How can I create an online database and then sell access to it?
January 31, 2019 10:18 AM   Subscribe

I want to create a searchable/sortable database, sort of like Ravelry on a smaller scale, for my specific craft/hobby. I'm considering using Airtable or Google Sheets, but am open to other possibilities. I would also like to monetize this in some way.

Since this is probably going to take up a lot of my time, and it would be an ongoing thing I would need to update frequently, I would like to charge users for access. I believe there are enough people who will be willing to pay for this info. As an enthusiast of the hobby myself, I know how much I would be okay with personally forking out for the ability to find exactly what I need when I'm looking for a new project to start.

So my bundle of questions are:
1) What are the best (easiest, fastest, etc.) tools to use to create a database with lots of searchable tags and at least 1 picture per record? Airtable, Google Sheets, WordPress? SquareSpace?
2) How can I sell access to it? Send them a PayPal invoice and once they pay, send them a password? Or should I skip that and just sell advertising on the site?
3) Is there a service out there which offers all of this in a neat little package? I'd be willing to pay a reasonable fee.

Obviously, I'm no professional website designer or anything. I just have an idea to help my fellow crafters and I would like to get paid for the investment of my time. Any guidance or suggestions are appreciated!
posted by susanaudrey to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
Or should I skip that and just sell advertising on the site?
It's hard to answer without knowing your hobby, but that's probably a good option. Unless people have no other alternative than register on your site to get your stuff, charging them for access is going to be difficult. Companies that sell to your fellow hobbyists could be interested in advertising on your site if it has enough traffic (ie enough good content that drives people to it).
If it is possible, another simple option would be to sell your stuff item by item (rather than having paying subscribers), outsourcing it through a specialized marketing platform so you don't have to handle the boring stuff.
posted by elgilito at 1:25 PM on January 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

Something like this WordPress membership plugin could easily take care of user accounts, payment, and protected content for you. Basically, you'd use WordPress to create your information, then protect the content behind a paywall using the plugin functionality. It has a lot of helpful features -- for example, you can set up a free trial period.

Warning: I'm a WP professional who has used this for lots of clients, and I can tell you that the process is doable without writing a line of code, but would be frustrating for many non-tech-savvy people. If you're the type that likes futzing around with stuff, you'll be okay, but you'll have to create a self-hosted WordPress site, point your domain to it, install and set up the Membership plugin, etc. etc. etc. If you go that route, I highly recommend a managed host like WP Engine.
posted by nosila at 1:59 PM on January 31, 2019 [2 favorites]

I've thought about doing this also and what I might do is create a Patreon account and people at, say, the $25 level can have access to my database at Evernote and maybe files of photos at Dropbox (because Evernote is not really a good photo gallery). I want to just use one service but haven't figured it out yet. I like using Evernote to keep notes.
I haven't figured out what to do if someone drops out. How to revoke their access. It's so easy for me and pretty fast. Dropbox is slow for me. For some computer reason.
posted by cda at 4:22 PM on January 31, 2019

*Evernote is easy for me and pretty fast.
posted by cda at 8:37 PM on January 31, 2019

Thinking about this a little more - you could have one site or webpage that is password protected then, say you have twenty subscribers - who pay for membership to be able to see that webpage - then if one drops out - you would just delete that one subscriber from being able to see that webpage.

Then change the link to your database every month (this would be easy with Evernote) and post it to the secret password protected webpage. Every member goes to this webpage (if they pay each month) to access the database with the monthly generated new url.

I think that should work. I am going to do a trial run and post here.
posted by cda at 3:00 PM on February 2, 2019

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