In my continuing mission to map out the future of media in my overactive noggin, I'm trying to think through what an annual budget for a well paying, cooperatively-run media company would be.
Let's say you have a staff of 5 full-time writer/editors, plus maybe 3 admin folks (tech, membership, finance), and everyone is paid $100k in salary (i.e. something very comfortable but eye poppingly rich). You're already at $800k.
Things get fuzzier for me when it comes to how much benefits cost, and how much one should set aside for freelance budgets and infrastructure; though let's say you don't have an office and are relying on something like Medium or Mailchimp for distribution.
We're cutting out ad sales so that's not something we have to think about.
I may be wildly off base, but I'm guess you would end up with an annual budget of around $1.5 million - $2 million.

Now here's the fun part: how do we make that money?
Let's say we want to keep things affordable and set the budget at $5/month, or $60/annually. In order to do that, and make the budget, we'd need about 30,000 members.
Anyone who has run a popular (even niche!) website can tell you that getting a regular audience of 30,000 readers, while certainly a *task* is actually on the feasible end. But that's if you're giving everything away for free. The trick here is can you get 30,000 paying readers.
I am, perhaps, an optimist here, but I feel like it should be possible, especially if the focus is on getting and keeping those members over courting the interest of big business.
Realistically, I think that anyone who is a part of a company like this has to agree, from the outset, that the goal is emphatically *not to get rich* but to pay everyone a fair and livable wage to do a job they consider important and enjoyable.
I also think, quite frankly, that you'd want full pay transparency and set rates, with everyone making the same amount of money (or at least set rates based on experience level), rather than being able to negotiate for better individual deals.
It's a wildly different mindset than the one many people enter media with, but I think it's much more sustainable than what we have.
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