The Deployment Diary

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Making a Buck the Blogger Way?

I'm always amazed at those who can make a buck off a website that doesn't particularly offer anything other than their thoughts. My goodness, if I could find a way to do this for a living, I'd jump all over it in a New York minute!

Just think: you don't have to work for anyone and deal with the personalities and idiosyncrasies that come with the person. You can work from home or from a hotel - as long as you have a computer and an internet connection. You can work at your own pace and in your own time. Taking a vacation paid for by your blog offers you content for your blog. Your dog taking a poop can become a story of interest (maybe I'll prove this - my dogs pooping habits are funny) if you're short on inspiration.

However, I read the inflated server costs in some of these articles and wonder how - or why, anyone would pay such a price:
Many Started Web Logs for Fun, but Bloggers Need Money, Too

But the most talked about route to profit was selling advertisements that pay by the month or by the number of blog visits. Boing Boing (www.boingboing.net), one of the most popular blogs on the Web with its musings by four freelance writers, is considering adding sponsors as a way to offset its server fees of about $1,000 a month.

Now, I've ran another website for almost six years now. These days we average over a million page views per month and it is increasing each day. It has an interactive area where visitors can share their thoughts, along with static content. I pay around $15.95 per month to host it. The rest of the costs are time. How someone is paying about $1,000 per month in hosting fees is beyond me. With a quick search you can host a site on a shared server and the prices (along with domain names) are falling each year as more and more compete for business. I've never had a problem with down time or speed - or lacking the ability to incorporate any interactive feature I could think up and want. The server we use doesn't allow chatrooms, but truth be told, I'm not much of a chatter and not interested in something else to moderate and keep up with.

I've often read on different sites these enormously high amounts that it "costs" them to provide the site to us free of charge and the least we can do is donate, click an ad or buy a t-shirt. I think of it as the online guilt trip. "We provide all this to you free of charge and we're paying all the costs, can't you give us something for all the hard work we've put into this for you." Or, it can be the online threat, "Recently costs for providing you this site have become a burden. If we do not generate enough to cover the costs, we'll be forced to close down the site. If you enjoy this site, please consider making a donation before it becomes nothing more than a memory."

I'd suggest folks do a whois search on the domain name when someone touts that they pay an extraordinary amount. By doing the whois, you can find out who hosts the site. Then, surf on by their hosting site and see what the prices really are. Server space, bandwidth and email addresses are all usually included in that price. These days, if you host on a unix server, free mySQL database(s) and php are often included free of charge also.

Some list having to pay for message board scripts and I cannot help but wonder why. If you take the time, you can often find completely free scripts you can install yourself - along with just about any other program from content management systems (that can be used for blogs) to polls and forms for feedback. If you look hard enough, you can often find the exact same features in high priced scripts for free by people who want nothing more than to enjoy the art of open source.

There may come a day - here soon, that I tire of running a site of my own for other people. I will not, however, tire of building websites or enjoying blogging it appears. When that day comes, I will hand off the website - or close its doors and buy a domain for my blog and keep learning. Recently I've been debating the idea quite a bit. It won't be due to costs, however. It will be due to being happy and feeling fulfilled - and if I've learned anything these past eight months, it is being happy with what you do is most important. Life is too short and too precious for anything less.

Note: I want to be clear that I'm not questioning the costs quoted in the article. That just got me to thinking this morning. With them paying that much per month, I certainly wouldn't mind offering them some ideas on how to cut those costs. I don't know how anyone could afford that kind of money for a free service and not make a dime to recoup some or all of those costs.

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