I was shocked to discover that my bee blog had made me $25 so far this month. This is based on a dozen or so readers per day. How can 12 readers a day make me $25 in the first 10 days of May? I find it difficult to conceive, but it happened.
I make money from my websites in three ways.
The first is direct sales such as the JT30 store and FreeNameAStar. These sites sell something and in the case of JT30.com Erica has to mail out little pieces of vintage hardware to make the money. Direct sales is the classic store front idea. Open a store, stock it with something and people will buy it. My Freenameastar site sells a virtual item, but I had to program in the Smithsonian Star catalog to make it work. It is less work for me, but it is still a store.
The next way that I make money is by selling ads. I use web ads for Chitika and Kontera and I make a few dollars a day from all of my sites. I use other big name ad companies, too. Sometimes I make money, sometimes I don’t. I make a few cents a day on the bee blog and a few dollars a day on my music sites.
The other way that I make money is with affiliate links. I used to make lists of books listed on Amazon and put links on my websites. Amazon will pay you if someone buys something after being referred from your site. These are affiliate referral fees. Money from Amazon dried up a few years ago so I stopped using them. I started making links to things on eBay, instead. If someone clicks on these links and wins the auction, eBay sends you a buck or two. You get a cut of the auction fees that the seller pays. eBay is the best affiliate program that I’ve used.
What I did was to create a web page called Bee Sales that is a list of 100 auctions on eBay for beekeeping equipment. I wrote a program to change the eBay feed for these items to a web page that looks more like a store front and not at all like a list of auctions. Maybe five or six people read the blog everyday, but most of them click on the Bee Sales link. Another five or six come directly into the Bee Sales site looking for specific equipment. On the average of once a day, someone clicks through to eBay, bids and wins an auction. That’s when I get money.
It turns out Bees are a very popular hobby and there only four or so big bee stores. These stores all look the same and charge the same inflated prices so beekeepers are constantly searching for cheaper places to buy equipment. Beekeeping requires you to continually buy supplies, so I continually get clicks.
I began to think about this and it occurred to me that there are lots of other hobbies that require buying equipment. A small number of clicks could provide a web site with a small but steady income. You’ll never get rich, but it might pay your bar tab each month.
Here are some of the more popular hobbies.
Fishing: one of the most popular hobbies in the U.S. and it requires lures and poles and line. Fly fishing requires special clothes and even kits to make your own flies. Because fishing is one of the most popular hobbies, there are more stores around, but they still like to charge an arm and a leg. A simple fishing blog linked with a list of eBay auctions will make some money.
Other hobbies that need specialized equipment are: Paintball, skiing, Hunting, Golf, Cycling, Motorcycling, Boating, Bowling, Tennis, Music (playing, not listening), Woodworking, and Hiking.
All of these require that you have a blog or a series of web pages that users will find valuable. If you add content once or twice a week, the search engines will send you traffic. Users will be able get to your valuable page through the search engines and then click on your nicely formatted web page of auctions. I have found that people have been bookmarking my auction pages because they are easier to read than an actual eBay search results page.
There is commercial software to convert an eBay affiliate feed into a web page. I wrote my own. I have thought about releasing the PHP code, but it might be used by my competition against me.
I created a sample page showing a bunch of Paintball auctions. Some of these are big ticket items. I only played paintball once, more than 10 years ago, and I never blogged about it so I won’t get many clicks, but I bet I make a few dollars a month off of Paintball Sales.