Thanks for asking. We've definitely had some results from it, and since it doesn't require any ongoing effort on our part, that makes it a good return on our initial investment in time to set it up. But it's a long way from even paying the bills for the site itself, much less paying us a living wage.
Some people have told us they don't need any more t-shirts or mugs, but they'd still like to show support. We accept checks (in US$, Sterling, Euros, Canadian $ and Australian $). We also have signed up with Amazon Honor System so that people can contribute using their credit cards. And in UK, we're registered with NoChex, an e-mail payment system. Details for all of these are at this link on the Souk page: http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/sto...Contributions.
Thanks for pointing out that the HUBB describes people who have registered but only done a few posts as 'new member'. We need to change that terminology (perhaps to 'newbie', as we do intend the term Member to refer to contributors via the Souk or as described above.
There is no easy way to denote the person's 'Member' status vis the Souk in the HUBB, not without hacking the UBB code. And Cafe Press doesn't provide us with e-mail addresses of people who buy there, just their names, so it's not always possible to link the individual to either a HUBB registration or our e-zine subscription list.
What we have considered is publishing a page on the site, with the names of Supporters, Members and Gold Members, so supporters do get visible recognition, and if your name isn't listed, yes, that might put some peer pressure on. Not sure how people would react to that, though, some people might see it as invasion of privacy.
I don't have a problem with publishing the site's finances, other than it's a bit embarrassing to admit how much time and money we've spent on it with minimal return.
But we've never been in this for the money. We've been told that if we took the business plan to a bank or venture capitalist, they'd laugh us out the door.
We still think that, considering what people are spending on bikes, mods, equipment, etc., that we should be able to get some major advertising/ sponsorship from manufacturers. What we need is names and contact details for the people who make the decisions to advertise and can see the value of the prestige and visibility they would get from sponsoring part of the site.
Not everyone is aware of this, but when you type 'motorcycle travel' into Google, we come up FIRST out of 363,000!
And we get well over a million hits a month on the site, translates to 190,000 individual page views last month. Considering this is a niche site, that's pretty impressive numbers for a potential advertiser. So if you know anyone who should be advertising with us, please send them to the site.
Thanks for asking. And now that you know you don't have to buy a t-shirt, you have no excuse not to contribute!
Grant & Susan