Originally Posted by 95geo
For some reason I hate seeing completely unrelated ads on a 4x4 website, it's "tacky" I guess. (for lack of a better term off the top of my head)
Websites like this that don't sell anything really have no way to bring in money (besides donations). When the server here was small, and only three or four hundred people were coming here a day, there was no issue paying the $60 server bill from the donations. In fact for the first two years I was paying out of pocket to keep the site up and running. Then I moved to vendors to take over the money. Since the site fits a niche, there is a great marketing tool here for vendors. Their payments paired with the donations here kept the server running.
Well then the site started having two, then three, then four, then five, and now over seven thousands people a day. With that increase in traffic, I had to update servers three times over the last two years. Now I have a four figure monthly bill to keep this site up and running.
For instance, yesterday there were 4100 clicks landing on gl4x4 threads from google alone. Sure these people might not live in the midwest, or they might not ever sign up, but what I can do is try to capitalize on their landing here, by hoping the will click an ad. What this does is allows me to offset the server cost by "using" visitors who will never register and participate pay the server bill and upkeep (a lot of coding goes into this site, especially on the server side, stuff that is never seen here). That is why gl4x4 is so ugly and covered in ads when you visit and are not logged in.
This means I do not have to have the site covered in ads (like 99% of the forums out there) when you're logged in, and the site loads and runs extremely clean.
It also entices users to register who normally wouldn't. You will notice all ads on this site (when you're not logged in) state: "register, and remove all these ads, registration is free" This helps with participation on the site, which in turn generates more google landings which snowballs into a successful site.
A LOT of money has went into this site lately to prevent spam, and over the last three weeks there has not been any spam, even though about 45 rogue registrations a day are done, and immediately rejected. The coding allows the filtering of "real" users through. This is 100% automated now on this site, and it is probably one of the best anti-spam setups of any forum in the world. Gl4x4 has been having anywhere between 18 and 30 new registered users per day.
When it comes down to it, you can either have a small slow server, relying on donations, which will probably not grow very much, or you can have a fast server, with advertisements that allows a lot of growth. I have chosen the 2nd option, but unlike most forums, users who are logged in don't have to deal with ads all over the page.
FWIW, if I were to put advertising towers on this site, those are the big skyscraper ads on the sides, it would generate some serious revenue. But I would rather have a basically ad-free experience for myself, and the users here instead of having the income. That is why it is frustrating to see people complaining about the ads on the bottom of the page. I guess if I wasn't involved on what goes on here, that would probably annoy me too, so I figured I would try to help explain why ads are a must on websites who do not actually sell anything.
The growth of this site has been paralleled with a higher % of inbound links from search engines which equals out pretty nice and pays the bills. As far as I can tell, there will never be an ad above the bottom of the page except for the vendor ads in the top right. This is unlike most forums out there.
And I'll let you know the profit so far this year! $274.93. When the profit is done at the end of the year, I'll be splitting it between the moderators for their time. In the end, not much profit around here, but I'm happy this is a pretty large/active site that gives an almost ad-free experience for the logged in user.
I just did the math, the profit from gl4x4 is around $1.03 a day