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Hey NC's
This week I've spent a good deal of time working on developing what I call a "Framework for Action". I want to use this framework as a guideline to enroll people into the process of taking action on a variety of different projects and network I lead.
Creators continues to be an invaluable resources to me (Thanks everyone!) and so I thought I'd give back again by sharing my draft "Framework for Action" with you.
Kindly read through and then share your thoughts and input. Here is what I have so far:
Discuss:
  • What are the problems and symptoms we are facing?
  • What are the opportunities and impacts that could be made?
  • What are our values and what do we want to achieve and for whom?
  • What data is available to us that shows what is currently going on?
  • Who or what organizations are currently addressing these problems or opportunities?
  • What strategies and tactics have been effective at addressing these problems or opportunities?
Plan:
  • What are are we going to do?
  • What resources do we need to support our action?
  • Who is going to support/managing the action we are going to take?
  • When are we going to take this action?
  • How are we going to record action we took?
  • What Key Performance Indicators are we going to track?
  • How are we going to acknowledge and reward action and results?
Act:
  • Do it.
  • Record it.
  • Report it.
  • Thank.
Evaluate:
  • What did we actually get done?
  • What did we get done vs. what we planned we do?
  • How did the getting it done go?
  • What was the feedback?
  • What can we learn?
  • What do we recommend we do differently next time?
Kindly reply with your feedback to the following questions:
  1. If you've done something like this before, is there another existing proven framework we should evaluate? If so which one(s)?
  2. Are we missing anything or should would you remove something? If so which and why?
  3. Any other questions you think I should be asking or something I should know?
Thank in advance for your help!
Joseph
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Interested in monetizing your network through Skimlinks, but not sure exactly how it works?

Well, Skimlinks is giving you an opportunity to harness the power of the conversations happening on your network, and help make sure you're rewarded for the purchase intent that's created through your content.

Skimlinks is best suited to networks that have a product or retail focus, such as electronics, gadgets, mothering, automotive, sports and fashion, and you could be earning immediately through Skimlinks, with an easy sign up process, right inside your Ning network interface.

To get a break down of how the Skimlinks technology works, and how you can make the most of it, check out our easy Skimlinks Startup Guide, or find out out more about affiliate marketing with this simple video.

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Want to build your own iPhone App but are hesitant about how it all works?

The CEO at AppMakr, who we recently partnered with us to help NCs quickly and easily build their own iPhone app, is giving the first 25 Pro Network Creators who built an AppMakr app for their Ning Network 3 months free. All you have to do is sign up here, and they'll help you get set up.

What's the catch? Once you're done, we'd simply like to here how it went here on Creators.

To summarize:

 

  1. Sign up with AppMakr and build your Ning iPhone App.
  2. Fill out this form.
  3. Share your experience here on Creators with a Blog post.

 

That's it. This is a great way for you to get started and try it out.

Good luck building your app, and if you're chosen — we want to hear how it went!

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MY OWN SPACE 360.COM


I have been running Mos 360 for over 2 years now and have enjoyed every minute of it.

The site is a general social hub for all types of people and all types of interest, I started it on a whim one day at work when I was bored, I had come across this site called NING which I had never heard of before, but it said start your own site free !!!.

I had spent several years on Yahoo 360 which I had enjoyed for a while but had become unhappy with because of trolls and foul mouthed idiots, so I thought I will take the plunge and have a go (I had never done anything on computers other than surf), So I started MY OWN SPACE, this was very rough and ready to start with and may have looked more childlike than adult !!! lol, but it soon became more structured and with the help of my new admin team we have built it into what I think is a pretty damn good and safe place to be.

Today we hit a BIG milestone for us , and that was reaching 1000 members !!!, This is small compared to many sites but it means the world to me and everyone associated with the site.

Getting back to the title of this blog THE REASON I HAVE STAYED WITH NING , This is because without the great tools and easy applications we would never have got to this milestone. Dont get me wrong I have not always agreed with all that Ning has done and have done my share of moaning, but at the end of the day, Ning is head and shoulders above all the opposition and that is why I am happy to pay now.

May MY OWN SPACE 360.COM and Ning long work together.

Pete (Sexy Evertonian)

Creator of Mos 360.

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NC for Hire
How much do you really know about Online Hackers and Scams? This is an amazing phenomenon and open door of opportunities for Criminals. Educate yourself. Educate your family, friends, and members of your Social Community.

As part of a series of educational videos about Hackers and Scams, I will be adding a new Video Episode each week, for the next month+ to the Creators site and JenSocial.

Episode #1 - Stop Hacker Commerce:


Episode #2 - The Trap Is Set:


Episode #3 - Caught In The Web:

Find out more about the report of all Scams - - Offline and Online. Find out if they are myth or fact.

snopes.com: Scam Report
The Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)


How To Prevent Spammers on Ning Networks

There are 5 features offered on a Ning Network that help prevent Sign-Up Spammers. To set your options, access the features via: My Network/Members/Controls

You can approve all new Members. This definitely helps in the prevention of Sign-Up spammers joining your Ning Network. You may not catch all of them, but most will give you good indicators that they are spammers. If you see repeated words like "i tell you later, i tell you later", or "i'm a good girl looking for love", etc... you can bet your bottom dollar, these are spammers. And of course goes without saying, Do not approve these accounts.

If you do not want to "Approve Members", there are 4 other features that will help prevent Sign-Up Spammers:

  • Require new members to verify their email address - I advise turning on this feature for all Networks.
  • Fill out a captcha
    • An image containing words that users must correctly identify.
    • I advise turning on this feature, due to most auto-spambots cannot enter a captcha correctly, since it is a never changing "image".
  • Answer the sign-up quiz
    • Create a quiz question that new members must answer correctly to join.
    • You can really get clever on the sign-up quiz question. I saw one where a Network Creator asked "Are you a real person?" and he set the default answer to "No". This will catch a lot of spambots, no doubt.
    • Definition: A spambot is an automated computer program, or, more rarely, a script, designed to assist in the sending of spam - - and joining Networks for the same purpose in mind, including dropping links to illegal sites.
    • Another great way to utilize this feature: add a question that only applies to your type network. Add a question that members of your site should know, if they are interested in joining your Network. A great example: A Ning Network for Golf may ask a question like this, "Would you rather have a Birdie or a Bogey?"
  • Spam Prevention - Automatically suspend suspected spammers
    • I'm not sure what algorithm or criteria is in place for suspending suspected spammers.
    • Please let us know your experience, if you know more about this feature.

Here's a screen shot of your "Prevent Spammer" Controls:


Perfect Example - - Just had this spammer join JenSocial (August 10, 2010), and about the 7th one today. BTW, I have not set a question for the Sign-Up Quiz yet. I will very soon!

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Ning Pro accounts have the ability to offer a fully branded Music Player, but if your Ning Network isn’t all about music, there are a number of lightweight options that may work for you that are worth checking out. I did a little research and tried out a few services myself in the hope that I could find a few decent alternatives for Creators who like having music but don’t need a full-fledged player.

A few things to keep in mind…

Nullum Gratuitum Prandium *

There’s an undeniable truth about online services that offer music and/or embeddable widgets: It’s not cheap to host millions of songs. As a consequence, there are few completely free services that have survived with this business model (a great case in point is imeem, which shut down last year). But, there are still a few out there.

White label generally isn’t free

Some of these services include advertising or branding from the company that makes the player. Some of them offer limited functionality for free — and more options for a price. For most of these, the cost is reasonable. If branding is of utmost importance to you, check the FAQ pages for each service to confirm their policies about logos and branding.

Size matters

Some of the players will auto-resize, but some aren’t easily scalable in their dimensions, so you should experiment and make sure one really fits into one of the columns of your Ning Network.

Sign-up to play

All of these services will require you to create an account in their system. It’s usually quite easy, although at least one requires a connection to your Facebook account. Most include ads or links back to their home page. If you’re uncomfortable with that, you may want to consider a Ning Pro account, which allows you to offer an unbranded, fully hosted Music Player that offers complete control.

Check your tech

Some of these players use Javascript, some use Flash, and some use both. As such, they could interfere with other code that you’ve added to your Ning Network (or perhaps could conflict in specific situations). Chances are they won’t, but (as always) test it out and see what you think before totally committing to something new. That said: There’s no harm in trying out as many as you can.


With all of those caveat emptors, here's a list of some you might want to try...

If you haven’t already tried the Muziic Ning App, it’s easy to install and test out. Every Ning plan can take advantage of it for free, so give it a try and see what you think.

If you simply want a way to play a few music tracks on your Ning Network, Playlist.com is one to try. They have a decent song selection and a good-looking (albeit branded) player. Their FAQs.

MixPod offers another decent-looking player, and it also offers something you’ll notice is becoming more prevalent with embeddable music widgets: it plays video in addition to audio. Many of these players pull their content from YouTube (a big host of content for a lot of scrappy start-ups), which you might consider more awesome — or not. It depends on what you prefer. Their FAQs

8tracks is a very hip choice. It allows you to upload (at least) eight songs to make a simple playlist, which you can then embed on your Ning Network. What’s great about this service is that other people share public playlists, so you can find some great mixes. This is a good choice if you aren’t tied to the idea that your music player must be like a jukebox and only play songs you want in the order you want. More info.

If you’re a musician who wants to offer your own music for sale directly on your Ning Network, you should absolutely try Bandcamp. It’s a very cool service that is tailor-made for independent artists who want to advertise their own music.

PodSnack is a Flash player made by SnackTools, which offers similar services for podcasts and other types of media. It allows you to upload tracks and create a nicely designed, unobtrusive music player. However, the free player will only allow you to play 1:30 of your songs. Purchasing isn’t unreasonable, but this isn’t a good choice if you insist on having a free player. Their FAQs.

iLike was purchased by MySpace last year, which makes it a very popular choice. Will you like iLike? There’s only one way to find out. Try it out. Their FAQs.

Share your own here

These are just a few to get you started. The main thing I’ve learned from researching embeddable music players is that none of them will allow you to have the kind of complete control you’ll get with the Ning Music Player available to Ning Pro. But, if you simply want a short playlist of songs for your members to enjoy, you should definitely try a few out and see what you think.

I know the people here on Creators are a resourceful bunch and will share their own ideas and experiences with other, similar services they’ve encountered and tried. So, have at it and offer your own suggestions!
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YAAAAAAAAAAAAY 1000 Members!

I've finally hit over 1000 members *does a little dance*!
Im so happy and excited! Im actually on 1162 to be exact :D So chuffed I needed to brag ;)
Im starting to branch out now too...I've found a company that makes really affordable websites so Im getting a new directory made...I have a directory section already on my website where I sell add space for business's .... I make some okay money from that...it all depends how much effort I put into it..for instance..one night of emailing and I made R1000! So cool!
So I am now going to make an independent directory with awesome features for my clients and connect it to my NING network as well and a new online shop that I'll link too...so things are finally starting to grow and Im slowly starting to actually earn an income from my site :)
Happy days!
And on a last note of my gushing excitement......Im soooooo excited for the new premium options too!! I'm going to get to save some money (I was already a premium member) AND get more features!
Im counting the days to the swap over!
Just in case you want to have a little look see at my NING baby, its Mommalicious Mammas :)
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Greetings, Creators!

I work at CafePress, and I've been collaborating with Ning to develop a partnership that's designed to help you make more money from your Ning Network. We launched a CafePress App on June 16th, which makes it incredibly easy for you to get started with your own storefront. We also worked with Ning on a very unique offer: the ability for you to earn a free year of Mini or Plus. We're very excited about this idea because it’s really a win-win situation for everyone. It’s clearly excited a lot of you as well. As of today, the CafePress App has been installed on over 2,500 Ning Networks.

If you're not familiar with the offer, check it out. We've already seen a number of Ning Networks meet their goal and earn a free year of Mini or Plus.

The folks from Ning invited me to stop by Creators and give those of you who haven't yet reached your goal a few tips that might help you get there faster. We’ve obviously had a lot of experience seeing storefronts succeed or fail. Here are three of the best tips I can give you.

1. Include a custom design.

From my experience, the single most important thing you can do to increase revenue in your CafePress store is to offer custom designs. While the standard "I heart" message works great for some people, I've seen a dramatic increase when people go the extra distance and create custom images. It also helps to offer a number of choices.

The Bayan Ng Candalaria site is a great example of a Ning Network that’s already reached their goal of earning a free year’s subscription to Ning Plus. Their CafePress store offers a dozen graphically rich choices that can be found on over 20 fabulous products, including t-shirts for dogs! Now, that’s clever.

Not a designer? Create your own design with our "Designer" — simply select the option "Build a design." You’ll find a library of clip art and text tool to help you create a great design.

2. Don't just think visual — think textual

Even if you aren't a whiz at Photoshop, with a little bit of creativity you can offer compelling text-based designs that include your tagline or fun sayings that your members will connect with. A great example to follow is Duke City Fix, a Ning Network with a longstanding CafePress store. They offer witty and catchy sayings that read like bumper stickers. Very clever bumper stickers.

3. Put it above the fold

We do a lot of statistical analysis at CafePress, and one of the things we focus on is how people integrate their CafePress stores into their Web sites. There is a very important detail that we've found makes a big difference: display your merchandise "above the fold" — closer to the top of the page so people who take a cursory glance at your Main Page will clearly notice it. The old sales adage "show the product" applies here. As I'm writing this, I notice that a Ning Network that does a great job of making their CafePress site visible above-the-fold is Walden International Corps — and it looks like they just met their goal of a Ning Plus subscription today. Go, Walden!

It's easy to add new designs to your Ning CafePress store! Here are steps to help you get started:

  1. Go to your CafePress store on your Ning site and click on the "Edit Your Shop" button.
  2. If you're not logged in, it will take you to the member sign in page. Enter your account information.
  3. Click on the "edit" link for your Ning store and you will be taken to the edit version of your store.
  4. Under Shop by Design (left side), you can start adding new designs by selecting the "Add a Design" link. You will be given the choice to:
  • Browse our Designs by using our design templates personalized by your site name or text
  • Upload a logo
  • Build a design by using our easy "designer tool" to put together clipart and text with your choice of font

Once you're done, be sure to save your design!

We hope that you're already on the road to earning a Ning Mini or Plus year's subscription. You still have until August 20th to take advantage of this offer, so if you haven't started, you can get going right now. Or just add the CafePress App to make money — it's your choice.

If any other Creators have tips to share based on their own experience of integrating CafePress into their Ning Network, feel free to share them here.

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Running a webinar is easy and a great way to get member involvement, have fun, and make money thorugh your network. I have attempted several methods of generating revenue through my network and running webinars (Online Seminars) has proven to be one of the most effective. Below are the steps I took to conduct a webinar:

1. What do your members want?
Focusing the webinar on a "hot" topic is key to the success of your webinar. Find out what your members want most by conducting a survey using a service like Survey Monkey (it is free and easy). You can also get ideas from looking at popular forum discussions, or, a special interest group that generates a lot of activity.

2. Find the expert on the subject.
Finding the expert on the subject you choose will get your members excited about the event and give them confidence that it is worth the money. The expert could be a well-known author, a professor, or blogger. They could even be a member of your network!

3. Choose a Webinar Service.
The webinar service is where you schedule and conduct your webinar. Out of all the options, GoToWebinar is the easiest, most reliable and affordable. Two others are Webex and DimDim. Webex was waaayyy too expensive and DimDim did not offer great tech support.

4. Eventbrite.
Collecting payments via Eventbrite is easy and free to setup. They take a minimal % of ticket sales, so they only make money when you make money. Eventbrite also allows you to integrate the ticket forms into your website for a seamless, branded experience.

5. Promote. Promote. Promote.
The success of your webinar hangs on the hinges of how well you promote the event. Just creating an event page on your network is not enough. If you build it, they will not come until you invite them. Share your event with your members on a progressive basis. Start promoting the event at least a month in advance and remind your members at two weeks, then one week, then one day... you get the idea. Send out a press release. Create an affiliate program (again via Eventbrite) and ask people to help spread the word via blogging, facebook, and twitter.

6. Prepare for Game Day.
GoToWebinar has a feature that allows you to practice your webinar before the actual day. It is a good idea to go through a practice run before the actual event.

7. Have Fun!

I hope you find this helpful. Please feel free to share your experiences with conducting webinars in the comments below.

Thanks!

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My Modern Met has been running their own ads since 2008. By achieving high growth and traffic to their network, as well as creating high quality content, they’ve been able to secure deals with top tier ad networks and achieve CPMs in the double digits. Recently, these ad networks have brought to them site-specific buys and unique sponsorship opportunities.

Hi, I'm Alice from My Modern Met. I was asked to share my story on how we've managed to make money on our Ning network. Though our story is unique, there are common experiences we as Ning Creators will all face. Particularly if you're going to try and make money through advertising, I'd love to share with you some things we've learned along the way.

There are a whole bunch of ways to make money on your Ning network by advertising which include banner advertising with Google Adsense or ad networks, contextual advertising, affiliate sales (cost-per-click, cost-per-action, cost-per-sale), direct advertising and sponsorships. CPM (or cost per thousand) banner advertising is traffic driven, the more people you have looking at your banner ad, the more money you can make. Cost per thousand means that for every 1,000 impressions (or eyeballs), you get a certain amount of money which can range from a few cents to double digit dollars.

When I first started My Modern Met, we focused our attention on building up the community and providing interesting content. We started as a private, invite-only site and we took off the Google Adsense ads immediately, though looking back we probably could have kept them on. The reason we took them off was because our site was a little too broad, meaning we didn't have such a specific niche that Adsense was working effectively. That being said, even if you're not making a lot of money in the early stages, you want people to get used to seeing advertising on your site and making some money is better than none. We decided that it was better to use up the web real estate with interesting content. We built up our core community through friends and family. After about three months, we opened up My Modern Met to the public. Our content started to spread virally around the web, bringing in tens of thousands of people a day. At that point, we knew we were big enough to approach ad networks.

Through our own research and by talking to people at conferences, we found a bunch of ad networks that would fit with us and found out their criteria for getting accepted. We knew that we had to reach a critical mass of unique visitors and pageviews before we could even approach them. Once we hit those milestones, we reached out to them and were able to secure deals.

We manage our ads through Google Ad Manager. (Here's a good article from Hongkiat on how to set it up if you're looking into managing your ad networks or even your direct buys.)

With time and increased traffic, we were able to partner with more premium ad networks. After two years, we're now in the position where we're receiving site specific buys and sponsorship opportunities.

Here are our top ten tips on how to make money through advertising:

1. Be patient - Don't expect to partner with ad networks until you reach a minimum threshold (number of unique visitors or pageviews).
2. Research ad networks - Find out which ones best fit with your Ning network. There's a wide range of ad networks for particular niches like luxury and tech.
3. Be persistent - If you get denied from an ad network, don't give up. Approach them again after a certain period of time. Legitimacy comes with increased traffic over time.
4. Have high quality content, find your niche - If possible create original content that others would want to link to and spread.
5. Decide on your business model - Banners advertising works well for sites with high traffic, while smaller, more targeted niche sites work well with Google Adsense or affiliate sales.
6. Grow your community - What sets your site apart from blogs is that you have engaged members. Make that one of your selling points when you approach advertisers or ad networks.
7. Build traffic - Don't overlook the power of Digg, Reddit and StumbleUpon.
8. Use social media tools like Facebook and Twitter - These will also help you spread content and build up your community.
9. Get to know other Ning Creators - Find out what works for them and see if you can apply it to your network.
10. Get outside your comfort zone - Attend conferences and network. You may want to just sit at your desk and work on your site but getting out there into the real world will help you see if you're headed in the right direction, find new ideas and identify trends. This is invaluable.

I hope this information helps. Good luck to all of you Ning Creators out there and if you have any specific questions, feel free to contact me at alice@mymodernmet.com. Thanks!

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CafePress for Fun & Profit

In April, I set up a CafePress Shop for the Duke City Fix, a Ning-based city blog about Albuquerque, New Mexico. Through CafePress we now sell custom t-shirts, tote bags, coffee mugs, and other blog-branded schwag.


When I decided to set up the Shop I had two simple goals:
  1. To build awareness through guerrilla marketing. My hope is that the promotional merchandise we sell will serve as mobile billboards for our site.
  2. To generate some cash to help underwrite our work on the site. We do also host Google ads, so the Cafe Press shop is a supplement to the Google income.

I'd worked with CafePress before, and liked that the company makes it so easy to set up a Shop and start selling. Also -- and I think this is super-important for those of us who are operating on a shoestring -- CafePress requires no (zero, nada, zip) upfront investment from the Shop owner. When you make a sale, CafePress' cut comes from the buyer, not from you. You don't have to create, store, or ship inventory, and you don't need a merchant or PayPal account. You have zero risk.


Without going into too much detail about how to set up a Cafe Press site (they have great, clear instructions), let me list the tools we use to promote our Shop:

  • I chose to create a Premium Shop (not required) which costs $4.99/month but allows me to customize the look of the shop. In retrospect I might not have chosen the Premium option, but I can be a control freak so there you have it. A Basic Shop is completely free.
  • The Shop features slogans and in-jokes that had been developed by our community over the life of the site. Using "The Duke Abides", "That's Not Dust, That's Enchantment", and "Oh sí liar!" on our schwag helps to create a sense of ownership among our readers.
  • We deliberately set our markup at a low amount, in order to keep prices low and encourage sales. If revenue had been our first goal, I might have set the markup higher. Through CafePress you decide how big a cut you receive on each sale.
  • I created a custom banner to use on The Fix's home page (see the banner image above). It sits in a text box, and is linked directly to the shop.
  • We announced the shop on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.
  • We ran a contest, which we promoted through Facebook, Twitter, and the Broadcast Message function on Ning. As part of the contest, we asked our readers to come up with a new slogan for the site (we change the slogan periodically). And products with that slogan are now offered in the shop.

Finally, the results! We initially ran the shop on our front page for three weeks*. During that time:

  • We sold just over 40 items.
  • We made just over $40 (remember that we set our markup low!)
  • We generated great buzz on and off our Ning site.
  • Through the promotion of the Shop, we drove traffic to our own site.

*The shop came down off the front page for a few weeks to allow us to run a different promotion, but now it's back up there. And while sales have slowed, we're still selling, and still happy with the results.
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Getting Donations

With the phasing out of free Ning networks, I was faced with two choices. Keep Outsider Writers as it is with the $200 level program, or kick about 850 members out and slide down to the $20 plan. With nearly a thousand members, I decided to ask for help figuring, nothing ventured nothing gained, and really, nothing to lose. I posted about the situation on our main page and sent a broadcast message to all our members. I pointed out the bad news and the good news. The bad news being we needed to raise $200. The good news was that with a thousand members, we only needed to chip in twenty cents each! Of course, this was rather tongue in cheek and I mentioned that if we could get ten percent participation it would still only be $2.00 each.

I asked people to consider pledging $4 or $5 in case some people couldn't afford even $2.
I should mention that the other people working on the site with me were skeptical. But they were surprised because about twenty people responded right away. Three people gave pledges in the $50 range with the rest ranging from $2 to $10. I sent these people a PayPal invoice, or my mailing address, according to their preference. Within ten days I had nearly $300 raised.
We are hoping that we can raise enough money by selling the available advertising space and that we won't need to beg each year. I highly recommend asking for donations. Again, nothing to lose and everything to gain.
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Generating revenue through advertising can be golden; however, how does a network creator manage the advertising real estate?


First...what is advertising real estate? Since there is only so much space on a web page (okay so technically there is nearly unlimited space on a web page, but being realistic, there is only so much that is considered quality space) advertising real estate, is that space that a network creator allocates to advertising.

A few of tips before moving forward:
  1. Too much advertising can take away from the site visitor's experience and too little can be lost revenue. Finding a balance that works for your demographic is key.
  2. Work within your chosen web design. Placing advertising in awkward places on the site just to draw attention can be counter productive. Yes, you may get a visitor's attention, but by diminishing their experience on your site can be a huge negative.
  3. The key to success in advertising revenue is going to be return site visitors. The amount of effort and cost to get a new visitor to your website can be very costly and usually is. Keeping a balance of new visitors vs returning visitors is key. The balance and mix of these two variables is dependent on the site business model. For a social network, heavy percentage on return visitors is a must. If they aren't returning, something is wrong.
Okay, so how to manage the ad space? First, what are the variables that affect ad space?

They are:
  1. Ad size
  2. Ad placement
  3. Ad cost
  4. Ad exposure
In a nutshell there are just four variables to consider. Let's break each one down.

First, Ad size. Ad size is defined by the actual space that the ad will occupy on the web page. Whether placing graphics-based or text-based advertisements, the space requirement should be considered. Banner ads are typically sized by pixels, so for example, a 160x600 banner requires 160 pixels for the width and 600 pixels for the height.

Second, Ad placement. There are many combinations that can be used with regard to ad placement. The typical placement on a Ning network will be the right column. This space will receive the highest exposure because nearly every page on the network will have this column visible. It is also easy to manage by simply placing a text box and adding a banner image. Network creators can also easily place ads in all three columns on the network homepage. With bit more work, posting ads in the header, footer, and content areas, can be done; however, at present this will require a bit of javascript code and may offer some unpredictable outcomes.

Third, Ad cost. In determining how much to sell advertising space for, there are numerous considerations.
  1. What are the demographics of the site?
  2. Who could benefit from advertising?
  3. Do I charge CPC, or CPM?
  4. How much traffic does this network generate?
  5. Where will the ad be placed, (for example above the fold or below)?
This consideration (ad cost) can be expanded even further, but I will leave that for the comments.

Forth, Ad exposure. Ad exposure has four basic variables. They are:
  1. How many times an ad is seen by an individual.
  2. How often an ad is seen by an individual.
  3. The geographical location of the individual seeing the ad.
  4. The time the ad is being seen by an individual.
There are additional variables, like age, gender, browser type, etc., but those are beyond the scope of this discussion and can be explored in the comments.

Managing the complexity of advertising space can be daunting if not properly equipped. for the task.

For this reason, I recommend, Google Ad Manager as a solution for managing your advertising campaigns. This robust solution offers handy tools for managing your campaign along with providing confidence in reporting for your advertisers.

What experiences do you have regarding generating revenue via an advertising model?

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For years many forums and blogs have been offered by online service companies for free as the companies made money on advertising. For example, most of the Google ads you see on nearly every one generate money for them. Some of the companies like Yahoo have started selling their own ad services.Face facts ... no one does all this for free ... buy hundreds of servers and generate online services ... web hosting, email services, blog servers, and even Yahoo. Yahoo is a multi-billion dollar service company and Google too. They made their money from what ... selling advertising and premium services.Many Bloggers and forum owners start as a hobby ... take some favorite idea or group of like minded friends and building on it. For example we started our forums Americans Living in Brazil, the Management forum, and the Brazilian Travel Club in 1999 as a hobby because we wanted to create a meeting place for other Americans or ex-pats from where ever to talk about their experiences and share with others here to.The club itself was started as personally we own a travel service and joined with other providers to offer discounts and VIP services to members.I don´t need to tell anyone the financial mess the world is in at the moment. Many members moved to Brazil in search for a means to enjoy lower costs of living or a more tranquil life style. I did too.In 1999 I had to retire from my profession as a boat captain worldwide for major oil and offshore construction companies. This is because I had a 'stroke' on board a vessel and both the doctors and the Coast Guard said I could no longer stand the 24 hour a day stress and another stroke would finish me.We had owned the travel service since 1987, and have been (still) an environmental consultant for the Brazilian agency IBAMA, but in the early 2000s I started trying to help local communities here in the semi-arid northeast. During this time I have visited, traveled and worked in most of the states in Brazil (-2). In 2005 we formed the ONG Associação ABTC-BRASIL to attempt to consolidate forces and accomplish this dream of helping others ... both my fellow immigrants and the communities we chose to live in.Some forums and Blogs are either now or considering charging fixed subscription fees ... I chose, at least for now, not to do this.The idea of donations to help support costs seemed better. In each case a member could or would pay what he felt our work was worth. To encourage this we are trying to improve the quality of the service we are offering.We chose NING to do our BLOG for the ease of use and the services they offered. And what they are trying to offer with Premium services.DonaldAmericans Living in Brazil BLOG

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We have always prided ourselves on our uptime record. In March, we had 99.999% uptime. However, Ning Networks experienced slowness last week and brief downtime on Thursday evening. I wanted to take a few moments to walk you through what happened last week and what we’re working on to improve on situations like this going forward.

Starting Tuesday morning we saw sporadic instability in our servers, resulting in slowness that many of you experienced. Our operations and engineering teams investigated a variety of potential causes for the instability including a back-end release that was pushed out on Monday. We rolled the release back as part of our investigation and continued to look for the root cause.

On Thursday morning we believe we identified and addressed the primary cause of the instability: we had started testing a prototype to deliver real-time information to Ning Networks on Monday. We stopped the test and continued to monitor the platform. At around 8pm that day a cluster of cache servers that had become slightly unstable during the investigation started failing. At this point, we began an unplanned maintenance to restart them and it took about 70 minutes to complete the restarts and go live.

Whenever there’s an issue on the Ning Platform, we pursue the following protocol: First, our on-call engineers begin investigating what might be causing the issue. Then, for larger issues like this week, we escalate it to all-hands on deck. We also strive to get information out to you as fast as possible through several channels including the Ning Status Blog, Creators Ning Network and Ning Status Twitter account. Longer-term, we are working on an NC landing page with an announcement bar for important messages and a separate, lightweight “Report an Issue” link, which will allow NCs to quickly and simply report an issue they may be experiencing.

Following this incident, I wanted to highlight two specific areas we have identified for improvement:
1 It took longer than we’d like to identify and fix the problem: To address this, we are continuing our work on a series of projects that will simplify the platform and improve our ability to identify problems quickly when they happen. I will share more details with you early next week.
2 -We were not as effective as we could have been in communicating both the state of the platform and what we were working on: To address this, we are reviewing our internal and external communication processes to ensure that we can give you the most accurate and timely information on what is happening.

Keeping your Ning Network online and speedy is our top priority. Thanks again for all of your patience. As always we appreciate your feedback, so please let us know if you experience any problems on your Ning Network or have ideas for how we can improve the service.

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The Big Announcement: We haven’t sent out a regular digest in a few weeks. If we had, it would have been about one thing: Our big May 4th announcement. We’re thrilled to have finally announced the upcoming plans and pricing, and we’ll be working to bring you as much information about the changes coming in July. We’ll be updating our News & Views About Change regularly if you want to follow some of the highlights and new things we’ve seen. We’ll also keep you updated via this weekly Best of the Week digest.
Ning Network slow-downs: We’ve had reports from Creators of slow-loading pages and even some folks who are having trouble accessing their Ning Networks. The issue seems to be sporadic and only affecting some Ning Networks (it was visible on Creators yesterday for a bit). Our engineers are working non-stop to identify the root cause and lessen the impact on Creators and their members. You can check and/or follow both the Ning Status Blog and the Ning Status Twitter feed for updates. We’ll also do our best to keep you informed on Creators.
New spam tools: We’ll soon be rolling out more ammo in our fight against spam: 3 New Ways to Stop Spammers and Verify Your Members. Some of these tools echo previous product requests from Creators. So, for example, we’re happy to be delivering things like a customized quiz for prospective members. That tool will help protect your Ning Network against spambots, but it will also let you ask “in-the-know” questions to help you attract quality new members.
Made by Awesome Creators
Jen: Ning Conference Call Highlights: Discussion on Ning Premium Plans and the New Ning
Across the Internet
This week we stumbled upon a ton of conflicting advice — yet both points of view were still valid.
For example, Why Fights Are So Important was written by the same community-focused guy who wrote The Dividing Line On Inflammatory Comments. Both good reads. He always has great advice, from Creating Titles For Members to why you should turn your sign-up form into The Application Form.
Lots of folks keep talking about Facebook and privacy and the Bewildering Tangle of Options you may encounter if you are keen on being a more private person on Facebook. Again, lots of conflicting opinions out there, including differing opinions about the new Facebook Like button (which some Creators have already asked for). It ranges from Why I Like the Facebook Like Button to Think Before You Like.
This had nothing to do with anything, but we loved the header on this Ning Network. Fun!
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NC for Hire

Ning Conference Call Highlights:


What Got My Attention On the Ning Conference Call? The Plus Plan

I'm not sure if any of you chose to join one of the phone conferences Ning offered in the past couple of days. I attended the last one on Thursday May 6, 2010, before the final call on Friday (Spanish call).

I have to tell you, on behalf of a lot of fellow Network Creators and friends, I was pleasantly surprised with what all I heard. Even for the Plus Plan, the power and features will be so much more than currently offered. With the exception of uploading Videos, Music and branded players, the Plus is like all of the premium services put together, plus a whole lot more, and all for $19.95 per month. This is actually a good deal less than premium networks pay today, for the same features - - again, except the music and video uploads. But the most critical point to keep in mind, there are a host of additional features you will gain from the Plus, that no one has today. Read more, below.

There were a lot of exciting topics touched-on in the conference call. And, for current premium customers it's almost a no-brainer. I have been a premium subscriber since day one, and will remain a premium. However, my main reason for joining the call was to learn and share any information I thought would be helpful to fellow Network Creators; especially for those of you who are currently free Ning Networks, and are struggling with making a decision. Some of you know your next move, and that's great. For those who aren't sure, and are considering the Plus Plan, here are a few tidbits I retained from the call.

Plus Plan Highlights:
Since the biggest loss is uploading videos and music, I will cover that first. In regards to Video, my understanding is: if you choose to go with the Plus instead of the Pro, any videos you currently have on your site will remain accessible in the same manner they are today. However, you or members will not be able to upload any more in the future. But, here's the thing. You can upload/host your videos somewhere like YouTube and add the embedded code to your Ning Network, in pretty much any text box from the home page to profile pages. And, I believe you will still be able to upload Videos with the "+Add Video" feature. My guess is: you just won't see an upload button, but a text box for embedded code.

For music, you can use a similar method formusic uploads, by utilizing embedded music players. There are several free music players available online - - and you can use the embedded code for those players on your Ning Network. I know for sites where video and music uploads are critical, this adds an extra step. However, if these two media formats are that critical to a site, you probably should figure out how to upgrade to the Pro Plan.

This is how I see it, if I were trying to make a decision. If I could not go to the Pro Plan, and I could live with video and music embeds, the Plus Plan is awesome. This is why.

  • Unlimited Members
  • All the features premium Networks enjoy today, with that one exception of no uploads on video and music.
  • Removal of all Ning Branding. Now you can promote your brand completely.
  • Ad-free - - you can run your own Ads, even if just Google Adsense. You can sell whatever you want - - I suppose as long as it's not illegal or something in the porn arena.
  • Your site will no longer carry the Ning brand/name. When a new member signs-up, they will see your name, your brand.
  • And this simply ROCKS! Sign-in with Facebook, Twitter or other authentication services
    (Coming soon)
  • You will have the option of using your own domain name.
  • You will have new features like special text boxes for the header/footer.
  • Small yet very powerful new features like: being able to choose the home page - - what your members and visitors will see first.
  • Member Stats
  • 25 Text Boxes and 25 RSS Feeds
  • Feature controls like: Hide invite, share, Facebook or Twitter links, turn off private messaging, and strengthen member verification.


Here's another topic that of course got my attention - - optional premium Memberships:

I can't remember if this was available for Plus and Pro. If any other attendee knows, please let us knowand I will move it up to the bulleted items for the Plus Plan.

You will be able to choose whether or not you want to charge members formembership, and the way I heard it: you should be able to choose areas of your Social Network, and enable a membership fee for that specific area. It wasn't clear on when this level of membership fees would be available, and I may have misunderstood how this will work. Time will tell. I do believe however, the basic "membership fee" feature will be available soon. Additionally, the Ning platform will process the payments for you, via PayPal.

There was definitely more covered in the call, and especially with the unique questions/answers asked by fellow Ning Network Creators. For example: a fellow Network Creator asked if Ning would raise their rates. The Ning Team was very quick to answer, "We have no plans to raise the rates." You had to be there. It was very convincing. But, time will tell.

I have covered the main points I caught. If anyone else reading this blog attended a call, and you want to add more, or correct anything I've stated, please do. :-)

Hoping everyone is able to make the absolute best decision.

Best,
Jen

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I can't really say it better: "National High Five Day falls on the third Thursday of April
each year, which falls this year on April 15, 2010. "

That's right! Tomorrow is the Day to Celebrate high fives, by indeed, giving out high fives as much as possible. We're going to be offering virtual high fives here on Creators, to all of you who contribute positively to the conversations here.

Have you thought about celebrating this on your Ning Network? To help, here are a few high five graphics:


Check out more content (including videos!) at the National High Five Day website.





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Can content enhance your Ning Network?

Yesterday we interviewed Box.net Platform Manager Jeremy Glassenberg about the Box.net Ning App, and how Ning Networks can use it to help manage and share content. Today, the friendly people at Box.net are giving away one year of Box.net Business service for 20 seats — a $2,400 value!

Entering is super simple. All you need to do is comment on this blog post, and let us know how your Ning Network would benefit from Box.net’s Cloud Content Management capabilities. Please include both your Ning Network’s address (http://) and how you would use Box.net in your comment on the blog post. One winner will be chosen by overall best use case. Hurry! We’re accepting entries up until Tuesday, April 20 at 5 p.m PST.

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Meanwhile, you can check our social media channels