Monetizing History Blogs?

by BrianTubbs 21 replies
Hey Fellow Warriors:

I'm a relative newbie to Internet marketing. Been poking at it for a little over a year. Have learned a lot, and have been 'pulling the trigger' in recent months - getting started with affiliate promotions and even developing some of my products.

As part of that, I'm taking a hard look at some of my hobby sites. I'm a huge history buff. I love history - pretty much any kind of history. But I have a special love for early American history -- Revolutionary War up through the Civil War.

One of the blogs that I run is this one...

American Revolution & Founding Era

I may have to let it go, because I haven't been able to generate a lot of unique visitors. Since October 2007, I've had a little over 11,700 hits. Most of that, I'm sure, is from repeat people. So, I'm averaging about 1,000 hits a month.

I've tried to monetize the blog with AdSense, Amazon books, and some other general odds-and-ends. But I'm not making much at all.

The page itself appears to be PR4, though I'm still learning page rankings and all that.

What do you all think? Should I let it go? Maybe put up a post a month as a labor of love, but focus my efforts on the stuff that can make me money?

Or...am I overlooking some obvious ways I could monetize this?

I've thought about re-focusing the blog around reenacting (those folks spend money!) or genealogy research or something like that. But...I'm not a genealogy expert, nor am I a reenactor. So, I would run out of things to write pretty quick. Though, I could outsource writing on that and try to sell an ebook or something.

Just thought I'd throw out my thought process here, and see if you all had any ideas.

Thanks,
#main internet marketing discussion forum #blogs #history #monetizing
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  • Profile picture of the author sylviad
    You've hit on a topic I enjoy, too... particularly reenactments. I love attending events here in Canada, especially when they attract the American forces. They are so into it and they have told me that if I produced the product I had planned there would be a distinct market for it. So you are on the right track with reenactors.

    Your site is impressive... it would be a shame to see it go. I do like your layout, and the unique method for displaying books on bookshelf. Nice.

    It's hard to imagine you haven't been able to sell much. Here are a few suggestions.

    1) find WebRings in your genre - there are some good ones out there. Anyone interested in history, including reenactors, will find your site much easier if you are linked directly to them in some way.

    2) Coordinate link exchanges with the reenactment groups - if you run a search you'll find them, ie: Brigade of the American Revolution, based in New York; Smoke & Fire: Smoke and Fire Company Online Store; Reenactor.net: reenactor.Net, the online home of reenacting and Living History!; Civil War Reenactors: www.cwreenactors.com

    3) Strike up JVs with these guys to a) increase targetted traffic b) make sales

    Sorry if some of this is already familiar to you, as I expect it is. Just a few suggestions to get you started.

    While you might have 17,000 visitors, there's no guarantee they were targeted. They could be marketers, scammers looking for emails to spam, and people who are just curious. I know with my site 80% of the visitors never leave page 1, and they seem to be people looking for "opportunities", rather than info. Something to consider.

    I notice you have the counter on your site. Are you going by that, or are you seeing your site stats somewhere? Your real site stats would be far more reliable than that counter.

    Of course, there are numerous ways to sell to your visitors - solo email ads, classified ads, AdWords, USFreeAds, articles, directories (find those that list only history-related sites, rather than just generic directories)... shared mailings ie: JVs. The key is to focus all your promos on attracting history buffs (advertise on museum sites, reenactor supply sites, sites about historic landmarks and events, etc.)

    Hope this helps.

    Sylvia

    Another idea: since you have a PR4 you could probably sell ads to reenactors - not huge cash of course, but it would be something to keep money coming in and pay your site costs.
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    • Profile picture of the author X
      I'd look at the RelationshipIncome.com concept.

      Anything that attracts people willing
      to spend money on dressing up and
      traveling would make a great niche,
      community membership site.

      You could use the existing site as a
      means for feeding the member
      community.
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    • Profile picture of the author BrianTubbs
      Sylvia, you alluded to doing up some reenactor products yourself. Have you done so? If so, what kind of results have you had? If not, would you mind throwing one or two of your ideas my way??? (Pretty please). :-)
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  • Profile picture of the author Chris W. Sutton
    Quite honestly, Brian, I would sign up as an eBay Partner and use their feeds to advertise antiques and collectibles. Anyone who likes history probably like collecting things. Just a thought!

    Take care!
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  • Profile picture of the author Daniel Flower
    Hi Brian

    I took a look at your site and I really liked the design + the content is excellent. One of the big things most people get wrong when creating a blog is forgetting that quality content matters - so well done on that, it's pretty obvious you've spent a lot of time developing this so don't give it up just yet.

    The first thing that struck me is maybe your advertising is a little too subtle. I had to scroll quite a bit down the page before I saw your Adsense ads for example and even then they didn't catch my eye. Try to put them into a more prominent position. Play around with it - it's possible to do this without making the site seem 'spammy.'

    The same thing with your opt-in. Give people reasons to opt-in to your list (to receive blog updates). Tell people about the quality of the info they will receive (they can see for themselves by reading your posts, but mention it anyway) and make the box more noticable maybe by adding a border or something.

    As for traffic generation - in my opinion your numbers are pretty ok. I personally find forum posting and blog commenting pretty effective. It gets people thinking about your (good) advice or insight and they check out your site.

    Hope this helps.

    Dan
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    • Profile picture of the author jmidas
      Brian, this site is way too nice to let go. It shows that this is definately a labor of love. Well done.

      I think Sylvia offered some good advice on getting more traffic. I would add that i think article marketing is a natural for this site to drive more traffic. Especially if you enjoy writing about history.

      Once you get the traffic there, I think there may be a couple things you can do - I would move the adsense up the page. Actually I just confused myself as I am looking at it - are the google searches in green adsense? If so, that is very cool to get them out of the white box. If they are adsense, I would definately put them at the top.,. just under the pic of GW.

      The other thing I was going to suggest is build a list that you can put into a long term autoreponder sequence. You can then sell any number of offers over and over, as well as send updates, etc to get repeat visitors.

      I like the quiz - I only got 8/10 which ticks me off as I have a History degree (early American is my fav too). I saw the opt in at the end, but didn't fill it out right away, as I got caught up looking at the side bar with the google stuff. When I went back, it was gone. My question is - is that your opt in or a 3rd party that does the quiz? If you can make it yours, that would be a good way to list build. If that is a 3rd party quiz, you could probably have your own quiz script made for peanuts and do your own quizzes and own the info you collect. Offer an incentive to take it to get the opt in - maybe something you have written that is not posted for the public??

      I really like the bookshelf too - I may steal that idea. the only part I dont like is that it is really hard to find where to buy the book once you click on the book - you would think it would be more prominent.

      I really like this blog. If you do want to give up, I'd be glad to take it off your hands.

      My only other small thought is that I would invest the 10 bucks on my own domain name. Sounds petty, I know, but I think it gives more credibility to any site.

      Sorry for the long post, I really like this site and have bookmarked it.
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      • Profile picture of the author BrianTubbs
        Originally Posted by jmidas View Post

        I like the quiz - I only got 8/10 which ticks me off as I have a History degree (early American is my fav too). I saw the opt in at the end, but didn't fill it out right away, as I got caught up looking at the side bar with the google stuff. When I went back, it was gone. My question is - is that your opt in or a 3rd party that does the quiz? If you can make it yours, that would be a good way to list build. If that is a 3rd party quiz, you could probably have your own quiz script made for peanuts and do your own quizzes and own the info you collect. Offer an incentive to take it to get the opt in - maybe something you have written that is not posted for the public??
        The quiz is 3rd party. I would love to have my own - for the reason you mention.

        Do you know where I could go to find/buy a quiz script?
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        • Profile picture of the author BrianTubbs
          Thanks everyone for your great ideas and feedback.

          Do you think I should take the blog off Blogger - and make it a WordPress blog on my own server? I have a hosting acct with Hostmonster.

          If so...I may need you to point me to some techie help. But I'm thinking a WP blog on my own server will give me more freedom with this.
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      • Profile picture of the author BrianTubbs
        Originally Posted by jmidas View Post

        My only other small thought is that I would invest the 10 bucks on my own domain name. Sounds petty, I know, but I think it gives more credibility to any site.
        It's funny, but I bought a domain name just a few weeks ago, and then got busy with the holidays and forgot about it. Anyway, I'm going to start promoting it, and the domain is...

        www.americanfoundingera.com
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        • Profile picture of the author BrianTubbs
          I need to quickly incorporate some of these great ideas you all have given me, because I have my first radio interview coming up on Tuesday. The host will be plugging my site, which now has the url address...

          www.americanfoundingera.com

          So...I need to really spruce it up. Pressure sometimes helps.
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          • Profile picture of the author Kevin McNally
            Hi

            First thing I would do is get all your content on your own domain as you have much more control over split testing various revenue sources.

            Another warriors was running a WSO recently on his quiz script at Opt-in Quiz Generator - Home , a good script for building a list as you have to opt in to get your score !

            I had a history and biography site that was getting some traffic and it was a big struggle to monetize unfortunately. Try ebay and amazon deep linking to related products, I found adsense a waste of time in this market but you need to test every page with channels as you may find some military advertisers forgetting to turn off the content network and paying higher than normal ?

            Good luck with the site.
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            • Profile picture of the author BrianTubbs
              If I should build a list at my history blog, what should I send my list???

              Usually, I think along the lines of affiliate products when wanting to start an autoresponder sequence - not that I'm an expert (I'm still a newbie), but am I wrong?

              And, in this case, I can't think of anything (affiliate-related or income-related) to build a list around?

              Now, I'm not talking about the site itself. I heard everyone's ideas about getting the eBay link-in with the antiques (great thought!) and doing more with Amazon and such. That, I can do.

              I'm more wondering if it would be a good ROI (time-wise) for me to put together a history-related newsletter?

              Sorry to ramble.
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              • Profile picture of the author ShayB
                Have you thought about designing history curricula for homeschoolers?

                You could have different sets avaialbe - Civil War, etc.

                You could add info about how to do a re-enactment as part of the History curriculum, and sell the outfits, etc.

                Target large and small homeschool groups and offer discounts and incentives.
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    • Profile picture of the author bgmacaw
      As a history buff myself, I think your blog is quite good and, in spite of 'not knowing much' you've done well building a link portfolio for your blog.

      Here's the problem you have. One of the big things most people get wrong when creating a blog is not understanding that quality content doesn't make money in most niches. That's because you attract informational visitors, not buying visitors. If you want to make money, you have to attract buyers, not people looking to hang out and enjoy a good read for free.

      Book and DVD reviews are a good way to maintain your repeat readers while attracting buyers via the search engines. With some work, it's possible to get the 'best of both worlds' in this regard and, given the work you've already done, you're in a good position to do that. Being on Blogger is a slight handicap but not a major one.

      If you're wanting to make more money online I do recommend signing up for the eBay Partner Network and working with historical memorabilia. My review/buyer's guide blog in my sig might give you some ideas on how to set that up on a WordPress blog. Setting it up on Blogger is a little different but not too much trouble.
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      • Profile picture of the author BrianTubbs
        bgmacaw, thanks! It's funny, but you hit on some of the things I was asking about in my last post, which I must've done simultaneously with yours. I think I will look into making it a WP blog.
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        • Profile picture of the author bgmacaw
          If you want to go that route I would suggest using your current blog to 'bootstrap' a new WordPress blog. What you want to do wind down placing content on your Blogger blog while introducing your regular readers to your new WordPress blog. Make sure that you have a sidebar link to your new blog because you want it to get the 'link juice' from your old blog that you've put a lot of effort into building up. Your new content will be on your WP blog while leaving your Blogger blog untouched. This helps insure that you maximize your potential for search traffic while creating a funnel to your new content.
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  • Profile picture of the author archer29
    No, I wouldn't give it up. Find out what history buffs buy! Chris suggested Ebay for collectibles and maybe they buy war toys or plates or?? Look around your house..what are you interested in? I'd also play off the keywords. Find a "revolutionary" new product to advertise. As for reeenactors, not all of them sew their own clothing. Maybe there's an affiliate that sells gear?? "John Adams" movie just won a bunch of awards and according to the google adwords tool "revolutionary war" got 673,000 searches in December. Launch some cannons!!

    Yeah, I'm new to IM and I know enough to know that I don't know anything.
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  • Profile picture of the author write-stuff
    I'm a major history buff myself and have written a couple of hardcopy books on the subject. So I understand your desire to work on a site/blog that you are passionate about. But remember the cardinal rule of marketing:

    Go Where The Money Is

    - Russ
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    • Profile picture of the author ripsnorta2
      I don't know a lot about reenactments myself, but it's my understanding that people travel from all over the country to participate and watch these reenactments, right?

      Try thinking laterally. What do people need when they are travelling to a reenactment.

      * Accomodation
      * Meals
      * Touristy Stuff

      Why not approach a couple of Bed and Breakfasts to see if you can arrange finders fees, or to pop an ad spot on your blog. Local restaurants and other attractions might want to advertise too.
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    • Profile picture of the author BrianTubbs
      write-stuff, good advice.....what books did you write? I'm curious.
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  • Profile picture of the author valerieSONORA
    The obvious choices that come to mind are: Adsense, adbrite, ebay, and amazon. If you get a lot of traffic there are other ways as well.
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