Advertising on SoundForums.net
It's been a surprisingly un-wild and wooly year plus that Soundforums.net has been in existence. We've gone from a late night idea to a relatively popular (1+ million page views a month from 25K unique visitors!) oasis in a noisy pro audio discussion world. During that time we have been 100% community supported, paying all our bills with PayPal donations from contributors and guests alike, and keeping the place running on donated time as well.
Since day one there has been discussion of running ads on the site, and we have so far avoided it. Not because advertising is evil, in fact a large number of users have expressed that they'd like to see an ad or two in order to keep on top of what manufacturers are offering. We have avoided it just because we weren't in a hurry, donations have always and still do more than pay for the costs associated with keeping this site online. Neither David nor myself need to make money running this place, and in fact we would prefer not to. Right now we've actually pre-paid the next year's hosting costs, and we still have enough in the bank to buy a round of beers of two. So it's not about the money.
What we've always thought would be fun, though, would be the ability to hold social events again. Back in the day members of the community got together once or twice a year and had dinner, hit some bars at trade shows, went go-kart racing, or attended a show. Running advertising would mean that we'd have the money to sponsor these sorts of things, as well as the added benefit of not having people feel like if they didn't donate the site might go under. It is critical to us that the money advertising might bring in is always a bonus, to be treated as windfall and never allowed to become more important than the real reason the site exists: to foster pro audio discussion from members around the world.
We feel that ads can be a benefit to everyone. Manufacturers will get to showcase their products, and feel a connection to this site. Since we don't have a lot of costs to cover, it will even be affordable for small manufacturers to advertise here. Meanwhile, members will get to see ads if they want, and anything we make above and beyond costs we will return to the community in whatever ways we can think up.
That said, since we don't want to alienate the very people who make this site worth keeping, if there is a lot of opposition we won't do it. The site is obviously not that expensive to run, so this is not a priority, it just seems like a way to get a little something for everyone. Public comments invited below.
Here is the plan:
- Aim to start showing ads on May 1.
- Anyone who has donated any amount, ever, before the time stamp on this post can choose to opt out of seeing any ads, ever.
- Anyone who donates $50 over any period of time in the future can choose to opt out of seeing any ads, ever.
- Otherwise, registered and logged in users will ideally see no more than one ad at a time, and those ads will be out of the way.
- Guests will see a little more advertising.
Once advertising has started we will play around with it a little, based on your feedback, to keep it as unobtrusive as reasonably possible. All ads will be hand-screened by one of the administrators. Worst case we'll stop the experiment and return advertisers their money for any currently running ads.
Anyone who would like to advertise, please email a[email protected] and we'll set you up.
P.S. For anyone interested in the details, we're going to have to form an LLC to handle the income. This will simplify a few things, but also increase our base costs by about $300 a year. Advertising will easily cover this amount, but it does make deciding to start or stop ads a little more complicated. Also ad revenue will be taxed, so you're welcome Federal Government and the state of Delaware. For these reasons the earliest we will be able to entertain dropping ads will be after they cover incorporation costs.