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Total Noob Journey with One Established Site and One Brand New

Discussion in 'My Journey Discussions' started by AlexMed, Nov 6, 2014.

  1. AlexMed

    AlexMed Newbie

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    Hey, everyone,

    I have been a lurker for a while trying to learn from the good folks on this site. While I can't give the URLs of the sites I have just in case a competitor were to look me up, I will give as much background as possible. To be perfectly honest, as the title suggests, I am a complete IM noob, so I am hoping that my journey here will be helpful to others like me.

    Background
    Until recently I owned a newspaper that covered half of a populous county in one of the United States. It was a bad deal when I bought it, but I felt I had to try to save people's jobs. We continued printing for 6 months with a readership of about 18k. Printing costs vs. advertising costs vs. other overhead were too much to continue. As a result, I shut down the paper, reduced staff to myself, an office manager and a sales person. We closed the office and went remote working from our respective houses. The newspaper had a website and Facebook page, however they were never really maintained to the level that they should have been. I made the decision to cease all printing and focus on our online and social media endeavors. We have been at that for a little over a month now. Since our demographic is older, we lost a lot of readership going online, but I think we can improve that with SEO, Google News, and offline marketing. Website only gets about 100-200 UVs per day unless there is a big story. We have about 1800 followers on our FB page. The FB page was stuck at around 800 for a couple years, but once I bought the company I spent some money to promote the page on FB itself and got it up to the current 1800. The website generates about $1300 per month in direct advertisement, but has been up to $2500. Money is still tight because there are three staff members, and we're still in the "raising awareness" stage. So there's that. This site is not going away and does require a bit of time to maintain. The CMS we are using is a proprietary one that was contracted before I bought the company. It's clunky, cumbersome to work, and we don't have a whole lot of creative control. It also costs about $325 per month which is ridiculous, and they do not allow me to use Adsense. That contract is up in February 2015, and I do not intend to continue it. I have started building a new site on the WordPress platform with a nice premium theme. I'm spending time populating that with current articles. When the time comes, I'll hire someone to move the site to my own hosting and move forward from there. For the record, I use HostGator (not affiliated) and I use their reseller package so that I can have multiple domains and accounts on one server. So, $25 per month to host all my sites and have full control of them or $325 per month for one site that drives me absolutely bonkers.

    Trying to think forward, I realized that since we are a local news outlet, our advertisers are limited. We will eventually reach saturation, and we already have some advertiser weariness happening. Therefore, I started a site that is fashion related and targets the specific state in which we reside. I figured that articles on this site would not have to be so locally targeted, we could expand our sales reach to attract advertisers state-wide, and we could attempt some product sales and branding efforts. I have reached out to "boutiques" in the state asking them to send me small write-ups about their shops and some pictures so we can post them on the site. We have had some small but positive response to this. I set up an account on Cafe Press to set up a product store. We are currently designing what is actually going to be on the products. I've been experimenting with ads on WordPress, but end up frustrated pretty often. Can't seem to get flash banners to work very well, but I'm learning more every day. I've also installed Adsense on this site.

    My Resources

    • I have a salesperson who is a telemarketing machine. She's pretty awesome, but her knowledge about online advertising is limited and she has somewhat of a mental block about it. She makes 30% commission and is worth every penny.
    • I have some credibility thanks to the news site, but that site was small and unknown outside of the local community.
    • The business structure is already set up and accounting is in place on QuickBooks Online so that we are at least somewhat organized.
    • We have some income, but nowhere near enough to be sustainable or to make huge investments into SEO or anything like that.
    • Both sites have Facebook pages. The news site one is described earlier. The fashion one is just started but has 25 followers right now just because of very little cross marketing between the two.

    The Limitations

    • Funding is low so we don't have investment capital that we would like.
    • Time is an issue. I have a family with 3 children (two of whom have special needs) and a wife who likes me to pay attention to her at least once in awhile.
    • I have little to no knowledge about SEO, backlinking, authority sites, white hat, black hat, how to make use of keywords, etc. Half the jargon used on this forum makes my head spin.
    • I still have to maintain the main news site, which as I mentioned above is time intensive.

    Goal

    • If we can get to $6000 per month in revenues we would not only be solvent but thriving. That is our 12-month goal. Of course we won't complain if exceed that amount. Within 6 months, I would like to see our $1300 turn into $3000 to $3500 with a blend of direct advertising and Adsense.

    I plan on adding at least 3-7 articles per week to the fashion site. The news site gets that and more anyway via press releases and high school sports coverage. I'm familiar with fiverr and was looking to buy at least one article per week from there, but all the writing I have seen thus far has seemed very amateurish. I have an aesthetician who will be submitting make-up and skin care articles on a regular basis, but I'm actively looking for a good writer. I'm making use of public domain images from some very good sites that I will share in a follow-up post. Using them, I have no copyrighting issues and the images are pretty fantastic.

    So, there you have it. I will update at least a couple of times per week to let you know where we are and will share any resources I come across that might be helpful in your own endeavors. Any advice or guidance that any of you would like to give would, of course, be greatly appreciated.

    Thank you, everyone.
     
  2. somedevil

    somedevil Jr. VIP Jr. VIP

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    Good luck with your journey mate !
     
  3. AlexMed

    AlexMed Newbie

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    Thank you! If nothing else, it will be a learning experience.
     
  4. IbStar

    IbStar Junior Member

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    good luck bro, makes some $$$$$
     
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  5. AlexMed

    AlexMed Newbie

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    One of the resources that I use for advertisers is flashvortex (not sure how to do the whole link thing on here). (Hope I'm not breaking any rules)

    You can make animated banners for free, but there will be a tiny watermark along the bottom of the ad. I believe the cost to remove the watermark is $29 per year, so if you're making ads for advertisers, it's a bargain. We charge $119 per month for a 300 x 250 sidebar ad on the news website's homepage, so one ad pays for the whole year. So far, I've made 3 of them advertisers. If you have the images they want (if your ad requires pictures) and the text, making the ad then only takes about 5 minutes. After you've made it, you can either download the .swf file or use the embed code that it generates for you. It's been a bargain in our case.
     
  6. midwestman

    midwestman Newbie

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    Alex, totally understand. I was in newspapers around 15 years. Manager, publisher, did it all. My perspective is this. Bigger brains and deeper pockets than yours and mine have wrestled and continue to wrestle with online revenue models to no avail. Media markets have splintered into a machine with so many gears it's difficult to get a handle on it, let alone sell advertising on it. The bottom line is that the internet is an intangible. People love their devices, true, but paper is something you can hold and you never need a connection. If you want to survive as an editorial product you need to shift from one tangible, newspapers, to another one - a magazine. With your background, it's a home run. Start quarterly and build it from there. If you look around you'll find newspapers adding and growing glossy pubs. It's because it works. I think you can take it from here. It's a no-brainer. Later
     
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    Last edited: Nov 6, 2014
  7. AlexMed

    AlexMed Newbie

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    Yep, you totally understand. Not long before we quit printing, we published a 28 page high school football preview that was inserted in all 7,500 copies of our free and subscription publications. We cover 11 high schools, so it had to be that many pages to do an adequate job. The price for printing and insertion for just the magazine was $3,500. We made a pre-commission profit of about $4,500. Our market is very cheap, to put it bluntly, and advertisers around here don't like spending any money. We looked at doing a quarterly magazine, but with the cuts in staff, the talent isn't there. I am trying to learn InDesign, but that's a process, let me tell you. Additionally, unless it has to do with football, many people around here just don't care.

    It's for this reason that I decided to start an additional website with a broader reach. My hope is that it will grow to be a go-to fashion, living, cooking, style hub for ladies in the state. I have another idea, too, that I think could be a targeted traffic magnet, but I need some folks to bounce the idea off of. Maybe we could make contact at some point?

    Thank you again for your input. I greatly appreciate it.
     
  8. midwestman

    midwestman Newbie

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    No problem bro. We all need each other, especially in the economic environment today and ahead.
    May I suggest a county mag, a regional mag, or a niche specific publication geared to a regional past time; hunting, racing, etc. Agreed, ad budgets have declined but advertising needs have not and will not go away. Facebook is great for service related businesses, salons, fitness center, etc. But bringing a community of _______ together in one niche pub works. Monetarily, it scales proportionally to the reach. The one I work now is statewide and therefore attracts adjacent state dollars. I think you see what I mean.

    Sure, you're welcome to PM me anytime. I tried but I have to post 13 more times before it lets me contact you.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2014
  9. lord1027

    lord1027 Elite Member

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    Seems like you have an established plan, stick to it :) Good luck on your journey!
     
  10. AlexMed

    AlexMed Newbie

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    NEGATIVE UPDATE
    Got a letter this morning from a law firm who is representing a photographer. It appears that my former editor used an image found online in one of our gardening articles. They want me to pull the picture and pay $1,000. Has anyone else had experience with this? This is annoying. Currently, we don't have the $1,000 to spare.

    Grrrrrr!
     
  11. AlexMed

    AlexMed Newbie

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    UPDATE:
    Added a couple new articles to my fashion blog. Got its FB page up to about 65 followers from cross promoting. When I get a bit of money, I'll buy some advertising from FB, but for now just going it slowly.

    Regarding articles, I found some on eZineArticles that I really liked. Followed the rules and republished them on my site. Where I took this a bit further was that I then followed the links in the article author's resource area and looked over it. Then I looked them up on FB. I then praised their site with something real (not generic) and let them know that I re-published their article. I shared the FB post from my own FB page where I "teased" the article. This has gotten me a couple more followers and positive networking. My goal with this is to go almost totally organic with laser-targeted traffic coming from networking and very high-quality content.

    These are basics that I use in any business. I basically network my a$$ off getting exposure amongst peers and people who have at least a tangential relationship to my business's "niche."

    Next, my goal is to continue learning. I am learning about backlinking and hope to be putting some of those strategies to use within the next week or so.

    I know it's not too exciting, but I hope I will have some nuggets of information that can be put to use by the good folks on this forum.

    Thanks!
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2014
  12. AlexMed

    AlexMed Newbie

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    Put the page up on Google+. Never really knew too much about that. Actually kinda digging it more than FB. All this in the quest for targeted, relevant traffic.
     
  13. jhtweee455

    jhtweee455 Regular Member

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    You may want to consider switching webhosts and transferring your site to Wordpress immediately. Take their contract as a loss and move on. Get Adsense and start earning from their ads.
     
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  14. AlexMed

    AlexMed Newbie

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    That's definitely something I've thought about, just eating the cost for the next few months and hopefully get more revenue through AdSense and the regular paid-for ads. I have created a "dummy" site on a subdomain. The only issue is that I have to populate it with the content, and we have hundreds of articles with photos that have to be moved over to the new site. It's a project I've been working on for a while now. The other issue is that we have a curl ad on our site. I have not been able to get one made for the new site. Every plugin I've tried has failed miserably. It's one of our biggest revenue producing ads making $250 per month. The advertiser specifically wants that curl ad. I'm hoping I can either find or negotiate a solution to that pretty quickly.

    Thank you for your comments. I really appreciate all input.
     
  15. jhtweee455

    jhtweee455 Regular Member

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    Not sure what is a curl ad. Is it something like this? ... http://services.capecodonline.com/wp-content/themes/ccmgservices/ad-examples/view-page-curl-ad.html

    You may want to check out Fiverr.com or oDesk.com for people who may be able to produce this stuff. You can also check out codecanyon: http://codecanyon.net/item/page-curl-banner-ad/7701477

    In terms of transferring the site, may want to consider hiring someone to do it.
     
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    Last edited: Nov 13, 2014
  16. AlexMed

    AlexMed Newbie

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    That's exactly what the curl ad is. The one on codecanyon isn't big enough, but, you're right, I should check out Fiverr.

    Thank you so much!
     
  17. jhtweee455

    jhtweee455 Regular Member

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    Sure. Might want to check out elance.com, freelancer.com and odesk.com too.
     
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  18. karupoiss

    karupoiss Elite Member

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    This seems to be a really interesting journal here. Good luck and keep updating from some time to time.
     
  19. ExecutiveDude

    ExecutiveDude Regular Member

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    Good luck bro,
    Hope you reach your goal soon