educational

XBiz Polls: About Your Business

Stephen Yagielowicz

In my first installment, we looked at questions that concerned you, the reader’s of XBiz. Today, we’ll take a look at the overall state of your businesses, and some of the various “technical” issues that face our industry.

Every week I run a new Webmaster Poll on the front page here at XBiz, all in an attempt to understand you, our readers, your businesses, and our industry, with the highest degree of accuracy that is practical. Rather than being idle curiosity, I choose the poll questions in attempt to generate a meaningful profile, and one that evolves over time to paint a picture of where we are, and where we’re headed.

All of this helps me to focus the content of the articles that I would like to present here, as well as the areas in which opportunity, as well as problems, may be lurking. As I begin to think of new questions that I would like to ask, I would like to take a moment to share with you some of the recent results from polls past.

The first area that I wanted to know about businesses involved their size, length of operation, and profitability. The results we obtained indicated that the influx of newbies into our industry was still going strong, and that overall, things were looking good – even if the business was still primarily comprised of smaller, “Mom and Pop” operations.

Is Your Web Business...

  • Just Starting: 34%
  • Expanding: 32%
  • Stable: 19%
  • Declining: 15%

How Many People Work On Your Site?

  • Just Me!: 69%
  • 2-5: 22%
  • 10+: 7%
  • 5-10: 2%

Profitability is fine, but it is also relative. There are many folks in this business who make a decent living at it, but work extraordinary hours to do so. Two indicators of the level of commitment Webmasters are making include the frequency of their site updates, as well as the scope of their networking:

How Often Do You Update Your Site?

  • Daily: 45%
  • Weekly: 29%
  • Monthly: 19%
  • Never: 6%

What kind of 'Networking' do you do?

  • All of These Methods: 40%
  • E-mail / ICQ: 33%
  • Chat / Message Boards: 15%
  • Face to Face: 13%

I am also interested in the relative sophistication of your operations, as well as their diversity, with obvious (if somewhat indirect) measures of this involving ‘mobility’ (and by inference, an often ‘newer’ generation of technology), as well as whether or not the adult arena was your only marketing venue:

Is Your Business 'Mobile'?

  • Yes - I'm High Tech: 36%
  • Yes, When I Travel: 27%
  • No, But I Wish...: 21%
  • No, Why Bother?: 15%

Do You Sell Non-Adult Products?

  • Yes: 53%
  • No: 34%
  • I'd Like To: 9%
  • I Used To: 3%

Getting back to relative profitability, the old saying that “It takes money to make money” still holds true, and it is the money you spend (as well as where you spend it) that can provide an indication of the health of your business.:

What's Your Annual Software Budget?

  • Less Than $500: 42%
  • $500 - $1,000: 21%
  • $1,000 - $5,000: 21%
  • $5,000+: 16%

What's Your Annual Hardware Budget?

  • Less Than $1,000: 54%
  • $1,000 - $5,000: 30%
  • $5,000 - $10,000: 14%
  • $10,000+: 3%

Success isn’t just about the money you spend, it is about the money you earn – and one of the most fundamental methods of generating income on the Internet involves accepting credit cards for the purchase of goods and services (including site memberships) – a process that has become increasingly more difficult for many Webmasters:

How Do You Process Credit Cards?

  • 3d Party Processor: 43%
  • I Don't: 29%
  • Own Merchant Account: 16%
  • Through An AVS: 12%

Will VISA Changes Close Your Pay Site?

  • No - I'll Adapt!: 42%
  • What VISA Changes?: 23%
  • Yes - I'm Done: 18%
  • I'm Not Sure Yet...: 17%

Technical proficiency and automation go hand in hand, and in this business, the more automated you are, the more profitable you can become. With this in mind, I was curious as to your use of technology, and scripting (the most fundamental level of Website automation) in particular:

What server scripting do you use?

  • PHP: 58%
  • CGI: 30%
  • Other: 9%
  • None: 2%

What client scripting do you use?

  • JavaScript: 59%
  • Java: 19%
  • Other: 15%
  • None: 7%

A further (and perhaps more revealing) look at your business’ technical proficiency involves your susceptibility to viruses and hackers, and again, the results were pretty much in line with my own experiences:

Have You Ever Been Hacked?

  • No!: 52%
  • Yes!: 39%
  • What's That?: 5%
  • I'm Not Sure: 4%

Have You Ever Received A Virus?

  • Yes! Anti-Virus Killed It: 40%
  • Yes! I Was Infected!: 34%
  • No! I've Been Lucky: 26%
  • I'm Not Sure: 0%

But What Does it All Mean?
As I stated in my previous installment, these weekly poll questions, as well as the resulting answers, can be interpreted in a wide variety of ways, and it’s also true that if I had asked some of these questions in a more direct manner, that the answers would be less insightful.

This has led me to discover what I really wanted to know through some indirect means, posing my questions in a way that would give me an idea of what I really wanted to know, without coming right out and asking – since we all know that polls like these can be fairly “optimistic” at times. A case in point is those little survey cards that are quite frequently attached to product warranties – when was the last time that you truthfully answered the “What is your total household income?” line? This is a weakness found in all polls that are based upon voluntary responses, and as such do not present a true scientific sampling.

As I consider my next round of weekly polls, I am always curious about what YOU want to know, so if there is anything that you would like asked in an XBiz Webmaster Poll, please send it to me at stephen@xbiz.com – thanks, and good luck! ~ Stephen

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