Friday, February 05, 2016

Garrison: Numbers and Sustainability

I just wrapped up counting the Garrison Center's pickups for January. Looks like 63 appearances of Garrison op-eds in "mainstream" newspapers and non-libertarian political media for the month. Two and a tiny fraction pickups per day, seven days a week.

Pretty cool. If that average holds, 2016 will be a 750-plus pickup year (we had 545 in 2015 -- 49.5 per month, 1.65 per day, since we didn't crank up until the end of January).

Will that average hold, or even improve? I think there are good reasons to believe it will.

For one thing, I'm writing about politics and it's an election year. The demand side for libertarian polemic, especially if it's applied to electoral politics, seems solid.

Secondly, I'm seeing Garrison material in more newspapers. As best I can tell, Garrison content has now shown up in at least 38 states (the holdouts are Alaska, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Mississippi, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon and Washington). Pretty much every week, I find a Garrison pickup in a newspaper that's never run one of our pieces before.

Thirdly, when I see a Garrison piece in a newspaper for the first time, it's more and more often the case that I'm not seeing Garrison material in that paper for the last time. At this point, a number of newspapers (and even some chains of newspapers) pick up Garrison content on some kind of regular basis. A few run everything or nearly everything we offer. Others take an article a week, or an article or two a month.

So things are looking good. Except, of course, for the financial sustainability angle.

My goal for the Garrison Center (in combination with the blog and podcast) is to knock down at least $250 a month. An angel donor offered to put that much up to get us started and has done so for a year now (the initial commitment was for six months and he extended). If I'm counting the months correctly, he's done now.

Other supporters (there's a link to the "wall of supporters" at the top of the blog for those who'd like to know who they are -- thank them by clicking on their links!) are making recurring donations totaling $50 a month.

Let's do some more math here.

Three columns a week, 52 weeks a year, comes to 156 columns, nearly all of them written by me (those I don't write, which last year was, I think, two or three, I pay other authors a little money to write).

In terms of word count, that's like writing an average-length western or mystery novel (62,400 words) each year. I'd say it's actually more difficult and time-consuming, since each piece has its own deadline and covers a different topic, rather than being one coherent story that I can write in spurts whenever the spirit moves.

Above and beyond the writing, there's the submission of each column to somewhere north of 1,000 publications, and the task of tracking which publications run which columns.

Garrison alone is not a full-time job. But it is a job.

And it's not a job I can afford to do (and then some) for $50 a month forever.

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