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Digital/Web Monetization ideas needed

Discussion in 'Business Models, Niches, Industries' started by Ludachris, Mar 20, 2017.

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  1. Ludachris
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    Ludachris Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    I know I really should be able to figure this out if I was to be looking at this with the right mindset. And I do have some ideas, but I also know that getting some fresh perspectives from people here that have the Fastlane mentality might help me look at a project I've been managing the same way for 15 years a little differently...

    I have an automotive forum that I've owned since 2002. It's based on a vehicle that went out of production in 1999 (I know, I started out limiting my growth opportunity). Unlike some of the other forums I've owned over the years I did not sell this one off to Internet Brands or Autoguide. This one is my baby and it's my first and most successful entrepreneurial project, which still generates a little bit of mostly passive income - peanuts when you look at it from a Fastlane perspective, but a building block that could be used to fund other efforts.

    It's also my best statistical asset at the moment, considering it somehow still draws in 250k+ uniques every month, with 1 million page views. That's down from it's monthly peak of 350k uniques and 4 million page views 9 years ago, but I think it's still very strong for the niche. Traffic is not on a downward trend, though participation has dipped with FB and FB groups just like a lot of forums these days. The last 30 days has seen 12k active members come through with 3k new posts, which is obviously very low for the site's traffic numbers, but not bad considering how many of these cars are still actually on the road. The site's FB page has over 7k followers.

    I feel like I've always done fairly well monetizing the forum through direct ads, remnant banner ads, and automated affiliate links, trying hard not to negative impact the member experience in the process. I also have paid memberships and clothing but it's not significant in terms of revenue. The challenge is that people buying these cars are not spending as much as they used to on performance and maintenance parts - these are budget performance cars and the community is known to be notoriously cheap. Just like in other aging car markets, the vehicle owners are spending money on the cheap China parts and that's driving the companies who make parts for the cars away from the market, which means direct advertisers are going away, focusing on more profitable markets, and I don't blame them. I knew this would eventually happen and I started focusing on other projects years ago knowing that this site's revenue would be dropping off, and it has.

    And yet, the site still brings in solid unique visitors, and I feel like I'm turning my back on an asset when I might be better served looking for ways to nurture it and provide value in different ways to improve the revenue. I'm trying to think of ways to provide value - both in terms of delivering what they want from the website, but also in other ways. This is a mostly young crowd who likes to go fast on a budget, and I'm sure I can do better at providing apparel and maybe some other products that resonate with them. I can also do a better job of coming up with ways to make the paid membership value better to draw more into that program.

    But what else am I overlooking? Apparel, better paid memberships, more advertisements. I keep going back to those 3 and I feel like I'm not seeing all available options that could provide real value to this community, which would also drive more revenue. I have 9k visitors coming through the site every day. That's a significant opportunity and I feel like I have blinders on - and I'm torn on whether I should focus more effort on this site to improve its earnings or give up on it and put all my efforts into something else.

    Thanks in advance.
     
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  2. DVU
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    DVU In Progress Read Millionaire Fastlane Speedway Pass

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    How about hosting an event, charge for a ticket, have some drinks, invite some people to speak etc. I think you can do a lot of things with it IF you can get people to come.



    I'm curious what you think of this.
     
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  3. rogainer
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    rogainer 10 2 10 FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass

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    Heck yeah. Do meets around the country and have a bunch of food trucks & live music.
     
  4. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    NSX?
     
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  5. Ludachris
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    Ludachris Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    No, but I do love the NSX. A buddy of mine has a beautiful '91. The cars in my forum are turbocharged Mitsubishis.

    As for the events suggestion, that is one possibility I used to think quite a bit about actually. There is only one decent sized event left for these cars these days - it's been going on for 25 years and is a great event. It's a large racing venue with a car show that is now supplemented with other makes/models, as this make/model simply isn't drawing enough cars/money to justify its own event. The trouble with planning events for this make is that the target audience is scattered all over the nation and the number of them is declining, attendance would be a major concern. Unlike other sought after cars, these ones tend to get hacked up as cheap budget racers, so you have far less attendees that can bring their cars to the events because they're being repaired or built up as race cars. Then there's the reliability factor - I never once considered driving my car to the large event on the other side of the country because of the reliability risk of a 25 year old track car... again, events are one possibility but they have huge challenges/risks involved.

    And on a side note, I'm about 3/4 of the way through the book now @MJ DeMarco . I feel like I probably shouldn't be asking this question until I'm done, or that asking it shows that I'm still in the wrong mindset. I know this isn't the project that will take me where I want to go all by itself, but it's an asset and one thing it might be able to do for me is allow me to jump ship sooner and work on the next project full time without the need to be a slave to my employer - assuming I can make it work for me better than it is now.
     
  6. MJ DeMarco
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    MJ DeMarco Raving Lunatic Staff Member Read Millionaire Fastlane I've Read UNSCRIPTED FASTLANE INSIDER Speedway Pass LEGENDARY CONTRIBUTOR Summit Attendee

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    To be honest, when you said the car has been out of production since 99, my first thought was you should abandon ship. The marketsize is only dwindling. Kinda reminds me of the limo industry. When I sold my business it just started to downswing due to ride-sharing. The forum I ran back then was a bustling community. Now its a graveyard.
     
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  7. Ludachris
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    Ludachris Contributor Read Millionaire Fastlane

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    No, you're right @MJ DeMarco , it will continue to decline. And I knew it was the wrong platform to focus on for revenue long ago. I'm just amazed that the traffic is still going strong and that it still brings in revenue, and the traffic numbers make me I feel like I'm not making the most of that opportunity while it's still there. I just thought maybe a tune-up would make it run a little stronger/longer and allow me to get to my next stage sooner (full time self employed, opening up time to focus heavily on the next projects). Sounds like you would probably just start focusing elsewhere instead.