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I currently have a site for a niche sport. My site is quite well ranked on google (I'm in the top 10, or even top 3 results on most keyword searches). I have pretty loyal traffic (avg 10 page views per visitor). The average visitor spends more than 8 minutes on the site. 20% of my traffic comes from Google or other site links.
The problem is that this site deals with such a tiny niche that even though my traffic is decent in a relative sense, there's just not enough people in the world interested in this to make Adsense a real earner for me. The CTR is less than 1%. And the ads that show up for this topic are woefully cheap.
So how can I leverage my very high google ranking to something that can actually make some decent money? I've had this site for nearly 9 years now, and never really aimed or intended for it to make money, but it seems like there has to be some way to use this sites "good reputation." I read a lot on here about people making decent (or even ridiculous) money with adsense, and it seems that all of those folks have multiple sites. Is that my only option? To build a new site that hopefully my visitors (and google spiders) will find interesting? How would I logically tie them together?
Any thoughts would be much appreciated.
An even better solution (in combination with the above, or irrespective of the above) might be to explore other revenue opportunities for the site. For example, you could sell flat-rate sponsorships or CPM display ads to advertisers in your niche. I used to know a guy with a popular hobby-oriented forum who sold ads to manufacturers of products related to the hobby. If your site is about unicycle polo and you're reaching a good chunk of the unicycle-polo audience, manufacturers of unicycles, polo gear, etc. might well be interested in buying sponsorships on your site (even if they aren't currently buying AdSense or other PPC ads).
1. Ask yourself, what do my visitors spend lots of money on? Equipment? Travel? Physiotherapy? :-) What companies should naturally want to reach my audience? Then look at affiliate programs or direct sponsorship rather than relying on AdSense.
2. Branch out, but in a logical and natural way. That way you leverage your existing audience rather than having to get ranked for a whole new sport. Get too unfocused and you could lose the authority status you've earned.
- Expanding the scope is a possibility. Unfortunately, I think that any area I could reasonably expand into would be relatively poor paying as well. I guess more traffic would equal more return though. I'm going to have to do some research on related keywords and see what that might get me. Of course that will require writing a whole lot more content.
- Trying to sell ads is difficult. When I say the niche is small, I mean it. jomaxx mentioned a magazine, but while it's been tried about 3 different times by folks, a dedicated magazine for this sport has failed every time. Some aspects of the sport can be related to various hardware pieces that are more general and wide reaching. Perhaps that would be one tack to take.
- Another problem is that my audience is almost entirely young (I'd say 85% are less than 20 y/o), and subsequently poor. :) I don't think there is anything I can do about that one.
for example if they were windsurfers they would then progress to other forms of sailing
just dumb example but worth thinking about
if they are young and poor try to find out what they move onto as they go over the 20 age mark and develop for that slowly but surely to go alongside your growing age group
Hmm. That's an interesting thought. I hadn't really considered that angle...
Is there enough traffic to support a forum (is there a forum and how well does it serve the community and what can your forum bring to the experience that isn't currently being addressed).
Actually the main draws of the site are about 40 pages of instructional material and instructional videos. All the rest of the traffic is a forum. I've had a forum for a long time, and have tens of thousands of posts in there. But as we all know, forums are not good for adsense. I've got some custom channels and notice that those 40 main pages outclick the forum by a very wide margin.
anyway, as has been said already, a well-ranking 9-years old site is an authority in Google's eyes. Explore more competitive niches, by leveraging that strength and adding pages about other niches, even if not related with your original niche.
(As long as you do it properly, not to the point of having something like "XMetal's site about unicycle polo and mesothelioma")
what you need to be careful of there is the forum driving down the adsense epc on the other 40 pages of the site.
i would replace the forum adsense entirely with ypn or banners, and see if the epc changes over the course of a couple of months... and remember that you can also monitize the videos with pre or post-roll ads from other ad companies, i have read that there are several of 'em doing that right now... but also probably in the future with the upcoming video for adsense program.
You could also go down the route of encouraging people to send in their own clips. Make it clear that any clips could be included in future DVD's. You could hold off on the instructional DVD to include some of these clips, thus introducing the idea to as many of your visitors as possible.
If I was an extreme sports participant that isn't served by any magazines/other media I'd jump at the chance to see what others are up to.
$10-20 for a bi-monthly DVD should be affordable for many people (given the cost of good equipment in the area).
Given that, sponsorship from a manufacturer of equipment or clothing would be worth pursuing.
Why worry about adsense when you could join some affiliate programs, review and recommend the equipment and send people on to the merchant.
Maybe the primary equipment won't be available in an aff prog but all the ancillary gear is.
You won't need to strap an entire store to your site, just cunningly weave a few links to the people that sell this stuff in your reviews.
Kind of like, 'In this video the guy is wearing a widget made by foo. It's great and you can find them for sale over here.'
Just pick 5 or 6 things and give it a shot. You may find that your income from a few aff sales far out weighs any adsense revenue.
Like I said, just a thought.
Making a DVD is a good idea, and one I've thought of previously. The difficulty there is the fact that I don't actually do this sport anymore. I just keep the site going for the kids, cuz I'm nice like that. :)
Well I've got all kinds of things to figure out now.
With server-side-scripting generated pages, it should be fairly simple to do.
This can help monetize the size without targeting your core forum loyal user base.
Try an adlinks unit at the top of your left column. Or if not that a single ad unit at the top. It won't take up so much room that people won't still see your navigation links.
I'd float a rectangle ad unit to the right of the text on your article pages. The article will wrap around the ad. People start reading the article and can't help but notice the ads to the right. With the right hand tower ads you have now your ads go way below the ending of your articles so most won't be noticed.
Also people like to scan online so I would make your fonts a little bigger. It would also look like they get a longer article.
Don't assume just people who participate in widgeting trials will visit. See if you can get people in there who dream of participating.
See if you can rank well in a broader topic. I get most of my visitors because they search a term about widgeting not widgeting my niche. Yet all my articles are related to my niche. In other words I am getting people who have the general interest and my titles and descriptions are getting them interested in learning about my niche.