[Hey, just a quick request -- if anybody things this would be something that would be okay to submit as an article to K5, let me know? I would really love the wise advice of the sages here, but not at the expense of making enemies for submitting something "so dumb".]
I had considered that idea some time ago, but only briefly.
There are several problems with taking a cut from each sale (there are several problems with revenue raising idea so far though). First, a lot of people have completely left eBay to use my site not only because of the niche it serves, but specifically because I don't charge that listing/percentage fee that eBay does. Even if I did charge a percentage, it means that people would have to send money to me ahead of time to have their account credited. Then I'm suddenly caught in the middle every time someone's auction doesn't go through. What if Suzy doesn't send Maggie the item she won and keeps Suzy's money? What if Suzy sells to the second-highest bidder? It's so impossible to keep everyone at auction sites honest that the best way I've found to deal with it is to just stay totally impartial and removed from those situations (after all, there are enough ways to protect yourself, such as cheap escrow services).
Now, the good thing about a percentage fee is that it would mean that people who sell more pay more and people who sell less pay less. Considering the type of member at my site ranges from sixteen year old highschool kids to twenty or even forty year old self-employed people effectively running their entire business through my site, that would be a somewhat fair method of gaining revenue.
A long time ago (perhaps eight months or more), I ran a poll on the site to see what ideas people supported the most. Now, the idea at the time was not regarding revenue specifically -- but rather a way to be sure people couldn't create multiple accounts and continue to be dead-beats. My theory was that if someone had to pay money to use the site they would be less likely to be deadbeats and they would be less likely to waste money on creating fake accounts to shill auctions or harass users.
The ideas I had were:
Send in a copy of valid photo ID for an account.
A hand full of people liked this idea. Free, but still helps solve the problem of multiple accounts and accountability.
The biggest problem I had with this one is that I do not want to keep records of people's private data. I already have to keep their names and email/mailing addresses and I feel having their photo ID is just too much and there are too many potential problems with people having trouble at some point in the future and then blaming me because "Hey, I sent him a copy of my drivers license!". Besides, I'm a big privacy proponent.
Pay a percentage of each item (or alternatively, a straight-forward listing fee).
A handful of people liked this idea, too -- but not anywhere near a majority or plurality.
As already mentioned, there are pros and cons to this. I like the idea, but I don't like the idea (I'm a gemini -- go figger).
Send in a small payment (5 or 10 bucks) and, if you do not cause trouble for six months, have it refunded.
People liked this one and the 'pay a flat fee' idea about the same. I think they liked the idea that they would get their money back after proving themselves. Of course, this doesn't help solve the problem of funding the site -- just helps with multiple accounts. Then I have the added trouble of sending their money back to them every six months. Kind of a pain in the ass.
Pay a flat fee (subscription) to access the site.
This one had the most votes.
These helps fund the site and allows people to use the site as much or as little as they want with no more trouble than sending in a money order or check once or twice a year. It also makes it easier to 'guage' annual funding, because it's more static than percentage fees.
Then there were a few people (maybe 10% or 20%) who flat-out preferred not to pay at all.
I think there were some others, but hey -- it's been a long time.
Some friends have been suggesting that I setup a tiered system. I kind of like that idea. Something like this:
Fee-For-Service: User send in some money, which is credited to their account. Doing stuff (buying, selling, etc) costs a little bit each time and that cost is deducted from the bank-roll/account. When the account is empty, they no longer have access to services until they send more money.
General Subscription: Users send in a payment of perhaps $10, which entitles them to a one year subscription. This allows them to post as many auctions and sell/buy as many items as they like in that time.
Advanced Subscription: Users send in a payment of maybe $20 for a one year subscription. They get everythign the general subscription offers, but some neat tools to allow them to track their sales and auctions they're interested in. Maybe they'll get a tee-shirt or a button or something with the subscription.
Business Subscription: Save as the Advanced Subscription. Maybe charge $50 bucks for a one year membership. The advantage would be that they would get to have little 'min-advertisements' or 'featured auctions' on the site, to promote what their business is auctioning on the site. Anyone would be able to use this service if they want to pay the business subscription fee, of course.
So, I don't know about this. I know this is long and a little off topic, but hopefully someone wiser than I will offer me some advice. My concern is that I'll start charging (whatever method I decide on) and half the members will leave. If half the members leave, that limits the audience that sellers have and they will get tired of low sales-prices on their items and leave, too. So i feel like I am damned if I do and damned if I don't.
I just read K5 for the articles.
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