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Permies Cash Flow

 
steward
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For those who wonder why I start this thread, I am Paul's evil assistant who talks about money!

Warning
I know some people are not okay with money, but the reality is that running a website is not free. So if you are not fine with the idea of generating income with Permies, please abstain from replying to this thread.
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So, I am trying to brainstorm on how to generate income with Permies. Here are a few ideas floating around:

  • Donation page: probably not going to generate much money over time, but it could be an income stream.
  • Membership Program "à la Jack Spirko": a really good idea, but I would need some feedback from people on what supporters would want to see in the program.
  • Sponsors:another good idea: any suggestions on sponsors?
  • Selling podcasts: The Art Ludwig podcast did not sell very well, any thoughts on how that could work? Maybe new interviews with famous permaculture people could be for sale


  • For the membership program an idea that was brought up last week is to have members join Paul on a webinar or a teleconference where he answers their questions. The webinar/telecon could then be made available to members and for sale to others.
     
    Posts: 36
    Location: Martinsville, VA (Zone 7)
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    Adrien,

    You can become a distributor for many of the videos out there, including those from overseas. I purchased a Food Forest video form Geoff Lawton that cost me a bunch in shipping from Australia. If they could license the materials to you, then you could have them produced and shipped in the US to make these programs easier to obtain.

    Margins on books aren't so hot, but if you can get your hands on hard to find materials, manuals, and other training resources that would be great. Selling plans for some of the common projects would save folks lots of time. Nothing wrong with money if you are delivering value -- that's a service to the community.

    My company manages 20+ websites. I don't think advertising or sponsorships will make much unless you get a fixed rate for exposure (CPM) rather than what most advertisers want in pay per performance (PPC.) Nothing wrong with a donation page. You guys are doing good work.

    Sincerely,

    Justin
     
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    I bought the Ludwig podcasts because I was already familiar with Art, have one of his books, and I know him to be an excellent thinker but I hadn't heard him speak before. So I was happy to toss a few bucks in for that podcast. If I had no prior exposure, I probably wouldn't have been so inclined. Maybe the Ludwig podcasts would have sold better if part 1 was released for free and part 2 for a price, so that people could get the hook set.
     
    gardener
    Posts: 1029
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    I'd be okay with seeing some sponsors here.
    I also think ads are annoying, but if an ad is well chosen and I know it's paying the bills, I don't mind so much.

    It 's much better than seeing google ads for "Elevator Furnaces" which I assume most permies don't care too much about. If you have a good sponsor link, and if the site isnn't plastered with ads like a race-car, people will follow those links and check out the advertised sites. It's a question of finding the right site and charging a lot for premium placement.

    I'm sure there are permie projects that people would be willing to pay money to advertise. Maybe I'm dreaming.

    High quality Swag. Mugs and shirts are fine, but they take a lot to get going. You could just sell other people's stuff and take a cut. Plus there might be stuff that people actually need, like books or videos or manuals or whatever.

    1 hour skype/video conferences of Paul sold at a high price would be something I could see happening. Want Paul to speak at your event? Chip in some money and invite him virtually. That could go for other "experts" who want to do Permies a favor and speak virtually to generate income for permies. That way Paul isn't overloaded with virtual speaking events.

    Another far-fetched idea would be to gather some people on the forum who have experience and have them give paid-for advice. If I getting paid for permaculture design in real life, something I could donate would be my professional advice. If this was sponsored by permies and was a way of generating income for the site, maybe some people would be willing to do it. It would also give users with more complex demands a way to access good advice. That could also be done via a premium forum or via skype. That is something I might be willing to pay dearly for, simply because it would help me move my projects along much faster.

    I think that keeping things free as much as humanly possible is going to keep people visiting the site. Once you start putting limits to access, people tune-out. I'm one of those people. I've paid for website content before but I didn't feel that I got much out of it. The site tanked later on and so all that money was kinda for nothing. It's not something I would do again. It would just give me more incentive to go out and look for more content elsewhere. Or it would give me incentive to get off the computer completely and into the field to read the book of nature.

    If people like the podcasts and are willing to pay for them, go ahead and sell them. But, as you suggest, that doesn't seem to be the case. I wouldn't pay for a podcast unless I was absolutely sure I needed the information contained within. Having listened to 90% of the podcasts, that is still no assurance that you'll get what you were looking for. Because they are free, I'm willing to wait for those nuggets of enlightenment.

    Prizes for higher donations? That's one way to give people more incentive to donate.
    Hope to be of help.
    William
     
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    I bought all the podcasts the other day including arts. Have not listened to the ludwig podcasts yet. This I did because I wanted to give to permies.com. but I have to say that the price for them seemed too high for maximum cash input. (Arts, not bundles). Apps and music make tons of money because a dollar is nothing to everybody. What if a thousand people bought art's podcasts at .99 vs 47 at $x.xx?
     
    Adrien Lapointe
    steward
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    Thanks for the ideas/feedback.

    I'll try to digest that over the next day or so.
     
    Posts: 24
    Location: McKee, KY (zone 6a)
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    I would certainly suggest the donation page. Agreed that it may not generate much income, but it would generate something, and I can't see it creating any problems. I also liked the suggestion of offering videos and books from third parties. I think this would especially work well if the only items being sold were ones that Paul personally recommends. I'm not a huge fan of sponsors, but do agree that a few well-chosen sponsors are preferable to more general ads.

    I think that offering Permies sponsored workshops or complete PDCs would both bring in cash, as well as serving the community. The event could be organized via the site. An instructor could be paid a fair rate for leading the workshop/course, then the rest be used for running the site.
     
    Jason Lindsay
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    This may seem cheesy, but how bout permies.com shirts sweatshirts and bumper stickers. They work a little bit on spreading the word and a little income.
     
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    I love the podcasts and will pay for more.
     
    Jason Lindsay
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    Cash flow, growing the empire, volunteers, donations...

    I'm going to be posting something soon that I think belongs in cash flow but will also apply to other topics as well like hugelculture to 50 million and some others.
    Any way the topic is mainly about if a person completely unaware of anything permaculturey comes to the site due to a random reason or chance encounter, there is currently no organized way to set the hook besides blind luck. I think changing this will drasticaly improve our results of increasing the acceleration of growing. I've got lots on paper and in brain. Will probably be able to post first draft tonight or tomorrow morning. You can decide where it belongs and all of us can decide how many other threads should point to it. Anything to do with growing the empire and world domination and donating and podcast are few I am thinking of. Also do you live around missoula because if you had time we could meeet in person and hash a lot of this rapidly. Also please contact me through email right now. Troglodyte.snipe@gmail.com its the fastest way I can communicate while I am up here. Thanks and best wishes jason
     
    steward
    Posts: 4618
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    This is all about marketing. I do not know if there are any permies here who are in marketing , if so i hope they will chime in. To me it is about helping people realize that the things they receive here are worth paying for. There are , what 200 some podcasts? I have not listened to them all yet but I have already gotten several hundred bucks worth of info from them. Throw in the videos and this forum, and if I were to go out and pay someone for the same ideas , I have gotten at least a thousand bucks worth of stuff .

    It is also about putting some money where our mouths are. I believe what Paul is doing is extremly important. I believe that everyone here who has answered questions or posted pictures or shared innovations is improving our world. What would happen if this all went away tomorrow because of lack of funding ? What a shame, what a loss for the world.

    I know times are tough for a lot of folks but I am sure that there are many here ,who like me ,can afford to pitch in once in a while . I am not as talented or knowlegable about all of this permies stuff as many of the folks at this site are, so I have little other to contribute than money , which fortunately I can afford.

    Also sponserships / advertisements seem to be something worth while. Paul has said that the empire has a very large following. I would think that there would be many permie related businesses who would love that kind of exposure.



     
    Posts: 81
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    i hope i avoid sounding tooo pretensious when i say that i see permaculture as an artform and this site as a cafe where 'artists' gather to talk about their work and share resources. i

    appreciate this 'cafe' and hope it stays open.

    i suggest that it will attract and benefit more new people for the podcasts to remain free.

    what if there was a links page that mentioned sources for innoculant, mushrooms, seeds, tools, ect. the links could be sponsored and this sponsorship would provide income.


    also, what about grants and non-profit status?

    or... actually selling nitrogen-fixing innoculant. that seems to me to be a product that is coming up more in conversation, it's a product that offers alot of benefit in a small package.

    cheers!
     
    Adrien Lapointe
    steward
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    Thanks to all for the feedback. I was really thrilled reading your posts. There are really good ideas in here.

    I am currently trying to make a synthesis of all the idea to come up with a sensible plan.

    @Kelson: I really liked your comparison of Permies with a cafe!
     
    pollinator
    Posts: 146
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    http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/mitchell_and_webb_situation/videos/439/farming_a_cash_cow/

    Just for laughs. Coarse Language alert.
     
    Adrien Lapointe
    steward
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    Awesome!
     
    pollinator
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    Grants... some one here said grants.

    I know a guy near me that makes a satisfactory living off of grants. He has been doing this now for over a decade. And he is providing a great service and education for people who are getting into organic gardening and farming.

    Paul would basically do what he is already doing.

    The person here came out to my place some years ago to evaluate what I was doing and give me some pointers. He gives talks, lectures, workshops. He certifies organic farms.

    If interested I could see if he would share sources. They are out there.

    Now days permaculture is getting more familiarity so there will be people/organizations who will have grants out there for it just like they do organics.
     
    pollinator
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    The old LATOC forum took voluntary donations of some set amount ... donors got to support the site and were highlighted on their posts with a "Donor" icon (it became a sort of club, as someone mentioned above). Seemed to work very well as there were many donors. I would donate on a quarterly or even yearly basis to help fund Permies.
     
    master steward
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    My favorite ideas:

    An hour of phone consulting

    Good sponsors - ads here on the forums

    The current software supports regional banner ads. Maybe we should open up the market for running banner ads for PDCs

    Pick a podcast topic for, say, $100.

    Donation page: I have to say that I very much like the tiptheweb thing where folks can toss in a nickel. Although it has been up a long time and only a couple dozen people have done so. As for amounts more than a nickel, i prefer the idea that people pay for a thing. Like consulting, or picking a podcast topic or something.
     
    Posts: 14
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    I just took a quick look around and did not see a prominent donate button anywhere.

    In my honest opinion...

    I think you should have one, a prominent one, initially stating that it is specifically for running the site(a la public radio style) and then if funds surprise you, make the public aware that you will begin using the money for content building endeavors... a la public radio style.

    This is not unlike many nonprofits, which, I think is a good model for this site.

    Any other business model(I'm the last one who knows what you permies are up to) should be organized along side this educational/sharing outlet that has been created, so as to not confuse intentions, nor hinder real educational freedom. I believe the bonus, is that when you do find a business niche to invest in, this outlet will be a well deserved marketing/advertising outlet to attract people, while not impeding on why people use this site, or were attracted here in the first place.
     
    pollinator
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    Two random, widely-divergent suggestions in this space.

    (1) Permaculture comic book
    Seems like this could be either somewhat educational or rely on old school BAM! POW! There are certainly enough baddies to create a series. (I am imagining Mr. Von Santo. Pretty sure he has a monocle. Possibly an eye-patch. Maybe both on the same eye).

    (2) educational webinars
    Use a software like WebEx (this is what I use at my present job. But this could be GoToMeeting...something like that). To connect a presentation / training, live feed video, and Q&A. Participants would pay to attend the virtual live training without incurring the travel cost to attend.

    I was thinking what if the topic was hugelkulture. A PowerPoint presentation could kick off with some of the basics. What is it? How does it work? What do you gain? Woods not to use.

    Introduce very small scale.
    Then flip to live video. "Here is so-and-so in a cold climate balcony." How is it set up here? Where would you find wood in this environment?

    Back to presentation. Talk about urban / suburban scenarios.
    Flip to live video. "Here is other so-and-so showing the set up of hugel in zone 8." Orientation. Contour or not to contour. Slope. Where would the wood come from here?

    Back to PowerPoint to dive into large scale. Challenges in this space? What advantages?
    Go to live video. "Here is so-and-so in arid large scale."

    At the end of each section could be Q&A. I think any of the softwares lend themselves to facilitating the session because you can mute all of the phone lines coming in and have the participants type questions.

    This kind of a session gives varying scales and climates. You could also record the whole session for later viewing.

    Just some thoughts I wanted to share. Not sure if they are viable... But if they warrant additional fleshing out I would be happy to participate or assist in any way.

    A.J.

     
    Posts: 2679
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    Is permies.com or its governing entity a non-profit?

     
    steward
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    The forums hold untold wealth in the form of information.
    How big is the database?
    Can it be reproduced on a portable USB drive and configured for browsing offline?
    Sell a loaded drive.
    Sell the downloadable software and database on Scubbly.
    Next year, offer the update.


     
    Adrien Lapointe
    steward
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    Jennifer Wadsworth wrote:Is permies.com or its governing entity a non-profit?



    nope
     
    girl power ... turns out to be about a hundred watts. But they seriously don't like being connected to the grid. Tiny ad:
    A rocket mass heater heats your home with one tenth the wood of a conventional wood stove
    http://woodheat.net
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