Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Show me the money

In yesterday's blog I discussed the birth of my first major website, What I didn't mention was the monetary side. As traffic began to increase, I realized I might be able to cover the expenses by placing a Google Adsense banner or two on the site. I was thrilled to see it generating approximately $10/day in the first week. That's over $3,000 a year and more than enough to cover costs. In August I added inline linked advertisements through Vibrant Media as well as a ringtone referral through Commission Junction, which pushed my revenue to approximately $50/day. Traffic continued to grow and so did revenue. It peaked at the end of 2007 with just over $100/day. By this point I had purchased a rack mounted server at Dolphini, a professional hosting facility, and my operating costs had increased significantly.

I soon learned that the end of the year also means the end of advertising contracts, which was reflected in the revenue dropping drastically at the beginning of 2008. Although this effect would only be temporary, by the time advertising contracts picked back up the Mogul was on it's way out. Most of the site traffic was from people who were thinking about purchasing the Mogul or who already had and wanted to customize it. Revenue leveled out to a slow decline where most of the current traffic consists of existing owners who continue using the forum to ask questions and discuss issues. Thus is the life cycle of a website devoted to a gadget. The initial buzz dies down and eventually the gadget becomes obsolete.

I didn't enjoy having to pay taxes on those unexpected earnings, but they got me through a rough time in my life and helped me establish a platform from which I could develop new sites and create new sources of revenue. Here's to the next wild ride!

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

From Zero to Hero

In June of 2007 I began researching PocketPC phones. I needed a new phone and, being the geek I am, wanted to get the most tech for my buck. I'm a big fan of Sprint's plans (I'll go into that another time) so I decided on the Sprint Mogul (HTC PPC-6800). By this point I had amassed a plethora of bookmarks, files and snippets which would help me get the most out of my new phone. On a whim, I decided to create a website where I could share all of my research and maybe even discuss it with other Mogul owners. I purchased the domain and installed DotNetNuke. I was thrilled when, in less than two weeks, the site had over 100 registered members. Soon traffic grew to over 500,000 page views per month. By the end of 2007 we were seeing nearly one million page views and had grown to 15,000 registered members. While the numbers were impressive, the part that I will never forget is all the emails from members thanking me for creating the site. Many visitors even made donations through PayPal to show their appreciation. What started as a resource had become a community and, no matter how many other successful websites I launch, it will always hold a special place in my heart.

Welcome to my world

I'm fortunate to have formed friendships with many important and influential people in the software development and web publishing community. One consequence of knowing these people is it's easy to discount my own accomplishments as minor in comparison to what they have done or are working on. I haven't yet written a book or been asked to speak at a conference. I'm not working on a new technology and haven't ever visited the Microsoft campus in Redmond. I've only recently been made aware that other developers might be interested in what I've done and am working on, so for what it's worth I give you the blog of the DotNetDude.