Archive for the 'Business' Category

Fab Swingers is Two

Monday, October 6th, 2008

Fab Swingers is now two years, but like a much older person a birthday is a time for some introspection.

As of today the Alexa Traffic Rank is 39,713 which is a whisker away from The Adult Hub (and on the basis of the shorter term data The Adult Hub are already behind us in terms of traffic).

It’s pretty clear that unless something goes horribly wrong that Fab will overtake Swinging Heaven in the next twelve months to become the largest UK swingers site.

The only slight disappointment is that the USA has not done very well but that’s simply because it’s not had enough time spent on it. The problem is that my other website is now doing more than $250,000 per month whereas Fab Swingers is doing less than 1% of that so it’s very hard for me to spend the time on the site that it deserves.

On the positive side though it does mean that I can afford to invest a bit more financially than I have done in the past.

Also, my experience in other businesses has been that as you begin to threaten the market leaders they will typically get the lawyers on the case (on any spurious grounds) so I am now beginning to build up a contingency fund to make sure we can give as good as we get.

A final remark: After two years of struggle we are finally getting great placement on Google for various swinger related search terms BUT this has exactly coincided with our page rank (as reported by the Google Toolbar) dropping a notch. Proof positive that page rank is not that important anymore. I am tempted to drop it from the benchmarking reports.

Plans for world domination

Sunday, March 30th, 2008

I was just looking over the membership numbers:

In the first year we managed to get 10,811 members. Then in the following six months we got about 25,000 members (I am writing this one day short of 18 months of Fab Swingers).

So I predict that we will finish our second year with 50,000 members, which I am pretty comfortable with as an assumption.

If the trend continues then we could have 250,000 members in year three and 1 million by year four - and of course 1 million was the original target I set myself.

I am very happy with the way that the UK is going, I am however a bit disappointed with progress in California. A total of 1,225 members is not that great but the problem really is down to a lack of focus from me.

I’m not convinced that I’m going to find time to focus soon; the traffic as we approach 1 million page views a day is beginning to kill the server so I am going to have to spend some time fixing this. I am also very busy with work and other web projects.

On the positive side, it looks like I will be able to quit my day job in a couple of months and will then be able to concentrate full time on my websites. I think that will have a huge impact on the site.

UPDATE: Having checking Google Analytics I see that the number and proportion of visitors from the USA has actually increased this month so I shouldn’t be that bothered by the huge decline in US visitors that Alexa is showing. I’m sure that Alexa will catch up with reality eventually!


Wednesday, March 19th, 2008

I’ve had a re-think on the advertising. It’s just been really hard finding time to deal with small advertisers (and, to be honest, it’s been very hard to find time to work on the site right now at all). So I’ve changed the advertising page so that there is now a minimum order of $1,000 a month. I will probably push this up over the next few months.

It has also been a lesson in how difficult things get when you are handling even a few subscriptions and a reminder that I don’t want to ever charge for the site!

Despite virtually ignoring the site recently we had our best ever traffic figures yesterday and advertising revenue is up 50% on last month so I reckon that we are sticking to the doubling every two months rule.

I have also tried to spend some of the money on PPC but without much success. There was a problem with a card payment to Google AdWords last year and I mailed a couple of time to try to clear it up but got nowhere. I’ve tried a few more times but it looks like it’s going to take way more effort than I can afford right now.

There is a certain irony in the situation because I am ditching my smaller advertisers because I can’t be bothered to collect less than $1,000 meanwhile Google is ditching me because they can’t be bothered collecting $20,000. I am sure that my ex-advertisers are as annoyed with me as I am with Google!

Creative Commons for Fab Swingers

Sunday, February 24th, 2008

I’ve just licensed Fab Swingers under a Creative Commons License. I’ve gone for the Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 Unported license.

The main reason is to reinforce the “free” message which is a central part of the Fab Swingers ethos. Though I suspect that the vast majority of users will have no idea what it means.

Creative Commons

Mention in Social Networking Blog and NASCA membership

Tuesday, January 29th, 2008

I noticed that we got a right up in the The Social Networking Weblog and it’s a nice write-up.

Our NASCA has also come through, in case you don’t know NASCA is a huge association for lifestyle couples mainly in North America. As well as being mentioned on the website we will be going into their handbook.

Onwards and upwards!

Advertising and progress

Monday, January 21st, 2008

I finally managed to get round to setting up an advertising page for Fab Swingers. I’ve also mailed a few of the bigger pay sites to point them at it. The first sale was within an hour of setting the page live!

The Californian adventure is still going fine, we’re now up to 719 members. This is probably about 33% of what we need before it will begin to take off by itself (if California behaves as the UK did). It’s also been good to see the Recommend Us form being filled in a few times which is also a sign that there might be some other word of mouth going on that we don’t know about.

The UK is looking great, despite the problems caused by the server move (which are now all resolved) this month is still going to be our best ever for sign-ups and by quite a large margin.

Finally there is a new feature in the works for the site which I want to see released in February. This will be something pretty distinctive and if we get it right could see even more growth in the UK — more on that later!

California swingers update

Friday, December 14th, 2007

The California Swingers recruitment is going quite well. There’s people messaging through the site, logging in multiple times and uploading photos which is good. People aren’t recommending the site yet or using the chatroom but that will happen once there’s a critical mass which I think will happen in about 2 months if I can keep up the present rate of growth.

The funny thing is that the Alexa rank is beginning to dip as a result! The reach is increasing (because there are more users) but the average number of page views is dipping (because there are fewer USA pages on the site for the new members to look at) and of course the Alexa rank is the product of page views and reach so for now the American expansion is going to result in a slight dip of the Alexa numbers.

I will shortly start a separate competitor benchmarking exercise for the USA using which is much more accurate than Alexa but is sadly only measures US traffic.

I’ve also had a small re-think on my original strategy. I had been thinking about going for California, then New York, then Texas based on the size of the local markets. The problem with that approach is that if I move onto New York next then I’ve gone back to square one with the problem of building the site with no members. Then moving to Texas gives me the same problem again.

It makes much more sense to move onto neighbouring states such as Nevada or Oregon or even Arizona which is getting me towards Texas. At least in this situation new members will be more likely to find people fairly near them.

There is also a small technical advantage in keeping to the west which is that the server is pretty overloaded during UK evenings but is very quiet during PST evenings so it will be a little bit more cost effective.

Adult Friend Finder Sold!

Saturday, November 17th, 2007

The rumour from TechCrunch is that Adult Friend Finder has been sold for $1 billion.

Given their revenue of $300 this might not seem much, AFF’s revenue is approximately 3 times Facebook’s but the valuation is 16 times less!

However I think that AFF probably had grown about as big as it was going to on its existing business model.

This is probably good news for us, as the normal situation is that the acquirer mismanages the company to such an extent that most of the users leave. On the other hand, AFF is a great revenue source for us and it would be a pity to see that dry up.

OpenSocial for Fab Swingers

Wednesday, October 31st, 2007

There’s a fascinating article over at TechCrunch about Google OpenSocial. The basic idea seems to be that Google will provide a standard API for social networks so that developers only need to support one API.

This is fantastic news for us, a site like Fab Swingers is obviously much too small to attract a development community but through OpenSocial all we’ll need to do is implement a standard API and then our users will access to a huge range of products.

Overall I suspect that OpenSocial will be a big win for the smaller social network sites.

In memoriam

Saturday, October 20th, 2007

So. Farewell

I knew you well
Over many years
As you documented
My traffic hopes and fears.

It was love at first sight —
I knew it was fate
Even though your reports
Were never very accurate.

But now your CPU utilisation
Has knocked me for six
So I’ll just have to use
Google Analytics.

We’re over the 5 million pageviews
Of the free version
Google don’t seem to have noticed
Unless it’s just their inertion.

E. J. Thribb (17)

PS. At the end of our first year we are now at exactly 0.5% of FaceBook’s monthly visitors (Nielsen Online). Sadly we’re not at 0.5% of their $100m revenue or 0.5% of their valuation!