* The Business of Software

A former community discussing the business of software, from the smallest shareware operation to Microsoft. A part of Joel on Software.

We're closed, folks!


» Business of Software FAQ
» The Business of Software Conference (held every fall, usually in Boston)
» Forum guidelines (Please read before posting!)


Andy Brice
Successful Software

Doug Nebeker ("Doug")

Jonathan Matthews
Creator of DeepTrawl, CloudTrawl, and LeapDoc

Nicholas Hebb
BreezeTree Software

Bob Walsh
host, Startup Success Podcast author of The Web Startup Success Guide and Micro-ISV: From Vision To Reality

Patrick McKenzie
Bingo Card Creator

Monetizing info site?

Just sort of an idle thought... And not well-thought-through..

I had some ideas for web sites that provide info based on data scraping and automated analysis, with possibly some options for the user to put in some parameters and guide the results.  Not financial stuff at all, but more like info useful to consumers or the general populace.  Gmaps Pedometer, for example, provides a service for runners/walkers and others wanting to know distances, piggybacking off Google Maps.  This would not be anything quite like that, but just to give an idea...

Aside from it being possibly a fun project to try to do and practice web application development, I was wondering if people here think there would be a good way to monetize this well as a business. 

I guess revenue would most obviously be from ads on the site?  Any thoughts on how worth it this type of project might be, from a making-extra-money perspective?
Racky Send private email
Monday, July 28, 2014
There are some very good ways you could make money from this.  Think of the "dark web", i.e. web sites that anyone can sign up for. Without the signup, crawlers (Google, etc) can't crawl, and thus the information is stuck (i.e. in the dark as far as searchers are concerned).

My brother is in an industry where they look for RFPs for their products, and then submit bids when they find people looking for what they sell.  They have someone that literally logs in to each of 50-100 sites _every_ day just to check and see if there is a new RFP that they might be interested in.  Would that be worth $500+/month to his company?  Multiply that by thousands of other companies in similar niches.

So the trick is making sure your crawler can get into/past all sorts of login pages (after you've created an account and saved the credentials for the crawler).
Doug Send private email
Monday, July 28, 2014
Sorry to be a Debbie Downer: making money from ads is tough. Super tough, even.

There are, as always, exceptions where people make lots of money with little effort but for 99% of people get awful ad rates and would need astronomical number of page views to get reasonable income.

You can't just create a website and expect that people will find it and use it. If you're not ranked high in Google search for some keyword then your option is buying traffic (the opposite of what you're trying to do).

The source of the problem is low barrier to entry. It's not that much effort to scrape some website, re-publish the data on your website and stick adsense ads on it. Because of that many people do it and it creates race to the bottom where both ad rates to fall and traffic is splintered among more website, so less of it goes to your website.

That's why my current thinking is that if you want to make money with software, you need to develop apps that are hard to replicate by some weekend warriors.

Apps that provide enough value that you can sell them for $20+ and are rich enough that you can work on improving them in a meaningful way for 10+ years.
Krzysztof Kowalczyk Send private email
Monday, July 28, 2014
>Sorry to be a Debbie Downer: making money from ads is tough. >Super tough, even.

No its not!  Google's making a fortune out of it.
TomTomAgain Send private email
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Yes, and Michael Phelps has 22 Olympic medals therefore getting 22 Olympic medals is easy.
Krzysztof Kowalczyk Send private email
Thursday, July 31, 2014
Interesting idea, though not what I was thinking in terms of.  Would definitely need to pick up new skills to attempt that.

Although that sounds reasonable, on the other hand I guess much depends on what "enough money" is to each person.  I occasionally hear about, e.g., niche bloggers who make a little money here and there, and although, sure in most cases that's not enough to live on, in my tax bracket it helps. 

My idea was actually based on scraping Craigslist, but soon after I posted my question I found that Craigslist very clearly doesn't allow exactly that.  I've heard of some creative legal ways around it, but I'd rather just forgo it.  Party poopers.
Racky Send private email
Thursday, July 31, 2014
From a making money perspective, I think you'll earn more if you directly charge users (customers, then) a fee. Depending on how much scraping you're doing, server costs can become a lot.
Dan 9000 Send private email
Friday, August 01, 2014

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz