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Forum Moderators: lawman
Banners: standard 468x68 banners.
Comments: I don't care for banners on a forum system. To me, they look cheap and affect the quality of posting throughout the forums.
They tend to give a "dime store" run-of-the-mill feel to a place. That's not saying I think banners are bad. One look over at SearchEngineWorld tells you I know they can be effective revenue generators.
I just don't care for them in a forum setting. Pages are reloaded so many times, that grabbing a banner on every page is annoying and cheap.
I don't care for this option - doesn't mean it might not be implemented.
Pros: Potential for lucrative targeted advertising. Easily setup. No fuss management by 3rd party. Say yes, and a check comes once a month with little effort.
Cons: Speed, dependency, quality, counter to WebmasterWorld branding, cheap.
Text Based Advertising:
I like the idea of text based advertising. The one stumbling block is that there are no text based advertising networks. That means they must be managed start-to-finish in house. It would require 100 fold the effort and time that banner advertising would. There are also questions about their real effectiveness.
Pros: highly targeted, control of ads, noninvasive to user, fast loading, custom tailored to advertiser, easily tracked.
Cons: must do 100% of ad management, sales, tracking, puts site in direct competition with search engines.
Subscription Based Site:
Subscription based offers some unique opportunities for the site and for members (see below).
Pros: 3rd party managed, liability control, security, maintains branding, easily managed from server side.
Cons: Cuts off part of membership base accessibility to features, cost.
To kick around the idea of a subscription based model, I was thinking in these terms:
- content would be enhanced with monthly newsletters rounding up the best info found in the forums.
- content would include monthly advanced seo topics (the really good stuff that we rarely bring up in public here).
- would include tools from search engine world + several new tools not shown to public yet.
- users private page with personal server monitoring tools and se rank watching tools.
- on-the-fly algo investigator tool.
- text or banner based ads in non-subscription area.
- new tutor forum for "review me" posts for quality feedback on your site.
My suggestion is and I apologize if this is a repeat: No time to read all the posts.
Offer a Member subscription for $xx.00 per year.
All can view and post, Members or not.
Members posts display some icon.
Non-members that post over a certain number of posts will be generally ignored after time by Paid Members.
There will be non-paid lurkers and theft.
However this may be greatest compliment and advertisement for the forum.
Give me a button - I'll send you $50.00
For some good reading, see:
Current Issues in Web Usability[/big]
Pay for Content
While waiting for a micropayment system, there is a suggested payment of $2 for regular readers of the Alertbox.
[big]The Case for Micropayments[/big]
[big]Readers' Comments on Micropayments
[big]Server-Side Payments - Bill Gates' Plan to Dominate the Internet[/big]
I'd like to pay for a moderator to do a review of our new keyword delivery program, our portal hosting program, our pay-per-day advertising program and post a discussion about it in the forums. No bribes, honest evaluation, just paying for their time.
I'll pay and I'll be happy to give as much feedback as you like on the results to help give you an idea of how much it could be worth.
If that's not acceptable, I'd like to buy some text ads.
Who do I contact, wehre do I send the check?
If someone is paying a subscription, are they more likely to become irate or unruly when a response is slow in coming or never comes?
To keep this from happening would you need to pay a staff to make sure everyone is satisfied?
Personally, I would pay the subscription. But there are folks who believe that if they are paying, then they are entitled to get what they want when they want it.
I am sure that the big guys here knows a lot more science about search engines than publicized: this forum is a way to capture good clients; clients who know their needs and are looking for excellent professionals.
For me it is unbelevable that so many great information are here for free.
I am so happy to be one of the members. This forum is very popular and could be terrific popular: the only backwasrd in increasing popularity is that most of the members try to not divulgate it a lot ( you could give a good tip to competitors..); poor SEOs could be embarazzed with their clients when clients know what to ask them!
In the ballpark of 6 or 7 to 1. (we avg 2-5k unique a day with 500-1200 of those logged in members). It's a wide fluctuation due to the ebb and flow of information and the day of the week. We are very sensitive to the day of week - more so than any site I've ever been around. The last full weed of the member files was done in March (anything over 90days was removed with only a handfull of dead or stale accounts retained for historical reasons). We are around 2k members and all have logged in since March with 1500 logging in sometime since may 1.
Is there some technical way to give all lurkers access only to posts that are one or two weeks old?
Lurkers and non paying members should not have access to the "site search" feature.
Paying members could opt in the hole package of new services.
I'd never have known about it if it was subscription based. It would be hiddne behind the wall. And holding back posts doesn't seem to be a practical to differentiate between subscribers and scroungers.
Anyhow, Brett, you have a great board here.
Make money with it, however you can. I am no fan of asking webmasters to be martyrs for the world's scroungers.
It always amazes me when people are indignant when a webmaster does ANYTHING to try to get a return on investment. These people hide behind "The net should be free" BS (I have yet to hear of a Net Access Point that was built for free). Yet these are always people who think that what *THEY* do for a living is so very important and worthy of all of the vast wealth that may come to them.
I'd sugest that you run network banners, and offer direct placement ads, both text and banners.
The people who leave this board because of a few ads will just have to find someone else to fulfill their ad-free web fantasies.
Why not only start a gold club membership or what ever you will name it and charge the ones who are willing to pay you. My guess is that you do not have to go over the hill to find us some value over the non-paying members.
Anyone who work professionally (making money) with SEO know the value of WmW and can afford to pay back for an excellent service.
So where shall I send the check. ;)
I think this place is a really good forum for SEO and if I used SEO in my job I would pay a subscription fee.
However the main reason I visit here is to check out the Webmaster side of things mainly HTML and graphics forums. This side of the site is not as developed as the SEO stuff and if I had to pay for basically 2 forums I would probbably just look elsewhere.
I think the subscription is bad news, from my personal perspective (and why see it from anywhere else ;)).
I love and regularly use WebmasterWorld but I only use it for work. Now I am dedicated to my career an' all but no subscription is coming out of my own pocket. I can't see work paying either - I can just as easily use siteExpert or [insert forum name here] (not as good but tough:o)
The beauty of WebmasterWorld as I saw it was the freedom... I came in here slightly unawares but everyone pounced to help... That made me feel indebted - so I regularly came back to see if I could help anyone. REAL community.
You may have squillions of users now, but if you go subscription, where are the fledglings going to come from? If I hadn't been here before and I came across it as a subscription based forum you wouldn't have logged me for dust. I don't mean to sound like a scrooge but for newbies it's more the hassle and inconvenience of subscription that prevents them seeing the HIDDEN value of the forum.
Sure, freedom has it's price to pay (such as people ripping content) but it it's worth it.
I thought WebmasterWorld was exactly what the web should be and it would be a shame for that to end.
If the subscribers are creating the content, why should they pay?
If you think you are susceptible to "info theft" now, just wait until you charge for it. I can see the ad copy now. "We have the same stuff as they do, for FREE!"
Subscription models don't work that well, I've tried it and the conversion rate from "free trial" to "paid subscriber" is dismal, someone made an earlier post and suggested a conversion rate of 20% (uh huh...I wish!), It will probably be closer to 5 - 10 percent. With that conversion rate in mind, will the board be able to sustain a contributing membership?
Selling information on the internet is extremely tough, just ask any major newspaper. Folks will buy a newspaper, but they will absolutely not pay to get the same information (only faster) on the web.
Some thoughts on banners:
As long as I don't see that stinkin "shock the monkey" banner, I will probably not retreat. I would also NOT be inclined to click on any banner that was not specific to the topics and information that I use this site for. I can find loan consolidation and casinos just about anywhere, I can also "boost" my internet connection on my own, so please use very targeted banners, your advertisers and most of your community would be grateful.
some thoughts on revenue:
Affiliate revenue could do very well, if you screened the affiiate. Since you are operating on the premise of "known entity" in the murky realm of SEO, the links that you provide should carry some weight with the community.
Referal revenue: I would be shocked to find out that your plate is not full in the SEO business, the site should generate a healthy amount of SEO work for yourself. If it already is, than you could look at the site as your "marketing budget" and compare the costs that you have in running it with more conventional methods of marketing. I don't know your numbers, so you need to do the crunching. A big factor in that "crunch" would be your "closing ratio", you may be able to get leads using other methods, but how many would you actually close.
enough thoughts for now, I really don't want to drink another coke. :)
Very good thoughs, especially this one :
Q - <<If the subscribers are creating the content, why should they pay?>>
A - Because this board is not just technical stuff running for free from nowhere for no reason. It is a community, and the best around. Let's consider human factor. Depending on points of views and personnal experiences "paying" can be calculated as an investment. What goes around comes around.
This is why I still stick to a volontary paid subscrition model, for extra services.
I love the information on this site. I started off 3 months ago doing SEO work for my company right out of college. I had not heard of SEO before then. Now I have several top 10 rankings on hugely competitive keywords. Everytime I have a question, I get the answer here. THANK YOU EVERYONE! Hopefully one day I will be able to help answer some questions.
I hope everything in the forums can remain free. However, if there was a subscription service with more detailed information, I would sign up.
The perfect scenario for me would be paying for a review on my site by some of the experts here. I think it would be invaluable to have Brett and others tell me specifically what they recommend I do for my particular site, secrets included. I would like to be able to ask questions back, of course. If not this system, I would like to read on the topics that are rarely discussed publicly. I know this is tough because nobody wants to give their best secrets away to the SE's or possible competitors. I sure wouldn't.
So, anything that would clue me in to the not-well-known secrets would be great for a pay model, IMHO.
Just my $.03
Idea #1: Why not consider making just a few forums subscription-based. That let's you test the subscription concept without losing the customer acquisition benefits of free forums.
Idea #2: Keep current forums free and sell subscriptions to get all the other products (monthly reports, etc.) mentioned in the first post. Make most new forums subscriber-only.
My idea could be to create a talent marketplace here. It seems to me that this Site has all the ingredients already and could partner with one of the good talent (rev)auction portals or build the extra functionality into the user profiles and sticky mail.
True MacG, but then we are still not thinking internationally.
As has been mentioned before, there are members who cannot afford to subscribe due to the lower "in country" wages and disasterous exchange rates.
Even then, there are members living in countries where it is extremely difficult and costly so send money overseas and the task would simply end up in the "too hard" basket. Of course China comes to mind from presonal experience.
In my opinion the subscription model is not viable due to the very global reach of this community. Better to base it on selective advertising and product promotions.
Of course this puts the whole site into the realm of "those who can afford" supporting "those who cannot afford", to which I have no objections. In fact I would even say that it would be the neighbourly thing to do...
If they can figure out how to buy a dot com, join an affiliate program, drive traffic, make US BUCKS, get payment, exchange the funds into their currency, pay no taxes and live LARGE - then they will figure out how to make an annual subscription fee to WmW.
My theory is that people who want to respond to the ad, will. We don't need to see it 10 billion times. And it keeps the content part of the site free from the advertising that you have all worked so hard to eliminate. Then again, CPM would be lower if you charged that way :(
Then again, you have a very targeted audience and can charge a higher CPM :)
But in my heart, I still dislike the idea of banners at all here. :(
Just my $.06 (haha! up to #1. Touche Mike_Mackin :) )
I know this is going to sound weird but does everyone know ASE certification for mechanics? Well, I am kind of thinking the same thing. Keep the normal forums and also have forum for certified members (where discussions can be held that are deeper and more future oriented). As for the charter system - we could split up members by interest, expertise, or just locale (kind of like a specialization within a profession). By the charter system we could even set up online seminars for other members...okay getting way ahead of myself but I just wanted to give you some ideas.