I agree that advertising probably wouldn't work. I say this because I used to have click buttons on one of my sites and no one ever hopped from my site to a commercial one. Is there some reason why yahoo groups or google groups don't appeal to you? I realize that down the line we may face the same problems with them.
I am a writer of books for kids -- some include stitching -- and am on several list-servs through Yahoo groups. Pics aren't posted there, but links to blogs and websites are and I think it all works very well. Another thought would be for you to start a Facebook page -- there's a kids' nonfiction page there that also works well for its members.
Another option is Big Tent (http://www.bigtent.com/). They offer a good set of features, and I know that Flylady.net has moved some of their stuff over to Big Tent. You can set up mailing lists, forums, host photos, news, polls, calendars, reviews, classifieds, and other stuff.
Running internet services is expensive (the bandwidth costs alone on this will be huge) and it's not necessarily a cynical ploy to withdraw a free service, it sounds as if they just can no longer afford to keep it up for free. I agree that you could go to all the effort of moving, only to have the same thing happen again.
One group I belong to puts out an annual donation request that raises enough to cover their server costs - and it has nothing like 3000 members. People can contribute at any time but every year they are reminded and encouraged to donate whatever they can afford.
I hardly ever find time to actually come here but I value its existence and would certainly donate to support it and some of the other networks I belong to - if all members who could do so paid, say, the equivalent of 1 US dollar a year, it would cover the kind of costs Ning are talking about, wouldn't it? And surely some people would be able to afford a little more to balance those who for whom even a tiny amount isn't doable.
Re monetising, I find Amazon Associates quite good, if there's any way you could set that up here. And can you add or create a page here or somewhere else with a link here where people can donate through Paypal? You might find you get the premium costs upfront quite quickly!
I'm really sorry to hear about this! I have a knitting blog and I know that I don't make much revenue from it. I get good traffic and make about $5/year from google adsense and about the same from selling Amazon products on it.
Advertising online depends on the topic. I think the ones who make money are the ones who are into work at home and internet marketing. There's a lot of work that goes into all that.
You could ask for donations or come up with some products to sell, such as knitting items and book through Amazon or perhaps an affiliate like Joanns.
I think many ning groups will just disappear and the ones who stay will have to get much more commercial, which is kind of sad.
Someone on the thread suggested a facebook page, which would be a good idea. Might even give you more options. 3,000 fans on a FB page is a terrific number and you'd also be exposed to others who would join.
Sharon, how devastating this must be for you, after the amount of time and effort you have spent sharing yourself your beautiful work, and your expertise with us all. Everyone who has had anything to do with you and this network will be sharing your disappointment.
This site has changed my life in the short time I have been involved, and like everyone else we feel for you most of all.
Do hope a solution can be reached where your sites can survive.
Cant we ask them to re-instate a female CEO who would realise how important this is to us.
Well, this is a great group. I have learned so much and had such fun, that I don't want to give it up. I will back you up Sharon on any decision you make. (subscriptions, donations, advertising, whatever) It's hard to know exactly how this will play out. But I hope to see Stitchinfingers still standing after all the dust settles.