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#3139 2008-09-21 GMT-5 hours    
Hi all,
As you may have noticed we recently passed the 25,000 photo mark a few days ago and I'd like to congratulate and thank everyone for their efforts and support in the past 18 months or so. I think it's quite an achievement and we've come quite a ways in a rather short amount of time. We're also quickly approaching the 2000-Member milestone.

I think I've done a decent job of running the site and the screeners and database editors have done a great job going through the thousands of photos and their efforts are greatly appreciated. Sure, things haven't been 100% smooth 100% of the time, but we're all human and make a mistake here and there once in a while, and I'm sure you can all understand that.

As the site grows everyday, maintaining it, and keeping it as consistent as possible becomes a little harder to achieve, but with everyone's help, I'm sure we can stay on top of it and not let things get out of hand. One thing that has gotten a little expensive lately is our hosting costs, especially now with the addition of airlinerdb.com. We're currently running 3 servers with one solely dedicated to the database queries to create the pages and provide the data as fast as possible. I've kept banner ads off the site hoping that the Google ads can generate enough money to cover our expenses, but unfortunately it doesn't. On some days we get as little as 5 clicks and with the ads paying anywhere from 5 - 10 cents per click, you do the math. So, we have to come up with other ways to raise money for the site.

Here's what I'm proposing:

1) Serve one pop-under ad instead of banners all over the place. The pay out on this is a lot better than the intruding banner ads nicely framing the photos, like on other sites, and with seeing it only once every 12 hours, I don't think they are that annoying.

2) Offer a Gold-Member level membership where you get to have your own airfighters.com e-mail account like username@airfighters.com and a nice logo in the forums showing that you are a supporter of the site.

3) A Platinum-Member level where you get all the benefits of the gold-level but also be able to view the photos without the watermark. In addition, all the Google ads will disappear as well.

Once we can generate a decent income from the membership fees and other ads, I'm hoping to be able to pay for new articles and any funds left over can be used to advertise the site. That way we can generate more traffic and keep the site fresh with new content. Also, I'm thinking of having an advanced profile page for the Platinum-level photographers where they can write about themselves, upload their favorite photos, etc. etc.

Again, this is just what I'm proposing and I'd like to hear your thoughts on it. Also, I'm not sure what the annual or monthly fees should be for the Gold or Platinum-level memberships, or to even have both or just one. If you have any other ideas, please let those be heard as well.

-Ray

This is the oldest I've ever been.

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31 Bravo


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#3141 2008-09-22 GMT-5 hours    
I like the idea of gold and platinum membership. Although one of the things that i like most about the two sites is the ability to post, read and upload photos about aviation without any cost, it's understandable that money must come from somewhere and if we want the two sites to continue growing we must contribute as well.

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#3144 2008-09-22 GMT-5 hours    
I would go for a subscription model over ads. I hate ads, but I also understand that folks need to pay the bills. One aviation site forces pop-up ads on the browser even if ad-blocking software is used. Pop-ups and banner ads to boot. No thanks...

/N

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#3145 2008-09-22 GMT-5 hours    
It is great that Airfighters has got as far as it has and may it continue to develop as a database as well as a showcase for some some exceptionally talented military aviation photographers. Also, I have really enjoyed the aviation art articles by Peter van Stigt as well as the various aircraft profiles and it would be great to see more items like these.

Funding has to be an issue and I agree that charging for different levels of membership is probably the right way forward. An Airfighters e-mail account would be a draw for some as well as a simple facility for hosting other photos or perhaps images / articles.

My only concern with more prominent or aggressive advertising is that whilst the facility for paying members not to see that advertising is a sound reason for taking out membership, such adverts do risk alienating the casual visitor; N74JW's reaction above is not untypical and this could be counter-productive. The subject material can be another issue: for example one of Airfighter's competitors often opens with Tee shirt adverts with a young lady wearing a garment with suggestive slogans across her chest - a bit tacky or what? Not here thank you!

Yes, I would go platinum level as proposed and would be happy to pay an annual fee which would be discounted over paying monthly :wink

Michael

"Rolling..." B-36H serial 51-5734 Film 'Strategic Air Command' 1955 - Six Turning and Four Burning!

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#3146 2008-09-22 GMT-5 hours    
I would support a platinum-level membership. Perhaps if the membership route was presented as more of an opt-in solution rather than a "you should get this if you do not want to see any more ads".

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#3147 2008-09-22 GMT-5 hours    
Hi all,
Thanks for your input so far. I'd like to keep the site free as well, but we all know if something is free, then someone is paying for it somehow. The general membership will always be free, but we need to think of perks to offer for the premium memberships which would benefit the members and help pay for the site's expenses.

I hate those banner ads too and I think it really "cheapens" the site and photos when you use those to create picture frames for high-quality photos which we expect from the photographers. I also think one pop-under ad every 12 or 24 hours is ok. They are not really intrusive and if they work properly, you should not see them until you close your browser. But we can take a vote on this if you guys are really against it.

Ok, so two levels of membership it is. An airfighters.com e-mail account will be provided for each type. I have been thinking of a personal members' gallery as well, where you can upload any aviation-related photo you wish in the provided 100 or 200MB of space. However it will not have a search engine or anything like that. Maybe just a simple keyword search. Other than that it will be a list of folders with "personal" photos in them. It will be entirely maintained by the members themselves. In the future we can offer blogs as well, plus other features I have in mind.

I'm hoping we can generate enough revenue to pay for articles and other content as well. Should those be for the premium members only for a while, or open to all? And, more importantly, what kind of price ranges would be appropriate?

-Ray

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#3148 2008-09-22 GMT-5 hours    
Sounds all good to me :wink

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#3154 2008-09-25 GMT-5 hours    
Any more thoughts about this?

-Ray

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#3156 2008-09-25 GMT-5 hours    
I'd go with the 2 different types of membership (Gold & Platinum). As for price . . . . . They range in this country from £10 - £30 per year, depending on type of membership. So what ever that works out at in the various country's.

Thats my thoughts anyway :wink

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