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Posted: 2/4/2010 - 1 comment(s) [ Comment ] - 0 trackback(s) [ Trackback ]

As the administrator of DragonukConnects, I get a lot of letters from members, both praise and negativity.  We do appreciate the praise, but I'd like to address one of the negative comments/questions that we do get once in a while.  The letter from an un-named member below is obviously upset that Brian charges for what he calls social networking which he feels is bad business.  Please take a look at my response which I believe with all my heart.

_____________________________

Didn't you use to send out a warning regularly that said: "Agents who ask you for money up front are ripoff artists -  don't support them?"  
Do I remember that correctly?
 
There are lots and lots of ways to provide your users "added value"  
and charge for it, but charging for providing a basic service violates your own advice.
 
The same goes for the "connections" function of your website.  If you don't understand how social networking works and creates value, don't try to do it, and CERTAINLY don't try to charge for it. Your users know better.
 
You have given too much to this community to try and extract cash from us this way, please reconsider this tragic mistake. If you have done this on others' advice, FIRE THEM. They are misleading you.
 
Respectfully, ________
 
_______________
My response:

Hi _____,  We do take your letter seriously and I will forward this on to Brian, but as the administrator, I do want to address some of your comments.

Due to the amount of members (currently over 3200) and extreme surges in traffic after newsletters are sent out, we have not been able to run this site on a shared server.  We are now running it on a dedicated server.  This is not cheap.  Not to mention development, upkeep, and someone for support and administration.  

What you receive with the basic free membership is everything you have always received from Brian's yahoo group and more.  He has done all this for free for the last 10 years by the sweat of his brow, never pushing for money, because he cares about the industry and the connections he has made.  And there are very few people who have not found jobs through his service, and collected cash and added to their income due to him.  

The site was developed according to Brian's specific directions to keep the newsletters and jobposts free so that if people could not afford a subscription they could still secure work.  The only thing he asked for, is for members to pay for visibility.

Now the difference between Brian and an agent (or casting) is that when an agent or casting director gets you a job, yes, they get paid.  When Brian gets you a job, he does not get paid.  And as for his warning of staying away from those who ask for cash, his official article on this is in the forum at http://www.dragonukconnects.com/forum_topic.php?forum_id=1&topic_id=5 .
The difference is most of the casting directors are now asking for $ for visibility on their sites and this is understandable, due to the costs involved, same as this site.  But when they ask for a large  amount of money that simply sustains their business, this is entirely different.

He kept the price quite low for the extra visibility service, only $45 per year ($35 for union), one of the lowest in the industry.  This comes out to only around .12 cents per day.

Before I started working for Brian, I received his newsletters for years, and never could believe that he wasn't charging for it and always used to tell him so.  He always shrugged it off, saying that it was too important to get the jobs and other info out and that if he started charging many people would not get that info anymore, so he kept it free.  So I did as much as I could for him for years in the way of free services to pay him back for all the jobs he got me over the years.  When he was sick in the hospital, I sent him money to help pay for his hospital bill (as did many other yahoo members).  Personally, I just felt I owed him a lot.

As for the social networking, I know this site looks like a social networking site, but it is mainly a jobsite and secondly it is a business networking site, and yes we do ask you to pay for the business networking.  I would agree with your letter if it was not for the fact that the free service will make you money.  The paid service simply adds to your chances of securing jobs while making those connections.

Finally, as of today, Feb 4th, 2010, so far we are at 10% with paid memberships and we have gotten many letters from free and paid members alike thanking us for the site as well as letters from paid members who were found on the site and were hired. I mean really...if you got one job from Brian's service, it would more than pay for a paid subscription.

Anyway, just my thoughts on the subject.  I will forward your letter on to Brian.

Thanks,
 
Jay Chapin
Administrator
The NEW DragonukConnects.com
www.DragonukConnects.com
jay@dragonukconnects.com 
 

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