I own a large automotive forum. Its very mature and has been around with one of 3 domains names since 2001.)
We get solid traffic and peaked about 5 years ago with approx 4m page views monthly. The rise and rise of Facebook has seen traffic drop significantly since then.
Traffic is now quite stable but we've recently seen the introduction of more and more ad blockers. IOS9 and now Firefox offering ad-blocking out of the box means I can't rely on the age-old revenue from ads. People just don't see them and I don't get paid for them any longer.
As the site is almost entirely community driven (with the odd article added by me occasionally) the option of sponsored content is only partially viable. What I could write in content would never cover the hosting costs of a site with over 7 million posts. I'd need to pump out tonnes of sponsored posts and I just dont have the time for that.
I have one site who is going to pay 15c per click on their content that I can import automatically to our site via RSS. I just can't see my tech-savvy users clicking on enough articles to make it worthwhile.
Maybe I add a sponsored 'twist' to content posted by others but I do feel that would be going over any kind of ethical line I have drawn in the sand over the last 14 years.
So, with that info, what options do us community-led site owners have at our disposal for revenue and cost-covering?