A Free Site Model
Sponsors vs. Advertisers
This is one of the primary things you need to decide before you begin. If you plan to continue directing surfers to sponsors, then you need to work on building a systematic directory of all of your links into niches, with a huge amount of pages dedicated to every niche you can find in the Open Directory Project. If you plan to go for revenue through advertisements, then what you need is a great index page, like the Drudge Report, which is more like a blog.
With Google demanding incoming links, exchanging links has been turned into an art form and a lucrative industry in itself. What gets missed in all of this 'PR' hoopla is that there's only a finite amount of links you can put on a "links page." After some time, it becomes a maze of a page with zero relevancy for surfers and a huge amount for the search engines.
The right way to do link exchanges from the beginning is to leave your pages intact and create a directory on a subdomain, e.g.: directory.yoursite.com. Install a directory management script. Categorize the directory for niches and everything that comes under "adult" and start putting in links to partner sites in those categories. After some time those pages will begin to gain relevancy in the search engines and also can be well-designed and pleasing to the surfer's eye, besides serving as doorway pages to bring surfers into your site.
Free sites act as routers between paysites and surfers. It's logical to assume that your basic goal, in this case, should be to:
• Link to as many paysites as possible.
• Let as many surfers as possible know about your site.
The key to letting surfers know about your free site is branding. You can bring in traffic from anywhere -- trading, gallery submissions, search engines, linkbacks, etc. -- but unless surfers remember and bookmark your pages, you're swimming against the tide.
There are a multitude of ways to achieve this. Forum posting is one good way, in the sense that it batters surfers with your site name. Of course, it helps if you keep your site updated with the newest sponsors and you're able to do a bit of search-engine optimization to get your links in the Top 10. If you are successful, it will ultimately free you of the bother of trading traffic or catering to the search engines.
A few points: Always use your site name when you are posting on forums or exchanging links. Put your site name at the top of every page of your site, in a well-designed banner or text and put your site name in the "title" meta tag of every single page so that your site name shows up in the search engines.
Develop a system for spreading the news about any new additions or updates to your site as far and as wide as possible on the Internet. It could be RSS, an e-zine, SEO, blogs, a network of sites, forum postings or any combination of these.
The fact is, you need your site to grow, in terms of content and visitors. All this can best be achieved by a little smart planning before you begin.