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Not technically, although I do have a lot of help.

I've managed to build a good "team" by outsourcing as much as possible. I use Rackspace so I don't have to manage servers or do much sysadmin. I work with a freelance programming firm for things I need done that I can't/don't have time to do in house. I've hired freelance writers to produce content for our art blogs (usually artists. Also-I write for those art marketing blogs, drawing on my 16 years of gallery experience). I usually hire customers who know what they're doing as part time support agents - they work freelance from home via our forums and ticket system.

It's actually getting easier over time to outsource services as more and more Saas and Paas offerings come online (Do you know how much easier storing Terabytes of images is now that S3 exists?). A few Examples: I used to maintain a mail server, now that's outsourced to MailTrust, we outsource customer analytics to getclicky.com, we outsource email newsletter deliver to Cakemail.

Having said all of that, I am starting to look for an in-house developer. There are some aspects of a code-base and server configuration that are hard to outsource to another firm.

Nice - you got a business doing 400k+ in revenue per yr, growing nicely. I'm sure someone would be willing to put down a few to several million if you ever sold. Keep it up.

Do you market mainly via word of mouth, pay per click, etc.? Seem like word of mouth based on the growth curve.


Is that a buyout offer? ;-)

How I market is another blog post I have planned. I think I've maxed our PPC and it doesn't bring in that many customers but is self-sustaining (in that the revenue off PPC customers is higher than what we're paying in PPC expenses).

Some things I've done very effectively in the past are full-page magazine ads (in artist magazines) and old-school direct mail. I wrote a direct-mail letter and purchased a mailing list of artists and over time sent the promo pieces out with a special discount code to sign up online. Some artists are very non-techy (especially going back to early 2000s), I even toyed with the idea of having a mail-in form to setup the website.

Probably our best marketing has been our free daily art marketing newsletter and blog (http://faso.com/fineartviews/). Our daily email list is over 15,000 and growing and we regularly promote to those artists. I think this is a strategy FAR too many startups ignore. We don't spend most of our time writing articles for other startups, we write articles that are of interest to our CUSTOMERS. That keeps them coming back to our site day after day.

Also - PARTNER with other companies. The gist of my marketing advice is this: Ask yourself, "Who else reaches the same customers I do?" Now partner with those people. For example, we host an online art contest for an art supply company. They promote our service to their customers and visa-versa.

Sorry if this is rough, will clean up and expand these ideas in future blog posts.


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