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Monday, November 1, 2010

The Economics of Zootennis.com

On Saturday I posted a link to the report by the USTA's National Collegiate Varsity Committee estimating the annual cost of competing as a professional tennis player at approximately $143,000. Fortunately for me, the cost of covering college and junior tennis is nowhere near that amount, but one of the questions I am asked most often when I'm out on the road is how I am able to do what I do. I travel often, and I do not have an employer; I cover all my travel expenses myself, although my husband does get comped hotel rooms when he serves as a site director at various tournaments.

A surprising number of people think I am employed by the USTA, which is probably my own fault, since a lot of the polo shirts I wear have the USTA logo on them, due to my association with the tournament here in Kalamazoo. I also wear shirts with the Tennis Recruiting Network logo on them, and, unlike the USTA, TR.Net does make a substantial contribution to my efforts to write about junior and college tennis. (I hope that doesn't come off sounding like I have any expectation that the USTA should pay me. I don't.) Since I began writing for them five years ago, Tennis Recruiting Network has been a freelancer's dream, providing a regular, weekly outlet for my work and prompt payment, while allowing me to choose my topics. I am proud of my association with them, and if you support them by subscribing or by patronizing their advertisers, you are indirectly supporting me. I have other freelance clients, including USTA Florida, for whom I do a regular photo/caption piece, and the very occasional magazine assignment, but the bulk of my writing I do on this site, and I don't charge for it.

There is a new trend starting to take hold among bloggers with followings, which I now can confidently say I have. It is called Freemium, and it provides some content for free, with other content on the blog for subscribers only (this is, of course, also the Tennis Recruiting Network model). I have always wanted to keep this site free, for a variety of reasons, but mostly because I would like as many people as possible to read what I write. In the past year or two, I have been able to attract three direct advertisers--OTZSports, Roddick Lavalle Academy and Genesis Strings--who have helped with the bottom line. I get a small percentage of the sales made through the links to Amazon and Tennis Warehouse that appear on Zootennis, although there has been an alarming drop in those revenues this year. Google ads also appear now between many of the posts. The revenue generated from them is not large, but it is based on both impressions (how many people see it) and clicks (how many people visit the advertiser), so traffic does matter. Obviously, I am only able to retain my direct advertisers if they feel they are getting exposure to the right audience for the right price.

For many of you, all of this may fall into the Too Much Information category, and my response is simply to say that I don't do posts like this often. As I approach my seventh year of maintaining this blog, it occurs to me that there are parents and junior players who don't remember when I wasn't doing this (heck, I can barely remember those days myself), so maybe I'm being paid the compliment of being taken for granted. But compliments don't buy plane tickets or hotel rooms, so I ask you to consider, with the holidays approaching, using the affiliate links on the site, and patronizing the direct sponsors mentioned above.

I love what I do and I want to continue to doing it for many years to come. Thanks for reading.


work-hard-tennis said...

Thank you for explaining all of that. I really appreciate the explanation. You do a really good job.

West Nott said...

Great post Colette...I personally like how you mentioned Freemium. I know I would pay $5-10 per month . $5-10 x 500 users per day. $2500-$5000 bucks per month- I don't think that is too far of a stretch. You provide a valuable service and then you could potentially integrate an App someday- I got friends who could help you with that. It really is in the best interest of our sport and I think you would be surprised how many people would pay when you consider tennis parents, college players, coaches, and fans in general. Your information is unique, timely, and hard to duplicate- loyal fans too! Hard to DUPLICATE is key.

Or am I way off? I've been there before and thats why college tennis coaching was such a logical option for me.

Keep up the good work!

DaveinPensacola said...

Colette, good luck--you deserve many
reward$ for your hard work. By the way, you should have received $$ from my last few shoe purchases from TW

Agreed said...

Colette, ZooTennis is so informative and valuable, thank you for letting us all know how it works behind the scenes. I will definitely come to zootennis and follow advertiser links. I'm putting a post-it note on my desk right not to remind me. Also, i agree with West Nott and would do Freemium to support you as I do with TR. As long as it was reasonably priced, I would consider it money well spent. Keep up the good work, and do what you have to do to keep doing what you love to do!

dallasoliver said...

As others have said, nice post, Colette. As always, we at TRN appreciate your kind words... and, of course, the relationship is a slam dunk from our side as well.

Our collective opinion at TRN is that your work is the best available from the standpoints of coverage, analysis, and writing. Your fresh look at current topics and events is a big feature to TRN.

I am glad that you are able to do the work that you are doing - and I hope that we continue our relationship for a long, long time.

Tim OBrien said...

I am a retired D1 women's tennis coach. I read your posts daily along with Women Who Serve and Bob Larson. I would be happy to make an annual donation to the site if a link were prominently displayed on your site for donations. Wiki makes a habit of posting his request once a year. I join the others in saying thanks and keep up the great work!

love you column said...

I don't post but I do read you column everyday! Love the coverage that you provide and I do use the links whenever I can.
Thank you for years of great work!

(and I meant to sign up as
"love your column" oh well!)

Marcia Frost said...

As someone who spent many years covering college and junior tennis full time (before the days when social media added to the daily schedule), I can very much understand the amount of time and effort Colette puts in. I am unable to continue covering tennis full time and am grateful that I can count on reading Zoo Tennis and know that nothing happening in the college and junior tennis worlds gets by her!

I urge everyone to support this site as best they can because the information is unique and valuable.