Expense vs. revenue for an indie site publisher

posted by Jeff | Monday, January 19, 2015, 11:19 PM | comments: 0

I think I've had the sites on Azure now for seven or eight months, and in that time I've been pleased to see the overall expense for hosting go down by about a third. I swear I won't tell the story of having a T-1 to my house at a grand a month again. Unfortunately, ad revenue isn't what it used to be either, in part because of the mobile thing, but it did at least seem to stabilize a bit this last year.

The move to the cloud has been technically a little bumpy at times, but it's pretty awesome to see that we're finally making a significant change in how we approach web applications in terms of cost. A third less cost is pretty important after about five or six years of flatness. It seems like the cloud pricing on a steady decline, too.

But ad revenue... what a mess. I'm having the typical erratic January following the typical dismal December (hey, my subject matter is largely seasonal). The wild swings in rates from day to day make it so impossible to predict how much you'll make, and the days of reliably banking a grand every month are long gone. Dammit I miss those days.

I'm not depending on the revenue these days to pay my mortgage, so it's certainly not the end of the world if it isn't meeting my expectations. However, the big thing I'm after these days is the full redundancy story. Traffic split across two "servers," the ability to failover, and maybe even distribute traffic to the right geography. Heck, you can even scale up instantly if you get slammed with enormous traffic (unlikely as that is). Why? Because you don't need a million-dollar budget to do it anymore!

Mind you, my apps can't physically do it just yet anyway. They still have little optimizations and caching tricks designed for running from a single location. But I've done enough proof-of-concept work with them to know it's not far off.

These are the kinds of science projects that eventually you get to use in your day job. Granted, I'll likely never work on anything that does 100 million page views a month again (the MSDN forums, if you were wondering), but it's always fun to know that you could if you had to.


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