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Glad to be here. Been tooling around on S/O for a year or so now.

Anyway, I run a very localized site that caters to the bar industry and its patrons.

You can check it out at jcbarguide.com if you need a reference.

Anyhow, I've written the whole thing from the ground up and culled a lot of original content. The binaries on the site require that I actually visit each location so I have formed real-world relationships with the owners of many of the establishments and many of them are appreciative and supportive of the site.

In the last month, I have finally bested YELP in SERPs for key search phrases (jersey city bars, bars in jersey city, jersey city bar, etc)

I celebrated this milestone by letting many of my contacts have up to 3 free ROS 728x90 leaderboards for a month.

NO ONE took me up on the offer.

It's been so hard to generate any sort of money on this property and I'm wondering why. I wrote an admin interface to update each bar profile that I was charging access to that no one wanted. I gave it away for free after 2 months and only 2 or 3 bar owners/managers utilize it.

I've had friends tell me that I suck at selling the concept. others say that if I don't charge, no one will want it (perceived value) and others that just say the site has yet to reach a level of value that these owners and managers will finally notice.

As far as I am concerned, I'd think these owners would jump at a site that's ranking as well and being visited as much as mine is. The municipality that the site serves isn't exactly the most affluent of stable hub for commerce out there.

Any thoughts from you on establishing your online property's value are appreciated.

Thanks, Rob

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2 Answers

up vote 2 down vote accepted

It could be that the bars on your site have a limited marketing budget. You want to look like good value for money. It would help to show established traffic and a variety of marketing ideas.

You could offer special deals (venues would pay to be the site of the week). Local people will be drawn to your site to see where the special deal of the week is this week. eg: This site offers special deals (click skip on the first screen) http://partners.livingsocial.com/deals/19011-60-off-meze-and-wine

You could make offers like "complete a review for your chance to win discount / coupons at participating venues"

You could add a facebook like button to your homepage to get people to promote the site for you. Use a "like us for your chance to win" campaign.

Your website has some cool information on it. I like the summaries in the right hand column. But maybe there is too much going on the homepage. Perhaps you could provide a teaser rather then the full report eg: This weeks highest ranked venue then click for more highest ranked.

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Thanks for the kind words and thoughts, Leah! i've been trying to steer away from these Groupon/Living Social type sites, but hey, if ya can't beat 'em, right? ;) –  rob - not a robber Dec 16 '10 at 21:05
    
As suggested by Lèse majesté it would be a good idea to ask a similar question on onstartups. If you develop a good marketing strategy for your site and for those listed on your site you may even have something you could sell (or use yourself) in other localities. –  Leah Dec 17 '10 at 5:24
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I just looked at your site, and IMO 107 users isn't really enough to start charging for advertising (or even offering it for free).

So for now I'd stick to promotion and building a sustainable community. When you hit the 1000 user mark, then you might start thinking about monetizing the site and putting up ads. But before that happens, it's a bit unrealistic to think anyone would want to advertise on your site, and you should instead just focus on making the site useful to users.

I would also take a look at PPC/CPM costs on various ad networks. How much would it cost for these bar owners to get the same exposure on other sites? Is it worth the hassle for these businesses to bother with $2.75/month worth of advertising (even if it's free)?

Now, if your registered user figures are not representative of the volume of traffic you're getting (maybe do something about that), then you could try signing up for AdSense. Perhaps the bars in your area prefer to advertise on a single network and get exposure on multiple sites rather than to deal with a bunch of individual publishers. You may not get paid as much, but it will at least establish that your ad space has some value. And later on you can take these figures to bar owners and present a business case for advertising on your site directly.

As a side note, if you don't get the answers you're looking for here, you might try onstartups, which is where the business-related SE site is hosted.

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Thanks much for the input! I have been publishing AdSense inventory, but you know how that goes. –  rob - not a robber Dec 16 '10 at 21:03
    
As far as the registered user base, you're right. Although it's not really representative of the monthly visitor count, I probably need to think of more ways to entice users to becoming contributors and such. –  rob - not a robber Dec 16 '10 at 21:05
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