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Old 08-07-2001, 05:03 PM   #1
JJJay
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Default Can free content sites survive?

According to f**kedcompany.com the answer is NO and they have seen enough free sites bite the dust. The following is a quote from todays list of failed companies

"Streaming music site DesktopHits.com is no longer giving it away for free. As explained on their site, "We would be happier taking care of 1,000 people that pay for a private site than 2,000,000 that do not." NO F*****G S**T, how is it there are people dumb enough to start companies without this basic bit of knowledge. goddam that makes me angry. In case you haven't been paying attention over the past year, all free sites with either (a) die eventually, (b) start charging, or (c) the best option, keep what's free, free -- and create new products or services that you can charge for."

His (c) option looks more likely in my opinion. I run a free font archive and I hope it never comes to (a) or (b).
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Old 08-07-2001, 05:41 PM   #2
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I think what I would like to see more of is sites looking for donations, a little paypal donate. If I visit a site, and I use it and it helpes(mostly computer sites) I am happy to donate 10 dollars. Its not much but more then they would normally make off of me.
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Old 08-07-2001, 06:15 PM   #3
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Default the prob is you are rare

Alot of people seem to expect everything for free and they believe the world owes them something. You only have to look at the banner removal software as an example. Also, there is the hassle factor of someone making a paypal donation.

Maybe a company could make a go of a micropayment concept whereby you add a site to a favorites list and that list receives a payment from an account that you set up a monthly deposit into.
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Old 08-07-2001, 08:13 PM   #4
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If a "free content" site stays in the small to medium range in size then I know from first hand experience the site can survive and turn profit. Having a smaller site keeps your inventory of impressions lower thus making it easier to sell your entire inventory and at a higher price than a site that has millions of impressions to deal with.

The key is to have VERY targetted visitors.

If you are struggling with keeping a free content site profitable my suggestion would be to find sites that offer basically the same content but charge for it. Obviously the sites have to offer some extra service or higher quality content than your own site. Once you find these sites write out a proposal and send customized version of the proposal to each of those sites.

I did this with one of my sites and I was pleasantly surprised. I didn't make a lot of money but it was well worth it.
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Old 08-07-2001, 08:57 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally posted by hobbnet
If a "free content" site stays in the small to medium range in size then I know from first hand experience the site can survive and turn profit. Having a smaller site keeps your inventory of impressions lower thus making it easier to sell your entire inventory and at a higher price than a site that has millions of impressions to deal with.
I have to disagree here. We offer our applications for free, we are profitable, and in July we served 90 million pageviews and sold the entire inventory. The difference between us and the companies on f-company is we did not become bloated and make stupid mistakes.
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Old 08-07-2001, 09:50 PM   #6
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I agree with Lil_Red ... of course, no company is making as much $$$ as they were during the huge Internet boom period, but many will be able to survive. The ones that do will survive because of the smart business decisions that they make, and either very targetted and/or very loyal visitors.

Besides, f'dcompany.com is not really the best place to get accurate information. Have you ever read the user comments? Man, what a cynical pessimistic bunch of people who think they're so much smarter than everyone else. Note that I said that they THINK they're much smarter ... Also, it's usually hardly a surprise when a company goes under (ie. posted on f'd with a 100 severity) since they were usually mentioned months earlier as having poor business practices! (Um, WEBVAN comes to mind as an example. )
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Old 08-07-2001, 11:19 PM   #7
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If you know what to do then you can keep from dying. Counting leads, sales, search boxes, and blink links, I totaled around $2,000 for the month of June, and I'm not in a single CPM banner network. Yes, I am making only about 25% the ammount of money that I made last year, but it's more than enough to pay for the sites.

http://www.gamecubecc.com/pictures/c...f_earnings.gif
This image is the last 12 months of income from cj.com, almost all of the last five months are from ebay links.
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Old 08-07-2001, 11:31 PM   #8
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If free content dies, the Internet is going to be a lonely place.
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Old 08-08-2001, 12:49 AM   #9
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I guess I should have clarified that better...

In no way was I trying to say larger sites couldn't make it...

I have never had a larger site so I would have no idea as to wether or not I could make one profitable. (I would assume making a larger site profitable is very possible as you pointed out Lil_red)

I was only speaking from my first hand experience which is from small to medium sized sites.

I didn't mean to discourage any larger site owners. I was just sharing my positive experience with small-middle sized sites.
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Old 08-08-2001, 12:55 AM   #10
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Problem is all these free content sites that are going belly up are making 2 big mistakes...

1. relying on non-performanced based advertiser. Who wants to pay for advertising without guaranteed results. I make 90% of income from performance based advertising i.e. CJ and I am doing very well.

2. EMPLOYEES. Take a free content site and hire 30 employees. Even with a paltry 40,000$ salary for each one (not even counting health benefits) that's 1.2 million in annual income... wow.... thats harsh....they could make 1 million a year and go bankrupt. I have no employees, I hire people for individual projects as necessary, better than fixed expenses. At most a free content site would need 3 or 4 employees perhaps, unless they are a monster. And even if i make 10% of a million, i still turn a nice profit.
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Old 08-08-2001, 01:43 AM   #11
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How do you define a free content site?

And when you sign up for affiliate programs, what is meant by 'sites with no content' are not welcome???

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Old 08-08-2001, 10:52 AM   #12
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How do you define a free content site?
A site that gives your access to unique information at no charge. Having a bunch of headlines and reproducing news stories doesn't make you a genuine content providor.

And when you sign up for affiliate programs, what is meant by 'sites with no content' are not welcome???
I guess they want sites that have their own unique information and features, not sites containing MoreOver headline links and a bunch of ads.
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Old 08-08-2001, 12:14 PM   #13
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Quote:
The difference between us and the companies on f-company is we did not become bloated and make stupid mistakes.
Well, I can't say I haven't made some stupid mistakes but by keeping the overhead at rock-bottom I could afford to learn from them. I run/own a series of city guides with deeeeep content. Traffic will be around 10 million pageviews this year. By mixing affiliate programs, sponsorships, and even CPM banners (some sold direct) I've turned a nice profit and also generated a great lead database for my real estate business. Hobbnet added the other key factor for me, targeted visitors.
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Old 08-08-2001, 03:40 PM   #14
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I agree fully with the point about employees, but I don't agree with performance-based advertising as being a necessary sole (or nearly so) source of income. I personally have never understood how these sites can survive on nothing one month, then $1000 the next, then $500 the next, then nothing the next, and so on.
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Old 08-08-2001, 05:27 PM   #15
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I think any size site can survive even in the current market if the site does not require huge teams of people to update it or huge bandwidth requirements.

DesktopHits.com is described as a Streaming music site which obviously needs a large amount of bandwidth. I think most sites should at least be able to cover their costs and if they are large enough maybe support a few full time employees.

As JonPKibble mentioned far too many companies bought expensive offices and hired as many people as they could and are now either dead or cutting costs dramatically.
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