January 11, 2020 Nathan Cool
This report is to provide transparency regarding your donations to support my SoCal surf forecast. Since Surfer dropped my report in 2019 due to cutbacks at the magazine, your donations have helped to support this forecast, so I want to keep you updated on how that's progressing. I'll update this report every couple of weeks to keep everyone up to date on your donation progress.
More and more visitors are reading my report! In just the past week we jumped from about 7,000 unique readers to about 9,500 today! And, page views are now up over 38,000! This is an increase of nearly 15,000 in just the past week alone. I am extremely humbled — and motivated.
But, even though the viewer growth is strong, only a small percentage of readers have made donations.
Although less than 3% of total readers donated, there is a good number of returning readers, yet donations from returning readers are also small, only about 4%.
Donations came in strong during the first week after moving my report to WaveCast, but that spike has levelled off,shown below in the red trendline.
The year goal, so far, is on track, but the downward trend in donations may be problematic in the coming months as only about 15% of readers have signed up for automatic monthly donations. Here are the stats on that, which I'll explain as well.
Percentage of 2020 donation goal
First, some background on what the goals are for these donations.
Providing real surf forecasts takes time, and time is money. Although I've been providing the SoCal forecast for more than 20 years, I've been happy to make a small, part time income; most recently, from Surfer mag. Since I'm now relying on donations to support this report I want to be fair, so I've adjusted my budget to rely on half of what I was getting part time at Surfer. This is why the progress gauge above starts showing green at 50%. I don't want to be greedy, just fair.
If I can reach the yearly goal, then I will back off on my asks for more donations. If enough donations come in then I can expand WaveCast to provide other features. And if WaveCast donations were to escalate even further, then in the future I could provide donations to charities — even making WaveCast a non-profit (or partner with an existing non-profit) with various programs to help the surf community. But we're not there yet, and there's a long road ahead unless donations can increase.
To provide the Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday reports takes about 40 hours a month of my time to analyze data, run calculations, track storm systems, and then write about them. This effort, being so high, is why other surf sites would rather have a cheap app — robots are cheap, but real information from humans isn't. I also have to pay for my internet provider and an email service to keep everyone updated when new reports are posted.
To keep costs down I'm keeping WaveCast lean, so surf cams are not in the plan right now, and fancy models are sidelined too; however, I did put up something temporarily here. But quite honestly, fancier models on surf sites and apps are just regurgitated replicas of free models your tax dollars are already paying for, like NOAA, FNMOC, NCEP, etc. That's why the various surf sites and apps predict pretty much the same thing...it's the same data that they grab from NOAA and just drawn into different graphics to make their models look prettier than the other guys. Real forecasts go beyond all of that, which is what I specialize in and provide in my SoCal surf forecast.
As it stands right now, January is taken care of, and part of February as well. Since I can settle for half of my goal, this report is safe through March, but it would be on life support at that point unless more donations come in. Over the next few weeks, depending on how recurring (and other) donations play out, I may change the fundraising strategy, but I want to keep this report free to the public, and I hope that you will consider giving something back for the information provided to you.
Once again I want to thank all of you for your support, whether monetarily through donations, or spreading the word. This report lives on because of you. Thank you! And until next time, take care, be safe, and smile in the lineup!