Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Parts, forums and revenue

Long ago I had a forum up here. I didn't moderate it, because even back then I didn't have the time for that. And eventually the site got too popular so it was over-run by stupidity and bots. So, when I moved servers, I left it behind.

The site is very, very popular, and certainly far out of scale for the effort I put into it. Not just in raw numbers (visitors, global reach) but in details. I have time-on-page and exit percentages that make the SEO people at my day jobs weep with envy.

But that's really, in business terms, terrible. I have to pay for this out of pocket. Oh, sure. A few of you buy T-shirts or books and that offsets some of the cost. But it would take a lot more to make it worth my while to update the site more. I have better photos, tiny extra bits of info here and there. I could make it a bit easier to use, but you don't know my hourly rate now.

This also seemed to tie together into my head the previous post. There are increasingly no parts through retail channels. Providing some sort of forum (in the generic sense) where parts and accessories (and maybe guns) could be listed, would be useful. This will, very soon, be the only way to get most parts.

I can think of all sorts of ways this can work well, also. Have, for example, a whole section for blown-up or otherwise ruined guns. If you cracked a frame, how much can you get for all the parts? Or, will someone be willing to pay for the transfer, so they take the whole thing off your hands as one piece, even though it's still considered a firearm? Good, weird little niche stuff.

But, it's not worth my time now, and the extra traffic (because I know half the regular visitors will now come three times a day to see what new deals exist, and I'll have to support automated outbound emails for the alerts and PMs, etc.).

But what if it was worth my time? I can imagine instead of a forum, just a sales system. Post an item, and it goes up into the category you choose. A buyer comes along and says they will buy it, enters their PayPal (no one say anything about PP not respecting gun rights. They are the only game in town, and I have set up several sites for gun parts only that accept PayPal only, without issue after years) info, and commits to buy it. I get a cut of the money as well, you send the part, everyone is happy.

Guns can be a pain, so later I guess. International sales can also be troublesome, because my forum might be considered an introduction or middleman for the sale of munitions, and I run afoul of ITAR. I'll need a lawyer as well.

But, what do you all think? Other ideas?

No comments: