4 steps to turn your Flash Arcade site into a two million visitors/month portal

Old time readers could remember Michael Edlavitch‘s Hooda Math, because two years ago I blogged about its case history and how Michael built from scratch a 10,000 visitors/day Flash Arcade site.

A lot of time passed (actually two years in Flash related industry is really a big amount of time), and guess what happened to Hooda Math? It turned into a 2,000,000 visitors/month portal.

Michael shares with us the milestones of this long time ride:

Arcade growth can be determined by 4 stages: in-house games distribution, sponsorships, site-locks, and exclusively hosted.

Stage one, in-house game creation and distribution, the arcade owner cannot afford to sponsor games, so he develops his own games, brands them, spreads them and hopes for traffic. At the same time you are adding games to your site with another sites branding all over it. But hey at least your arcade has games and hopefully good ones. Feel free to use some of ours at http://hm.gs/free.

Stage two, sponsorship, the arcade owner has made a little money, now he can either pay someone to create games for his site or start sponsoring already developed games. Either way the arcade owner is going to fork over some of his petty cash. For the most bang for his buck it is probably easiest to go sponsor a game at FGL (a lot of times the developer will want to include mochi or cpmstar ads, and to keep the price down you will subcumb). At least he did not have to waste time making games; instead the arcade owner can waste time spamming, improving SEO or figuring out some other way to get people to come to his site, like writing guest posts on blogs with his anchor text, “Math Games“, and a link to his site within it. Look up anchor text, it is very important for SEO and, more importantly, he should be looking up and learning about SEO, which is always changing. Not to mention social marketing like http://facebook.com/hoodamath/.

Stage three, site-locks, when the arcade owner has received a decent amount of traffic to your site and he is making enough money that if he got fired, he could still survive on rent, an Internet connection, and peanut butter and crackers (and really cheap beer). Analysis comes into play and he should be asking himself, “So, why are you still wasting ad space on other peoples ads and out-links.” Every time a user clicks a “more games” link inside another arcade’s branded game, they could have been clicking on one of your google ads! (notice how I am speaking directly to stage 3 arcade owners now). Listen, now that you have a lot of traffic, do the math, if thousands of people are clicking to go play a game elsewhere, when they could have clicked on an ad to buy penny loafers, you just lost money. It is time to buy site-locks, because you still want the already developed games, but rather pay a chunk of money up front and not lose clicks or worse yet traffic. Stage 3 will last a while. Stage three is the money stage, where most arcade owners would love to be. A perfect example, Armor Games, notice how all of their games are branded or site-locked with swords. I personally believe Armor should be on Stage 4, but Stage 4 is more of a state of mind than an actual business strategy. Stage 4 is where Addicting Games lives and few others should be. Impulsively, in Hooda Math Games land we like to fool ourselves and hang-out in Stage 4.

Stage 4, exclusively hosted games. You may be asking, “Why would I not brand the hell out of great game and spread it to the top sites to get more traffic. Hopefully, after doing the math, your arcade believes that, like site-locks, the benefits of exclusively hosting out-weighs advertising by distribution. You may delude yourself into thinking, “Your arcade has received as much traffic as possible from other sites. I would like to remind you that the other arcades still host your old branded games and hopefully new users are still discovering your arcade. But now your arcade wants users to think that the only place they can play a game like “Grow School” (yes, there is a Grow School now). Play Grow School at http://hm.gs/growschool. (More about Short Links on my blog, mikeedla.com).

Caveat, not every arcade follows these 4 stages. Some arcade owners are tripping and jump straight to Stage 4, and others are stingy and refuse to leave Stage 2. Either way, this article is the current belief of an arcade owner that has earned 2 million Monthly Uniques in under 3 years times.

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