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Going commercial

Moving a non-commercial site into a commercial site

3:57 pm on Apr 26, 2003 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member trillianjedi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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About a month ago a friend and I started this hobby site where we saw a lack in information available on the web. Let's say the hobby involves the use of widgets.

The response has been incredible, we have 2 or 3 new backlinks everyday, from some good sites PR4 and PR5's and we're not even being asked to link back. We've had 40,000 visits in the first month, a lot have joined as members and we have a buzzing forum on the site.

Things got kick-started by a nice chunky link the day we launched (we were in google via freshbot within a day or so).

I suspect we'll have a pretty good page rank next update (the entire site got deepcrawled last week). That aside, even with our freshbot listing we are top on the serps for almost every conceivable keyword combination involving widgets (we do have a really good site).

We have several options, as I see it, if we want to take this into a commercial relm.

1. We have been approached by a major plc (let's call them Big Cheese plc) who are interested in doing a deal with us. They would provide infrastructure and do credit card processing (they've had an online presence for a couple of years and have established a good trust-worthy brand etc) and we sub out the actual mail order posting of the widgets to existing shops. So the shops affiliate with us and we get a cut on sales made via our website (we set up the shop), Big Cheese plc lend us their image and trustworthiness and do the credit card processing with their merchant account and they get a cut. Big Cheese take their cut before sending the balance to the affiliate shops once a month and our cut to us.

2. We set up a merchant account and shop ourselves and do the lot (yuck, too time consuming).

3. We sign up to an affiliate program with someone like kelkoo.

Assume for the moment that we have concluded that Big Cheese plc are not going to rip us off (that's something we need to consider, reach a conclusion on and then take a view but we know how to do that).

Are there any red flags that should be highlighted to us on any of the above? Pro's and cons etc?

We can set the online shop up easily, my partner in crime specialises in just that. We would probably do that on a new domain and link to it from the existing site. We do reviews on widgets on the existing site, so at the end of the review we could have a link "buy this widget online now" etc.

We're going to do nothing for a couple of months - the site is too new to take this too seriously, it may all just be a flash in the pan and dissappear as quickly as it appeared.

However, I feel that we should be at least thinking about this now, so any input would be gratefully received.


10:51 am on Apr 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

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Just some thoughts I had reading your post:
1. Don't rush your conversion to a commercial site. I'd spend several months on improving the site and let your visitors learn that they can trust you.
2. If you're good in running the website (which is surely true, looking at your fabulous start), concentrate on that work and choose the option, which steals less time from your core tasks.
3. Make clear to your visitors, that your articles about the widgets aren't influenced by the fact, that you are trying to sell them.
11:22 am on Apr 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

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While you're still in hobby mode, if you haven't already, try to get a listing in Zeal, and a free entry in Yahoo!
11:36 am on Apr 27, 2003 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Senior Member trillianjedi is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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Glengara - thanks - submitted to Zeal last week, waiting for the entry to be confirmed. I submitted to Yahoo about a month ago. Worth doing again now? We're still not in there.

Thanks Fischerlaender, glad to be your 100th post!

Those 3 things are things I have considered, and reached a similar conclusion - certainly won't be doing anything in a hurry.

But it's useful to have someone remind you those are the things that are best concentrated on for the moment.

The site is really good, has good content and that's why I think people are coming back (a lot have "joined" the site and are members) and why other sites are linking to us without even our needing to request it.

I think it'll take another two months to get properly listed in google anyway (we went completely out of the index yesterday - seems our freshbot listing has gone and google have gone back to last months index). So, stability it key first.

But I would like to start thinking about the options now.

Anyone else got any input on that specific?