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This follows similar questions but I'd like to see if anything particular comes out of it due to the nature of site.

In short, I've taken up the role of webmaster for a small social network site and wish to make it profitable to at least cover the running costs. The site is linked to a commerce and presents are offered to members according to the number of points they've accumulated through various actions.

The site is running on shared hosting so it's probably dirt cheap but the presents can be expensive as a whole and some money has already been invested into the project.

One idea I have is to seek some sponsors that would be willing to offer presents or special offers in return for publicity. I don't know if this will be easy or not. I'm also looking into adapting hosting to perhaps move static files to a cheaper online storage medium (see Ideas for reducing storage needs and/or costs (lots of images)). Other suggestions are welcome.

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Depending on the type of social network you're running, I think an affiliate program with another retailer might be a good way to get some revenue without holding your users hostage, or assaulting them with advertising.

For instance, say you were running a social network for car enthusiasts. If they had a way to list custom parts they've added to their cars, you could link that list to an auto parts retailer with an affiliate program.

This would not only give you a share of any car parts that were purchased by users of your site, but would provide your users with a link that provides further information about those parts, via the retailer.

If your audience doesn't lend themselves to something niche like the suggestion above, you could try something a bit broader with Amazon's affiliate program and a "Currently Reading/Watching/Listening" feature.

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Your ability to get sponsors will depend largely on how many people are currently using the site. Sponsors don't sponsor things with low traffic (usually). But if you have a decent amount of traffic, then this could be a good way to do it.

Also, do you currently have ads on the site? Ads can be a good way monetize a site like that.

I'd have a look at Facebook and see that various ways they are making money and see if any of them work for you.

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