Welcome back, folks!
This month’s look at the history of TBL is a small consideration of how the site started generating revenue and why it became a necessity. This is a rather dull story, but some of you may find it interesting – who knows?!
We first started placing ads on the site with a group called AdClub. I think that their website was adclub.net, which seems to be down as of the writing of this article. This was an interesting group – they paid a set amount per click, something like a dime I think. The thing that I remember the most out of this advertising set-up was that I would always tell the readers to “Click on our sponsor’s ad below. Thanks!” at the end of each news update/column. Every now and again I’d throw some bullshit in there like, “Hey, we’re looking to upgrade our equipment so the more clicks on the banner below, the better!”
Hmmm…that might not be so much “bullshit” actually. I really did use that ad money to buy better computer equipment!
The other thing that I remember about AdClub is getting my first check. I was sixteen years old (or something like that) and I got a check in the mail for $105.00! Think about that – a kid in high school being given that amount of money for literally doing nothing. That’s insanity! I also remember my Mother wondering how I was able to make that kind of money without really doing anything other than writing about wrestling and honestly, I didn’t have any good reason to tell her why the company would pay me, but they did – and I don’t complain!
At some point in their history, AdClub was taken over by a pillow-making company (I kid you not) named Pacific Pillows – or something oddly named as such. After that ridiculous business decision, the company only had a few more months before they were shut down. With their closing, not only was TBL’s revenue generation put on hold, but so were many other small wrestling websites. And hey – from the advertiser’s point of view, that had to be a good thing. They were literally wasting advertising money. From my point of view, I really wasn’t too crushed because the money that I was making on that program was all profit…you see at that point in time, TBL was still on the GeoCities server and it was a completely free deal.
I don’t really remember how/where the next advertising stream came from, but I do remember that I charged some kid $5 to advertise his website all over TBL. Remember folks, this was before PayPal or any of those over-the-internet money transferring programs. So this kid had to send the money to me, in the mail, and hope that I actually performed. And would you believe that the kid sent the money? Further, would you believe that I actually promoted the hell out of that kid’s site so much so that the hits I was sending over forced him to shut it down after his month of advertising was up?
Part of me felt bad about that, but I talked to the kid online after he closed the site and he said that he wasn’t really that upset about it, so I wound up not really caring too too much about it in the end. That particular story, though, is a good example of what sets TBL apart from other wrestling websites (and other sites in general) – when we say that we’re going to advertise your website, we’re going to put the full force of our capabilities behind the advertising.
When we made the jump from the GeoCite to the .com, advertising had to become an issue. In short, we had to pay for the website server space, the domain registration, etc. So we had to start making money. There were three major forms of advertising at this point in internet wrestling history: direct advertising agreements with websites, pop-up advertising, and banner advertising. TBL couldn’t handle direct advertising agreements; that was the realm of WWF.com and some of the big, corporate wrestling websites (though many websites began to offer such services and even though they won’t tell you – they failed miserably at it). At the time, I despised pop-up advertising and after a few go-arounds with a few different pop-up programs, I nixed the entire idea. Then there was banner advertising…TBL could do this!
The story is boring here, folks. I started using an advertising program called FocusIn, which was eventually bought up by a group called Mamma, and that is still the organization that I use to this day. About a year and a half or so ago, we made the decision to put pop-ups on the site (revenue generation would be garbage without them). The funny thing is – for years I battled that adding pop-ups to a website decreased hits, yet once I added them…the hits actually went up a little bit!
Sure, the hits increasing were a mix of better content on the site, better people working on the site, and better designs for the site, but I still like to point to the increase as a weird, quirky response to adding pop-ups!
And, being the business-minded man that I’ve become, last year we added Google Ads to the bottom of the website (and the top of the Rare Pictures area). Those ads have been a nice addition to the site and have helped me generate enough revenue to seriously consider putting together some print advertising for TBL, which may be coming in our decennial year! Be on the lookout!
That’s what I’ve got this time, folks. For the next column, I want to look at some of the things that used to make and continue to make TBL special!