Questions about website publicity, popularity, and non-exploitative revenue.
January 25, 2004 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Internet Phenomenon Questions Phase II: 1. What are good, free ways to publicize a website? 2. How do I know how many people are actually reading the site? (Typepad's list of viewers and referrers don't match up.) 3. How do I make money off the site without being exploitive? Thanks!
posted by adrober to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
I'm going to ignore (1) as I'm not really a PR type of person. As for knowing how many people read your site, there's no good method for converting traffic information to counts of people. You can do somewhat better than "stare at the log" analysis with something like Analog, but even then you're only getting a second order picture of your popularity. If you get a baseline measurement, you can see how your PR efforts are affecting your traffic. It's not as good as knowing exactly who and how many these people are, but it's close.

Making money depends utterly on what your site is about, and who you expect to look at it, not to mention if you're looking for profit or merely to offset the cost of operation and your attention. If you're reviewing cosmetics products, for example, you want to give people a way to buy them through a referral from you, so you can take a cut. I know someone who does this and she pulls in over a grand a month after paying the hosting bills.

If your site isn't very consumerist or transactional in nature, you get to be more creative: Selling access to exclusive content seems to be the way the Big Guys are going (see: Salon, Nerve), but I'm pretty convinced that the subscription approach isn't viable and that the trend is an artifact of heavy cultural crossover between New York publishing/magazine industry people and the sites in question.

Tip jars get a little dough, as does selling ad space. It turns out that MetaFilter's very own Matt Haughey has written on how he made bucks with one of his sites.
posted by majick at 3:14 PM on January 25, 2004 referrals seem to work for a lot of people, but money made would depend on readership and whether they have deep pockets (or really like you) I guess.
posted by amberglow at 7:45 PM on January 25, 2004
posted by adamgreenfield at 10:39 PM on January 25, 2004

1. Make compelling content. If it's great, word of mouth will work on its own. Also, encourage dialogue with your visitors.

2. No good answer for that one.

3. As someone once said, "If you want to be loved, be lovable." Have a donations page and see #1 above. A PO Box can also help. In addition to a nice number of donations, I had lots of interesting things arrive via the mail (postcards, magazines, books, art, music, bubble bath, food, clothing, photos, videos, letters, dvds, gift certificates, cash, concert tickets, electronics, many items that were "organic" to what I was writing about, invitations to dinner/drinks, etc.).
posted by dobbs at 10:51 PM on January 25, 2004


1. Jerry Kindall's MeFi announce list. It's a completely opt-in email list for telling people about your new project.

2. Email your close friends and family, just the people you could also call on the phone. Do not spam. Make it a personal note. Do not write it like a press release.

3. Put the site as your sig file in all your email correspondence.

4. Logroll. Link to sites you like to drive traffic to them. If they watch their logs, they'll notice your site. If they like it, they might link, too. Don't put 400 sites in your sidebar.

5. Most importantly, and to repeat: Compelling content. Readable, regular, resistant to derision. Original, non-obvious, pointed, on-target. Another list of lacky links is not the way to go, nor is metametacommentary. Be original, fresh, and obsessive. Be a good writer and editor. Make everything better all the time.
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:50 AM on January 26, 2004

Should say, "wacky links," although "lacky" could work, too.
posted by Mo Nickels at 6:50 AM on January 26, 2004

My experience (for a fairly specialized hobby site):

1. Bulleting boards / forums = word of mouth. But be prepared for the worst if you do not deliver. And, yes, people who get things for free still complain for what they get and demand more. Also, everytime you link, ask the linked to consider a link back. Even if you do not get the link back, a consistent practice of this usually works wonders in raising your profile ... but you HAVE to deliver and keep doing it.

2. Logs, referrals, word of mouth, where does you name / site show up all give you an approximate idea.

3. Get contracted to write books on the subject covered in your website. Hey, it has happened to me & other folks I know! In any event, I personally think that selling cafepress t-shirts is way cooler than a paypal donation button. Then again, I've never neither.
posted by magullo at 7:46 AM on January 26, 2004

Adrober, thanks for bringing this up again and thanks for all the replies everyone. This is really timely info for me as well. I just started a focused blog [] (a lot like Matt's pvrblog, but for MP3 players) and I'm trying to go the route he did (I just put Google AdSense ads on this afternoon).
posted by turbodog at 10:36 PM on January 26, 2004

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