Author Topic: Help me monetize this hobby of mine...  (Read 1597 times)

M0ntana

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Help me monetize this hobby of mine...
« on: July 22, 2018, 02:06:45 PM »
Hey guys,

Simply looking to pick your brains a little for ways to monetize what is currently my hobby for writing wine reviews. I'd ideally like to develop it as a separate income stream from my main biz, so I am ideally looking for some recurring revenues.

To tell you a bit about the project, I started a wine education/review blog a little over a year ago. I am also quite active with it on social media. I have +-700 fans on Facebook and about 14.5K followers on IG. The website itself gets between 1000 to 1200 visitors per month, and things seems to be looking up as I get more and more organic traffic from Google (I do a bit of SEO myself). I have a hard core of loyal fans who engage with my content daily, and tend to follow my recommendations quite regularly. My main angle is true accessibility and avoiding the general snooty vibe that is generally associated with the wine industry through millenial-friendly humor and a heavy use of gifs and memes. Feel free to PM me if you'd like the blog's URL, as I'd rather not post it here for confidentiality reasons.

I have started receiving free wine to review while being invited to tastings and press trips. All that is great, but I'd rather make some money myself. Now, the obvious way to monetize this would normally be to sell wine and/or get affiliate commission on bottles sold. Alas, I cannot get into this biz where I am from as the sale of wine is covered by a state monopoly.

Banner ads are a joke, and I do not really like the idea of selling other people's products. I'd rather sell something myself and use my "influencer" status to reap up some sales around what I would like to build as a brand. Thing is, wine accessories are generally quite inexpensive, and I fear that my margins will not be worth my while unless I can sale a relatively pricy product (80$+ ideally). Indeed, winos are a weird bunch who do not care spending thousands for the stuff they like, so I'd rather sell fewer goods to fewer people and make higher profit as a result. I've also thought about going the traditional educational video series or book, but these seem VERY labor intensive and tech heavy, and since I already work more than 60h weeks on my regular gig, I'd rather keep this as simple as possible.

Just to help me brainstorm and/or get out of my own head a little bit, what is a product you think would be a good fit for my audience? Ideally something I could either drop ship or have built in a very efficient/scalable manner without much initial investment (I'm still a fair bit of a mustachian after all). Still, if the margins are worth it, I don't mind investing the time and/or money to have it take off.

Thank you so much guys, and can't wait to hear from you.

Cheers,
-M

plantingourpennies

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Re: Help me monetize this hobby of mine...
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2018, 06:39:41 PM »
Neat question. Definitely not my area, but willing to take a stab.

I like the idea of digital products and services or affiliates because it solves a number of issues around margins, delivery, logistics, etc. In the FI blagosphere blogs are usually financed through financial products-credit card offers, betterment, etc. These products themselves are usually high-margin and recurring in nature. For you i'd say this would be things like wine clubs.

Another idea would be camps/chataquas/get aways. You could put together a tour package of Napa Valley for a thousand bucks, and act as a tour guide for a dozen people for a few days. Things like that are much more fun with a knowledgable tour guide, and milenialls are all about the "experiences vs. things." If you don't want to act as tour guide, there might be somebody local who is already willing-you can simply co-brand it.

If you get adventurous, do a wine tour of Patagonia...hell, I might even do that one!

tralfamadorian

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Re: Help me monetize this hobby of mine...
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2018, 07:17:39 PM »
How about influencer marketing around one product/company that you use and are comfortable recommending? I know you said you didn't want to sell other people's products but there are plenty of products you are using already- Riedel glassware? Coravin? Wines of France? The monthly sponsorship contracts can be very lucrative for influencers.

M0ntana

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Re: Help me monetize this hobby of mine...
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2018, 07:30:13 PM »
@plantingourpennies Some great stuff there. I will definitely check the "experience" thing, as it is quite a millenial thing indeed. The only problem about it is that I am still spending time for money in a tour-guide scenario unless I can find good people to lead the tours after a while... I'll see about that, as it is a rather unexploited in my area and I could see some money being made there. Cheers!

@tralfamadorian Yes, I did speak to some of those, but I might have been too small an influencer to get the good deals. I guess I'll just work on my brand some more and take another stab at it once I get bigger. Thanks!

letired

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Re: Help me monetize this hobby of mine...
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2018, 08:11:49 PM »
One blog that might offer some inspiration is http://thehousehuntingblog.com/ It's probably a slightly different audience/culture, but she posts pictures of houses that are/were for sale that are unusual or interesting in some way. She monetizes by taking requests for design help, and doing affiliate links. Is there something similar you could do?

I don't know what the audience size requirements look like, but I think the easiest path(s) forward are sponsored posts or affiliate links. And here is where you should have an easy way to contact you on your site.

If you are willing to put in the time, a course or ebook might be nice, but you should probably take a smaller step first. Try to see what you audience is interested in paying for? Is it recommending cured meats and cheese to go with your favorite wine? Is it the best wine glass to go with various wines/design styles/aesthetics?  Is it recommending the best gluten-free crackers to go with their non-dairy cheese? Is it an individual consultation on wine pairings for that dinner party they are throwing? Once you have an idea of what people are interested in paying for, then you can think about how to scale it up/make it less time-dependent. And you know that no one wants the thing before you put a lot of work into it.

FreelanceToFreedom

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Re: Help me monetize this hobby of mine...
« Reply #5 on: July 23, 2018, 09:53:57 AM »
Some overlap with what others have suggested, but here are some ideas:

1. Affiliate links - think wine clubs, gifts for wine lovers, fancy snacks, etc. Recurring subscription boxes like snack boxes, wine clubs and even Blue Apron type stuff may work well, and payouts are much higher for recurring deals. You could start publishing round-up type posts in addition to wine reviews - i.e. "best gifts for wine lovers"

2. A "Support the Site" type of page. It's okay to ask your loyal readers to help support the costs of the site and your time. You can add various affiliate links, and a overall Amazon affiliate link so whatever they purchase through your site would earn a commission. Personally, I value DoctorOfCredit's content, so I always click through their links when I'm making an Amazon purchase.

3. Patreon/donations - Consider setting up a Patreon page, or a basic donation button. Some of your readers may be willing to chip in a few bucks a month to support the site - if they are as engaged/loyal as you suggested. This could potentially allow for sustainable income and an ad-free user experience.

4. Freelance writing. This is not passive, but you could use your experience and reputation in the wine world to land some lucrative freelance writing gigs. Experienced writers can earn $40+ an hour, with top end potential of $100+/hr


Just some thoughts - best of luck!


M0ntana

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Re: Help me monetize this hobby of mine...
« Reply #6 on: July 26, 2018, 08:36:24 AM »
@FreelanceToFreedom Yes, these all make quite a bit of sense. Thanks!

Update: I actually found a product I will endorse and become a brand ambassador for. I will actually get +-70$ of commission per sale, so while not FU money this is actually decent coin.

Time to start playing with landing pages and Facebook ads in order to see what kind of conversion I can get... This is exciting!

I am also thinking of shifting the site to a paid membership model once I have sufficient wine reviews to make it worthwhile. Does 5$ a month to access 500+ 100% independent wine reviews sound overly expensive to you or should I add some other perks?

Thanks!
-M

FreelanceToFreedom

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Re: Help me monetize this hobby of mine...
« Reply #7 on: July 26, 2018, 08:54:19 AM »
@M0ntana

I would hesitate to make it a paid access site as that may alienate some of your current readers. Personally I prefer the patreon type model where it's a choice of supporting the site or not. That said, you know your readers better than I do.


BestCoast

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Re: Help me monetize this hobby of mine...
« Reply #8 on: July 26, 2018, 09:19:24 AM »
Congrats on finding a decent product to endorse!

Haven't done this myself, but as the brand grows, I'd look into a customized product that might reap higher margins. Does seem time-intensive to work through prototypes and manufacturing issues at first, though.

My two cents on the membership: how about selling a very concise, niche, annual wine guide instead? Not recurring revenue, but since you're writing the reviews anyway...

profnot

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Re: Help me monetize this hobby of mine...
« Reply #9 on: July 26, 2018, 10:40:37 AM »
I like the idea of you selling a concise annual guide.  Yes, it's a bit of work but it would scale.  So it's not passive income but almost.

Another thing you could write and sell is a pairings guide: current wines to pair with foods.  You can check the best food magazines to see what dishes are currently popular.  Stay away from the biggest recipe sites for ideas (Food.com, AllRecipes.com, etc.)  Mediocre recipes & cooks there.  Owners of your local high-end cookware and imported cheese stores will probably know the best magazines.

Are you capturing email addresses?  Think of something you can offer to get  addresses so you can market special offers, etc.

Have someone design an attractive graphic including your business name / url for a cotton canvas wine/picnic tote bag.  Offer for sale on your website / IG and have orders filled and drop-shipped by a tote print-on-demand company.  Tote should be high quality, of course.

Good luck!

letired

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Re: Help me monetize this hobby of mine...
« Reply #10 on: July 26, 2018, 12:49:25 PM »
I would be very careful with the paid membership thing. People get really cranky when stuff that used to be free isn't anymore. I'm also the wrong person to ask about paying for wine reviews, since its not an interest, but $5/mo seems high to me (again, Wrong Audience so don't take my word for it, ask your actual audience). You could pioneer it by offering X number of reviews a month to members, and see how many people sign up.

+1 getting email addresses, etc.
+1 cute logo totes/shirts/whatever

M0ntana

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Re: Help me monetize this hobby of mine...
« Reply #11 on: July 26, 2018, 01:06:06 PM »
Thanks for the cautionary words on the membership thing - I am indeed worried about alienating some of my following, so I will definitely proceed with caution.

I am capturing email adresses and have quite a cool opt-in set up that will launch very soon.

@profnot : Thanks for sharing so much great insight! I will definitely look into the tote bag thing, and might even go for a wine bottle bag or something of the like. Sounds like an inexpensive to make that will provide additional exposure as well.

Keep it coming, y'all are of great help!
-M

CubicleWarrior

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Re: Help me monetize this hobby of mine...
« Reply #12 on: September 07, 2018, 08:46:33 AM »
I wouldn't worry about alienating visitors with a membership site. Sounds like you've provided tons of free content already. This is exactly what I did.

I built a site and put up several hundred articles for my own edification. Eventually an audience built up around it and requested more. I grouped the requests into a paid membership model. I still have TONS of free items out there. I still help millions of people for free. But for some of the items that have required real work that I wouldn't have done with out a request I've turned into a product. 99% of my visitors don't buy my product - and that's perfectly OK!

Don't be slimy, but also don't be apologetic about valuing what you bring to the table! Turns out that open and honest and decent are great ways to have an ethical business.

If you're looking on how / where to start, I'd say make a FAQ list of the top 10-20 questions you get asked. Some I'm sure you've turned into pillar content already for free and send people to those resources time and time again. But what about other questions?

I'm not a wine person, but I could imagine that you could have a subscription service teaching how to pair wine, how to enjoy wine, or similar.

You could make an e-book on how to throw amazing tasting parties (complete with suggested pairings, decor, decorum, etc). You could do a joint venture with foodie entrepreneurs. You could also make a great soft affiliate with amazon links - For example, it's football season and while I'm a beer or bourbon tailgater, there are those who bring wine. Well, how about an article on how to tailgate with wine, what to bring, etc. All of those items could be amazon affiliate links.