“Hey maybe we should start making a print magazine instead of just the online stuff.”
“Yea, good idea. How hard can it be?”
“Right? Oh! And let’s make it really big with super nice paper and come up with some kind of really tedious binding system.”
“Good call. This is gonna be super sustainable.”
OK, so this isn’t exactly how the conversation went but the result is more or less the same. Back in 2018, when we first started publishing our Hard Copy magazine, the driving force behind most of the decisions we made was definitely optimism.
As it turns out, making a magazine takes a lot of time and costs a lot of money (who knew?!) and I’m not just talking about the print version. The digital stuff is a major time suck too and all the plugins and widgets and maintenance don’t come cheap.
You may have assumed Grit City Magazine is fully staffed by creative professionals who earn living wages but that is far from the truth. There are only two full-time employees here (Sara Kay and me) and if you consider the hours we work in a given month, we make right around minimum wage.
The website, social media, hard copy magazine, markets, events, product development, packing, shipping, and all the boring but necessary business stuff adds up to much more than a 40 hour work week.
Before the pity party gets too raucous, though, I want to make a couple important acknowledgements. First, we knew from the get-go that this, like any start-up business, was going to be hard. We’re not trying to get rich; we’re just trying to make it sustainable. Second, Sara and I aren’t doing everything. We have a fantastically talented and generous group of volunteer contributors to whom we are eternally indebted.
We also have a Hillary who has been unbelievably giving of her time. It’s hard to say exactly what her role is within the company at this moment, but she’s super creative and helpful in pretty much every aspect of what we do.
Anyway, we simply aren’t making enough money to keep this thing going. We’ve been up against this hard fact for a while now but it’s gotten to the point where some hard decisions have to be made. We really really really want to keep doing this and we have all kinds of great ideas that have been languishing on to-do lists for simple lack of funding. So here’s where you come in.
We just signed up with Patreon and we’re looking for monthly supporters. If you’re unfamiliar with Patreon, it’s basically a crowdfunding site but instead of raising a chunk of money to do one thing, it’s an ongoing deal. And as a thank you, we’ve got some sweet goodies to make it worth your while.
All the details are on our Patreon page, including how we intend to use the money we raise. Stay tuned for updates: patreon.com/gritcitymag
Have you thought about switching to a non-profit structure?
We have looked into it a little and it is an option but we don’t really have the time to wholeheartedly pursue it. If you have some experience in this and want to share some advice, we’d love to hear it.
I already signed up for a Hard Copy subscription. Where is all that money going?
Firstly, thank you very much for your support. A lot of that money goes into printing, binding, and shipping materials. Another big portion goes to our layout designer. The rest of it goes into the many 12+ hour days we spend producing them every quarter. It’s like herding a bunch of cats who also start fires.
Do you guys sell ad space? I hear that’s a good money maker.
Yes we do. We focus on local businesses, though, and without a dedicated sales team it can take a long time to track down clients.
I’ve got a suitcase full of cash that I’m trying to get rid of. Can you help?
Absolutely. We know very well how heavy paper can be and we’d be happy to relieve you of that burden.
I’ve got some good ideas/time and talent to volunteer/more questions. How do I get in touch?
P.S.- If you want to read more about how this whole thing got started and how Sara and I ended up running the magazine, check out this story from 2018 that talks about our co-founder and the ridiculous deal he gave us.