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Financing Growing Websites? 174

William asks: "I'm currently writing PHP and MySQL code that runs a website that is receiving a modest amount of hits per day. Currently we are able to reasonably pay the montly costs of running this website without a problem, but we are growing larger every month and I could imagine that in the not so far future we will need to start finding ways to finance the cost of running the site. One thing that conserns me is that more and more websites that are being run by average people are on thier way to being down now because they can not afford to pay for the amount of resources being pushed through every month. Up until now banner ads have help displace the cost of running a site, but from what I've been seeing, that is no longer true. I remeber when Slashdot was just Chips&Dips, and figure this would be the place to go when asking how to scale up a website in an affordable manner."
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Financing Growing Websites?

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    >You want to know where most of the money given
    >to churches actually goes, even if it renders
    >your clichéd comment irrelevant?
    >Feeding the poor. Healing the sick. Housing the
    >homeless.
    > ...You're average devout Christian is giving a
    >lot more of his or her income to charitable
    >causes than your average Slashdot reader

    So much wishful thinking, so little time. Where is the money going?
    To support church bureaucracy.
    To the legal defence of thousands of church-employed pedophiles.
    Don't believe it?

    Some examples:

    "In the Roman Catholic Church there are over 800 priests that have been removed from ministry as a result of allegations against them. We also know of 1,400 insurance claims on the books and that the Church has paid out over $1 billion in liability with an estimated $500 million pending. One noted expert claims that there are over 5,000 priests with some type of allegation against them. If this is true, then there are at least 1,000,000 direct victims of clergy sexual abuse and between 4-6 million indirect victims in the U.S."
    --- http://www.thelinkup.com/stats.html
    Browsing the rest of the statistics detailed should be a sobering experience for you.

    "The Anglican Church administered 26 "Indian residential schools" between 1820 and 1969. It, along with the Catholic and United Churches, is now involved in numerous lawsuits arising from alleged physical, sexual and "cultural" abuse during the operation of those schools. 6,200 people have already sued. The figure could reach 10,000 if the courts accept seven class-action suits now pending. The potential liability is estimated at $(C)1 billion."
    --- http://www.thelinkup.com/canada2.html

    Why not spend an hour reading through a handful of the crimes of abuse your church donations are going to defend against. There are hundreds of reports, detailing thousands upon thousands of victims, here:
    http://www.thelinkup.com/crimindex.html

    Given what qualifies "religious donations", and how the money is really spent, you'll understand why I am less than impressed with studies that report religious vs. non-religious donation patterns.

    > Who do you think started "The Red Cross"
    > and "Doctors Without Borders"?

    In both cases, not any religious organization.
    Were you guessing?

    From the Encyclopaedia Britannica:

    "The Red Cross arose out of the work of Henri Dunant, a Swiss humanitarian, who, at the Battle of Solferino, in June 1859, organized emergency aid services for Austrian and French wounded. In his book Un Souvenir de Solferino (1862; A Memory of Solferino) he proposed the formation in all countries of voluntary relief societies, and in 1863 the International Committee for the Relief of the Wounded was created. This organization in turn spawned national Red Cross societies."

    Red Cross and Red Crescent
    http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=64537&toci d=0

    "Doctors Without Borders was founded in 1971 by 10 French physicians who were dissatisfied with the neutrality of the Red Cross."

    Doctors Without Borders
    http://www.britannica.com/eb/article?eu=368593&toc id=0


    If I were you I would pack that Christian smugness up somewhere where it wont embarass you again for a long long time.
  • For example, if our Beloved Zesty CmdrTaco were open to the idea, I'm sure there are people who would pay to be a required slashbox, just for the hits. It's almost like a banner ad, but it could be considered valuable info.

    Crap. I'm planning to do exactly that with a Slashcode-based site I'm developing. I thought I was the first one to think of it. :-) (Well, maybe I am ... I thought of it a few months ago, just haven't gone live yet.)

  • How long ago was Chips and Dips? I used to read it as well, then this site became Slashdot. I used to read every single comment from every article for the first while, then it got popular, and well, you know what has happened to the comment section. Rob, do you have any stats from Chips and Dips archived? I am curious as to how many of us Chips and Dips readers there was.
  • It's very common to think about selling content, but what about buying content space?

    For example, if our Beloved Zesty CmdrTaco were open to the idea, I'm sure there are people who would pay to be a required slashbox, just for the hits. It's almost like a banner ad, but it could be considered valuable info.

    The slashbox perhaps isn't a good example, because that genre is all about user preferences, but what if CNN were to start selling you space to put 5 headlines per day in? You maintain the data via whatever means you like. The data gets pulled from your site and links to your site, giving you tons of hits and links back to your site.

    But we're talking about MAKING money to pay for current resources. Well, if you're concerned about paying for more bandwidth and more server power etc, sell some space on your page. You sell it the same way you would sell a banner ad, you get this much space, and it'll be up for this much time. if you sell it right, you'll get someone who buys the spot right under your menu for a year.

    Except it's NOT a banner ad, it's a list of news headlines, or a list of recently added resources, or whatever. Something that gives THEM hits, and gives YOU money AND added content.

    Why would anyone pay you for this? Well, you're looking for financing because you're presumably getting good traffic. People will pay to have their content in front of eyeballs. And if you get the right people to pay, it could significantly add to the value of your site, makeing MORE traffic, make MORE people want to pay you MORE money.

    I love my job.

  • Simply upgrade the hardware and bandwidth to cope with increased loads but don't improve the site. I.e. Don't add more editors to a news site. Don't build a biger test lab to support a technical site just keap it efectivly the same little site but on a biger box with a fatter pipe.

    What this dose is make the site running costs into known quantities. A T3 or a P4 costs $x and will only get cheaper. Your labor costs will not increse but your add revenue might.

    Another side benifit of this is that it slows the rate at which new visitors are added.
  • Is there some way you can put a bandwidth cap in place? Say NMb/day, after that you tell people to try again later? Sure, it's not as nice an arrangement, but there's no reason to martyr yourself for your hobby.
  • I know of your site, and I used it just a few days ago to download a FreeBSD ISO. It's a great idea, and I think that yoi deserve some help.

    However, I'm not sure you will be able to do it in the bounds that you have set for yourself. I realise that you want to 'give something back' to the community, and you do, but if you're doing it at an exteme loss, it's not worth it.

    Saddly, I think you need to go a *bit* more commercial, and my idea for that is a 'pay-for-bandwidth' scheme. Take for example the Distro releases we've had these last few weeks -- Every site was (and probably still is) completely satturated... and if you can connect to a site, you'll only be able to get 3-4 kb a second. Now, in such a case, I would gladly pay you 5 bucks if you could give me a high-speed connection at times like those...

    You could have the free stuff there, still, but you could also offer the option of users being able to download over a faster, members only connection for a small fee. Most people would jsut sign up for one month at a time or so, but still..

    I'm assuming that your co-loc fees are a few hundred a month.. chances are, you would normally only make 20-30 bucks a month, but when A major distro revision is released, you could easily get a few hundred, which would offset the losses incurred in the other months.

    Just a thought
    .
  • But, OTOH, this means that you then have to play Mr. SysAdmin, and that is usually no fun. I'm doing this now to offset the cost of a number of projects I'm running, and playing the System Adminstrator cuts quite a lot onto my code time. Not a HUGE amount, but enough to make me cranky in the morning.

    The easy of being a sysadmin in a case like this varies inversely with the kind of people you're going to sublet your service to -- if they're techincal people who can handle things on they own, okay, but if they're newbies who just want to sell Furbies on-line, watch out.
    .
  • If someone buys your site, then obviously they already have some ideas on how to grow revenue with it. After all, no savvy business person would spend money on an established venture without first doing an audit of the books, the business model, etc.

    That would be a fine assertion if savvy business people were the only people to spend money on an established venture. The dot-com boom taught us otherwise, I thought...

    Tim

  • that should be 'curtails' (curtains demand?)
  • Hello,

    I was in a situation where I had a small clan of geeks on one of my NetBSD machines where I worked. I started hosting some small sites for friends, and all was cool.

    When I decided to leave, I realised that I couldn't (and didn't want to) just dump everyone, so I decided to colocate. At first, I was paying the bill out of pocket, but I asked users for donations, and they were more than happy to give.

    As time has gone on, I have added paying customers and now have more than 50 domains and about 100 users. The people more than pay for the colocation, and the additional money has gone to several server upgrades and additions.

    Now sixgirls.org, running NetBSD on an Amiga, is actually pulling a profit and is growing nicely. People like the server because it is a community, not an impersonal ISP. People prefer to develop there because they can talk with me directly and have things they need added and updated easily.

    It hasn't always been easy, but taking that first step to ask for a few dollars from those who benefit the most is the best thing to do. In my case, they were more than happy to give it.

    Good luck!
  • One thing is to limit page content and size. you dont need a 1.2meg truecolor background, and another 500K in fluff images. Make it lean and mean, and try to make the front page static (not dynamic) oh, get rid of all java,javascript,flash,etc... If people are coming to you in droves it is not because they like your graphics and flashyness. This one change will increase your users->bandwidth ratio. also switch to thttpd (for the throttling capabilities) and only increase your bandwidth if you can afford to. Buy that 128K fractional and stick there (if you pay for amount transferred then you are being robbed) and then only upgrade when you have the cash flow to do so. (although 128K - > full T1 isnt much more money every dollar counts. I found that co-locate is usually a lose situation. they gouge you on bandwidth. put the server in your house and have the T1 installed, or rent a closet sized office in an office building. Why dont I do it anymore? selling lambdanet.com for $$$ and getting out when the frenzy was starting is where the dot.com's winners were. not during the frenzy.
  • Or find someone who has an ISP gig and sneak a server into colocation. Either that or team up with some people on a colo. For webhosting colo is the only way to go.
  • I don't think I've heard anyone suggest this yet, but why not mirror the content? I mean, if the site is as popular as people say it is, couldn't you find a few people to mirror your site, then send them off to the other sites when your bandwidth use is getting high? It seems that you could cut down on bandwidth a great deal by splitting the number of people on your site by half.
  • There's a way to avoid the T-shirt inventory problem. At least one site, CafePress [cafepress.com], allows anybody to set up a store selling shirts, mousepads, etc. with their own designs. The inventory problem is eliminated by CafePress printing every item to order - when your site visitors go and order a t-shirt, CafePress prints it and mails it. They handle production, ordering, billing, and distribution. That's it, no extra inventory laying around and no upfront expense. You get a cut of every item sold, depending on the price you set.

    Of course, CafePress has to keep their costs down so they only offer a limited selection of items and styles (I'd kill for black or blue shirts instead of white) and the base price for most items is a little too high. That notwithstanding, it's still a good idea that eliminates the risk of printing your own shirts and the hassle of running a Web shopping cart. Definitely a way to increase revenue for your site.

  • by Nightpaw ( 18207 )
    Yeah, Quicktime stole my PNG association from Netscape and does a really crappy job with them. (If you just look at a PNG, it auto-scales it to fit in the window -- very bad.) And IE 5 on my laptop can only show PNGs if they're referenced as IMG tags in a document. This is 6 year old technology; what the hell is wrong with the people who develop browsers?
  • 15% is a little much in my opinion. Would you donate to a good site using paypal or any other service? I never have, but this is what I may end up asking others to do. I feel like such a hypocrite
  • We are at Valueweb. We pay over $350 per month for that server.
  • linuxiso is in no way a commercial site. It is a hobby and service to the free software community. We would just like to find a way to not let the site drain us dry. If this was a commercial enterprise we would have sold ads long ago.

    Comprendo
  • We already do this, sort of. We check a list of mirrors, find an open one and connect you to it. At the very beginning we hosted the iso's but we quickly saturated 3 t1's and had to stop. Just serving html and images we use around 30Gb of bandwidth a month increasing about 10% a month. Its all being hosted on a colocated raq with a K6-300 and 128 mbs of ram. We have developed a new site that we can't put up until we have a higher powered machine, hopefully in a month or two.

    Rick
  • We will be upgrading when we switch machines. I want to make several apache changes but I need more ram in the machine before I increase Apache's memory footprint.
    I'm an apache admin and developer for a living, but unfortunatly have too little time for my own site.

  • I have been funding my website out of my pocket, but due to growth this is going to be impossible soon. Plus, I want very much to keep the site in the good standing with all of the users, most of witch are open source advocates like myself. Colocating is pretty expensive and prices don't seem to be coming down. I would love to make the site self sufficient without the need for annoying ads or blatent commercialism. Any Ideas?
    Rick
  • Well most sites have accomplished htis by distributing the load across various servers. Eg. a web page providing information of a non commercial nature (generally) will sprad its self across several geocities, yahoo free web etc. servers now of course this limits you in space available but files can always be linked to elsewhere ... are there any scriptable ftp clients out there? Can I creat a script that will on a regular basis process a director for changes and then post it to 32 different ftp servers on a "bite size basis" limit each server to 4 meg and then just keep rotating along? Not even sur eif that makes any sense but I'll assume that some of you will at least be able to methodically interpret it
  • I don't know how hard it would be to set up a paypal account, but I'd donate to linuxiso, I know www.shugashack.com set up a paypal account and basically saved his site, but then again, he has tons of regular readers.

    Your site provides a neat service, what would be REALLY great is if everyone who donates get's 'special access' or something > RH7.1 is available for 'gold members', anonymous users must wait three days ... or something like that. And if you're like me when a new distro comes out, I'll have card in hand to get into an ftp site, maybe the rush of people donating to get in on a fresh .iso will cover a 48-72 hour Rackspace expansion.
  • I believe your question was 'how not to lose money', as opposed to the ever popular 'how to make money' The guy who posted about lessening your graphics and stuff was right. It makes sense... Shop around for webhosts! Do you NEED a dedicated server, or will virtual hosting be sufficient? There are great deals out there for people who just need virtual hosting. My current webhost is $10 a month, no limits, full PHP + MySQL. If you get a modest amount, then I would guess this is for you. Plus, going the virtual hosting route, you don't have to worry about routers, hardware, or any of that garbage anyway.
  • I was wondering if there's an archive of Chips&Dips, or has that resource been lost to history...
  • Sorry, but that is just the way taxes work. You don't get to pick and choose where they go. I'd prefer that my taxes not subsidize spectrum bandwith so that religious entities can have a couple of channels on every broadcast system in the US.

    Ever called your cable operator and asked them why you have to pay for religious channel 94, which broadcasts some Brazilian guy with Portugese accent sermonizine in Spanish? "Because we have to" is the answer you'll get. Same goes for local access channels... they bring in 0.00 revenue for your cable operator, but the government tell them they gotta have provide it.
  • There was a good article on Kuro5hin a while ago entitled Website profitability: an economic analysis [kuro5hin.org] which discussed how a website's popularity can crush it if its bandwidth costs exceed its revenue from banner ads. Basically the author tackles your suggestion to lighten up pages with some hard math. It also had a really good discussion.
  • If you're planning on offloading some of your bandwidth to your ISP, be sure that it's ok with your ISP's Terms of Service. Some ISP/web space providers expressly forbid linking to images from an outside page, others simply state that there can be no "hidden files" (i.e. that all files must at least be linked to somewhere on your site). Take the extra time to find out what you can get away with, otherwise you might one day find that all the images on your site fail to load. :-)

    On the other hand, I believe that you should invest a fair amount of time and effort into streamlining your site as much as possible. Not only will it cut down on your costs and server load, you can tell your visitors you did it for their own benefit, so they can have a faster, more navigable site. Great PR stuff. ;-)

    -------------------------------------------
    I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells.
  • Just convince them you are Don Corleone. The favors just start rolling in.
    --
  • Just convince them you are Don Corleone. The favors just start rolling in.

    Only problem is, you need to kill somebody once in while.
    --

  • You could possibly find other sites that are having marginal success and simliar problems. At that point you make a collective effort to share costs and profits.
  • Associate programs can provide a small source of funds. If you can merchandise books, etc. related to your content, you can pull in a fair amount of cash. Amazon.com's associates program [amazon.com] pays 15% of the sale price of books bought immediately after coming from your site. B&N.com and others also have associate programs.

    If you're talking about needing a few hundred dollars a month in income to pay for the cost of operating the site and you have a good amount of traffic, it might be a good option.
  • Or the alternative.

    "Bob, what's that on your screen. Are you reading a technical website again? Damn it, I'm paying you to watch this porn site. Now get back to work!"

  • Real Easy (TM):

    1) Sell your website to a large corporation.
    2) Buy a few hot cars to impress the chix with.
    3) Sit back and let the site run itself.

    It's a scam, I know, but it's been done before and should probably work again.

    --

  • jesus christ moderators. get a clue.
  • if this [clanbob.net] (www.clanbob.net) is your website (as picked from the email adr.), then the only thing you need to do is cut the freaking Flash!!! And all those graphics!

    that would *really* cut down your bandwidth. That is all well of course, if there is anything left afterwards...

    cheers,
    Roland

  • Check out Dialtone [dialtoneinternet.com]. Good prices, connectivity and service. I have a K6-2/400 there for... let's just say it's a lot less than that, and I think my bandwidth cap is higher than 30GB/mo although I really don't remember right now.

    --
  • I would use it, but it seems that it lags behind the Apache release schedule.

    Any idea if that functionality will eventually be rolled into the Apache source?

    --
  • We're trying to come up with something like a public access Akamai system for web publishers to keep these small things going. Go to http://groups.yahoo.com/group/web2project [yahoo.com]
    --
    OliverWillis.Com [oliverwillis.com]
  • I guess the only solution to this problem is the kind of 'tipping' like Mandrake is trying to install in their Mandrakeexpert. If I'm really happy about a site, I wouldn't mind paying a small amount of money (say 2 $), after downloading/reading advice/... if I could do it on an easy way. Something like a central organisation (with a very secure system) that would provide such a service to websites would be ideal. If a site is usefull for you can just 'tip' the webmaster. BTW: Rick: you have a great site, I own you a lot more than 2 $ (problem: I live in Belgium, hard to make donations...)

    I think you can send tips [squarefree.com] using any credit card or debit card (at least through PayDirect), but to recieve a tip you need a US-based credit card or debit card. I'm not sure what US-based means, but I think it's possible to get a US-based credit card in Europe. If you happen to know please tell me :)
  • Another related trick which I use is to put the graphics which are necessary for my site in the web space that came with with Earthlink account. I figure I'm paying $20 a month for nothing right now (Earthlink is my backup account in case my DSL goes down, but my Speakeasy DSL has been absolutely rock solid so far) so I don't feel very guilty about offloading my traffic to Earthlink. This is not a bad suggestion. Particularly the supporting Lynx part. every site should work with lynx unless its an avante garde web site experiment not attempting to be usefull in any way.

    But I feel its my duty to inform you that speakeasy, rock solid as it is, has included in most if not all DSL packages, redundant 24/7 nation wide 56K dialup support, in the off chance that you really really needed to email your boss or whatever and felt speakeasy was letting you down in this crucial 7 minute period of downness. Any account with a shell account can certainly dialup, the others I'm not so sure about.

    -Daniel

  • Dynamic web pages let you give each viewer different information. Caching lets you give different people the *same* information. Most ISPs and most corporate firewalls do a lot of caching, so if you can manage your application to maximize the amount of cacheable material, that helps. Fruhead.com has done a good job of minimizing unnecessary graphics and frills, and seems to do a lot of for discussion-board applications, which do need to be pretty dynamic, though there are sometimes ways to hack around that. So this advice isn't very helpful to you, but for lots of sites it makes a big difference.
  • You've got the infrastructure set up already, so just sell some space and bandwidth to people for sites that probably aren't going to pull much traffic. Charge enough for hosting and get enough low traffic sites, and it'll pay for your high traffic, no profit site. But then you do have the extra hassle of actually being a business, and needing to deal with clients.
  • Hmmm, howzabout a radical new-new economic idea called "Supply & Demand" ???? While the cost of /duplicating/ software is so low as to be nearly free, unless you make an artificially scarce supply by enforcing expensive licenses which simutaneously curtains demand (except for pirates) AND generates the revenue needed to grow a business - you are eventually going to run into some kind of supply limits. Those are the costs your going to have to offset somehow, either thru micropayments or donations. All the 'new' economists are re-discovering TANSTAAFL, altho the recent techno advances have drastically reduced distribution costs to where it appeared to be 'free' - what we are now running into is the bottom limits of 'free', becoming disinterested in subsidizing a 'free' service with income from a day job, volunteer work, etc, etc, etc.
  • half-empty [half-empty.org] is being supported by DynDNS [dyndns.org] out of the goodness of their hearts since they think it's such a fun site. They're volunteers and its a donation based operation, a chunk of which is used to provide bandwidth for half-empty. I've been very fortunate, as banner ads would not cut it in paying the bills I'm guessing.. even if it could the fact is I'm a poor college kid and even launching a site and taking the risk of having a bandwidth bill to pay is something I couldn't do.

    Also, as a side note, you can dramatically decrease bandwidth for pages with lots of HTML (like half-empty's front page) and only some small (cachable) sparse images via GZip compression. In the past when I've mentioned this to webmasters they're usually pretty surprised, never hearing of it before. Netscape 4, IE5, and Mozilla all support client side page decompression via GZip, and all it takes is an Apache plugin (or for servlets, I had to write it myself) to send the right headers along with the compressed data. It won't break on older browsers, it's just sends the uncompressed pages. A 35k front page (something I was feeling REALLY guilty about) now serves up at around 6k, and everyone breathes a lot easier.

  • If you have growing traffic and you don't actually offer merchandise or any other business plan of your own then you should try looking for sponsors. This offers a way for companies that can actually profit in good old-fashioned ways to have a pleasing advertising channel. I beleive this is probably why VA Linux bought Slashdot and similar geek sites at least in part.

    You don't need to actually be bought or display ad banners to make this work. Simply find a company profiting off a similar theme as your site that won't actually conflict with what you offer and ask them to sponsor you and offer to put 'Sponsored by ...' buttons here and there in obvious but non-obtrusive spots on your site linking back to your sponsors site.

    If you can't find a sponsor consider making one for yourself. For instance I am a web developer so to help sponsor my non-commercial sites I have links from those sites to my business homepage. Some of these sites were created just for that purpose.
  • It may sound kinda silly, and may not apply in your situation, but if your site offers some of "community service", look around for any ISPs that would be supportive of it and offer you cheaper rates in return for contributing to the greater good.

    Other than that, as someone else said here, cut down the amount of graphics you are using, that will really help on bandwidth consumption. One thing that I tried on the pictures section of my site [claws-and-paws.com] was to not have any thumbnails on the pages, but instead fo use Javascript popup windows for the pictures. This has two benefits:

    1. No thumbnails loading reduces bandwidth consumption.

    2. A popup prevents someone from loading a picture into their current browser window, pressing back to return to the list of puctures, and possibly reloading that same page because their browser is retarded/configured badly.

    Just my $.02, from the perspective of someone who gets >150,000 hits/month on his website...

    --

  • Allow me to summarize your problem.

    'We do something for people for free, and it's really popular.. gee.. how can we keep it going now that we can't afford to do this free thing for everyone out of our pockets anymore?'

    Charge the users. Don't think they'll pay? Get sponsors. Don't think they're interested? Then perhaps there is no reason to keep it going.

  • I've donated to some sites using PayPal before. I really think that's a great way to help out a site, put up some PayPal links and say "If you like the site, please donate an amount you feel comfortable with".

    The great thing about PayPal for donations is that I don't have to worry about sending my CC number to some strange site, and since it's a donation I don't have to worry about receiving something in return. For those kind of one-way small transactions, you can't beat PayPal.
  • Are you kidding? These days it's easy to get money! Venture capitalists are just throwing money after people who have even a vague business plan!

    First you need to get a flashy management team, create a company with a name ending in .com, and mention Linux, P2P or B2B if possible. I'd say something like "linuxp2pweb.com", then just go out there with a big money bag and start taking VC money. It's a no-lose situation. Nobody expects web companies to make money yet anyhow. If that many people are visiting your site then it must be a good thing, and will eventually make money somehow, right?

    Of course, with all that money you'll need to advertise to bring in even more people to your site. Note: it doesn't matter if each visitor costs you money, because the secret is you'll make it all back in volume. The best way to get people to notice you is to create a flashy ad and air it during the superbowl. Sure it's expensive, but you have to spend money to make money, right? The best ads are the ones targeted to gen-x-ers. Make sure to avoid mentioning anything about your site other than your domain name -- anything else is sure to be ignored by the viewers.

    Meanwhile you need to hire more people to proactively grow the mindshare of your site while leveraging your fundamental skillset. Ideally everyone you hire should be under 23. Any older than that and they'll bring along too much baggage and obsess about "standards", "security" and "planning".

    Anyhow, good luck (like you'll need it). You couldn't be entering this business at a better time!

  • Why is it a scam, why are they crooked for doing so?

    Amazon charges a 15% fee to give YOUR MONEY to a site you want to support financially. So while passing the plate around to the Internet community, they are taking 15% of your offerings as a fee. In the spirit of, uh, supporting independent content sites? Sorry, that is much too high a fee to be anything but a scam.


    And you know this because you run a similar site where you charge 5% and are in the black? Perhaps you've done complicated revenue and cost estimates that you just forgot to share with us? Or maybe god just revealed Amazon's accounting statements to you?

    I'm stunned at the number of people on the Internet who appear to believe that hardware, bandwidth, staff, and capital are delivered by pixies in the middle of the night. At 15% I'd bet they are currently losing money, and won't break even until they are doing a fair bit more volume. For all the contribute-via-Amazon sites I've looked at, none of them has collected as much as a couple thousand bucks, and most are a lot less.
  • And don't forget mod_gzip [remotecommunications.com] which gzips content for any browser that will accept it transparently. Users don't have to download anything new or do anything different, but your bandwidth bill drops like a stone. One of my clients tried it and reduced bandwidth by 60% overall. It rocks!
  • Optimizing your site for better caching can also save a good portion of the bandwith of your site. Check out:
    http://www.mnot.net/ for good tips.
    Also, you can use gzip compression on both static and dynamic pages to save bandwith, with basically no cost for static pages (only compressed once) and little for dynamic pages. Computing power is cheaper then bandwith at this point.
    http://www.linux.ie/articles/tutorials/mod_gzip. ph p
    http://www.mozilla.org/projects/apache/gzip/get_ sr c.html
    http://thingy.kcilink.com/modperlguide/modules/A pa che_Gzip_Auto_compress_web.html
    or just search for mod_gzip or the like under google.
  • Maybe you already got a close look at this, but if not, you should definitely write a good tutorial on caching... It is just amazing how a web site which is nicely set up for caching can save on bandwidth (which is, I assume, your primary cost) ... and that's true even when you serve more or less personalized content.

    All you need to do is make sure URLs are unique and totally define what's in the page, set up a good caching policy for all your site and watch your bandwidth costs go doooooown.
  • Amazon, for those who don't know, has offered to function like a crooked church elder, passing the offering plate around for various content sites like Andrew Sullivan's [andrewsullivan.com], ModernHumorist and other content sites. If you want to make a credit card based donation to these sites, you can do so using Amazon's "Tip Jar" system.

    Why is it a scam, why are they crooked for doing so?

    Amazon charges a 15% fee to give YOUR MONEY to a site you want to support financially. So while passing the plate around to the Internet community, they are taking 15% of your offerings as a fee. In the spirit of, uh, supporting independent content sites? Sorry, that is much too high a fee to be anything but a scam.

    If you want to support these sites, like Andrew Sullivan or Modern Humorist, do yourself a favor and mail them a check or money order. Don't enrich Amazon and some credit card companies in the process of supporting content you enjoy, it just ain't right.

    Amazon.com- The Relentless Pursuit of a Business Model.
  • Religion sells because people don't know they are buying something, they feel good about themselves while they fork over their money, they WANT to pay. They use sex, drugs and rock and roll to sell their goods. The use all kinds of fear to generate their income, it's a brilliant business.
    Oh how controversial! A comment lambasting religion as a greedy, get-rich quick scheme robbing from the dumb and giving to the corrupt. Selling empty comfort to the foolish. Where did you read that? On the lyrics to some old Metallica album?

    You want to know where most of the money given to churches actually goes, even if it renders your clichéd comment irrelevant?

    Feeding the poor. Healing the sick. Housing the homeless. Yeah, I know it sucks to have someone distort the picture with facts, but such is life. The money raised by churches isn't going to put another layer of gold-paint on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, nimrod. Who do you think started "The Red Cross" and "Doctors Without Borders"? Linux Torvalds?

    Here is a statement I'd like to see you contest. You're average devout Christian is giving a lot more of his or her income to charitable causes than your average Slashdot reader (no, buying clothing from ThinkGeek doesn't count as a charitable contribution, nerds). Hmmm. They must be doing it because their pastors tell them if they don't, they'll go to Hell, right?

  • Here's the scoop, beetsie.

    It is called a merchant account. [webdevelopersjournal.com]

    These individuals could get their own merchant accounts from a PROVIDER [http] and use open-source ecommerce software to automatically receive and process their own credit card payments. Paying only standard card commission fees. What if they don't own their own hardware, bandwidth, staff and capital pixies?If they didn't have their own server, they could use someone virtual server outfit with merchant services support built in, there are hundreds out there, including one from Yahoo Store [yahoo.com].

    My criticism isn't of the struggling content provider. I recognize their plights. You can bet that what Amazon current charges 15% for, someone else is going to offer for a lot less, and steal away whatever business Amazon does have by telling the various content players that they will process online donations for a fraction of the 15% that Amazon charges. Leaving Amazon yet again to search for a model that makes actual fiscal sense, before they run out of money.

    My own business ran credit cards inhouse on a $900 PC running IC Verify [yahoo.com] with a dialup account ($19.95/a month). It could be run on a $400 PC today.

    Amazon has made enough in commissions on Andrew Sullivan [andrewsullivan.com] alone to pay for that PC and software and the dialup account. for a year. So the rest is gravy.



  • It really sucks when the nature of your online business enterprise is to run in direct opposition to Divine Favour.

    The religious sites at least have the additional avenue of prayer to explore when the money starts running tight.

    :-\
  • The slashbox perhaps isn't a good example, because that genre is all about user preferences, but what if CNN were to start selling you space to put 5 headlines per day in? You maintain the data via whatever means you like. The data gets pulled from your site and links to your site, giving you tons of hits and links back to your site.

    If you want to know if it works, as the guys over at newsmax.com [newsmax.com]. It looks like they're selling headline space. (See the headlines that start with "Adv:" and are usually about hair loss treatment.)

  • You would know about Amazon's new micropayment system, but the slashdot editors thought it unfit for print, apparently. 2001-04-21 23:26:04 Amazon Launches New Micropayment System (articles,news) (rejected) Donations are minimum of $1. Fees are 15 cents fixed + 15%.

    It's not surprising that they didn't publish that article. It sounds very similar to one that they published [slashdot.org] over two months earlier.

  • What's wrong with charging a buck or two per ISO download to cover the cost of your bandwidth?

    I mean, if it's costing you money, I don't think you should feel bad about asking those who are benefitting to share the costs.

    I have so much trouble finding reliable mirror sites anymore that I would happily pay a buck or two for a solid, fast mirror.

    --
  • If we can build momentum for projects such as this one [sourceforge.net] and this one [freeweb-hq.da.ru], this problem could be alleviated. Right now, small web publishers are hurting because they do not have the resources to serve content to millions of browsers, each of whom is just a resource drain. But, turn each of those browsers into a little mini-server, and the more people read your site - the more copies of your pages exist, and hence, the fewer resources you need to provide to serve them.
  • "Merchandising, merchandising, where the real money from the [site] is made."

    Seriously though, you either have to get on to subscription based services, donations or merchandising (or any combination of the three) to make money right now as a little guy ;-)

    -----

  • Welcome to America, friend. Here in America we raise money by offering services to other citizens of the world in exchange for this thing called money. Its an odd system, but it seems to work for us. An inquisative survivor such as yourself, is sure to draw the attention of others who are interested in your service, and willing to pay for it, whatever it may be. You will be reassured, knowing that others, whose services are not worthy, will not receive funds in this manner, and won't waste world resources that could otherwise be directed to your more productive and helpful product.

    Once again, welcome to the team!

  • If you control the webserver itself somewhat, you can just use mod_gzip, which can compress pretty much everything and doesn't have the same problems that the compression in PHP sometimes has.

    http://www.remotecommunications.com/apache/mod_g zi p/
  • All that does is pass the losses on to someone else, it doesn't save the site. Like I said below, there is no substitute for a good and solid business model.

    Not necessarily. If someone buys your site, then obviously they already have some ideas on how to grow revenue with it. After all, no savvy business person would spend money on an established venture without first doing an audit of the books, the business model, etc. Selling the site could be a way to grow the brand by putting it in more capable marketing hands.

  • PBS is not only donations... it also draws our tax money (which i would probably not mind voluntarily donating but absolutely opposed to extorting as a tax).

    -DVK

  • Don't the flycast ads pay much?

    I know mine [blacknova.net] don't... but i thought that was 'cause I had a few hundred users seeing thousands of pages per month each... you must have thousands seeing one or two a day...
  • Heh... www.goats.com is an actual comic strip... pretty funny too.
  • Could you provide a link to back up your claim? I find it hard to believe. Why would Amazon use a micropayment system? Their primary business is selling merchandise.


    --
  • If the question "What's the best revenue/business model for a growing web site, given the current conditions in the dot-com world" could be answered in a satisfactory manner simply by posting it to Slashdot, then the world would be a very different place from what it actually is.

    Having said that, I still wish you the best of luck in your efforts.

  • Yes, well, obviously enough I disagree with Jakob Nielsen. In a word where people put advertisements in airline dinners, ATM screens and, horrifically enough, other advertisements*, I hardly think Internet advertising is going to have zero value.

    I'd be surprised if mass-market Web ads ever get back up to the $40-50 CPM wishful thinking of 1998, but I don't see any reason that they couldn't level out at about $2 CPM. I'm told that that's about the price range of a billboard ad, and that's about how much impact your average banner ad has.

    *I'm referring to my current pet peeve, the little "preview" scanner for the video games at Wal-Mart. In essence, you're asking Wal-Mart to show you an ad for the video game, but first they have to show you a different ad for toothpaste or something. At this rate we're going to reach the point where they won't give you your change unless you sit still and listen to them yammer on about their specials for a couple minutes.

  • Look at ThinkGeek [thinkgeek.com] for good Slashdot/geek related schwag. Open a can of Whoop Ass [thinkgeek.com] and support the site... You too could do this!
  • Very solid suggestions. In these days of Microsoft PageBuilder, etc, it's easy to forget that graphics, etc, cost bandwidth, and bandwidth often costs money.

    I'd like to see browser tech that helps out, as well. I like a page with some pretty pictures (such as Slashdot's title, and the topic pics). Since I visit SlashDot everyday, I wish my browser would hold onto the images, so I wouldn't have to download them again, while flushing the ads that I download one times and look at zero times.

    Microsoft was never one to cut down on bloat, however, so I doubt MSIE will get any smarter in the future. Is there any standards work out there to deal with this kind of problem?

  • A comment lambasting religion as a greedy, get-rich quick scheme robbing from the dumb and giving to the corrupt.

    There are real Christians still left, but they are becoming fewer and fewer. Havn't you ever watched the many "Christian" cable networks? They are more like 24 hour infomercials selling prayers and blessings. Religion is in a sad state overall.

    The argument is irrelevant, however. We were talking about using these religious tactics to make ourselves rich, in our own lines of work, which is something I would like very much to do.

    I am an ordained reverend, after all. :)
    -

  • My own business ran credit cards inhouse on a $900 PC running IC Verify with a dialup account ($19.95/a month). It could be run on a $400 PC today.

    I agree with you, it can be done cheaper, but I also think your logic is flawed.

    I bet you don't hire consultants to write web pages for you either. Not everyone is a geek like us. To many, it would cost a lot more to hire someone to set up the whole thing. The bottom line is that if the people that use Amazon donations were technically savvy enough to do all this themselves, then they would. They are willingly paying the 15% so they don't have to pay someone to set up all this for them.

    Also, if you think you can undercut Amazon so much, then do it and get rich! The fees from the merchant account provider on a $1 credit card payment are a high percentage, I bet Amazon is barely breaking even on payments smaller than $5.
    -

  • It's not for Amazon, it's for small web site owners like the one asking the question.

    You, the web site owner sign up for it, then you provide a link on your page through which people can send you micropayments.

    Don't know if this link really works, Amazon has one messed up system, I can't tell which links are real and which ones are dynamically generated for my personal account, which it somehow associated with me even through a re-install. There is more than just cookies at work there, scary. Link [amazon.com]
    -

  • . This reduces the pool of available ad spaces, and makes ad space more valuable, driving prices up.

    Hey, instead of leaving this cyber-darwinism to natural selection, why don't we open up a "Stupid web site hunting season?" :)
    -

  • Religion sells because people don't know they are buying something, they feel good about themselves while they fork over their money, they WANT to pay. They use sex, drugs and rock and roll to sell their goods. The use all kinds of fear to generate their income, it's a brilliant business. But how can the fairly consultant such as you(assumedly) and I use such tactics effectively? I havn't found many applications of FUD in my daily business, though I am looking!
    -
  • It's not surprising that they didn't publish that article. It sounds very similar to one that they published over two months earlier.

    Good point. My post was not meant to complain so much as to offer it in answer to the question, however.

    I was under the impression that this Amazon system was much newer than that. I guess I shouldn't believe the marketspeak when they call it a "new feature". :)
    -

  • You would know about Amazon's new micropayment system, but the slashdot editors thought it unfit for print, apparently. 2001-04-21 23:26:04 Amazon Launches New Micropayment System (articles,news) (rejected) Donations are minimum of $1. Fees are 15 cents fixed + 15%.
    -
  • I'm not sure if anyone's doing this already, but I wonder if Hardware & Software vendors might start sponsoring websites pretty much the same way that STP sponsors some racecar drivers. You put a some graphics on your saying that your webserver runs on $HARDWARE and $SOFTWARE (very much like putting a decal on a racecar) and the vendor gives you the the equipment (possibly some $) and lists your website as bragging rights in adverts.
  • I host on a dsl line. But, when the connections get too slow, i'll switch to 2 dsl lines (mine and my friends). It works, and zoneedit.com has that free nameserver/server swap thingy.
  • Well, those are $0.03-$0.06 per UNIQUE clickthrough. And yes, the pay sites do pay $25-$40 per signup, generally, but signups are waaay down due to the abundance of good quality free porn out there. But yes, most porn sites are still profitable. That's because porn webmasters generally keep a sharp eye on the bottom line, and don't hire frivolous employees, and generally work long, long hours.

  • Hey, let me tell you, after a few hours, it doesn't matter whether it's porn or accounting. Work is work. It stopped being entertainment a long time ago for me.

  • Feeding the poor. Healing the sick. Housing the homeless. Yeah, I know it sucks to have someone distort the picture with facts, but such is life. The money raised by churches isn't going to put another layer of gold-paint on the ceiling of the Sistine chapel, nimrod. Who do you think started "The Red Cross" and "Doctors Without Borders"? Linux Torvalds?

    So what actually does pay for those gold-encrusted towers? Okay...maybe not gold encrusted, but at least in my neck of the woods, most of the churches are the biggest, newest, and nicest buildings around. Something has to pay for them....

    Here is a statement I'd like to see you contest. You're average devout Christian is giving a lot more of his or her income to charitable causes than your average Slashdot reader (no, buying clothing from ThinkGeek doesn't count as a charitable contribution, nerds). Hmmm. They must be doing it because their pastors tell them if they don't, they'll go to Hell, right?

    No, they're doing it because it makes them feel good. And it's easier than volunteering at the local soup kitchen, or treating a homeless guy to a good meal and hot shower. As with most religious exercises, it's a way for them to absolve themselves of the sin that they have just becasue they're human....

  • I'd like to see browser tech that helps out, as well. I like a page with some pretty pictures (such as Slashdot's title, and the topic pics). Since I visit SlashDot everyday, I wish my browser would hold onto the images, so I wouldn't have to download them again, while flushing the ads that I download one times and look at zero times.
    Browsers already retain images (and text) so that frequently-viewed pages load faster. Netscape calls it the cache, and I think IE uses a directory called Temporary Internet Files or something. If you're re-downloading graphics from Slashdot every time you view the site, you might want to check your browser setting to see if you need to extend the expire timeout on your cache.

    As for banner ads, most sites actually just reference the banner ad images via URL, as the ad images themselves are stored on the advertising company's own webservers, like ads.doubleclick.net for Doubleclick-based ads. Thus, banner ads do not usually contribute to the bandwidth utilization of the site that displays them. Granted, /. houses it banner ads on images.slashdot.org, but the above article is in reference to smaller sites.
  • The above poster makes sense. If your web site is clanbob.net, you've got allot of problems.

    Lets reduce cost: optimize your graphics. Currently your second loading page (which I think is your true home page) is somewhere in the 128k - 200k range, that is way too much.

    Next let's see what's you can do.

    Do you have a subscriber list that you CAN send e-mail to. If so those names are worth about
    4.00 to 5.50 per 1000 mailings.
    if you have demographic data city, state, zip on those names
    add 2.00 per 1000 names or .25 per detail
    if you have age
    add .45 to 1.00
    if you have gender
    add .25
    if you have Income
    add .25
    if you have Creed or religion
    add .15

    if you have any likes or dislikes data
    add .05 per detail

    IF your list has an 90%+ average of women
    add to the bottom 15% premium.
    it seems that the women list are very valuable

    I don?t know of anybody that?s getting over 25.00 per cpm on their mailing list.. I know a few people that are getting 9?s and 10?s.

    That now covers income from mailings.

    Banner advertising:

    Work with someone that will sell you advertising. You give up 25% - 75% of your revenue, but your get income.

    Check your web logs, can you correlate your page loadings, with geographic info and web site patrons likes and dislikes.

    This is the rate I?ve been offered.
    3.00 per cpm is easy to find. And could work as a first / second page loading
    5.00 per cpm takes some work should be in the more targeted parts of the site
    Over 10.00 per cpm, I?ve seen the contracts for this I have to give up 40% of my earnings to advertising broker for these rates.

    You have to make sure you get about 5000 page loads per day. A page load says the entire page is downloaded, that?s what advertisers want.


    spambait e-mail
    my web site artistcorner.tv hip-hop news
    please help me make it better
  • Here are some (quite large) websites that I visit and the methods they use to raise funds:
    • The Secular Web [infidels.org] set themselves up as a non-profit charity and collect on-line donations with PayPal, and they have banner ads and Amazon associations.
    • The Skeptic's Dictionary [skepdic.com] uses those Amazon deals too.
    • The Skeptic's Annotated Bible [skepticsan...dbible.com] sells TShirts, CDROMS, books, etc as a way of funding their website.

    Those are about all the non-corporate websites or non-corporate-sponsored websites I visit.

    Maybe you should visit these and other sites and just ask... "Hey... how do you afford all this?" Never hurts to ask.

    Ryan T. Sammartino

  • we will need to start finding ways to finance the cost of running the site

    Well, judging by the lifespan of some dotcoms lately, I'd say 90 days same-as-cash ought to do it.

  • We're doing pretty well over at Goats [goats.com] using a combination of voluntary donations via the Amazon and PayPal system, along with incentives like the option to turn banner ads off for registered users. If your content is truly worth something to your users, you should be able to raise enough to keep yourself afloat with a similar system.
    -----------------
  • by smirkleton ( 69652 ) on Monday April 23, 2001 @12:50PM (#270983)
    "Banner ads?"..."WRONG! TRY AGAIN!"

    "Co-branding a la Plastic?"..."WRONG! TRY AGAIN!"

    "VC funding?"..."THAT IS INCORRECT! THE CORRECT SPELLING OF 'PROFITABILITY' IS..."

    Methinks you've been overmoderated. BigTime! Don't tell Yahoo that Banner Ads are the way to go. They're still attempting to find an alternative business model that isn't so completely, utterly, dangerously cyclical and may actually lose money for the first time in several years.

    Co-Branding isn't going to work, either. The collective powers of several money-losing BANNER AD driven websites don't amount to much, if anything. Have you visited Plastic [plastic.com] lately? No. And neither has anyone else. It has at least two very dire problems.

    1) It has mistakenly assumed it could replicate the success of Slashdot simply by repurposing the Slashdot message board system for the purposes of broad-minded subjects mostly related to pop culture, pop technology and pop politics. They have failed to realize that Slashdot's success has come through its specialization. The broader the subject matter, the less compelling the appeal to a broader base of people. The narrower the subject matter, the stronger the potential appeal to a smaller base of people. They are failing because they thought if they focused on broad subjects, that all your base would belong to them. But they ain't CATS. They are on their way to destruction. They have no chance to survive, make their time. HA HA HA HA.


    2) It assumes it can create value through the aggregation of the readerships of several specific content sites into one single site. YET MANY OF THE CONTENT SITES CONTRIBUTING PARTICIPANTS ARE LOSING MONEY, SOME AT ASTONISHING RATES. If you're a fan of Poynter [poynter.org], which you should be, you'd already have read articles chronicling the plights of Inside.com, Feed, ModernHumorist, and others participating in Plastic. - It prolly aint gonna be with us much longer.
    VC Funding - yeah, that used to be considered a business model, until somebody realized that, well, it just doesn't make sense to loan money to businesses with holes in every pocket of their proverbial pants, at least not if you want to get any money BACK.

    VCs got stupid for a while, and wrote some big ass checks to dumb ass people. But those days are over, mate. And if you really want to make a VC pissed, I recommend you approach one and say, "I'd like to borrow $10,000,000. I have an idea for a business. It will make money combining ad banner revenue with co-branding, a la Plastic". You'll be lucky if you escape with your life.

    "Okay Mr. Smartypants Smirkleton, then what DOES make money on the net?" Well, I'll tell you one thing. I'm very surprised to see no mention of ThinkGeek [thinkgeek.com] in this discourse. I've heard those guys move a boatload of products, a ton, and I'd believe it. What model is that, then? Well, it is specialty retail, targeting the various geek needs of the same community that Slashdot serves to inform (well). (A community that is extremely specialized, hence the obscure subjects considered newsworthy to the readership and authors.)

    Yes, I know ThinkGeek is actually owned by VA Linux. But it seems to remain an independent business unit, from outward appearances. I suspect ThinkGeek's financials are one of the few bright spots in the VA Linux annual report. Sadly, they probably aren't broken out from other revenue streams for the public to see, because then we'd know how much more money VA Linux was losing on their core product lines.

    Read this recent BusinessWeek story on MiniDots. You'll see that SPECIALIZATION is where it is at. [businessweek.com]

    And no, after all that, I'm not going to also correct your sig file. You'll just have to do that for yourself.

  • by xuvetyn ( 89257 ) on Monday April 23, 2001 @10:38AM (#270984) Homepage
    if you're using apache, get yourself mod_gzip [remotecommunications.com].
    i've been using it for awhile now and the saved bandwidth in incredible.

    note: i have no ties to this product whatsoever, it's just a kick-ass module.

  • by L Fitzgerald Sjoberg ( 171091 ) on Monday April 23, 2001 @09:43AM (#270985) Homepage

    I think we're seeing a banner ad backlash, both financially and rhetorically. Not only are they selling for less, but the voices calling them a sure-fire path to online riches are being replaced by voices declaring them dead and a horrible idea to begin with.

    Personally, I think typical ad banner prices will probably even out to about the cost of hosting. This is based on one part basic economics and nine parts bald speculation.

    My thought here is there are plenty of people who are willing to put up comic strips, video game reviews, and pages examining the minutiae of Christina Ricci's career as long as they don't have to actively shell out big bucks to do so. When income drops (as it has recently) many of these people will shut down their sites. This reduces the pool of available ad spaces, and makes ad space more valuable, driving prices up.

    When ad income goes up beyond hosting costs, then more people are encouraged to put up their own sites, and the pool of ad spaces increases, driving prices down. So you see.

    Obviously, there are exceptions to this, such as sites that are funded by companies with deep pockets, and sites that have operating expenses well beyond hosting (you can't run site about travel experiences unless you or your writers can afford to travel), but I think for your typical pro-am started-as-a-hobby site, this will hold true.

  • by egjertse ( 197141 ) <`gro.ttuf' `ta' `todhsals'> on Monday April 23, 2001 @09:36AM (#270986) Homepage
    /. does fine by providing information only via it's banner ads

    Now, that is kindof a harsh statement, don't you think? ;)

  • by jesser ( 77961 ) on Monday April 23, 2001 @10:43AM (#270987) Homepage Journal
    Why would Amazon use a micropayment system? Their primary business is selling merchandise.

    My guess it that they figured they would have an advantage in the donation market because of their brand recognition and because of their "one-click" patent. When I made a compared [squarefree.com] various donation services last month, one of the things I noticed was that Amazon was the only one that used persistent login cookies (ie, didn't require the user to enter his/her password on each visit). Several other sites (PayPal and PayDirect) used persistent username cookies but session-only login cookies. I'd be interested to know if some of those other services had full login cookies before Amazon entered the financial market, or if they've always used username-only cookies (for security reasons).
  • by tycage ( 96002 ) <tycage@gmail.com> on Monday April 23, 2001 @09:09AM (#270988) Homepage

    I belive Slashdot solved this problem by being bought. :)

    --Ty
  • Your main cost is probably bandwidth, right? One very quick way to alleviate bandwidth problems is to drop the graphics on your high bandwidth pages (or if you must use graphics, use fewer of them, higher compression, and smaller sizes). I had a page that was getting 30k hits a day and dropping the graphics on this page cut my bandwidth usage for my entire site in half.

    Another related trick which I use is to put the graphics which are necessary for my site in the web space that came with with Earthlink account. I figure I'm paying $20 a month for nothing right now (Earthlink is my backup account in case my DSL goes down, but my Speakeasy DSL has been absolutely rock solid so far) so I don't feel very guilty about offloading my traffic to Earthlink. If you have an ISP account that includes web space, consider putting your graphics there. This could save you considerable bandwidth.

    Along those same lines, try to split up high traffic pages with a lot of content into multiple pages.

    All of these changes also have the nice side effect of making your site easier to read and navigate. Not only is your site more accessible to the vision impared and users of text browsers like Lynx, but things tend to be more concise and consistent when you aren't focusing on form over function.

    What I would recommend is using a web log analyzer such as Wusage or Analog to determine what pages draw the most bandwidth and focus all your energy on the top pages. As with software profiling where most resources are generally used by a very small portion of the code, you will probably find that a very small portion of your content is contributing to the majority of your bandwidth usage. On my site, it was a single page contributing to over half of my bandwidth usage and optimizing that page solved my bandwidth problems.
  • by revscat ( 35618 ) on Monday April 23, 2001 @09:17AM (#270990) Journal

    One of the things that the recent dot-com bust has shown is the difficulty of making money off of a website, especially in the so-called B2C arena. Generally speaking, those sites have done the best that offer tangible goods, such as eBay and Amazon. /. does fine by providing information only via it's banner ads, but /. is an exception because of the huge amount of traffic it receives.

    To answer your question, you have few options:

    Banner ads

    Co-branding a la Plastic [plastic.com]

    VC funding

    Goodwill of others

    Subscriptions

    None of these are ideal, and none (with the exception of VB funding) will bring huge amounts of cash to your bank account. If you are simply seeking to recoup costs, you will probably want to go the banner ad/goodwill route. If you're trying to make a profit, however, you'll need a business plan on some solid relationships.

    Good luck.

    - Rev.

"Though a program be but three lines long, someday it will have to be maintained." -- The Tao of Programming

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