I’ve been putting a lot of thought into the best way to monetize WebmasterWorld. I think that many of us are probably taking WebmasterWorld for granted, solely because it’s free. We don’t realize what a rare and unique experience being a member here is. I’ve been reading a lot of the feedback, and I can’t believe the amount of ideas and sincere commentary that has been given over the past few days. Old and new members alike are coming out of the woodwork to share their thoughts, which is a testament to the goodwill that this forum has garnered over the years.
I think I’ve come up with an idea for monetization that not only doesn’t mess with what is working, and might even make the site better and address one of the underlying problems with WebmasterWorld. One thing that seems to resonate from these feedback posts is that mods and senior members aren’t really getting as much back as they are putting in. Some of the mods have really opened up on what its like to donate so much time and effort to a project, and I can understand their frustration.
For senior members and moderators, there is currently no incentive to really open up with the secrets of what really works. They are tired of the same questions over and over, and anything really juicy will just get stolen and reposted elsewhere with someone else taking the credit.
However, the fact of the matter is that some people need a little hand holding getting up the learning curve. Pointing them to a library is not going to help. What’s the best way to reconcile these disparate needs?
Charge money for the hands-on experience
Let’s face it. Everything that each of us needs to know to become a multibillionaire on the web is at our fingertips. The answers to our questions are somewhere out there, whether its on the web, in a book, or even in someone’s head. The reason we’re not all multibillionaires is that we don’t know what questions to ask, or where to find the answers if we did.
Everyone here has something we could learn from other members. Most of us have something we could teach, but aren’t really willing to give it away for free. Why not set up paid private sessions to encourage members to share the details that they aren’t really willing to publish publicly. Let the free market determine what that knowledge is worth.
The price of a course could be anywhere from $20 for a low lever introductory session to several thousand dollars for something really advanced.
Not all of the classes have to come from mods and admins. I’d spend a few hundred dollars (or maybe even more) for a few “closed door” sessions with…
- Wheel, about how to develop out-of-the-box link bait strategies
- Netmeg, on how to set up very focused ad groups in AdWords
- P1R, on how to reorganize site structures for more effective spidering
Sorry for calling these members out, this was just off the top of my head. There is a lot of hidden knowledge in this forum that people just aren’t willing to share for free. Not to mention the added networking benefit that private sessions would provide.
You’re already providing a good in-person educational experience with PubCon, but not everyone can attend a live conference. This would open the door to focused educational experiences for everyone.
How might the classes work?
Model it after online universities. The core ‘classes’ would probably be WebEx type presentations, essentially a phone conference where the students can see the teacher’s desktop. Beyond that, each teacher would need to determine what to offer, such as reading material, Q & A sessions, or ongoing support through a private forum.
Keep class sizes small, and encourage students to really open up about their specific situations. Allow them to post URLs and discuss their specific challenges.
Who gets to teach? There has to be some vetting process, but I think anyone who meets a certain participation criteria should be able to teach a course. You’d have to offer a certain amount of 2.0 type feedback, such as course rating (i.e., this course has received 3.8 out of 5 stars by prior participants). The quality courses would quickly show themselves.
How would the money get divided?
Simple, take a page out of Google’s book. WebmasterWorld collects the money and provides the platform for the lessons and support. The teacher determines what will be covered, the class size limit, and the cost of course. The teacher gets 68%, WebmasterWorld gets the rest.
Okay, I could go on and on here (I’m very excited about the potential) but I’ll leave it be for now.
Does anyone else think this could work?