WHERE WE’RE GOING!
Nobody likes a price increase. I get that. Unfortunately, the current price of TLS was based on an idea that just didn’t work out. I’ve explained the situation and shared the history. Here, I’m going to lay out the simple financial facts, and how we’ll be working with them.
Normally, businesses, even communities, don’t share these sorts of financial details. But I think we’re all a part of TLS because it isn’t normal, and we like that. One thing that is unusual about TLS is our commitment to transparency. So here is a clear window into the money situation at TLS.
The idea of a $7 membership for TLS was based on TLS having 1,000 members. At that point, I didn’t know that community – Facebook in particular – was going to be part of TLS. I thought I would mostly be sharing material in blog posts, podcasts, and such. That was a good plan, but it isn’t what happened. The community flowered, and it takes a lot of time to be a good community facilitator. In fact, with 200 members, Facebook facilitation and moderation is a full-time job.
The current financials just don’t work. Using approximate numbers, 200 members at $7/month is $1,400/month. Costs for the site and technical support run about $700 per month. The remaining $700 per month is not a full-time salary for me; it’s not even enough to pay my mortgage.
We’re solving the problem in two stages. First, the price increase to $15 will bring in some more cash. That’s essential so I can keep working on TLS. (I actually thought about going out and getting a Christmas season job to make it through.)
Second, we’ll be implementing a plan to increase membership. I’ve actually been learning and studying and planning for this for a few months, and I’ve gotten some excellent help. The TLS membership is wonderful as it is, so I want to bring in more people like you: religious rebels, LBGTQ people, spiritual feminists, and survivors of hostile church situations. www.nakedpastor.com, with my daily cartoons, is doing really well, sometimes reaching hundreds of thousands of people in a week. A few of those folks want community, and they belong with us. I’ll be adding new features to the nakedpastor site to bring more exciting people over to TLS.
And, while I’m doing all of this, I will continue to build great new material – posts, podcasts, courses, and more – for TLS members.
WHERE WE’RE GOING
When all this works, where will we be?
- TLS will offer more than it ever has before. Especially, there will be new courses.
- TLS will cost less than any similar membership site.
- When TLS doubles in size and reaches 400 members, income will be $6,000 per month.
What’s so important about $6,000 per month?
When total income reaches $6,000 per month, I can afford to cover all TLS site expenses, pay myself a moderate living wage, and re-invest some of the money into growing TLS to serve even more folks like us.
What will we do with the money?
Some of the high priorities will include:
- Our moderators are doing a great job. Thanks for your generous service, guys & gals! But, as membership grows, we have to ask if moderating a site like TLS can remain an unpaid volunteer service. As TLS grows, we’ll need to start thinking about paying those who help out in yet to determine ways with the community.
- TLS technology is held together with chewing gum and bailing wire right now. We need some money to purchase some better web services. These new back-office tools will free up hours a week of my time.
- Some parts of the growth plan that will get TLS to 1,000 members require investment in technology and expertise. This modest investment will pay for itself very quickly.
- TLS is investigating working towards incorporating as a not-for-profit educational organization. This fits who we are and what we do, and it also allows members and others to make tax-deductible donations for our scholarship fund and to support growth and other great stuff. We even wonder if our subscriptions can be tax-deductible as well.
I hope this helps answer some of your questions.