| THOUGHTS AT THREE A.M.
by editor I forgot my name
Discussed this month: The State of the Magazine ... and what's with the new layout?
In the last few months, Fanzing has been costing me more and more money. We are without any mirror servers for our movie section, and I pay $10 per gig of data transfer for anything over our set limits. This means the movies and the desktop themes and other large files may have to be removed unless we can find another place to store them and help keep our costs down. I really don't want to do that, so I'm hoping some readers might have alternatives that they could suggest.
There are other ways to make Fanzing pay for itself, of course. Four methods arise:
One way is merchant links. With Fanzing's new design, you'll notice that there are links to numerous vendors along the right-hand side of the page.. Amazon, Buy.com, BN.com, CDnow, Half.com (a great resource for out-of-print books) and others will all be available from any Fanzing page. All I ask is that, IF you were planning to do some shopping at any of these shops, that you'll enter through these links. Fanzing gets a tiny kickback on any merchandise you buy at these vendors through our advertising links.
In addition to that, I'm trying to spruce up the shopping section. This idea is still in development, but I'm hoping to have a layout which links to every book DC offers and then has links for you to buy them from your choice of book vendors.
You'll also notice that there are ad blocks at the top of the page. I'm creating those ads myself.
Another alternative is Fanzing merchandise. We've been selling our shirts since last summer but haven't gotten many nibbles. I'm thinking we need some new shirts. Since using DC characters is out of the question if we want to continue in DC's good graces, the shirts can only feature our logo and Fuzzball. With that in mind...can anyone come up with some funny designs for the front of the shirt? We can do as many shirt designs as we want. If you have a funny slogan or a good cartoon scene relating to reading comics, collecting comics, etc, go ahead and send it in to us!
Third way - Reaganism: Support George W. Bush's tax cuts! The money I'd get back from the Fed is about enough to keep this going even with the cost overruns. Seriously.
George, if you're out there and need a poster boy...somebody from the working class Internet guys struggling to make it in this tech downturn...someone who says, "Class warfare be damned, just give me whatever more money I can get!"...e-mail me.
A future possibility: Micropayments. If you haven't heard of micropayments, allow me to bring you up to speed. A system of "micropayments" has been discussed amongs Internet pros ever since it became clear that banner ads click-thrus were a losing business model. No one can make money from banner ads anymore; we Web users have become too overloaded and now just ignore them. So how can a web site stay profitable?
"Micropayments" were floated as a possible method. A micropayment system would track web usage at web sites and then charge you for the visit. Not a lot, of course. We're talking fractions of pennies here! But when a site like Fanzing gets as many as 90,000 hits a week (that's not 90,000 visitors...that's every single page that's requested), about 1000 hits to the front page and who-knows-how-many to the home page...that's a lot of files! The few cents spent here by each user would add up to enough to pay for the web traffic.
Whenever I hear of a major web site going belly up, I wonder if they'd have stayed in business or made a fortune if their visitors had been charged just a few cents for all the entertainment or information that they provided. Heck, Amazon.com might actually make a profit!
Will the Internet-using public ever accept a micropayment system? Probably not. It makes too much sense, but I can't see it flying. Too many users have become addicted to "free" Internet.
And for now, I'm glad. The day everyone starts making money based on the web traffic they get, that's when every unofficial site on the Web gets a threatening letter! After all, your visitors to your unofficial Buffy the Vampire Slayer site may have given their money to the official site if your site hadn't existed. (That's rarely true, since official sites are usually lacking in material and enthusiasm, but all a lawyer has to prove is that it's a possibility.) DC Comics has been most gracious towards fan sites, but that's because fans foot the bill for advertising DC Comics characters. If those fan sites start making money...even if it's just enough money to maintain expenses...that benevolence on behalf of the Warner Brothers lawyers will disappear.
Why did I mention micropayments if they're unlikely and unfeasible? To raise consciousnesses, I guess. It's important to remember that NOTHING is free in the Internet world. Most sites support themselves with banner ads, or selling access to a deluxe private section of the site, or selling merchandise. The sites giving away free space and bandwidth have folded or been acquired. Those that remain, like Tripod and Geocities, have tightened their belts...and even they only offer "free" space in exchange for advertising.
That being the case, I'm probably not going to find any mirror space for Fanzing, not for free. As our site grows, our traffic grows, and our content grows, it will be vital that we offset the costs of bandwidth. That being the case, please remember to use our merchant links from time to time.
Oh...what's this weird new layout? It's Fanzing 6.0...just something I threw together using Fireworks and Dreamweaver and many many hours of turmoil as tiny HTML codes tormented me with their refusal to work right. Hope you like it!
This column is © 2001 Michael Hutchison.
Fanzing is not associated with DC Comics.
All DC Comics characters, trademarks and images (where used) are DC Comics, Inc.
DC characters are used here in fan art and fiction in accordance with their generous "fair use" policies.
Fanzing site version 7.4