I listen to the readers of this blog – an online community will always struggle to succeed if the community developer fails to listen to its members. I consider a blog just as much of an online community as a forum or a social network – all are based around interaction and dialogue sharing.
Readers of Community Spark often ask me to associate the theory I am writing about with examples. Recently, I have been trying hard to ensure that all of my articles include examples wherever possible. Most notably, I have started to document the process of building a brand new online community from scratch.
Today I want to remind you all of the importance of diversifying your revenue streams. To do this, I will be sharing the revenue breakdown of Just Chat – my main online community – with you as an example.
Why you need to ensure your income streams are diversified
You should always be planning for the future. You should always be planning for the expected, and you should always be planning for the unexpected. Sure, you may be enjoying fantastic success right now, but what would happen if something changed overnight?
Let’s say you rely on Google AdSense for the majority of your revenue – what would happen if your earnings suddenly plummeted, or you were removed from the program? Would you be able to continue if your main source of funds disappeared overnight? The more diversified your income is, the more secure it is – make sure you always have more than one source of revenue, and that each revenue source doesn’t account for more than a third of your overall income.
My revenue breakdown for 2007
As you can see from the pie chart above, Just Chat has a number of revenue streams, and the three largest do not account for much more than a third of overall revenue. This ensures that should one of these sources of income disappear, the site will still be financially viable whilst I implement a replacement for the lost income.
I’ll briefly explain the breakdown shown above:
EasyDate – This is a private affiliate program; online communities are often a good match for dating sites. If you are running an online community and aren’t advertising dating sites, you may be missing out on some great revenue. EasyDate offer three websites for you to partner with – from general dating, to casual dating to adult dating. They offer the following standard payouts:
£2.50 for every female lead
£1.50 for every male lead
50% sales commission
If you send them decent traffic, EasyDate are open to discussing higher commission structures. I would highly recommend giving them a try – if you do, let me know how you get on!
Google AdSense – Not much to say here; the program either works for you, or it doesn’t. They key is to try them out and experiment with your ad placements and appearance – the smallest changes can yield great revenue increases.
Advertising.com – These are the guys that serve the 728×90 banner ads on Just Chat. They utilise proprietary, automated-optimisation technology along with behavioural targeting to ensure they deliver the maximum revenue possible for publishers. I have had a relationship with Advertising.com for more than four years and can highly recommend them.
Others – These include the following:
Reserved Chat Names – I offer Just Chat users the option to password protect their choice of chat name. As Just Chat allows users to chat without registering, there is no password protection of chat names by default. As you can see, very little revenue is generated from offering this facility – I simply offer the option so regular users can protect their names should they wish.
43Plc – These guys serve the Just Chat quizzes. They don’t earn me a great deal of revenue in comparison to my larger revenue sources, but my visitors love the quizzes so I see it more as a way of adding value to my site rather than solely making money.
Just Go Media – I am currently generating revenue with Yahoo! search through Just Go Media. The system works in a similar way to AdSense, except you get to choose specific the keywords that you think will be the most effective on your site.
TradeDoubler – A huge affiliate marketing network that offers a huge number of potential merchants for you to promote. The statistics offered by this network are fantastic, and really help you to optimise your campaigns. I have since moved away from TradeDoubler to focus on my private affiliate scheme with EasyDate – they are however, part of my contingency plan to fall back on should I need them!
Paid on Results – Another affiliate marketing network, Paid on Results doesn’t offer the same number of merchants as TradeDoubler but one area where they excel is in their customer support – they focus on building a relationship with you as a publisher, and will always be willing to work with you to achieve the best results possible. They are definitely worth giving a try. Again, I have moved away from Paid on Results to focus on my private affiliate scheme with EasyDate – they are however, also part of my contingency plan to fall back on should I need them!
Whew! That was quite the blog post, eh? I hope you found it interesting to read about Just Chat’s revenue sources and were perhaps surprised to see the actual number of revenue streams. I cannot stress enough the importance of diversity in this area – if you want secure revenue streams, you need diverse revenue streams. Make this one of your goals for 2008.