A new user recently offered me a list of suggestions regarding the site and asked me about my goals, to which I replied:
My goal with Writer Beat is for it to generate enough revenue so that I can quit my job and work on it full time. From there, the sky is the limit. Right now, the only time I have is when I'm bored at work or have downtime at home.
Before we begin a discussion on all the tweaks that will enhance the site's desirability, let me preface by saying that even if everything worked the way both you and I liked, I don't think the site will have economic value. Something major needs to change to grow the site to where it can attract investors or advertisers. I don't think any of your suggestions will bring us to that point. I've been working on this for 6 years and nothing I've done has brought me to that point either. So do you want to discuss tweaking the site or should we first have a conversation on the big picture?
The new user replied with the following and my response will be in the comment thread:
I imagined that Writer Beat would sort of take up that Disqus mantle - and be the place where the little guy can write an essay and get responses from similar people. I think that basic format could become quite a bit more successful than it is, but I don't know if that is the direction you want it to go or how far down the road 'Disqus-clone' Writer Beat can take you. I do know that part of what attracted me to Disqus is there in Writer Beat, and what's missing that way is a lot of little things that are doable on a shoe-string budget and not much time. It would then exist as a stand-alone website selling advertising to make money, and possibly selling channels like disqus did (although those were not a big money maker). I assume Disqus is only abandoning this because its embedded comment system is making big bucks now.
That is what I thought the big picture was, but it isn't my big picture we are talking about - its yours. I am no seer, and I am not even a website expert. I am a power user who knows what features I would want from your website, and I assume that if you give me these things other people will appreciate them too, but that is just a hope.
Do you see the same things I do? What is your vision of what Writer Beat is supposed to be? Do you think that vision, well-executed, will be a success in this market, or is it running up against more established competition in a losing battle?
My experience is that a website that is doing well can explode. Maybe not overnight, but it will grow in an exponential way (more followers tell their friends who tell more) faster and faster and faster. Your frustration with Writer Beat is justified. You have probably tried a lot of things, and it has not taken off yet. And maybe what needs to be done for it to take off is not what you want to be doing. Maybe nothing we try will allow it to take off.
If you like my vision, I can talk you through that. If you explain your vision, I can talk you through that. I cannot make those decisions for you, and I cannot promise success. Writer Beat needs changed, it will not bloom as it sits now.