Monday, March 30, 2009

Endless possibilities

The long, drawn-out redesign of the Support PCs web site is finally getting somewhere (see here). I’ve basically created a customised Content Management System that enables Joe Cassels and I to upload our old tutorials, tips, features and so on to the web via a series of databases. This content is then magically laid out on the page, enabling us to perform future redesigns of the site without having to upload all the content again.

One thing vexes us: how we’re going to make money from the site. There will be ads on there, and we hope visitors will find the content rewarding enough to consider clicking on some of them or purchasing some of the products advertised to provide some on-going revenue to make it worth our time fleshing out the content (I’d say at present that only one-third of my total output for the past 4-5 years is online).

One other way I plan to make money is to offer people downloadable PDFs of the content in a format they can print out or read offline. Now, laying out each page on its own would be prohibitive in the extreme, but it appears that various DTP packages (specifically Adobe InDesign or Microsoft Publisher) will work in conjunction with mail merge to allow me to pull in content from the databases and magically produce pages we can then simply tweak prior to making available.

I think for this to work we’ll need to keep the costs we charge down – maybe 50p or one credit per tutorial (I’m musing about selling credits in packs – 10 for a fiver, with discounts for bulk purchases), and more for longer features. We could even periodically combine PDFs in one-off special publications, which would save people a lot of money (say £5 for 100 pages).

Whether any of this comes to fruition is of course highly debatable, but it’s going to be interesting to see how far we can push this. Just imagine being in a position whereby we were earning enough revenue to devote most of our energies to developing exclusive content for the site.

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