The Transparency From This San Francisco Media Owner Is Refreshing AF

Broke-Ass Stuart recently broke down his expenses running an independently-owned media company in SF — and it’s as illuminating as it is cementing.

Being a small business owner is hard; being one in the media sphere is ostensibly even harder. The past decade has seen multiple newspapers fold and online news outlets either stop publishing or have their assets sold off to the highest bidder (who later finds out they have no idea what to do with them).

It’s a financially arduous time for hyperlocal media companies, especially those that are independently owned. And the writers, editors, and publication owners who work in that sector of media are, in fact, still hanging in there — perhaps by the paint on their keyboard caps. 

Notions of well-off journalists have been warped by popular ’90s sitcom columnists and viral success stories that fail to represent their unicorn-like natures. But last week, San Francisco’s Stuart Schuffman, who’s perhaps better known as “Broke-Ass Stuart” — the one-time mayoral candidate, multi-hyphenate writer and activist, and an all-around “underground legend” — laid out his monthly expenses running

“I don’t think many readers realize how expensive it is to run [],” Schuffman writes in a blog post, unraveling the ambiguity. “We pay thousands of dollars a month but our income is never consistent. Some months we have lots of advertisers, and some months there are none. On top of that, our Beer, Wine, and Coffee Passports don’t sell nearly as well as they did before the Pandemic.”

The post published by Schuffman on November 17th doubles as a call to action to drive support for his Patreon channel, which publishes content exclusive to the membership platform. “I’m hoping at least 100 of you will join the BAS Patreon at $6 a month or more.”

The creator economy — a fairly new class of businesses centered around the 50 million-plus independent content makers, curators, and community builders are the globe, whose sole income comes from the content they produce — is booming. It’s currently estimated to be worth more than $100 billion… and could more than triple in size by 2030.

It’s an interesting, surprisingly profitable business model for independent publications to adopt: publishing bespoke content that’s only available to subscribers behind a paywall. And it’s working, including for

Nevertheless, the financial implications that come with owning, operating, and editing a digital media outlet remain high; BAS detailed those expenditures in the recent blog post, which can be read in its entirety below. 

Writers and Editors: $3200 a month

Website Maintenance: $500 a month

Legal and Accounting: $350 a month

Technology (Mailchimp, web hosting, etc): $1000 a month

“That’s over $5000 a month,” Schuffman exclaims. “And all that is before [my business partner] and I get paid $2500 a month each.”

How much is that amount, you ask? Less than $3,000 a month.

“Yup, we both work full time doing BAS and can only afford to pay ourselves $2500 a month,” he continues. “Thank goddess for rent control.” is currently bringing in over $6,000 a month alone from fiscal supporters — $5,513 of it coming from Patreon subscribers, also known collectively as “Patrons.” Alas, even though that generous support, which includes contributions sent through PayPal, it’s not nearly enough to cover the company’s entire overhead.

“But as you can see, that’s only 50% of the $10,000 we need to survive each month,” Schuffman writes.”If we get a couple of bad months of no advertisers, then we’re totally fucked.”

He’s right: One slow month in paid partnerships and advertisements could deliver a fatal blow, putting BAS into La Brea Tar Pits of bygone local media outfits.

“Nearly every single media outlet you read is either funded by venture capital or owned by a media conglomerate,” Schuffman waxes in closing. “Broke-Ass Stuart is 100% independent, which is difficult, as you can see from the numbers above […] thank you SO much for considering becoming a supporter. Seriously, thank you.”

Let this PSA and CTA from a man behind a publication that’s helped epitomize San Francisco’s left-of-center spirit for over a decade sink in your minds — and pocketbooks.

Hyperlocal, independently-operated journalism is crucial for the betterment of society. We all must do our individual parts in making sure it doesn’t go the way of the dinosaurs.

For those interested in becoming a BAS Patron, visit

Feature image: Courtesy of Broke-Ass Stuart

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