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Thread: Website helping carers

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    Website helping carers

    Hi all. First post. I'm Neil, I'm the founder of a website that helps voluntary carers look after their loved ones. I've joined this forum just to chat and get some advice and maybe some useful contacts. I'm at a place with my site which I guess is not to uncommon. I've spent two years developing it, it's getting some great feedback and even won an award (best use of tech for social good) a few months back. However I need to turn it from a purely social good website into revenue generating site as am fast running out of cash to keep it going. Looking to find information on best ways to sell or establish partnerships.

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    aka "meathead1234" Thomas is a Premium Member
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    Does the site getting any traffic? How come it is costing so much to keep going? Care to share the URL?

    If it's losing cash, selling it isn't going to be a viable option so would help if we could see the site before trying to help.

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    Clinton (17 February 2014), Kay (17 February 2014), Neil (17 February 2014)

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    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    Hello and welcome, Neil. Thanks for making an interesting first post.

    Thomas, I got the impression from what Neil said that the site hadn't been monetised rather than it being the case that it's losing money. Yeah, I suppose "no money" is the same result as far as the bank is concerned. But it might just be a case of figuring out how to monetise it. I also got the impression from Neil that it took quite a lot of his time to run it, rather than it was costing him in hard cash. But there's probably not much point in speculating about these things. As you say, it would help if Neil comes back and tells us a bit more about the site.
    British Expat - helping people to live and work abroad since the year 2000.

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    Hi Thomas and Hi Kay. Thanks for responding. Must admit really loving this site already. Just to give you a little more background. I developed the first version of my site to help my family look after my grandparents. I got frustrated that although we have a really supportive family my mum would always take the strain for looking after them - no matter how often we told her to let us know what we could do to help. She always said it took so long to explain etc... it was quicker for her to just get on with it. So i built a quick, and importantly really simple and intuitive platform where my mum could upload all the tasks my grandparents needed help with and me, my sister and other members of the family could immediately see what needed doing and could just grab the tasks we could help with. It worked really well for us, so I got in touch with Unltd who are a charity that fund social enterprises and they gave me the funds to really develop the site - turning it into what you see today. It now not only manages tasks but there's a community message board where you can store updates, memories and photos etc... and a useful contacts page so you can store, well useful contacts your community will need. I've also just launched an app in iOS and Android so you can use Cura on the go. I pay approx 1000 per year for my hosting contract, which includes maintenance plus another few hundred on security certificates. Not loads of money I know but I run this thing purely in my spare time and although running costs are pretty small I still don't have the capacity to keep it going long term on my own. Competitors are popping up now - which validates the market for this kind of support but my 600 plus users feed back to me all the time that they use my site (www.curahq.com) because it so simple an intuitive and they don't want me to shut it down. I don't want to let them down either. If I could attract a partner with the resources (experience, time and financial) to come on board it will give the site a real boost and help make the transition to monetize the site. I have some pretty strong ideas on this but need help to develop them. To date I have done zero marketing and very limited PR (again time and money constraints) so think the potential is pretty big if people actually knew the site existed. The site has been accredited by the NHS and sits on the NHS trusted health apps library. Would really value your thoughts... Thanks, Neil.

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    Chabrenas (18 February 2014), JimWaller (17 February 2014), Kay (17 February 2014)

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    New Member Mentor JimWaller is a Premium Member
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    hi and welcome Neil!

    Thanks for taking a moment to introduce yourself. Here at EP, introductory posts are important as they help us get to know you and help our other members decide how much value they will place on your views and opinions.

    We try to maintain a high level of quality information, and one way we do that is by following our forum rules (especially rule 3 our so-called "no fluff" rule) Our members put a lot of thought into their posts and I'm sure you'll do the same. We have very helpful members in our community, so feel free to ask questions in the appropriate forums. Who knows, another member might have the same questions you have.

    I took a look at your site, and I like the idea of it. I can see it being a great compliment to related sites. (For example, I know of a site that promotes accessible travel. Their client base might overlap yours.) Perhaps a member can come up with some good ways to monetize your site that will help take the pressure off of you.

    Judging by the front end, it looks like you've tried to automate as much as possible, which is good. Our website 101 forum may be a good place to ask questions about the mechanics of your site if you have that type of questions.

    I hope you'll be able to find the help you need, and that you'll choose to become an active part of our community. Good Luck!

    Kind Regards,

    Jim
    Help bring Janice home My mother-in-law was hospitalized while on vacation (holiday) We're trying to bring her home.

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    Kay (17 February 2014)

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    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    Jim referred to a site which promotes accessible travel, and I have a feeling he's talking about one of my sites.

    I identified a gap in the market which wasn't being catered for and attempted to fill it. I even sunk a few quid into developing content for it. There was definitely a demand for what I offered but it ended up just costing me money for no return. Worse still, several political activist groups of disabled people used to steal my content on a regular basis. I tried to talk to them many times about it and explain how it was fine to use an excerpt and link to the original on my site but not to steal entire articles. They agreed to do this many times but always ended up forgetting their promises and publishing my stuff in its entirety as soon as it went up. Thus these people were busy trampling over others and denying them their rights in an attempt to shout about their own rights.

    These groups caused a big lose-lose-lose situation. Their own visitors lost because I stopped publishing the stuff so they weren't able to steal it and put on their sites any more. My site and my visitors lost out because we weren't using such content any more. I lost out because I was paying out for something that brought no benefit at all. The guy who was creating the content lost out because he lost his job with me. He knew some of these group leaders personally and begged them to stop what they were doing, and they always promised they would. And then they always forgot their promises the next time they spotted something they could steal from me.

    So, after that great tale of woe and various other difficulties I had with the site - it was hard to monetise, not least because people seemed to think it was a charity not a business - I pretty much gave up on it.

    The site is now badly neglected and that's why I didn't come forward before with any advice. If I couldn't get this to work for myself, I didn't think I was the best person to be giving guidance. I'm very willing to help you if I can but other than a half-dead site which I failed to make successful, I can't bring much else to the table.

    Anyway, Neil, if you are going to attempt to monetise it, the first thing that I'd want to know is whether or not the funding award you received now places you under any constraints. For example, was there a condition which specified that you must provide a service which is free for the users, or any other such limitation on what you're allowed to do?

    The other thing I would start exploring would be how you could build on partnerships/sponsorships with relevant charities, eg Help the Aged.

    Good luck with it.
    British Expat - helping people to live and work abroad since the year 2000.

    The joy of Internet delivery - the cartoon illustrating this will make you laugh!



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  12. #7
    aka "meathead1234" Thomas is a Premium Member
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    No idea how to make money with a site like that - can't see it being particularly scalable, nor easy to monetize. If you just want it to be sustainable, then the 1000 a year you're paying for hosting sounds like a LOT for something with no traffic. You shouldn't be paying more than 50 a year for hosting (can't comment on the security aspects that are additional). I would imagine you could easily find a host to sponsor the site and remove that cost - it's decent PR for them and not much in the way of resources.

    In terms of profiting from the site, it's a niche that would make me feel uncomfortable on that front. It really just looks like a basic collaboration platform - that could, for example, easily be replaced by basic meeting/project management apps. You'd need a lot of momentum before it would be viable to make anything out of the site (in terms of subscriptions or whatever), so for now I'd just look for a host sponsor and run it as a social enterprise rather than a profit generating entity.

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    Top Contributor crabfoot is a Premium Member
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    There are two issues we can help with: Cutting the hosting costs, and monetizing the site. I will come to monetizing later, in another post.

    HOSTING COSTS

    Both domain and site hosting appear to be with 1&1, which is an affordable and very reliable host - but not one that I would recommend to anyone. Unfortunately, it appears that you also just paid up for the next lump of hosting - and I'll bet you paid for the whole year to get the discount price ...

    While I say they are affordable, there are other companies, just as reliable, which are a lot cheaper for the same level of service. And anyone sponsoring the site can feel good about doing it, and should at least offer a large discount on hosting in return for a prominent front page advertisement.

    But now we have to point out why I wouldn't recommend 1&1 to people.
    They work from the German hosting model (the parent company is just inside Switzerland, so the German owners don't have to go far to the office). The terms and conditions are designed to tie you into their services and discourage you from trying to go elsewhere.

    You need to give notice by email at the appropriate time that you wish to discontinue using their services. Transferring the domain to another registrar that charges around half the annual fee requires filling in paper forms, even if you want to transfer the domain to someone like Moniker (they own Moniker, don't use them either -I would recommend Dynadot or Namecheap for a .com domain).
    Marginally easier to to move away from than Hotel California, where "you can check out any time you like, but you can never leave". But they're not the worst. The worst German registrars will refuse to transfer your domain, and keep your domain alive on a parking page for a year after you quit, just to make it hard for you to get it back.

    So now we need recommendations for extremely reliable hosts that don't cost an arm and a leg.
    Then Neil has to write begging letters to those hosts, and see which one can come up with the best deal to host the site.

    Yknow, the interesting thing about Neil's concept is that it has value in any country where people can connect to it. Truly cosmopolitan.
    Last edited by Kay; 18 February 2014 at 9:03 pm. Reason: Promoted to front page article

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    Top Contributor crabfoot is a Premium Member
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    It has already been said that the CuraHQ.com site is difficult to monetize - nobody has said why it is difficult to monetize, so I'm going to tell you why people think it is difficult to monetize.

    IT SATISFIES A DEMAND. The site fulfils the wishes of users and provides the means to achieve their objectives, which makes their lives easier. You give them that for free, it gets hard to find things to sell.

    Lateral thought is needed to find services that visitors to the site may be looking for, but the site does not directly cater to.

    Examples:

    Carers who do not have an adequate network of friends and family to draw on, but need guidance towards finding the public and charitable services to supplement their efforts.

    People looking for respite care of some sort; either a place to leave someone needing regular attention while they go on a break, or a place where they can leave such a person in a locality where they are taking a break. There's a "home for the bewildered" in Bridlington which is a great place to park Grannie while you enjoy the sun and sand, and you can drop by every day ...

    Think about this, and you will find more customer areas that you are not satisfying. You need to make articles for pages to generally help those people who are not able to utilise your main service. Then you can serve Adsense advertising on those pages, which will provide revenue.

    Extend the site by adding info pages pointing out what might be available in various situations - try not to be UK specific, you are working from a .com domain and the Adsense tailors itself to "local" ads. Yea, even the NHS uses Adsense to make people aware of some of their services - but people in the US, Australia, India, South Africa, the Philippines and Singapore could probably derive benefit from your advertisers.

    You will need a new front page that is not entirely occupied by the details of your service, gives links to the "general" pages, and extends the overall scope of your "aid offering".

    The search engines will drive traffic to your site which is not precisely targeted to your service. If you supply guidance towards what can be done in situations which your service doesn't cover, those are the areas where you can make revenue.

    Before I forget to mention it, a footnote for Kay: there has been a kerfuffleshuffle in the charitable Old Folks Help sector, Age Concern and Help The Aged are now tied together into something called Age UK. I don't understand it, but it is supposedly more efficient ....

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    Moderator Kay is a Premium Member
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    I don't mind telling you about my site, if it's of any help to see the difficulties I had in monetising it. There were several other difficulties too - the content theft issue I mentioned earlier was only one of a number of problems.

    The site is http://www.candocango.com/ (CAN!) and its main purpose was to provide travel information for wheelchair users worldwide. I stopped updating it regularly in May 2012 and since then it had a couple of new posts in September 2012 and nothing more.

    Too many people assume that wheelchair users are some kind of disadvantaged group, often reliant on state benefits, who don't have the interest or the means to do anything or go anywhere. This isn't true at all. There are plenty of wheelchair users who would like to travel. Also, there are lots of fairly affluent retired people who like to travel but find their mobility is reduced as they get older. One problem these people face is that many places worldwide don't have any facilities suitable for disabled people, and the other problem was a lack of information about the places which are accessible. I tried to fill the gap by writing about accessible places myself and also by hiring people to research and write content for the site. The site mostly focused on destinations in SE Asia, eg Cambodia, Thailand, because most developed countries already do provide suitable facilities so it's not such a big problem in those destinations. (Even so, some of the USA airport websites were quite shocking for their lack of info. Please note: that's airport websites, not airports.)

    At its peak, the site was getting about 10k+ UVs per month. The figure is around 6k now.

    Thanks to some EP members, I did have some ideas to monetise it by the less obvious routes, eg a consultancy service for hotels wishing to provide facilities for disabled people. But I was never able to gain traction with any of them (even though it was my job at the time to write hotel and restaurant reviews, so I was meeting a lot of interesting people in the industry).

    I also used the obvious methods without much success.

    AdSense - in my experience AS doesn't work so well on sites where most of the traffic are repeat visitors (eg a forum), or on content sites where users can quickly and easily find all the info they seek. They don't need to click on the ads to find out more. I have quite a lot of experience with AS so I had a good understanding of what works. I tried different placements, numbers of ad units, etc. At first the AS was only supposed to be a little back-up revenue stream for the site, but in time as the other methods of monetising failed, I just stuck more ad units on because I had pretty much given up hope for the site. At its very best, the site was lucky if it scraped 3 (my account is in GBP) per day. Not very rewarding, I'm sure you'll agree. Anyway, AS is much more difficult these days because of retargeting and other changes. AS is usually the first thing people suggest when they think of quick and "easy" ways to monetise but my experience suggests that it doesn't work so well any more. Most likely you'll cheapen the look of your site for very little financial reward.

    Affiliate Marketing - I tried all the usual, eg equipment sales and hire, hotel bookings, WAV (wheelchair adapted vehicles) hire, etc, etc. None of these worked for me. Remember that the audience consisted of info seekers not buyers. So a big mistake I made was not thinking about the sales funnel when I went about creating the content. I stupidly expected to be rewarded for providing a useful service but life ain't like that. What I should have done was to focus on targeting those people who had already got the info they wanted and were ready to buy. If you want to make money with a website, rather than be a free service to all comers, then you need to think about these things.

    Direct advertising - the site never had the volume of traffic to get beyond making a start on this. I tried offering free listings in the hope that advertisers would find it useful and would subsequently pay for it when the site grew and they could see the benefits. But I couldn't even give it away! At the time I was doing a lot of travelling myself and meeting a lot of people in the industry (hotel managers, restaurant owners, etc) but beyond polite interest in what I was trying to do they'd no desire at all to come on board the CAN! project. In some cases, I was even talking to hotel GMs with multi-million refurbishment programmes on their hands and they had made no provision at all to accommodate wheelchair users. You know what? And you'll find it difficult to get anyone to admit this. A lot of places don't want wheelchair users. They take up extra space, can be slower at moving around the premises, and can create various other such nuisances for the business owner.

    I did consider some other fairly obvious ways to monetise, eg create a membership site, write and sell our own eBooks, info packs, and other content-related products, etc. But all of these would require further investment in time and money and I haven't yet decided if I have the resources or inclination to do what's necessary.

    Sponsorships are another thing that's often mentioned by people when thinking about such a site. That's difficult too, because a lot of services in this niche are provided by charities or govt bodies (not much chance of sponsorship from there). And to get any prominent company on board with sponsorship, they have to want to put their brand behind your cause and you need to be prominent in your niche. You have to be able to answer the "What's in it for them?" question.

    I hope this is helpful, even if it's only to see some of the potential difficulties you might face in trying to monetise the site.
    British Expat - helping people to live and work abroad since the year 2000.

    The joy of Internet delivery - the cartoon illustrating this will make you laugh!



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