, and it has value.

    Ads are a compromise… only you can decide about how you’ll feel when there are SUV ads running down the left side of the page. That’s a tough call.

  3. Chris Smith
    December 29, 2006 at 8:27 am Link

    Miles, true enough. But since I don’t envision that we’ll ever have paid staff running Portland Transport, that becomes a question of recruiting additional volunteers if it at some point I want to focus my time and effort elsewhere. So I see a $$$ sustainability issue and a volunteer sustainability issue, but don’t really see one substituting for the other.

  4. Scott Mizée
    December 30, 2006 at 6:06 am Link

    John Beaston supports many non profits in the area that share our interests. He volunteered to host npgreenway.org early on in 2006 and has been hosting it free of charge ever since. They have been a great organization to work with and I strongly recommend you check them out.

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