Publicly traded news dissemination organizations such at the Gannet family of newspapers must make their costs apparent to their investors–and the general public. As a result, if we wished to, we could determine what it costs (regardless of who pays the costs) to deliver a single newspaper to a reader in Sioux Falls, South Dakota or Greenville, South Carolina.
The Constant Conservative is far from being a publicly traded organization. In fact, I don’t believe we are even privately traded since to do that one has to have something with which to trade. Nonetheless, it may be of benefit to all who read this to understand the regular and irregular costs of keeping this piece of the information superhighway free of broken glass and tire debris.
For purposes of this excercise, I’ll assume that an hour is equivalent to $10. I know, doesn’t seem like much, does it?
My annual costs are minimal since it is about $10 per year to reserve the domain name. If I were to pay for hosting, it would cost me anywhere from $5 to $25 per month for hosting. Thankfully, hosting is provided for the site by a friend who has some extra space on his server. As a result, I do not need to come up with the monthly fees mentioned above.
Leaving out the Amazon Gift Cards which I like to distribute on the anniversary of this site’s genesis, my irregular costs come down to paying to have graphics work done and paying for coding assistance. I’ve not had any of the above done since the launch of the site–though there are times outsourcing such work would have freed up large blocks of my own time. As I recall, I probably spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $100 for some assistance when setting up the site. Amortized over 3.5 years, it doesn’t come to very much per year.
I spend an average of 15 hours per month administering the site (coding changes, updates, fixes and periodic reorganizations of the furniture). When I’m not posting as many articles, I tend to spend less time working on admin functions, but the 15 hours per month is a working average over the last 3.5 years.
Now, down to the most variable cost: the time it takes me to create a single post/article. I suppose that the easiest thing to do is to speak in terms of words. If I write 500 words of my own, not including quotations from other sources and sites, it will take me about an half-hour. Each link which is included in an article costs about 5 minutes of time to read, excerpt as necessary and link. Since I also link these articles on Facebook and sometimes on Twitter, the cost of publishing goes up a wee bit for those.
Outside of the cost of the actual writing, we have the cost of the reading. It varies quite a bit, based on the level and type of information, but it is uncommon for me to write an article without at least 15 minutes of reading time backing it up. On particularly difficult days, it may take 30 to 60 minutes of reading to find something which captures my attention and seems worthy of explication. On the other hand, there are days when I can find three or four things I wish to write about in a matter of a few minutes. Again, an average of 15 minutes is representative of the effort.
A short article with literally 2 or three sentence of commentary and a quote from another source will cost a bit more than 15 minutes of effort, though the effort may well be non-contiguous.
On the other end of things, an article such as this one will run cost an hour or more, though it lacks links to external sources. Creation of material from scratch is time-consuming.
Most of the articles which I write fall somewhere between these two extremes, but it would be safe to say that an article takes about a half-hour of effort. A similar amount of effort goes in to a poll–though I do those much less frequently than I might wish.
So, breaking it all down, if hosting and other direct costs are negligible and admin costs me the equivalent of $150 per month at $10/hr, then we could roughly spread that across a month of 30 days and get a $5/day admin overhead cost. My output has varied quite a bit over the years I’ve been doing this, anywhere from a monthly average of 3+ posts per day to a monthly average of 1- post per day. For purposes of simplifying this, let’s go with 2 posts per day (averaged across the entire month).
Taking my average time of 30 minutes per post, that would mean another $10/day in labor costs for a total of $15 per day.
It does not sound like so much for a day, but if one then considers how much it costs per year ($5475) it begins to turn into real money.
How then do I go about offsetting this cost? Excellent question, Watson, but seeing that this particular post has taken me over an hour to assemble, I shall have to put off the answer until another time.