Mac Musings

Crunch Time at Low End Mac

Dan Knight - 2001.06.01

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

Traffic to Low End Mac has never been better. We've been averaging over 21,000 pages per day for the past four months. April, which is usually down a few percentage points from March, held its own. May, which is usually down several percent from April, dropped less than anticipated. Year-over-year traffic is up 40-70% depending on the month.

At the same time, site income is down. As a result of the dot-com shakeout, ad income is about half what it was a year ago on a per page basis. Affiliate fees seem to be holding their own, but the overall result is that ad income is down about 25% from the level it was during the last half of 2000.

We're feeling the pinch. I left my Information Systems job at the end of January to publish Low End Mac full time. Income from the site and our family of email lists exceeded what I earned working for someone else. With site traffic growing pretty consistently, I'd be able to earn as much publishing LEM as I had working a 40-hour week outside the home.

I figured we could grow the site faster than ad rates declined, but it looks like I was wrong about that. It's been coming for months, but now we're face-to-face with a serious cash crunch.

We've made some mistakes. The biggest was investing about $3,000 in a TiBook plus AppleCare plus 512 MB of RAM (it's our only significant asset). According to all my projections, that wouldn't be a problem, but at the end of January we didn't anticipate such a big drop in site income.

Not counting banner ads, which are handled by BackBeat Media, we have over $8,000 in receivables - most of that from a single site/list sponsor. We counted on that in putting together a budget, but at this point we don't know when we'll see it.

We will be selling off our G4 Cube soon, which we took as partial payment from one of our former sponsors. That'll help finances, but I'll still be over 30% behind budget on payroll.

Because of this, we're taking the unprecedented step of asking our regular readers to consider helping out. If you've found Low End Mac to be helpful or entertaining - and if your finances allow - we're asking your help in getting through the coming months.

We have some computer stuff for sale - SIMMs, VRAM, power supplies, Radius Rockets, etc.-- listed on our Macintosh Classified Ads page.

We've set things up to accept donation through the Amazon Honor System, which is a fairly inexpensive way to handle small contributions. (Amazon charges 15¢ per transaction plus 15% of the total, so we get 70¢ from the first dollar donated, 85¢ from each additional dollar.)

We can also accept donations using PayPal, which charges 30¢ per transaction plus an average of 2% of funds transferred. For contributions over a dollar, this is a slightly better deal for us. (If you send a contribution this way, be sure to reference "webmaster@lowendmac.com" - you may be eligible to receive $5 from PayPal if you're a new user, details on their site.)

If you want to pitch in and don't want to use online payment, you can send cash, checks, and money orders to Cobweb Publishing, 2544 Martin SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49507.

Donations of any size gladly accepted to keep Low End Mac going. Thank you for your support.

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Dan Knight has been using Macs since 1986, sold Macs for several years, supported them for many more years, and has been publishing Low End Mac since April 1997. If you find Dan's articles helpful, please consider making a donation to his tip jar.

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