A Request to Readers September 21, 2009

A Request to Readers

A couple months ago, the number of hits to this site began to go up dramatically. It’s happened before in spurts but never this much without any sign of tapering off. I’m not complaining. In fact, it’s very exciting. But there is one down side to it.

This site has no corporate overlords to pay for the servers. For the past three years, I’ve done that on my own, first from my own pockets, then via Google ads, and later via paid ads in the sidebar. The site has always managed to pay for itself, but at present rate, the Friendly Atheist server fund will run dry within a couple months.

As much as I’ve resisted doing it, I’m putting a Donate button in the sidebar. If you’re so inclined, I’d appreciate whatever you would like to give. Rest assured the money will only go toward running this site and not my personal collection of baby-shaped ice cube trays.

I’m sure I can offer a selected range of atheist-themed gifts for a randomly-selected person or two who donates within the next 48 hours… 🙂

Thanks in advance.

***Update***: I added a $5/month subscription option as well.

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  • oh this is perfect timing! I was just ranting on my blog about a religious charity I don’t feel comfortable supporting. I can give you money instead!

  • J. J. Ramsey

    You might want to consider doing donations by subscription, where a set amount gets sent through PayPal automatically every month, in addition to allowing one-time donations. Greta Christina does that, as you can see on the top of her right sidebar.

  • Sorry Hemant, you’ll have to wait till pay day. Have you considered selling a kidney?

  • I know a great guy that can help you into the selling your organs business. He even pays for the travel fees!

  • Wendy

    done and done. And I’m ok with you using my tiny amount to buy baby shaped ice cube trays. I did consider dressing my two year old as a hot dog, but he wants to be a bat

    /can that technically be food?
    //people eat bats right?

  • Sven

    Yes, I will donate. With pleasure. After my PayPal account is finaly confirmed.
    But.. my intention is what realy counts, so please contact me for the promised atheist-themed gift 🙂
    (please don’t send me your kidney!)

  • Valdyr

    //people eat bats right?

    Great tits do, but only in Hungary.

    As much as I’ve resisted doing it, I’m putting a Donate button in the sidebar.

    I knew this was just a money-making scheme! Why can’t you dastardly non-believers be dedicated to poverty and humility, like Christian evangelists?!

  • If you can pass up the baby ice cube thingies, I guess I can skip an antique postcard or two.

  • medussa

    Hmmm, I’d like details about the gifts before I consider donating anything…

  • Hmmm, I’d like details about the gifts before I consider donating anything…

    The winner(s) will get their choice of several atheist-themed books.

  • Patrick

    15$ from Germany 🙂

    Keep up the good work.
    I hope the >15$ shipping cost don’t affect my chances of receiving the gift ;P


  • Sven

    The winner(s) will get their choice of several atheist-themed books.

    Hmm.. let me guess: “Kirk Cameron/Ray Comfort new “revised” version of On the Origin of Species”?

  • I sent a couple of bucks over this morning.

    Catch you later.

  • agent0014

    I’m definitely one of the newer FA fans that’s caused that load bump. Donated, you can thank my post-catholic guilt!

  • Debbie

    Here’s a suggestion for fundraising:

    Hold an auction for a date with an atheist, meaning you of course Hemant! 🙂

  • I’ll donate some cash-money on pay day. Luckily, Paypal turns my funny money into greenbacks.

  • twirlgrl

    Today is my birthday so I will be happy to share one of my cash gifts with you. Thanks for all you do!

  • Scott Turner

    Sent in a few bucks this morning. Thanks for your work!

  • K

    Always happy to donate to the cause. I know my feeding of your posts to my FB network has directed others to your site, so it’s partially my fault. 🙂

    Keep up the good work, Hemant!

  • What Would Professor Pat Pending Do?

    I’m between gigs right now, so I can’t really help out with a Paypal. However, I was nice enough to click on a google ad or three that promised to tell me all the good news about Jesus.

  • Kris

    It would probably help if you talked to your ad provider about the banner ads at the top. They’re almost always christian-themed—i.e., of no interest to your readers. They should be able to do something about that.

    It might also be a good idea to only provide summaries via RSS. I rarely actually click on an article, except when I want to comment or view a video (and in those cases, I actually click on the christian-themed ads).

  • Elizabeth

    I donated a small amount. Reading your site as well as some others has really helped me “come out” as an atheist! So see it as a thank you gift!

  • It must be all those Family Institute folks checking out your goods! I’m off to the donate button.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Not good enough. You need to up the ante. I require at least one of the following:

    1) Form a non-profit corporation that would allow me to make my donation tax-deductible.

    2) Offer me eternal life.

  • 1) Form a non-profit corporation that would allow me to make my donation tax-deductible.

    2) Offer me eternal life.

    1) We’ll see about that.

    2) Done and done!

  • Siamang


  • Anonymous web guy

    Hi Hemant,
    I am opinionated on this topic. Please excuse me if this sounds rude. I love your blog, and have your best interests in mind.

    You have chosen your ad types and placement poorly.

    I made this same mistake when experimenting with monetizing my site. I went with minimal ads and chose the least obtrusive (468×90). I felt like I was letting my visitors down. A year ago, my site had more traffic than your site currently does

    The 468×60 banner ads are the worst in terms of CPM (on my site, the difference between a 468 and a 300×250 is an order of magnitude). Maybe replace with a 728×90? Try to work in some skyscrapers (is Feedjit really pulling its weight – maybe it could be your Adwords default?) or 300×250 (maybe just after the jump? While you’re at it, make use of jumps for any post more than a couple paragraphs).

    I’m not suggesting you make this blog a breeding ground for ads, but your content is compelling enough that you should not lose/alienate too many readers with a couple decent ads and a jump for long posts. Redesign your site, if necessary.

    You are only signed up with one ad network
    The only ad network I’ve seen is Google. I have had good luck with Tribal Fusion. For my site, Google is by far the #1 earner, followed by Tribal Fusion. I’m signed up with several other networks, but those are my top 2 picks.

    Also, the Atheist Camel in the right-hand column is very stale and very likely has lost any appeal to all your repeat visitors. I assume you’re being paid a flat monthly rate for it. You should estimate how many views it’s received, then calculate the CPM. If it’s as little as I suspect, I would recommend replacing it with Google, and invite Mr. Hump to sign up through Google.

    Your ads, largely, aren’t relevant to your audience
    As another poster suggested, spend some time with Adwords to see if you can filter the Christian stuff out. It might be more trouble than it’s worth to filter Christian without filtering Atheist/FSM/etc., but you never know.

    If this seems too close to censorship, my 2 cents is that it isn’t. Your comments are open to anyone willing to spend the time to comment thoughtfully. You’re under no moral or legal obligation to provide convenient, low-cost advertising space to religionists.

    You may be paying too much for hosting
    Check your site statistics to see what you need, then shop around for hosting plans. You can get low-end dedicated servers for $100/month. You may not even need to go that big. As a gauge, I have a dedicated server that’s handled several times your pageviews (currently I’m at half of your current pageviews) and my content is mostly pictures (so the actual bandwidth might have been ~10-20 times your bandwidth)

    Bottom line:
    Your traffic (ballparked from Alexa) is such that, in my limited experience, you could be earning 1/2 a salary from your website with its current traffic levels.

    If you don’t want to go with a portal designed to monetize blogs, like Bad Astronomy or a Pharyngula, you need to take some time to educate yourself on web marketing, then make some time to recode your WordPress templates, then set yourself up with a system for monitoring your income channels to make sure they are always producing. You have to do this while working a full time job and still feeding and growing your blog, without losing credibility with your audience. I have been in the same position and it is very bittersweet.

    I really want you to succeed (financially, that is, now that you’re doing so well in terms of traffic). If you have any questions, I think you have access to my email. I am not selling anything and do not work for Tribal Fusion/ScienceBlogs/Discover (things a skeptically-minded person might suspect while reading the text above).

    Considering the amount of work (labour of love is still labour) invested to get it to this point, and the ongoing time to keep it going, you deserve to make a decent income from your blog.

  • Anonymous web guy

    A year ago, my site had more traffic than your site currently does
    Non-sequiturs? We got ’em. C’mon down to Anonymous web guy’s house of poor editing.

    Not bragging – it was originally part of the “Bottom line” chapter.

  • Suscribed as well.

    My little contribution to help Hemant save reason with one soul mind at a time.

  • Reginald Selkirk

    Srsly? It’s tax deductible?

  • Ohmygod. Baby shaped ice cube trays. Hemant, tell me there are pictures of this!

  • Anonymous web guy — Thanks for the suggestions. I’ll look into them when I get a chance 🙂

    — Hemant

  • thilina

    Good advise from Anonymous web guy.

    If you are getting more traffic you should be making more money from the advertising. If google’s not paying enough managing your own ad-space may be a good idea. Maybe offer ads to FFRF or other atheist groups your new readers might want to join.

    And maybe get some sponsors.

    A redesign of the site to a more standard template wouldn’t hurt either.

  • Jerad

    I like having xian ads! It tickles me to think of them giving you money.

    And I’d donate if I had a job, once that happens I’ll click the button. In the mean time I’ll stick to coming here and clicking religious ads when I’m bored.

  • Euan

    Donated last night. Fortunately the Aussie dollar’s pretty strong again.

  • «bønez_brigade»

    Is there a grandfather clause for poor college students who’ve been here for a couple of years?

  • Richard Wade

    This site is very important to me. I gave a nice donation and subscribed as well. Thank you, Hemant.

  • Sven

    Did it. USD 20,00 all the way from Holland. Keep up the good work!

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