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Growing and Money

It’s an interesting situation we face and one I am not too sure how to handle. The question of how 9rules makes money has been coming up a lot lately and it seems to be concerning a lot of people and I am not so sure as to why. While most of the time you have folks lambasting the fact that companies are exploiting their customers with price gauging or overpricing a product, we get roasted for not showing any type of revenue model.

Yes there are plans to make money in the future. No it’s nothing sneaky or particularly new. Maybe our culture has been so conditioned to be skeptical towards anything that looks too good to be true. Wish it wasn’t like that, but I guess it is.

Paul Watson has written a great satire about our network in Not Another Network, or NAN. Admittedly from an outsider perspective I would probably write the same thing because it makes sense when you only see half the picture or just don’t believe what we are doing. (Oh and thanks for even considering us as one of the “big boys” Paul, that’s pretty cool) Let’s go over some of these spoof points to see how much truth is really behind them.

Driving Traffic to the Hub

We get asked a lot how much traffic the homepage receives. It must be a lot considering how many people have our logo attached to their site right? I wish. The site really doesn’t get that much traffic at all. Whitespace gets more traffic than it. Looking at the majority of the sites in the Network the button is blended in so well or so far at the bottom that nobody will ever click on it. We don’t tell our members what type of button to add or where to put it. We are happy that they even joined up with us to put the button on their site. We hope they think of it as a sign of quality.

We don’t make that much money from the sponsors on the homepage (ask them, they tell us they are getting a good deal) either and the site was a PR 7 before the Network even began. Maybe one day we will plaster a huge roach ad on the site, but I don’t think that is going to happen because our members would kill us. Hell my partners would kill me.

Oh boy, just saw we got linked on MetaFilter. Let the fun begin.

Get all the A-Listers

Sure it would be cool to have some of the “A-List” in the network. You know the ones that actually still provide some high-quality content, but that isn’t our goal. Sure we ask some of them to join because we are about quality and if they are quality why shouldn’t we go after them? But do we target them? I don’t think so.

Grow, Grow, Grow

It is fine to have it but for one 9Rules needs to go easy on those submissions. It is not scaling and won’t scale, you are just becoming Yahoo! Directory with commentary. I already can’t figure out which sites are worth keeping track of in the 9Rules network.

Honestly Paul, I had this dilemma as well when deciding which approach to go with when starting the Network. Do we only take in 40 sites or do we only take in a 1,000? We decided it best if we don’t set a cap either way because quality is quality. If a site starts to falter on quality we have every right to ask them to leave and if our members see the Network losing it’s value they have every right to leave. Yahoo! made sure to cover every site in the world. We are just trying to cover the really, really good ones. We aren’t asking you to keep track of all of them because many of them probably won’t interest you. But that isn’t to say that our marbles blog (we don’t have one) won’t interest someone else. We are working hard on a new homepage that won’t suffer from the Yahoo effect.

I have written before on how I would like to stop with the design blogs, but it’s hard when another quality one walks in the door. If Shea came saying he wanted to join I wouldn’t turn him away because we capped that niche. We are fully aware that growing to the size we are going is very dangerous and that presenting a large amount of sites properly will be no easy task, but we are going to try for it anyways without sacrificing the quality of the network.

Heck, Weblogs, Inc. still has more sites than we do. They are more Yahoo! than we are.

It’s not easy seeing something you helped create get criticized, but I know that it helps to only make us stronger. I am also glad that people do it because once you have worked on something so long on the inside, it’s hard to step away from it to get an outside perspective. So for that I thank you Paul for writing the piece that I myself could not write.

As for everyone who wonders what the 9 rules actually are, here they are:

  1. Love what you do.
  2. Never stop learning.
  3. Form works with function.
  4. Simple is beautiful.
  5. Work hard, play hard.
  6. You get what you pay for.
  7. When you talk, we listen.
  8. Must constantly improve.
  9. Respect your inspiration.