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How to make money with a non-commercial site?

Without annoying banners or popups...

     
11:01 am on Jul 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I'm running a non-profit, non-commercial website providing free tutorials about furry widgets. The site started as a hobby and a contribution to the furry widget community, but has grown pretty popular these days, at least in its own niche.

Running the site costs me money, and because I'm not the richest person in the world, it'd be nice to make some money with the site! However, I don't want to annoy my visitors, so I need some tips on ways to make money...

Like I said, the site is a non-commercial one. It provides tutorials, links and some humor about furry widgets. I want to keep the information completely free and freely available for everyone.

Banners and popups are NOT an option. They are extremely annoying, and my target audience is even more annoyed by banners and popups than "normal" web surfers.

How do subtle text ads work? I'm sure many of you has some experience about them. Are they any good, and where can you get people advertising on your site?

I've seen some furry widget sites simply begging money, saying something like "please donate money to keep us banner-free" or something. I don't like this option, but I might consider it. Has anyone here tried it? Does this approach work?

Of course, I'd like to hear some ideas and your experiences of other ways, too!

11:04 am on July 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I run a similar site and Adsense is bringing in enough to cover the costs.

The ads dont look that great and arent very customisable, but they are (usually) targetted based on your content, so you get a better click through rate.

Scott

11:04 am on July 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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If you have regular visitors you could try a "DONATE" button. Very easy to set-up with PayPal.

/DOH

[edited by: dmorison at 11:32 am (utc) on July 18, 2003]

11:29 am on July 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I'm interested in the last issue. Do these tend to bring many donations? I guess it depends on the type of site and the number of visitors...

Paul

12:54 pm on July 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Marketing_Guy: Adsense seems to be worth considering. How many visitors and pageviews do you get?

About donations: ok, I'm still not too fond of the idea, but I might consider it. Anyway, like altyfc, I'm still interested in knowing if it really works. I think it's pretty well suitable for sites like mine (non-profit, community oriented), but I'm not sure...

Most of my visitors are from US and UK, but there's a considerable amount of traffic from other countries, too. How well is PayPal suited for donations from many different countries? PayPal's support for non-US countries seems pretty good, though... And PayPal seems to work in my country, Finland, too :)

I'd still like to hear more tips!

2:26 pm on July 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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From /adsense/policies
AdWords ads may not appear on personal pages

is that the same as a "non-profit, non-commercial website"?
2:36 pm on July 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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I interpret "personal pages" as being your cv or biography, people prattling on about their boring life, and pages primarily meant for family and friends to read. "...Hey Mum, Dad and sis.. do me a favour when you go to my page to see my latest diary entry and click on the ads!..."

Dayo_UK

2:45 pm on July 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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NGene

Lots of Affiliate programs also offer text links.

How about offering a text link to a book shop that is connected to furry widgets.

Eg - Buy books about furry widgets here!

Or any other related product (Buy Furry Widget Clothes, Going on a Furry Widget this year - why not book through Furry Widgets.com)

Obviously this depends on what Furry Widgets means in your case.

Adsense is however a good option for sites with hard to find affiliates.

Dayo

3:46 pm on July 18, 2003 (gmt 0)

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chiyo
Guess I was thinking 'personal pages' and
'personal website' as being the same.
9:36 am on July 19, 2003 (gmt 0)

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How about offering a text link to a book shop that is connected to furry widgets.

Eg - Buy books about furry widgets here!

Hey! Excellent idea! That fits my tutorials site extremely well!

I wonder why I didn't come up with this idea sooner - actually I've seen some of other non-commercial furry widget sites doing this!

Books seem to be one of the most popular items (maybe a bit *too* popular actually) because it's so clearly connected with furry widgets, but like you said, Dayo, I could try some other products, too.

Great! Any other good ideas? :)

11:10 am on Aug 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Another thing that may help is to find ebooks related to furry widgets that are not free to give and must be sold and offer them as a bonus for folks who donate. I have been working on an online nonprofit archive of ebooks that are "free to give" and have run across a few that don't cost anything but must be charged for, and that is what I thought I might do with them.
1:04 pm on Aug 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Does "Donate" link actually generate revenue. As in, do people actually donate a good amount?

Anyone with a good experience.

1:13 pm on Aug 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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If memory serves right, a substantial portion of this place is covered via donation and voluntary subscriptions to private forum areas. So while it's very dependent on the peeps who make the community, yeah, there's some evidence it can work.
1:36 pm on Aug 13, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Like Kevin said, it depends on your audience. I have some friends who use the donate button. Only a very small fraction of visitors donate and it's not that much. What they ended up doing was making a subscription section on their site and offering services for a fee. The rest of their sites remain free.