Breaking Down Our $1k/Month Challenge
I realize we just keep casually spouting off this amount of $1000/month as the level we need to reach on our Patreon to be able to afford a second season of the No-Till Market Garden Podcast without really explaining… why $1k? That’s no small amount of money, so it deserves a thorough explanation for the sake of transparency. And for you would be podcasters out there, here are some important things to consider.
Please keep in mind, I am not trying to make a living off of the podcast. Not even kind of. When we started No-Till Growers, there was no real information available about no-till growing. A few disparate videos and podcasts here and there, but nothing dedicated strictly to the idea—nothing actively seeking it out. The site, the videos, the podcast—we started No-Till Growers simply because we needed it ourselves.
We want to keep what we’ve been doing here going and growing. We want to reach more people and bring in more—even better—information for anyone and everyone to be able to use (notice we are not keeping much of anything behind a paywall) because—as growers ourselves—we know what’s missing. We know how hard it can be to find information on no-till. Enter Patreon. Patreon allows people like us, fellow growers or advocates, to support our work of aggregating the disparate pieces of no-till and bring them together, here.
Notably, we also want a majority of our support to come from patrons versus advertisers, so we don’t become a strictly commercial site/cast with no little objective material. That said, we believe in our short list of sponsors, have personally used their products/services, and feel they have a place in our community. But, being patron supported also ensures a level of accountability. We want to be on the hook for growers.
Money, to me, is the least interesting of all capitals (which yes, gets me into trouble sometimes… most times). But it is obviously necessary, because the way I am doing all of this at the moment is not financially sustainable for the long haul, and the podcast will ultimately become too expensive to continue. Or it will become a commercial nightmare. None of us want either.
Why so expensive? Because I can’t do it all on my own. Who knew a podcast would be so much work? I sure didn’t.
Sound Engineer $75/episode OR ~$300/month
If you listen to the podcast, you know that I am not a sound engineer. I do my best, but if I want to focus on quality content and reach more people, then I need to outsource some amount of this work. The episodes should be easy to listen to without you having to turn down or turn up your headphones every time my voice comes in, and it should simply sound better overall. The fewer audio distractions you have the easier it will be to retain the information. The less time I spend editing the audio, the more time I will have to do things like fact check the conversation, test some of the ideas espoused, etc.. Someone will inevitably say $75 is too much, and I get that, but I want to pay for good work from someone I can trust to do it right AND who preferably understands agriculture as well as our mission.
Site and Podcast Upload Management $400/month
There is a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on to make the podcast and notillgrowers.com possible, available, and frankly intelligible. A lot. Like an additional 20+ hours a week or so that has fallen almost entirely on my partner Jackson, who has largely done the work hitherto for pennies. That is not sustainable. If we want to grow, he has to be able to justify the time he pours in (my demand, not his). So between the promotions and your support, we can hopefully pay him roughly $10/hr to start, which is not even close to what his contribution is worth.
Running Costs (including yearly site/podcast fees) $100/month
It costs us about $100/month to keep the podcast and notillgrowers.com going (site is $18/month), to pay our podcast host (Libsyn, $20/month), to pay for the forum ($22/month), and all the weird things you don’t think about like a Dropbox upgrade, editing software, Skype recording software, lots of software, etc. It piles up fast. $100/month is what we’re averaging at the present moment, though that number will inevitably go up. I mean, that will go up anyway as we grow and start paying taxes. I expect it to. But, for now, $100/month is doable.
My Salary? Whatever is left. Probably ~$200
I am more than happy with that amount. I can make that work, and where I can’t we have a little advertising money to supplement. You probably realize, but some weeks I put in more than 30 hours between pre-interview research, the interview itself and (if you subtract some amount of sound engineering), the editing, the promotions, the uploading, the panic when I think I’ve lost an episode, the relief when I find it, etc.
I am on a mission for a better farming tomorrow, by golly. However, it has to sustain itself—I can’t afford to supplement the work with my farm income or side hustle after season one. We even picked up odd jobs to pay for it. It got us where we are, and we’re grateful—maybe a little surprised—of the support (both monetary and emotional) we’ve received so far, but it’s not enough to ensure the longevity of the work. I will inevitably collapse.
So, what about all that advertising and Venmo money?
It has, for the moment, helped pay for the site start-up and the above expenses mentioned over the course of the first season. It also bought us a new microphone. It may have to buy a new computer soon. I want to send headsets to interviewees like Chris Blanchard did and many others do. In the second season, that money will go to supplement some of those same costs, plus be poured back into the business to expand it in ways helpful for the next generation of no-till growers (more on this later). AND I want to do a freakin’ No-Till Growers conference! Those dang things are not cheap, though.
We would farm for free if we could afford to. Many of us would, because we intrinsically love the work. But, good things are rarely cheap, be it paid in time, money, or both. Good podcasts need support, just as good farms do, and the more support they receive, the better they can serve. Just as with a CSA, the Patreon allows us to—at the very least—know when/where our support is coming from as we do the work, instead of simply hoping it will be there at the end of the year.
It took one episode of one podcast to change the nature of our farm for the better, forever. What is the podcast worth to you?