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Is It Time to Say Goodbye?

By   /  October 12, 2015  /  27 Comments

It’s possible that On Pasture isn’t a good idea. So we’re asking you, our community, to tell us if we should continue publishing.

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Rachel and Kathy. Photo by Troy Bishopp.

Rachel and Kathy just weeks before launching On Pasture in 2013. A lot has changed since then, especially the length of our hair! ūüôā Photo by Troy Bishopp.

If you want your business to succeed, you have to have something to sell and people to buy it. It has to make you a profit that provides for your needs, and maybe even for your wants.

When we started, we thought we had a good product in the idea of On Pasture. We’d surveyed folks and the responses had come back saying resoundingly, “Yes! We would love a publication that would translate science and experience into practices we can use!” We also had a core group of folks who said they’d help with articles and support. So we decided “Great! Let’s go for it!”

Admittedly, our business plan was not well developed. We started with “If you write it, they will come” thinking that as On Pasture proved itself with great information and a growing readership, we could take the next steps of asking readers to support the weekly publication, and then of attracting Underwriters and Advertisers.

Our business model was also founded on the idea that we’d have the time to reach out and build up a donor base. Not to play the chemo card, but Rachel’s illness single handedly derailed that plan, leaving Kathy to struggle to write and publish articles through Rachel’s surgeries and chemo. Rachel is lucky, and doing fine, but it set us back a lot in building the business side of On Pasture.

Our supportive spouses gave us the time and freedom to write and publish a free magazine for farmers. And they will let us keep trying for as long as we think it makes sense. But at some point, if we can’t demonstrate that On Pasture can support itself, it stops making sense.

On Pasture MathAnd so, Wednesday evening, just two days into our Fall Fund Drive, it stopped making sense. Our first day was ok. Ten people sent support at the level that would get them the book from author Shannon Hayes. Another half-dozen or so sent us $12 each. And then Wednesday morning we got 2 book level supporters and 1 $12 supporter. Thursday? Nothing. And just one more book level supporter since.

We were hoping for one in 10 readers. Adding up the number of readers for Tuesday and Wednesday, 1 in 10 would have been about 450 readers. Instead we got 20. That’s a message.

We’ve gotten lots of other messages too over the two and a half years we’ve been doing this. All of them say how much folks appreciate On Pasture and all the effort we’ve put into it. And we got monetary support too, and we are so grateful to readers, advertisers and underwriters who told us that they valued On Pasture by opening their pocket books and sending some support. Thank you so much!

Now we just need a clear message from you, our On Pasture Community. So this is how we’re asking you to tell us what to do:

We’re going to continue our Fall Fund Drive, but now we’re going to run it the way that folks on Kickstarter do for community funded projects. If you’re not familiar with Kickstarter, here are their rules:¬† You tell people what you need to do your project. Folks send in support. If enough folks send in money to meet the goal by the deadline, then the person doing the project gets the money to go forward.¬† But if the goal doesn’t get met, all the money is returned and the project isn’t completed.

So here’s what we need. If we don’t hit our target, no checks will be cashed, and any donations made via PayPal will be returned. We’ll know what you want, and we’ll respect your answer, no matter what it is. Really, no harm no foul, no hard feelings if you tell us, “Gals, we enjoy you, but we just can’t afford you.”

Here’s what we need every year:
$50,000
This is just a bare bones minimum.

Here’s what we’ve brought in over the last two years thanks to our readers, underwriters and advertisers:
$24,550

Here’s what we need for the rest of the year:
$25, 450
We’ve applied for a NatGLC grant which would drop that number by about $7,000. We have our fingers crossed!

Our Deadline:
November 23, 2015
That’s the¬†Monday of Thanksgiving Week.¬† It’s a week for being thankful, and no matter how this turns out, we are grateful for the opportunity we’ve had to share time with you.

Bonus
If we get more than our goal, that’s that much less we’ll have to look for during our Spring Fund Drive!

If you can help, great! Head on over to our Fall Fund Drive page and choose a level of support that works for you. If you can’t help, but you’re a member of an organization that benefits from On Pasture, suggest they become an underwriter. Organizations and companies interested in underwriting On Pasture can also contact Rachel and she’ll work out an underwriting package that fits their needs. Or, if you tell us who to contact, we’ll be happy to make the calls. Finally, if you have other suggestions about how to make things work for everyone, do let us know.

If we raise the funds we need, we’ll let you know on Tuesday, November 24, and then we’ll mail out all the books and bumper stickers.¬† If we don’t meet our goal, we’ll be sending out refunds instead, either via PayPal or by returning your checks. And please know that no matter how this works out, we are so glad we’ve done this, and we’re so happy to have met you all through On Pasture. We’ve learned a lot and we hope you have too!

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  • Published: 1 year ago on October 12, 2015
  • By:
  • Last Modified: October 14, 2016 @ 2:43 pm
  • Filed Under: The Scoop

About the author

Rachel and Kathy are co-editors of On Pasture. They often collaborate on articles so that you get the best they have to offer.

27 Comments

  1. I hope you count your committed monthly subscribers like me in your totaling of dollars for fund raising goal. I sure want you to keep, keeping us informed! Thank you Jana

  2. Richard Hutchinson says:

    When my hens don’t produce they are gone.

    Set a price and if you don’t pay you get an E mail saying if you don’t pay you are gone. This is to good information to lose.

    Richard

  3. Karen says:

    Is there a way one could subscribe for a fee – to send it to an e-mail address? This would allow people who need to report their spending (and can’t necessarily donate) to have a charge to show in their books.

    • Rachel Gilker says:

      Hi Karen,
      Thank you for reaching out. We can work with you on something. If other folks are in the same boat, that they’d like to subscribe, but need to show an invoice, please get in touch.
      rachel@onpasture.com
      Rachel

  4. Kathy Voth says:

    We have more folks to thank!
    Jimmy from New York who says, “Love On Pasture. Articles are so helpful and relevant. Best of Luck. Thank you!”
    Cynthia from New Mexico
    Dwight from Michigan
    Dave from Montana who says, “Good luck with your fall drive, Kathy and Rachel. Jenny and I wish you the best.”
    Tom from Oregon
    Craig from Arkansas
    Victor from Indiana who says, “Keep up the good work.”
    Dean from Oregon who says, “I work for NRCS and gave a talk on pasture management this year. At the end, I gave references and recommended your service sa part of that. The audience liked having a non-gov site for info. I’m donating extra as a way to fund someone who can’t afford it.”
    Happiness by the Acre, Alberta Canada

  5. Samuel Eglington says:

    Wind it up! If one in ten pay $12 nine in 10 are getting it free of course nobody is offering to pay you’re not charging

    I think you just need to charge everybody for access to the content. Readership would fall but many would be willing to pay for an annual subscription. Personally I wouldn’t but I would pay a bi-monthly subscription with access to so many articles so I can choose to pay for what I actually want to read and leave the rest.

    You have a club or charity model not a business model

  6. Kathy Voth says:

    Thank you to these new On Pasture Community supporters!
    Luis from Arkansas
    Edward from Virginia
    Erik from Ohio
    Kay from Tennessee
    Irene from New York
    Dawn from British Columbia
    Erica from New York who says, “Really hope you hit your target! I’m still building my grass-based business here in NY and your articles always seem to target something I was just thinking about or wanting to learn more about.”
    Confluent Technologies from Missouri
    Brock from North Carolina
    Madeleine from New York who says, “Please keep up the great work! From a beginning grass farmer.”
    Terry from Oregon
    Jim Cropper from North Carolina who says, “Good luck on your fund drive.”
    Margaret from Nevada
    Steven from North Carolina
    Douglas from Nebraska
    Niko from Vermont

  7. Bill Yock says:

    I have your cows eat weeds book. Since recieving it I
    have been a believer, it works! I hope you can continue.
    Am sending a donation by check. Your work is great.
    Good luck.

  8. Curt Gesch says:

    The machine wouldn’t publish my comment and it wasn’t even naughty.

    Summary: Fine publication. Don’t give up. Charge for subscriptions.

  9. Curt Gesch says:

    ON PASTURE is superb. It complements GRAZE, for example. I recommend it in the newsletter I publish electronically (no cost because I would have to be the union organizer and the management and I’d never know if I was getting a fair wage or not).

    I live on gov’t pension (CPP) in Canada, so I can’t send much $$. I would suggest subscription fees rather than $12 donations. About $50 / year would be reasonable. I’d find that because of the quality of the publication.

    illegitimi non carborundum to naysayers.

    Shalom,
    Curt

  10. Kathy Voth says:

    We have more people to thank!
    Sharon from New York
    Aaron from Vermont
    Ann from New Mexico
    Therese from Illinois
    Darrel from Missouri who says, “This is not for what may come, for that may be naught. This is for what has been; and that is (still) a good source of information. Good luck! Thank You!”
    Joe from Iowa
    Rebecca from Oregon who says, “I love what you are doing. I will help spread the word.”
    Daphne from Colorado
    Diane from Maine who says, “This is very valuable! Thanks for working so hard at it. If you need to go to bimonthly or even monthly, maybe that could make sense financially? Thanks again.”
    Amy from Maryland
    Tristan from British Columbia
    Christine from California
    Jennifer from New York
    Brian from Oregon
    Mayrav from Maryland

    We’re also getting suggestions and other ideas for help. Thanks for those as well!

  11. Catherine W says:

    I sent in my donation of $50, I enjoy reading “On-Pasture” with it’s tips and great articles, I raise sheep, Dexter cattle and chickens every bit of information helps me be a better steward of the land and of my animals.
    I have your “On-Pasture” bumper sticker from last years fund raiser on my Farmers Market banner. Perhaps a paid subscription to your publication with an ipad ap would help.
    Best wishes to your health and endeavor.

  12. Tom Nichols says:

    Don’t quit! Heck, I thought you were just getting started. As a friend told me a few months ago, “You are not at the University anymore, there aren’t any research grants to make this thing go. It’s all up to you.” You’ve got a nice sized audience built up, and as others have said, now it is time to get some products or services out there to start generating income.
    A few suggestions:
    Switch to a daily blog format to get folks into the habit of anticipating your content every day.
    Move your advertising into the content rather than buried way below were no one sees it.
    Start a paid membership discussion forum
    Sponsor paid virtual grazing mastermind groups.
    Partner with others on educational events.
    Maybe get a coach, there are many with knowledge on building and monetizing a platform.

  13. Becky Miller says:

    I enjoy your on pasture articles very much. I have paid up and you can keep the donation. Thanks for all the interesting articles and I hope you make it!

  14. Gary McMahan says:

    Your articles seem to be well researched and I enjoy the ones I’ve read. I don’t think you have a good business model. Have you considered writing for KUNC (Luke Runion sp?) or the Fencepost? I don’t think you ought to stop reporting on these important subjects but rethink your business model. Advertising would help of course.

  15. Jenna says:

    I hope you continue On Pasture.. I enjoy the reads and find it very informative and clear!

  16. Lynda Ingram says:

    I sent a donation last week because I really like On Pasture and find it extremely useful. I read it as soon as it hits my inbox. I hope that you can continue to publish somehow.

  17. Larry says:

    I have just started reading on pasture and consider it very useful. I sent my $24.00 a couple of weeks ago and consider it a great deal. I hope you can continue with on pasture but if people will not pay their share it is not your duty to supply free information. Good luck I hope people will see the value and not expect a free ride.

  18. Kathy Voth says:

    Thanks to these folks for their support!!!
    Ben from Vermont who says “Keep up the good work and the faith! With thanks for your efforts.”
    Dee from Missouri
    Tracy from Texas who says “Hope your reach your goal!”
    Frank from Maine
    Raymond from Ontario who says, “Given the state of journalism, readers can no longer expect valuable info for free. Here’s my support. Keep up the good work!”
    Suzette from Vermont
    Juan from Vermont
    Ernest from Wisconsin who says, “I read your newsletter immediately and soak it all up. Then I ruminate on it a while to think about what I can apply to my own farm. Cheer up! You ARE making a difference.”
    Richard from Texas
    Ricky and Joyce from Oklahoma
    John from Virginia
    Ed from West Virginia
    Donald from Texas
    Holly from Missouri who says, “Hoping this works…I am not ready to say good bye! My know how is still low on the learning card and my pastures greet me everyday with new challenges! Even so, I thank both of you for all the good work.”
    Tom and Brooke from Maryland
    Karen from Texas

  19. Gene Schriefer says:

    I get several “free” trade websites as well as journals. Full of articles & information often supporting the products of the advertisers.

    Your on pasture articles are appearing in the general farm media blogs/websites.

    What I read most and believe the most is the information I pay a subscription for. How many “new” ideas or management changes do you need to recover the cost of the subscription? It’s pretty low, unless you own a single animal.

    What does your back of the napkin math look like if 1 out of 1 pays @ the $12 rate? ~ 4167 subscribers.

    What does your back of the napkin math look like if 1 out of 1 pays @ $1.25 rate? ~ 40,000 subscribers. so, 40,000 readers are not getting even $1.25 in value from On Pasture, heck the funnies are worth that!

    If On pasture is out 52 weeks/year, it’s $0.24/week.

    So you have a choice of culling the bottom of the herd not pulling their own weight, or charge a extremely nominal fee to keep the lights.

    If it has value, producers should be willing to pay for it, IMO.

  20. Marlene says:

    I like reading your articles. I am a retired senior live on OAS and can not afford to make donations. I hope you can continue to publish On Pasture-even if it is fewer times.

  21. Hi Rachel and Kathy,

    If advertising doesn’t work, and membership/donations don’t work, why don’t you consider selling something? Do your research and figure out how to private label somebody else’s stuff. Plenty of examples on the web. Companies might duplicate a particular market space with similar products/services, but they don’t say “On Pasture”.
    My company is stilling slugging it out trying to get traction on a concentrated solar thermal system to heat and cool buildings while generating electricity. You’d think there would be a clamoring for the technology, but it has been painfully slow to develop. Meanwhile, people are flocking to farm equipment sites to find discounts on more everyday items.

  22. Joan T says:

    I enjoy On Pasture and am a frequent reader, but I think the concept of readers ‘giving’ may be difficult to achieve and sustain even when readers feel the content is valuable and that your figures seem a bit optimistic. You are not a charity though your request for funds has an NPR kind of pledge drive sound. You are a business and selling web content is difficult in this day and age. It seems that if you have time you can keep building readership and advertising and build your business slowly. I do not expect you to share the financial details of your business and without that it’s truly impossible to give meaningful advice except that the ‘math’ of reader income for content seems optimistic. I feel that raising stock ‘on pasture’ has many benefits so I certainly applaud your choice of subject matter and hope to continue reading On Pasture. Best of Luck

  23. Dan Kaplan says:

    I think you’re doing a good job…but my experience in web publishing suggests your business plan probably won’t work. A lot of the articles you publish suggest people should do good planning for their grazing. But good planning would not include hoping that the pastures will grow 3″ of new grass in November (at least not here in Maine!). The idea that you’ll get 1 in 10 readers to contribute is just as unrealistic. I hope you keep publishing but I think you’re best path is probably through selling advertising and sponsorships.

    • Ben says:

      I tend to agree with Dan’s assessment. However, the problem with pasture based farming is we’re trying to not rely on inputs, therefore, the pool of potential advertisers starts to become pretty small. We’ve been conditioned to think that information should be free because of things like Cooperative Extension, but we see where that gets us…

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