Mandi Strimling, founder of blog site Rave Review, has used clever marketing tactics to turn her passion into a money spinner. This is how you can too.
All the answers to your unique business lifestage questions
It’s one thing to have a blog or online space to air your ideas, opinions and work, it’s another thing entirely getting that blog to make you money through advertising.
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Mandi Strimling has been able to achieve this so successfully that she’s now a full-time entrepreneur. These are her tips for getting your online marketing right.
“I knew I was on the right track for Rave Review before I even started the business. I’d spend a lot of time online and if I saw something I liked I’d then email it to my friends and family.
"Pretty soon people were responding to me asking for gift ideas and recommendations. So I formalised things a bit more and launched a blog that had aSex and the Citystyle of writing. It covered things I was interested in from beauty to travel, sports, food, gadgets and products.”
As Strimling’s blog attracted more followers she then invested R5 000 in setting up a professional website and registered this business.
Get the site earning you money
“At the time of launching my business back in 2010, online media was only just starting to create a buzz, so I knew it would be a while before I started generating an income – in fact it took 365 days to the day before I landed my first advertiser.”
Strimling realised that a new site wasn’t enough to secure advertising from large brands. Her solution was to court smaller advertisers and offer free advertising.
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“No one can sell your business like you. My first advertiser was for Park Village Auctions. I’d been pursuing them for some time without success and then I made a deal with them – I’d advertise one of their car auctions on the site to prove I had a following of wealthy corporate women who enjoyed investing in properties and the like.
"After one week they saw a noticeable spike in their traffic and it came down to my banner ads. They’ve been a consistent advertiser ever since.”
Learning what your readers want
It’s one thing starting a site based on things that interest you, but once there are advertisers and readers involved its critical to respond to your readers needs and wants.
“When I launched the site I had subjects that were of interest to me, for example sports. I soon realised that women weren’t interested in sports like I was, and after I did some digging I discovered it was because many readers didn’t understand the rules.
"What I also learnt was that readers were very supportive of each other, had created a kind of community and wanted to meet in person. This was my cue to start setting up social events like make-up test days, book reviews and so on.”
Adding value wherever you can
Related: 3 Social-media mistakes that are killing interest in your company“What’s worked really well for me is ensuring there are always goodie bags when hosting events, and that there are prizes up for grabs on the site. The brand is responsible for delivering the winner their prize but in return they get the details of the winner for their database, and of course readers keep coming back for the chance to win more."
Top tips for getting online businesses right
- Look around you – you probably already have what you need to launch a business
- Be realistic. It’s going to take time to build a following and lure in advertisers, so prepare for that
- Passion always comes first, then money. Do pro bono work to build a following and credibility
- Allow your readership to grow at its own pace. It’s better to have a smaller but engaged database than a large one of disengaged readers
- Keep your content consistent and engaging – your readers must always come first
- Brush up on SEO, it makes a big difference with driving traffic to your site
- If you’re new, win over small advertisers before going for the big guns. Your track record with smaller companies will provide credibility with bigger brands
- Don’t be distracted by competition – stick to your core and do it well
- Sacrifice in the short-term for long-term gain. If you need to give free advertising, do it
- Celebrate your victories with your readers.