The best way to monetize a file sharing site

by Bryn Youngblut on June 28, 2008

File sharing websites are a dime a dozen these days and I’m not even talking about the warez ones. Some of the most popular ones I can think of would be rapidshare and megaupload for files and imageshack and tinypic for pictures.

Now let’s compare all of their methods for making money.

Premium signup for $6.99/month (theres more payment options but I’ll just compare monthly).
No advertisements on download page.
It seems they have dropped the advertising and decided to rely on offering people a good and fast service with hopes of people signing up for premium membership.

Premium signup for 9.99/month.
Advertisements on download page.
Typical file sharing website, they do have some other cool features but I won’t get into those since this is just about comparing the different ways file sharing sites monetize themselves.

Premium signup for $8/month.
They have two 300×250 banners on the front page, links page and a 728×60 banner at the top of the image viewing page with a popup ad.

A single 300×250 banner on home page, links page and image viewing page.
No option for premium member, all advertisement based.

Now that I’ve put the way these 4 popular sites monetize their sites let’s compare my image sharing website.

No advertisements (theres 2 links at the footer which are just 2 other free internet tool websites I offer).
No option for premium member.

Now heres my problem, I don’t know what I should do about monetizing my site, picpanda. Do you think ads are the way to go or premium members? Or perhaps something else? Please note file sharing sites are NOT cheap to run and very server intensive.

I would love to hear your guys thoughts on this.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Andy June 28, 2008 at 10:22 pm

Hi Bryn,

is it possible to own the rights to the photos that are uploaded and sell the full resolution versions like stock photos? Of course, most photos will be no good but some may be ok. Or maybe compile them into collections on DVD.

You would also want to encourage amateur photographers to use your service for this to work rather than people that take personal photos of friends and family.


2 Robin Majumdar September 14, 2008 at 12:29 am

Remember the current Web 2.0 monetization strategy : build traffic and then worry about business plan / monetization strategy. Pray that your financing can hold out during that timeframe…

Then, once you have the traffic flowing through your file hosting service… the monetization idea will come to you – hopefully it will be white hat and not evil, or.. err, not *too* evil. :)



Bryn Youngblut Reply:

Indeed, definitely some good advice that I always stick by. Although sometimes it can be hard to implement ads later on when there wasn’t any in the beginning that’s why I always recommend people that know they’re gonna have ads on their blog to put them up from the start so later on it’s not an annoyance to their readers.


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