Amazon on a forum. Am I wasting my time?

11 replies
I have been trying to monetise my forum for the last couple of years. I have tried every affiliate marketing tool out there but nothing seems to work.

My forum gets approx 80,000 unique visitors per month and yet I cannot get anyone to click an ad even when they know it will help me with site costs.

It is just dawning on me that there is no way to monetise this site. I have been running it for the past 20 years and for all that time information has been free and I have paid all the costs.

Over the past couple of years, I have been struggling to not only absorb the costs but to cover my time working on the site. I still answer a lot of the questions myself. I write reviews and I help people with their product issues using my contacts in many of the companies that make and supply those products.

I have tried the subscription model. £15 per year for an ad-free forum. Not a single person has ever subscribed.

The only time the site started making money was with Adsense but as soon as that happened I got banned. No explanation. No opportunity to correct whatever it was that was wrong.

I am now realising that the reason I cannot monetise the site is that people come looking for information. They find it then move on. There is no incentive at all to click an ad and buy something?

There is a front end WordPress site by the way but traffic there is only around 4-5000 visitors per month and yes, I have tried monetising that too but with the same results.

So I have now decided to concentrate solely on Amazon.

I have accounts for Amazon USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Australia. All linked via OneLink. Total revenue this month? $2.00

Question is can this be turned around or am I just flogging a dead horse?
#amazon #forum #time #wasting
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  • Profile picture of the author Frank Donovan
    If your visitors aren't clicking on existing ads or other links, I doubt Amazon links will fare much better. If I were you, I'd try sponsorship deals, starting with musical instrument sellers/manufacturers.

    Also, it's worth trying email marketing. I notice you have a newsletter sign-up - do you include offers in your newsletter? I assume you also acquire the email addresses of your forum members. If you can find a way to get more of your 80,000 monthly visitors to sign up as members, you'd have a targeted subscriber list which would be much easier to market to.
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    • Profile picture of the author yamahaforums
      Originally Posted by Frank Donovan View Post

      If your visitors aren't clicking on existing ads or other links, I doubt Amazon links will fare much better. If I were you, I'd try sponsorship deals, starting with musical instrument sellers/manufacturers.

      Also, it's worth trying email marketing. I notice you have a newsletter sign-up - do you include offers in your newsletter? I assume you also acquire the email addresses of your forum members. If you can find a way to get more of your 80,000 monthly visitors to sign up as members, you'd have a targeted subscriber list which would be much easier to market to.
      Thanks for the reply.

      Unfortunately, I think you may be right about Amazon. I do have another site where I think it might be more effective detectingquest.com as long as I can figure out how to make the best use of it of course.

      I do have a mailing list but have not used it for anything other than the odd newsletter from time to time. I think the question is, what am I going to market to them? I just cannot figure out how to convert them to buyers. I don't have any products myself. I know from past experience they are not interested in anything non-music related so it would need to be focused around that.

      It is always a problem getting instrument retailers to sponsor the site because although the traffic is there it is split across 161 countries around the world. The majority of visitors are from the USA with the UK second, then Germany, France, Denmark, Australia and the remainder split amongst the others. So for retailers in the UK, for example, the payback might be minimal or even non-existent. Still, never hurts to ask but I have no idea what to value that sort of thing at.

      I am not going to give up just yet but I am starting to think that a forum is a tough challenge to monetise.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jeff Lenney
    Nobody can see your ads, they're in the sidebar/widgets where people often have "banner blindness" - put them in the header, and maybe test the bottom of the posts and other areas with typically higher CTR
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  • Profile picture of the author qwikaddotcom
    In general, ads have to be "in your face". I know some believe that they should blend with the content, blah, blah, blah. Never worked for me. I used to use AdSense. When I did, I experimented with the ads quite a bit. When the ads were "in your face" then and only then they produced the desired results. Everything else failed to do so.
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  • Profile picture of the author Monetize
    I could see Amazon working with some links to musical
    instruments or whatever. It really does not matter what
    you are linking to as long as people click on the links.
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  • Profile picture of the author kenmichaels
    Originally Posted by yamahaforums View Post

    I have been trying to monetise my forum for the last couple of years. I have tried every affiliate marketing tool out there but nothing seems to work.

    My forum gets approx 80,000 unique visitors per month and yet I cannot get anyone to click an ad even when they know it will help me with site costs.

    It is just dawning on me that there is no way to monetise this site. I have been running it for the past 20 years and for all that time information has been free and I have paid all the costs.

    Over the past couple of years, I have been struggling to not only absorb the costs but to cover my time working on the site. I still answer a lot of the questions myself. I write reviews and I help people with their product issues using my contacts in many of the companies that make and supply those products.

    I have tried the subscription model. £15 per year for an ad-free forum. Not a single person has ever subscribed.

    The only time the site started making money was with Adsense but as soon as that happened I got banned. No explanation. No opportunity to correct whatever it was that was wrong.

    I am now realising that the reason I cannot monetise the site is that people come looking for information. They find it then move on. There is no incentive at all to click an ad and buy something?

    There is a front end WordPress site by the way but traffic there is only around 4-5000 visitors per month and yes, I have tried monetising that too but with the same results.

    So I have now decided to concentrate solely on Amazon.

    I have accounts for Amazon USA, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy and Australia. All linked via OneLink. Total revenue this month? $2.00

    Question is can this be turned around or am I just flogging a dead horse?
    If people come to find information...then sell them information. Give some away now for free as you do, sell the rest. You have years of data, crunch it, and see what the best books/manuals/how-tos will sell and then create and sell them.

    Also, since you have what appears to be a huge catalog of instruments, you should set up partnerships with retailers of those instruments and advertise them in the appropriate forums so that you can get paid for each sale they get through you. Maybe you can double dip by offering advertising for second-hand merch right under the main ad.

    Or you can sell them banner space for whatever price you can get them to pay.

    You aren't flogging a dead horse, you have a ton of options.

    I spent 30 seconds eyeballing your site... Imagine what a pro can do if you talk to one and tell them what you actually wanted to accomplish when you started it. If nothing else the conversation might help remove some blind spots.
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  • Profile picture of the author yamahaforums
    Thanks All. Some great things to think about there.

    My biggest problem though is ad-blockers. In other words, no matter what banner ads I put on the site, people just don't see them unless they are guests. I seem to have a huge number of registered members who use ad-blockers and disable scripts in their browsers. They also refuse to disable them even just for my site.

    I had a thought along the lines of gaining some revenue for the information available that I would block content for people with ad-blockers enabled. Good or Bad Idea?

    I have by the way tried all the moving of ads etc. I had them in the header, above the fold, in the footers, in pop-ups etc and nothing worked except Adsense and then as I say I started making money and got banned!

    I tried the same with other networks such as Infolinks and NeworMedia with pitiful results. We are talking less than a dollar after one month!

    Do you think there is any mileage in setting up an Amazon store?
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    • Profile picture of the author Monetize
      Originally Posted by yamahaforums View Post


      My biggest problem though is ad-blockers. In other words, no matter what banner ads I put on the site, people just don't see them unless they are guests. I seem to have a huge number of registered members who use ad-blockers and disable scripts in their browsers. They also refuse to disable them even just for my site.

      Do you think there is any mileage in setting up an Amazon store?

      I'm curious to know what types of ads you placed on your site.
      Were they all banner ads? When I said Amazon I was referring
      to Amazon Associates affiliate program, where you place links
      and earn commissions if there are click-throughs that lead to a
      sale. That is different than setting up an Amazon storefront but
      you can do whatever you choose.

      You can make links that look like this:

      >>> SEE MORE KEYBOARDS HERE <<<

      Would an ad-blocker block that?
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  • Profile picture of the author yamahaforums
    I am also referring to the Amazon Associates program. So far that is not working. I don't plaster ads all over the site and there are no popups. I did have a notification popup when an ad-blocker was detected and people complained about that so I had to remove it.

    Remember we are focusing on the forum here not the WordPress site. The forum gets the most traffic.

    I have tried text links as you suggested. No one clicks them.

    The people visiting my forum will read the review and then open another Google window and search for the product rather than click an affiliate link that might earn me a commission. That is what I am up against. It really is uphill all the way

    Loads of people also post links to products on the forum that go to music stores or other commercial sites and of course I make zero out of any of that. Again the odd thing is people will happily click those links but if I post an affiliate link for the same product they won't click it. It is almost as if they resent me making any money out of their purchases.

    Perhaps I haven just given everything for free too long for it to have any value.
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    • Profile picture of the author Monetize
      This is my final suggestion unless I think of something new. If they
      will click on each others links but not yours, why not setup a few
      sock puppet accounts and place links that way. It is your forum
      and you can do whatever you want. That is what I would do.
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  • Profile picture of the author prvegas
    I agree with a previous suggestion, try to incorporate the ads within your content rather than on the sides to encourage click thru. I also use hyperlinks within the post to other posts rather than just hyperlinks just being to ads only. Just my thought. If you just have ads on sidebars and or banners top and bottom the eye sometimes ignores them even wothout adblock software.
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