Example

Over the past couple of weeks, I rolled out my latest product release on Bike198.com…the “Live the Ride” wristbands.

Backing up – awhile back (about 6 months ago), I was trying to figure out another physical product I could release that would increase brand recognition and be easy to put together. After some thought, the idea of the wristband came up so I asked our Facebook followers what they thought…and they loved the idea.

Continue reading Physical Product Sales on Blog Case Study: Live the Ride Wristbands

Example

Yesterday, I received an email from one of the companies that I am an affiliate with that should have a lot of bloggers incredibly nervous.

With the impending passing of the California Budget which includes an Affiliate Nexus provision we have begun the process of removing all publishers located in the State of California.  From what we understand the Governor needs to sign the bill by July 1st and that when he does it will become effective immediately, if the Governor does not sign the bill all publishers will be reinstated to our program.

This is not something new. North Carolina and Illinois have also passed similar laws that allow for taxes to negate the money that companies use to pay affiliates. As a result, companies like Amazon.com have pulled their affiliate programs from these states because those programs are no longer profitable for the company and the bloggers.

For the bloggers that were depending on these commissions to support the bulk of their income stream, they are now without cash!

Diversifying Income Streams For Long Lasting Growth

I think I have probably told this to every blogger I run into and mentioned it in every presentation I have ever done…if you want to be successful over the long haul, you have to diversify your income streams. Business changes from day to day. What was great today could be gone tomorrow.

You have to ask yourself one simple question. If my #1 source of income was gone tomorrow…what would I have left?

If you answer is nothing, you are in a lot of trouble as a law like this…or some companies choice to leave the market completely…could leave you broke and penniless.

Successful companies are successful because they continue to grow and expand. As market conditions change, the economy does its thing and people’s tastes adapt to times, there are going to be periods in which certain areas that generate income for your business are up and down. When you diversify into multiple, related areas, you are able to handle the swings. When one is down, another one may be up. If one goes away completely, you are able to make up the difference in other areas instead of starting back from square one.

As a blogger, you have a lot of areas outside of just affiliate revenue that you can diversify into to keep your ability to go the distance healthy.

  1. Make Your Own Products and Services (eBooks, consulting, membership sites, physical products)
  2. Sell Direct Advertising
  3. Pay Per Click and Pay Per Impression Advertising (Adsense, Contextual, etc)

By jumping into different income options and expanding your offerings, you are taking the steps to insure that your blog is always generating income. Perhaps the best and longest lasting of these would be to create your own products and services that not only make you money…but strengthen your brand name at the same time.

Not Every Income Stream Is Right For You

Now…with this said. Not all of these areas will work for your blog. Just because you want to diversify, that does not mean to keep things going that do not work. In some markets, PPC/PPM advertising payouts are horrible and not worth the screen real estate. Choose what you implement carefully and test how they perform on your blog before deciding whether or not it is worth the effort and space.

And…like most things in life…this too can change so you have to be willing to test out income producing assets of your blog even if they might not have worked well in the past. With new knowledge and new market conditions, they could be a viable option now when they weren’t before.

Do Your Market Research

What is working for your competition? Is that an option for you? What are they not doing that might work in your market that you could capitialize on and set the bar?

These are all questions you should be asking yourself as you look for unique ways to produce income. While it is always good to look at what your competition is doing to make money on their own websites, sometimes it is even better to try what they are not doing as you might have found a hidden gem in your industry. It is always a good idea to keep tabs on the people around you for ideas.

How I Diversify On My Blogs

All of this theory is great, but how do we implement it in practice. On Bike198.com, I diversify my income streams with the following assets:

  1. Direct Advertising
  2. Sale of Review Products
  3. Affiliate Advertising
  4. CPC Advertising (2 banners)
  5. My Own Products (Ramped Riding eBook, 29er T-Shirt, Riding Kits)

As you can see, there is a lot to pull from to generate income. All of these avenues produce consistently month over month.

How do you diversify your income streams on your blog?

Example

Last week, I wrote an article on Bike198 about how every single rider had to start somewhere (Never Forget We All Started Somewhere). No one just wakes up one day able to jump road gaps or magically gets the endurance and skill to win races. At some point in time, every rider started at square one with zero knowledge and probably not even a bike. All they had was the willingness to learn and the drive to make their own dream a reality, but when you see it on the outside…it appears they have always ridden like that…

In the blogging world, that same paradox exists. You see blogs that are well established and making money forgetting that they too started with an idea and a blank screen.

With my BlogWorld Expo presentation coming up, I have been thinking a lot lately about the sequence of events that got to this point. When I look back on it, it really amazes me. I was just a guy who started a blog…nothing more…nothing less. My idea started to grow with hard work and dedication to the dream to become what it is today, but…at the end of the day…I am still just a guy that started a blog.

Every Pro Blogger Started Somewhere

If you are just starting out or trying to get over a plateau in your progress, it can seem like the world had it easier than you. It can seem like there was some secret that you missed out on. The reality is that every blogger (or rider like I pointed out in the biking article) has been exactly where you are sitting right now.

What separates the successful from those that aren’t is the willingness to push through the harder times and not give up. By learning from our experiences and keeping the drive to move forward, we see success and the monetary benefits that come along with that. No one…I repeat…no one wakes up one day with a “6 figure blog”. Every blogger that generates income from their efforts works hard at it day in day out to make it a success.

Nothing is free in life and everything that is worth having requires work.

You are not the first and certainly will not be the last to start a successful blog or make your blog successful by pushing through the harder times. Every blogger goes through these phases. It is how you deal with the ups and downs that determines your own personal outcome.

Successful business building and blogging does not come overnight. Everyone has to start somewhere…and it is that journey that makes the fruits of your labor so rewarding in the end. Every success has a story…what will yours be?

Example

I have this theory…if you are not moving forward…you are moving backwards. There is no standing still and just going through the motions with business building and blogging. You are either looking forward to the future and planning for those changes or you are letting others pass you by that are making the conscious decision to get that done.

On Bike198.com, I have been looking for a way to get even more reader interaction and do so by drastically increasing my site size with product heavy, SEO gold that contains affiliate links. I want to be able to provide the same quality I have with reviews into a user experience that allows riders to review their products as well. With that idea in mind, the database of products labeled “Rider Reviews” was born. Now…I just had to build it…

Building Out A Reader Review Section

Ironically enough, I tested about every single WordPress option I could find. Every single plugin seemed to be ok…but they lack a polished look or were too hard to get everything looking correctly. I started searching around for a stand alone php script to accomplish the same goal and just happened to fall upon Reviews For Joomla (not an affiliate). The layout, ease of use and basic design was exactly what I was looking for. Better yet…it installed over Joomla so I would have a very strong back-end content management system to aid with setup.

Rider Reviews at Bike198 Home

With this system, I can have the products loaded in and then my readers have an incredibly clean, easy to use layout to give ratings and reviews for products in the industry. There are even features to allow them to compare ratings and features which adds a ton of function into that portion of the site.

I installed Joomla 1.6 into a subfolder of Mountain.Bike198.com (this one will only have mountain bike products) and got to work…

Handling Of Affiliate Links

Now…a section of your blog like this is only really good if it is generating income. One of my biggest nightmares with this entire project was trying to figure out how I would actually handle the affiliate linking. The idea of searching for my specific affiliate link, getting it on the right product and then making sure it wasn’t broken 24/7 seemed like an incredibly daunting task just in itself.

Ironically, a friend of mine that owns MyGolfSpy.com recently came across VigLink and started testing on his forum. What VigLink basically does is takes your links to popular stores online (ex: Amazon) and automatically handles all affiliate revenue for you. Of course, they take their cut but it takes all of the management process out for you with a simple line of code. Now I was able to get the products loaded with a link to a store and not have to worry about whether or not I am getting credit for the sale. VigLink claims to get a higher percentage commissions on sales due to their larger audience, so the cut they take should drastically reduce the difference between using them and doing it on your own. The time management side was the real payoff for me though.

If you are only building out a section of your site like this that has 12 or so products (maybe even up to 50), managing it yourself might make sense. As of right now, I have 696 total mountain bike products and bikes listed, so you can see how that can get out of control quickly.

Getting The Products Loaded Into The System

A review system like this is worthless if you do not have an accurate representation of your industries products listed on the site. Let’s be honest, I do not have the time to load over 1,000 products into a website. That is a lot of busy work that I can’t even fathom doing and it is also the main reason this idea I have had for over a year is just now coming to fruition. To get some help, I enlisted the help of Chris Ducker over at Virtual Staff Finder to help me out in finding a virtual assistant. After interviewing 3 candidates, I found the perfect one for me.

Rider Reviews Product List

After sending over one training video, I started sending Lauren (my new VA) the list of products each day and the site started expanding rapidly. My industry is a little unique as we have a ton of parts and related gear.

Now…I don’t want you to look at my site and think this isn’t possible on your site just because of the magnitude of products. In other industries…you might not have this much of an extreme workload where you need to hire someone on to help. In my case, I did and it is working out perfectly.

How do you get people to actually use it?!

As you can see by visiting Rider Reviews, there are a couple of reviews already started on the site by my readers. However, like with any social interaction environment, there is going to have to be some incentive to get the ball rolling. I already have several contests lined up for my readers that are based around getting the review section populated and useful for new visitors. Once those go live, it should be great to see the new reviews come in on a platform that allows my readers to have a voice in the industry and basically runs on its own while also generating income.

Rider Reviews

As you can imagine, the SEO benefit of this section has already returned great results and it is just getting started. I am going to check back in on this project here to let you guys know how is it progressing. There are still more products to load and some design work to get completed before I start running the contests, but…from what I am already seeing, it is going to be my my largest asset on Bike198.

Check out: Rider Reviews at Bike198 | VigLink | Reviews For Joomla