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GetGNULinux.org and money

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ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13

I wanted to bring this subject up so the development of GGL.o can say in the open. So here we go... money.

What could GGL.o do with money? Not much. The hosting costs are moderate and I can afford them (it's a small static site); I don't think advertising would be very useful. So at first look there is no real need for money and that's the reason I have always made sure it was clear the site was non-commercial. There's even a donation page where I ask people to give it to other causes.

Still, I am considering various options where GGL.o would generate some money. This is only very distant and open, so don't jump on me straight away Smiling

To speak further I need to say more about myself:
As I have mentioned sometimes, I am a student in France (I'm 23). I am trying to become a Physics/Chemistry teacher in highschools. Because of my rather tortuous path, it's already been 5 years since I left highschool, and still have the great luck of my parents almost completely caring for me.
Theoretically I should need only one year to get done with it, but in practice there are around 6000 of us studying for that exam where exactly 610 will be selected for training and get the job. I stand very little chance, at least this year.
Also, depending on how "things go" it may or may not be that I should have to sustain myself fully or partially, sooner or later.

Meanwhile, I spend an enormous amount of time trying to improve GGL.o in various ways. This time I spend is now directly competing with time I should spend studying, and time I might have to spend working (sometime). And time, human time, is what helps GGL.o most in my opinion.

So I am considering trying to generate a little revenue from GGL.o that could "justify" spending so much time. This fits pretty well into my vision of the "Free Content" concept (I use the term "content" to include software and "free" as in freedom of course Smiling ), that does not exclude the making of money. I think it is also a vision shared by Danijel and others here. Generating revenue from "Free Content" is something that is perfectly healthy IMHO and ignoring that would relegate much of the movement to well-meaning, but little-powerful hobby work. In my situation today I am not sure I could keep doing this much for very long, because of the well-known priorities of getting a job and making a living.

I am saying "doing this much", while it often appears in the forum that I'm not there for long periods or that issues aren't solved very fast, but I can assure you I spend a lot of time on the website. There are always many things going on at once.

I also wish to say that if the original website is certainly the result of my work, I also certainly feel greatly endebted to the Libervis community (in particular in Nuxified) for the continous stream of help, remarks, discussions, proposals, corrections, and now also to the translators who keep doing a fantastic work. [As a side note, a Brasilian Portuguese translation has been launched and the French translation is complete, waiting to be transfered to html and put online].
So I have no intention of putting this aside to go solo "selling out" the website. Rest assured of that.

So, the question then, is how? How could money be made with GGL.o without losing the goal and strength of the website? I keep giving this much thought.
First, "advertising" as most people know it is out of sight. I am not going to pollute the web with the blinking banners I keep filtering out with Adblock when I surf.
If really it became necessary I would set-up some Google ads, but I really don't think so. I don't like too much the thought of not being able to choose what's in there, and they wouldn't fit too well in the design.
In fact I am trying to think of better business models. I have always, for example, been admirative of A List Apart's model. Because they know exactly what their public is and always provide very high quality content, they are able to choose their advertisers, select them by relevance to their readers. Then they rent small, clear and clean exclusive adspaces per time (not per click). I have seen they even launched a jobs section some time ago.
Trying to imitate this, I am thinking of working in the next big area where GNU/Linux needs a push after communication: hardware. It's simply hard to find a non-Windows computer around these days.
So maybe we could find partners ready to pay for preferential positionning in a list of GNU/Linux hardware vendors (Putting up such a list has been on plan for a while now). This would be a relevant relationship. We need good hardware vendors à la System76 to spread GNU/Linux further, they need our visitors (people who won't want Windows or don't want to install an OS). It could work.
Similarly we could partner with CD and DVD vendors. Distrowatch does that, maybe a partnership with LinuxCD.org could work.
In all cases it would be clear on the website which links are commercial.

In order to do this, I think we need to be more ready.
The recent Novell/Microsoft event has brought the choice of distros up again and this isn't quite solved.
I would like to complete this Linux can do project, and revamp the Link buttons, so as to spread the site a little more.
I think various pages (nxfd for discussion, translation wikis and mailing-lists, develop wikis, "help us" page, contact page...) could be organised better.
PolishLinux.org and generally the interaction between PL.o, GGL.o and Nxfd deserve to be better linked to and put forward.
And the French translation must be put up, for it is just a large amount of work not being used right now.

When this is complete (towards Jan-Feb likely), then maybe it will make sense to try and generate money. (note that "maybe" word, for these are only preliminary thoughts).

I am not naïve and am not going dreamy at potential millions to be made from an initially nice website. I am not looking for money in general (I would have started something else otherwise) and trust me if you saw the state of my computer or which bicycle I ride to university, you would probably laugh and trust that I am not indeed. I sincerely hope that you understand what position I am in today and percieve how dear GGL.o is to me. So I share my thoughts about the future of the website.

Thank you

Olivier.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
Olivier wrote: So I am
Olivier wrote:

So I am considering trying to generate a little revenue from GGL.o that could "justify" spending so much time. This fits pretty well into my vision of the "Free Content" concept (I use the term "content" to include software and "free" as in freedom of course Smiling ), that does not exclude the making of money. I think it is also a vision shared by Danijel and others here. Generating revenue from "Free Content" is something that is perfectly healthy IMHO..

Absolutely. Free Culture, Free Software and all that freedom related stuff has little to do with non-commercialism. In fact, it frees the market for new money makers and money making possibilities (whereas proprietary monopolies close it). So I fully support you on that.

Olivier wrote:

I also wish to say that if the original website is certainly the result of my work, I also certainly feel greatly endebted to the Libervis community (in particular in Nuxified) for the continous stream of help, remarks, discussions, proposals, corrections, and now also to the translators who keep doing a fantastic work.

Well, GGL brought a good deal of people to this Libervis/Nuxified community too. So really, as much as people already in Libervis community helped GGL, GGL also helped grow Libervis community too. We "owe" each other in a way. Smiling

Olivier wrote:

First, "advertising" as most people know it is out of sight. I am not going to pollute the web with the blinking banners I keep filtering out with Adblock when I surf.

Certainly, and you don't have to. I cover my internet costs and now even get a bit of extra by selling only text link ads. Nuxified.org currently doesn't have any standard banner ads, and even if it will ever have them, they wont blink and there wont be more than about one per page.

Olivier wrote:

If really it became necessary I would set-up some Google ads, but I really don't think so. I don't like too much the thought of not being able to choose what's in there

That is exactly one of the big reasons why you don't see any Google ads on Libervis/NXFD. Smiling

A great alternative to adsense, which has worked better than Google ever did for me is text-link-ads.com (TLA for short). As the name says, it is all about mere text links so it can hardly be annoying. You can also approve every single ad someone wants to buy so you have full control over what displays or not. They pay via PayPal or checks and they've been quite good to me so far. They are also not the only "text links broker" with similar characteristics, but to me they seem the best.

Not all text link ads sold on Libervis Network are through TLA though. Some are sold manually, by me to the advertiser directly, over webmaster marketplace forums. You can find one of these on DigitalPoint Forums. This, of course, you also fully control, as you don't necessarily need to accept all ads. If you can accept payments via PayPal or moneybookers, most people will be able to buy from you.

Not only can you cover your costs by selling *only* text link ads, but you could potentially earn a surplus, but it really depends on the popularity of your site. With text link ads what is most important to advertisers is that you rank well in major search engines and have a big "link popularity" (lots of links pointing towards your site). Good traffic is also a bonus.

I haven't earned big surpluses yet, but I cover the costs, and I forsee a continued growth in revenues as Libervis Network continues to grow. From where I stand it is definitely a possibility. (Man, I sometimes wonder how did I even get to where I am now Eye ).

Olivier wrote:

In fact I am trying to think of better business models. I have always, for example, been admirative of A List Apart's model. Because they know exactly what their public is and always provide very high quality content, they are able to choose their advertisers, select them by relevance to their readers. Then they rent small, clear and clean exclusive adspaces per time (not per click)

Looks like their model is a bit more streamlined. I'm not sure everyone can pick and choose advertisers like them though (I pick only to a point, to filter inappropriate ads for proprieatary software for example). Also, what I described above is always sold on a time basis. Pricing goes per month, three months, six months, a year etc.

Olivier wrote:

Trying to imitate this, I am thinking of working in the next big area where GNU/Linux needs a push after communication: hardware. It's simply hard to find a non-Windows computer around these days.
So maybe we could find partners ready to pay for preferential positionning in a list of GNU/Linux hardware vendors (Putting up such a list has been on plan for a while now).

Those are exactly the thoughts I've been having lately. Heck, being inspired by what System76 does I even emailed them asking if they would consider any sort of partnership. Sadly, though, I didn't get a response yet.

But they're not the only ones. There's lot's of GNU/Linux compatible hardware vendors to try with. Smiling

I hope some of this info helps. Best of luck!

Danijel

ariadacapo's picture
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thanks

Thanks for the good tips and information...

I just wish to add that this is not urgent; there is time so it can be thought about and carefully set-up.

Also, quite importantly, it isn't a definite decision either. My wish is to simply open up perspectives.

libervisco's picture
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Joined: 2006-05-04
Sure. I think that's a good

Sure. I think that's a good thing.

And if you decide to get something out of it financially, that is perfectly OK IMHO. As said, the whole FOSS thing is not anti-commercial.

Gustavo's picture
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Joined: 2006-09-11
Olivier, you read my mind.

Olivier, you read my mind. Eye

Among other things, I've been thinking that GGL needs to team up with local hardware stores, so I agree with you too.

Unfortunately, I don't have enough time today to say exactly what I was thinking about, sorry; I hope to do so by friday/saturday.

Cheers!

ariadacapo's picture
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Joined: 2006-07-13
more thoughts

A couple more thoughts:

1. Before any money could be involved with GGL.o, I'd like to have some official body or declaration made. Something like a small association of foundation, so that the objectives remain clear and everybody can see it stays on track.
What makes this difficult is that (at least here in France) this quite limits the possibilities of what can be done with the money - it's not a simple one-man decision, and absolutely none of it can be distributed for the profit of one individual. There is the possibility of employing someone, but this probably implies a fixed salary (not doable). So, if I was to try the experiment of, say, dedicating myself solely to GGL.o for six months, it would make things difficult financially-wise.
But I still really have this "official body" strongly in mind. With time it'll all get clearer.

2. In order to try to be more efficient (studies and GGL.o clash quite a lot these times) I'll try to dedicate 1,5 - 2 days a week on GGL.o solely. I'll dedicate Thursdays and most of Saturdays to it, while not touching it the rest of the week. This will help I think, enabling me to be more organised and spend less time firefighting.

As for what is coming up... Right now finishing the French translation and switch to Fedora are the priorities. After that... the door will be wide open.

Olivier.

free-zombie's picture
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Could such a body be formed

Could such a body be formed as a association loi de 1901 ? From the parts I read and understood, this could work out legally Eye (in Germany this would definately be done as a „Verein”, of which the wikipedia article lead me to that link)

ariadacapo's picture
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re: association 1901
free-zombie wrote:

Could such a body be formed as a association loi de 1901 ? From the parts I read and understood, this could work out legally Eye-wink (in Germany this would definately be done as a „Verein”, of which the wikipedia article lead me to that link)

Yes this is exactly it free-zombie. The problem in particular is that the association cannot act financially for the benefit of its members. It's a corporation that's forbidden to make profit. It can employ people, though, but not redistribute money or goods to its members.
So here the issue is that (as far as I can see right now) I could either be employed (that's hard to manage... especially starting from zero and with no intention to generate a fixed revenue) or forbidden to receive any money.

Another drawback is the paperwork crusade which I'd have to go through... I live in the country of the sacred "Administration". This is a minor obstacle though, which I'm prepared to go through. Eye

libervisco's picture
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What kind of an

What kind of an organization do you want with GGL really depends