|Got an established site ... need ideas now|
I am looking for ideas on where I could take my site. I set out a year ago, to build a humor / community site for Indians (being Indian myself).
My goals were to
-- not spend any money the site did not make
-- build up a strong community
-- build up a good base of loyal viewers (i.e. to get free beer in virtually any city in the world)
This has happened. We now have about a million pageviews and 200K uniques / month. My site grows about 20% a month, mostly from word of mouth. All of this is great, I make about US$2000/month which pays for rent (I live in Hong Kong, which is super expensive) and I have a day job, which keeps me very comfortable.
Asia has a very under/undeveloped B2C market. This is primarily due to a weak infrastructure (delivery / sourcing), currency issues and buying power (folks in India for example can buy Indian editions of books on Amazon at 1/10th the price). There are two or three established B2C plays in India but they do not have a credible affiliate programs.
What are my options? Where do I start?
I am looking at affliate programs, but have had little success with Amazon and primarily use it to discount my own purchases.
I would love to have t-shirts etc, but my experience in terms of quality with Cafepress was not all that hot.
Should I just keep the site as is? I don't really need the money from the site as I said, but I enjoy playing with new ideas and 'making things happen'.
How about asking your community what they would like? You might be astounded at how simple some answers are, how easy to do, and how well received. The community can tell you things you would not think of yourself.
In many businesses, that kind of real service is often so obvious it's overlooked. You can turn the "how can I help you" question from a robot's sentence into something you really mean.
tedster: I am currently running a survey on what people are paying for, how they pay for it, what they want. I got about 800 answers in the first 10 days.
They have also indicated that if I set up affiliate programs with the popular shopping sites, to support mine, they're likely to buy from my site (remains to be seen, users mean 10 different things when answering a survey).
How does one explain to the users that "just because its on the net" its free?
I'm also looking for some sort of micro-payment scheme, specially if it integrate international credit cards. Say 1% of the viewers would pay a dollar a month to support the site, its about US$2000 extra. :)
If you can get a micro-payment system to work, let me know, please. My gut instinct says a longer time interval on a supporting membership is more likely to succeed, but I have no statistics on this. Also, the Indian culture certainly may respond differently than the American.
Would you be providing special content for supporting members? Something of value they can't easily find elsewhere?
Yes, I have currently restricted forums which are accessed only by registered members. A micro-payment method could be used to compensate not only me but also writers who put some of their original stuff online.
Paypal has told me that making their system work internationally is one of their major tasks on hand and we can expect news from them "soon".
A couple quick comments:
>a good base of loyal viewers
>i.e. to get free beer in virtually any city in the world
How did that slip by? That has a lock on quote of the week!
Back to the original post: I'm about in the same situation over at SEW. I've looked at every affiliate program there is on the net for webmasters in the last six months. I've yet to find one I felt was worth the cost. Once you go that route of affiliation on a large scale from volumn, or from quality, I think you have to re-evaluate why you got into web site production in the first place.
I've also looked at going the other route of paid services like Danny does over at se watch. I'm not fond of that option because that makes you responsible for information. Most of that information is freely available on the web. I'd feel like I was short changing people. There is also the necc comittment to keep fresh info coming.
I've also mulled setting up a PPC style engine just for webmaster related products. I could get the traffic, but I don't think it would fly in the long run. Sounds good in theory, but PPC's take a huge promotion effort to keep and generate traffic.
Lastly, I've looked at taking several of my scripts into the commercial arena. One is all setup in that regard and I think I am going to give it a shot.
I'd say if you are making that kinda change from a site, I wouldn't mess with it too much Shri. Go back and rethink your content, what is it missing? What are my users not finding? Have I tapped all the market for users that I can? Where do I need to put in time to generate even more traffic?
I think affiliate programs are best 'eased into'. What I've been trying is targeting specific users as test cases to see what the affiliate programs do for production and what they do to the site. I use AOL'ers as a test bed. I generate a good data set before I start (clicks per user, method of finding the site...etc) and then see what effect the affiliate button or banner has on the page views. If I can keep the 'hit' to under 5%, then I think it is worth it.
Brett, If its not a trade secret, could you share how you target AOL users specifically? How long do you target them for? I've usually found that with Commission Junction.Com I can figure out in a day or two if a banner is going to click or not with the users. But have not been able to fine tune it down to any geography / ISP.
I am a forum addict and have launched 3 (what I consider) good sites based around the fact that there arent too many forum sites dedicated to an Indian audience which are well run. Humor, Politics and Technology.
I've also started approaching small-medium websites (1-2 million pageviews) in the Indian market and am very aggressively looking at getting these sites to cooperate with each other using banner exchanges / content syndication. I am also looking at offering free hosting / bandwidth to some good content sites with high search engine rankings and a high degree of 'coolness'.
While I build content, I'm keeping my eyes open to see what the next revenue gimmick is going to be and hope to latch onto it quickly.
recon' you should definately affiliate to some beer producers or sell some front page advertising. Therefore securing free marketing samples and achieving you're third objective without having to travel.
We're getting volumes of "pop ups" from loads of not directly commercial sites here in the UK these days. They are a relatively new development and in most part so slow in opening that they're closed before veiwed.
Some ones got to be paying for them and with you're page hits you must be a contender for some of this business, but the iritation factor may not fit with your "wish list" of where your site should be.
ps nice site. I realy liked the electron story, well worth a visit.