Maggie et al ....
All very good questions and comments. I'll respond to some points and then would like your input so that I can make some decisions.
As a web designer since 1996 I operate essentially three types of sites.
1. Commercial - ie a shoe manufacturer hires me to obtain a domain name for them, design an attractive web site, get it up on the net and maintain all of its ever breaking functions. This involves set up and design time, domain reg and hosting fees which are usually determined by bandwidth usage. The client pays and everyone is happy .. so long as the cheque cashes
2. My charitable work - organizations and groups can be helped via the Internet just the same as in real life. At my domain reg, hosting etc. expense and site design time (50 hrs plus on average - the graphic design takes the most time) I presently provide three domains - one for a non profit organization that prevents FAS - Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and offers online children's books etc, a very large site allowing all citzens of an Ontario community to have a forum like ours for the political comments and online voice about civic issues and a third site (almost finished) a Directory of Cancer resources which will be the Internet's most comprehensive searchable directory for the topic of cancer. This site is built for a man who lost his wife to cancer and the site is dedicated to her memory.
3. My personal interest sites - and you guessed the topic correctly .. its lottery.
A bit of history ... Since before we "started it up" with WINdoze in 1995 I enjoyed providing the then absent Canadian databases to software developers like Scott Piell - author of LottoMan, Lotto Buddy's S7 database when his site first came out and have been involved in countless projects like the development of the data and Canadian ticket printing for WINLOTTO2000 - (BTW never purchase that particular software), ProSoft's Lotto 649 system, Versabet beta testing of pre release SpeedWheeler and many other projects too numerous to list.
In 1996 I built my first lotto topic site "Lotto Tutor". Other sites followed - Lottery Directory, Lotto 649, Lottery Glossary in response to Ben's good suggestion and I also have a pile of other "lotto" domains which are parked or under development.
A sub site well worth mentioning is Andrew's WINHunter Tutorial which is hosted at Lotto Tutor. And just for the record, I built and host that site at no charge to Andrew. He is giving a great deal free to the world with the development of WINHunter and its the least I can do to offer some contribution to those good efforts.
My lottery sites are semi charitable, meaning they are not ad free zones. Nor has our bulletin board community ever been. There has always been a Lotto Pro banner at the bottom of the page.
What does all this mean?
First there must be mention of the costs associated with a web site. The domain name reg, hosting etc. is not cheap. At the super bargain store we are talking approx well over $150 per year per site. Commercial sites and high traffic sites cost thousands of dollars a year. Lots of sites together are of course much more expensive and all fees are paid in real dollars not our loonies
The second thing that I should mention is revenues from ad banners etc. What would you think that an ad would generate in a month? When I used to see ads on a proffessionaly designed site I would assume that an entire income was being made ... that isn't correct. On average if there is 10 to 20 dollars a month generated the ad is doing well.
Some specific responses
I have to say I'm a bit surprised to see the casino link up top. I thought things like that were against the rules of this board.
You are correct Maggie - ads are not allowed. That is why affiliate ad links in posts are deleted. But my ad banners have always been there ie LottoPro.
Will this open it up for others?
Sheba .... Others meaning more of MY affiliate ad banners? I have some ideas that I need your input on before I can answer that.
The ad is quite deceptive when it says "play for free" If you go into the FAQ and hit money questions, it's all there and it's not free.
Maggie .. the ad is not in the least deceptive. There are two modes "Play for Free" like play for monoply money and win monopoly money or play to win and lose real cash. Personally I never play for real cash via the Internet. I go to a real casino if I were to use real money But I play for fun lots of times at the online casino testing out my roulette system ... I'm up $128 of monopoly money
Do you think this might help? Lots of freebies as well.
Brad .. thanks that is a great link to useful pop ad killers but did you notice that to get to that site you are exposed to their pop up ads
Which brings me to another point ....
Why are ads necessary in both in our community and elsewhere?
Simple answer is to generate some income to cover costs. The whole internet has also changed. Remember Yahoo when it first started? Ad free and now you can barely get through the pop ups and unders to view a page which is covered in other ads.
Why does there have to be an additional casino ad on the top of the page?
Well .. it doesn't have to be a casino ad and it can be placed differently - which I would prefer. As a designer I don't like the look of a green banner on a blue background and there is too much space now on the top of the page with the logo ad a banner underneath. Right now I'm just testing out options.
The additional banner (whatever ad it eventually will be) has been placed there in the hope that it will generate some revenue to help offset the increasing costs of our community. While I wish to and will always contribute freely to the development of the online lottery community ... I don't want to go bankrupt as a result
Our community has become VERY popular which means more usage and therefore more costs in addition to the other costs of name reg, hosting, the software that runs the site etc.
We have become the largest and fastest growing membership of any lottery community on the entire Internet. Congratulations to all involved. The stats show 1/4 + million page views each month! That is over 3 million page views every year and growing fast. This growth brings up other issues as well. Like should senior members have their own private section of the forums etc. But thats another topic.
It is my goal to have the site generate $20 (that's US dollars) per month to help out with the overhead.
Make our community a paid (monthly fee) membership community like the power players club at http://www.eol.com
My thoughts .. absolutely NOT
Put up a PayPal "please donate" button? I don't like that
Add an additional ad banner ... I think so but how and about what?
Its important to know who the ad is targeted at to be effective. The present target ad population is the thousands of visitors to the site who just pop in to see the first page. The Lotto Pro banner at the bottom is sure not going to attract any attention for regular members here ... we already all have our copies of the software.
But a one time new visitor browsing the site may want to buy it?
Another thought that I had was to put a rotational ad pay per click vs pay per sale ad. This is like at Yahoo ... an ad - General Family Friendly nature - would appear and when anyone clicks on the banner it generates 2 cents in revenue ... Small amount but that's a genuine real dollar 2 cents
The feature of that system is all members and visitors that wish to help out could click on the banner if they see a product or service of interest to them. It wouldn't cost the visitor anything and they would be helping with the overhead of the web site.
Anyhow enough of this long post .. what I would really like is your comments and suggestions.