Advertisers coming to me

So far so good with my geo exploits, quick summary; to date for me it’s about building foundations. Initially I chose a target location (West of Scotland) and then went to work trying to acquire local towns, I have worked with a fairly realistic budget spending around £1000 on good sized towns around 10,000 to 20,000 population which I believe to be sounds investments and of good value. I wouldn’t pay that for locations that didn’t have the tourism angle though.

Occasionally I managed to pick up something I felt under priced and occasionally I have had to pay more than I would have liked. When targeting towns & villages my preference so far has been to go for the .co.uk first, usually with no existing site in the case of Ayr & Arran. If that was a no go I have looked at the .org.uk which happened for Kilmarnock. If that was a no go then I google the town and looked at the top 10 to see if there was something suitable & established to buy which was the case for Kilwinning (.org) And in some cases so far I have not been able to get anything.

You can see a local map of my progress here, although there is another acquisition which isn’t shown there which is going through just now. Overall I like the way it’s turned out, some sites like Ullapool.co.uk rank no.1 and get a few hundred visitors per day (in the middle of a re-design), other brand new sites like Kilmarnock, Ayr & Stevenston are in the top 20 and starting to get a little bit of traffic, it gives me a nice mix of new & established sites which can help each other and offer value to advertisers. I have to say that there seems to be a LOT of established geo sites that rank and are sitting there forgotten about offering real opportunity for those of you with the vision to buy on the cheap and monetise.

I am going to have a main automated directory which is almost ready and will also have featured listings, the last week or so has been deciding my pricing & overall strategy. My buying domains is coming to an end, developing is well under way and the monetisation is fast approaching, all of this in the last two months from a standing start, it’s been fun fun fun and very refreshing as I have mentioned before.

I have not reached out at all to ask for advertising so far, I have some laterooms banners on the sites which have already had 7 bookings making commission which is nice but what is really nice is that I am starting to get asked by local B&B’s & Guesthouses for advertising. For new sites like Arran & Ayr I have a couple of advertisers wanting to go ahead, for established sites like Ullapool I have 3 advertisers waiting for me to finish the re-design and want to part with their cash, where else does that happen? within 2 months they are coming to me asking if they can give me money! It wouldn’t take that many enquiries once the sites are all established to increase overall income by £xxx’s every month. I still have no real idea what the potential out there is, I know small towns ranking well can make £5-£10k per year once established with no real effort, passively growing through enquiries. If my main sites averaged that it would make a pretty good set.

I get the feeling next spring (if everything is as I would like) these sites will really come on. My main targets are B&B’s/Guest houses. I’m not going to let it passively grow though, I shall be working through the winter to build up a base by contacting local businesses so that come spring they can really generate a good collective income with very little maintenance. From there any fallout should be replaced naturally with new enquiries.

There is a real geo land grab been going on this summer, whether it’s the prime generic co.uk or the established no.1 site I would say there is a real period of opportunity to strike and carve out a piece for yourself, I know some of you already have and it’s good to hear. I’ll be at ThinkVisibility so if your going I’ll see you there!

About Scott Jones

Scott hails from the north east of Scotland and started earning online at the end of 2000 building websites for local businesses during which time he won an award from Lord Alan Sugar for Excellence in Enterprise. After having quite a bit of success with domaining Scott mainly runs educational evergreen websites which generate over 3 million visitors per month but is always on the lookout for a fresh thinking out of the box way to turn a buck. Follow on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Wow, that looks pretty neat! good luck with it all! it all seems to be going pretty well.

    Here is a suggestion, why not have a form which local B&B’s/Guest houses fill out in order to be listed.

    Then people can review them so that they say what they think.

    Also, is it possible to get a commission on booking made through you?

    BTW I do like the map you have set up?? any plans for becoming “The King of Scotland” soon?? or is it just the West you’re interested in?

    Either way, good luck! and keep us informed!

    • Nice idea about getting commissions on bookings, not so sure about the user reviews though as they need moderating and can the site high maintenance.

      • Reviews are also open to abuse, especially in a small, competitive environment where people will do anything to diuscredit their competitors and gain personal advantage. I do like the general idea of Abduls though.

  2. This is really nice to hear. I’m looking forward to seeing your progress (or rather, profit). When I’m ready I’ll share the sites I’ve been developing. Perhaps not the same revenue potential as yours right now, but you’ll see the benefits I think :)

  3. You seem to be doing remarkably well with these sites, I have to admit when I first read about them I wasn’t convinced they had great potential. (Shame on me)

    It’s very positive that local companies are already approaching you for advertising, but how do you decided how much to charge? Do you set you advertising fees by the amount of traffic that the site gets?

    • The pricing is going to be based on what others have been charging elsewhere, a smaller fee for a directory business listing and a larger fee for a full page editorial feature. I’m not focussing on traffic numbers and so far none of the enquiries have even asked about traffic numbers, I am guessing the fact they rank top 10 or top 20 and are mostly on the generic .co.uk is enough.

      • Thanks for the insight Scott, I have to say it’s very inspiring to see what you’re doing. If you don’t mind me asking, how do you write the initial content for the sites without local knowledge, or is this part of the country that you live in and have the experience to write about?

  4. Good luck with it all, Inspiring stuff. Off the back of your geo posts I’ve been looking into setting up some geo tourist sites myself.

    • Have just done the dirty deed and bought allaboutambleside.co.uk and I’m now in the process of getting a simple wordpress blog up there. Where to eat, where to sleep, where to walk, events etc. I know Ambleside quite well so I thought it might be a good start. Definately plenty of opportunities to sell advertising should the site develop.

  5. Scott, this is just inspirational. The speed with which these sites are returning a positive result is just amazing.
    Do you think targeting the local rather than blanketing the national is a better approach?

    • Yep that’s the key, it can offer real quick results giving top 10 rankings with little/no work on seo. Advertisers are used to spending money on newspapers/magazines so don’t yet deal in roi or ask about traffic – the next 6 months will be building an advertiser base ready for it to build it’s own momentum in the spring – fingers crossed!

      • You see that’s my problem. I would have attacked this, had I had this idea initially, by creating a large blanket site which dealt with all the information you’re displaying but for ALL towns (hypothetically of course because that’s a hell of a lot of data).

        I like the local aspect of it and think I might carry this forward to some future projects I’ve got in mind.

  6. Well done, advertisers (Smart ones) are actively searching for sites that will offer the best ROI on conversions, I work for a media buyer and I can tell you for a fact that they have approached you because they not just feel the opportunity for sales, but in the case of B&B and guesthouses they feel your site has authority when speaking about that specific community your involved with (No easy task) so my hats off to you.

  7. I think sellers must be being approached a lot more. I’ve had more than reasonable offers knocked back even for org.uk’s.

    Get in now if you can afford it.

  8. Scott this is all very impressive.
    Will you add a search and\or booking function for accomodation? I’ve noticed that sites for the bigger towns have quite sophisticated searching\booking capability in some cases. Presumably using RSS feeds etc. I don’t know how easy this is to set up, but hotels and accomodation seem to be the “big” keywords phrases in the towns I have looked at & there is a lot of sites competing for this. Do you think these kind of functions are a must have?

  9. Great post yet again. Just wondering if you have considered outsourcing future content creation to locals, or how are you going to keep the sites up to date.

  10. Scott You have inspired me & other by the looks of it – in my case I have been researching a town that seems to have a gap for a gazette style site, it has approx 100k population and the prime domains are not available, but not an issue as they are used for other purposes. So I could reg a name & build it up. However what concerns me is whether getting onto Google page 1 for “townname” is realistic most of the top ten have over 1k of links – this is a bigger town – So is Google page 1 for “towname” crucial ina bigger town? If its a bigger town could you SEO optimize around other phrases?

    • I can only really comment on what I have done Simon, I have used keyword domain & got into the top 10 for a 50k population, not tried it without the keyword on larger towns so it could take longer. No. of links is not as important as quality of links so if you could get government councils & the like to link to you then you could crack the top 10 with any domain.

      • Sometimes, I miss having an inventory of .co.uk domains. Now that I’m out of the country, the prospects and time really dwindled for me that it was no longer worth the effort to build a domain, even a keyword one.

        But still getting a keyword .co.uk before presented a good opportunity to rank and make money. Glad this avenue is still a cash cow for some people.

        Good luck Scott!

        • I think the trick is every domain you have must at minimum “pay for itself” ie cover its own cost to renew and host, then you build from there.

          No Point just holding on to domains or having an inventory unless you have an audience to sell too!

  11. Ever wondered who much would go for? It’s parked and packed full of adsense but unfortunately my ‘world domination piggy bank’ have enough pennies to even contemplate having a crack at buying it! I know I’ve asked before if you were planning to sell your domains at some stage and, if I remember correctly, you decided to hold onto them. In my crystal ball I can some rather nice returns when you do decide to flip these domains.

    Just out of interest, do you write the content for all the sites or is the work outsourced?

  12. Oops! Now I feel like an arse; I meant to say “I wonder how much london.co.uk would go for?” I’m just back off under my rock to spare myself the embarassment!

    • Yeah, that’s a pretty good point. How much would big city names with their local TLD go for?

      I would imagine london.co.uk would be atleast £750,000 if not more.

      Whoever owns it is a lucky dude!

      • My content is out-sourced.

        The owner of london.co.uk is indeed lucky or rather had good foresight to register them back in the day, he also owns many other cities in the UK, quit the set, I’d say london would be in the low to mid 6 figures £’s undeveloped.

        • oh, is he actually someone who is developing such geographical based domains then? not just a one off venture?

          low to mid 6 figures £’s undeveloped :O

          Imagine what it would be like fully developed?? I mean, I have plenty of ideas that I can put into a domain like that!

  13. Scott, first of all I have to say that I am very impressed with what you have accomplished so far. Really an inspirational story. (Oh… and the idea with the map is cool).

    One thing that I can help thinking about is whether this is worth the time? Having to deal with advertisers directly can quickly start taking up time and is difficult to automate unless you will hire someone to do it for you.

    What are your thoughts on that?

    • Eventually with good rankings and an automated directory script they could grow maintenance free. Initially time is needed. Yesterday I spent 1.5 hours sending out emails for Ullapool which has good rankings and took in £360 for listings through paypal with more to follow hopefully. These can also be subscriptions for listings so the more work you do each year you get a larger residual income.

      Of course it could be out-sourced on commission as an option but I like to learn what works and what doesn’t myself and most of my other stuff is maintenance free so it lets me work on this to a point it doesn’t need any more input, that’s my aim.

      • Well if it can be run like a subscription then I see the benefits of it. Naturally it will all require time in the beginning but I normally also plan how to make my sites (almost) maintenance free before I start them. Often it requires outsourcing of some sort but as long as I don’t have to touch them that is good enough.

        I’m pretty sure that you would be able to have someone do the cold calling/email for you on a full time basis and make a profit from it because you have so many sites that needs advertisers.

        /Mikael

      • Is the listing fee a one off or is it for one years listing?

  14. Scott you meantioned the Paypal for the Directory – payment is of course a key aspect- did you find that people already had a Paypal account? Or will you set up an integrated payment system? I should imagine that people don#t want the hassle of sending cheques…

    • The directory isn’t live yet so paypal has been used on Ullapool for live listings I manually added, no problem so far – they use paypal for debit/credit card payments without having an account previously.

      • Although, I found out that e-checks are a pain!!!

        But I do agree with paypal being the most commonly used and convenient option for taking payments!

        though the fees are annoying :(

      • You mentioned you added the listings manually. Without obviously going into specifics, would these be accommodation listings in the ullapool site ?

  15. Question for you – I see the sites are running on WordPress. Is there a specific directory plugin you used, or did you have something made for the job?

  16. Arran.co.uk gets 1000-2000 visitors per month 17% type in traffic, 68% from search.

  17. Right now everything generalist in the WWW is already built, in my opinion if you dont have millions of investment and you want to start a project you need to focus on:

    1- geotargeting
    2- niche market

    I think your experiment is a demonstration of that.
    Compliments and keep up the good work,

    Regards

  18. Interesting article. Like a case study which makes it useful, too. There are a lot of parts to it, though, that can´t be easy / involve a lot of work, i.e putting together content.

  19. Scott I notice that you are now using ‘Another WordPress Classifieds Plugin’ – how is that different to the customised directory script? Do they integrate, or are they the same thing?
    Regards Simon

  20. It was interesting to see that though you rushed through the general overall stuff, it has a concrete thought & strategy behind it, looks neat & smart effective use of time you had. Hope you get rich this summer.

  21. Great post! Advertising on websites is not the difficult part, getting enough visitors to justify advertisers coming to you is more difficult.

    In order to maximize your ad revenue, I would suggest trying to increase your traffic to the website.

    I have seen websites getting paid $100 per month and ones which get paid 20,000 per month. The difference is traffic.

    • I don’t think the type of advertisers for these sites have very big budgets for advertising. For example I don’t think a Guesthouse would pay a £1000 per month even if the site was getting 100,000 visits a day.

      The advertising revenue is always restricted to the niche of the advertisers.

      • Great point. I was thinking about the advertising route and how you needed to be able to justify advertisers actually advertising on your site – high volume of traffic!!

        But you’re right Julian, I guess it does depend on the market niche however I would assume that it has to be a worthwhile venture for the advertiser i.e. the site has to be getting some decent traffic to justify even the smallest expense.

        • I don’t believe you need a high volume of traffic to gain interest advertisers but if you target your key words/phrase correctly then you have a strong foot hold.

          For example if you have a good placement within Google under the key phrase “Guesthouses in Ayr” whilst you may not get a huge amount of traffic, the Guesthouses in Ayr would be very interest in advertising with you.

  22. I’ve never tried the geo approach to online marketing. Looks like you are having early success.

  23. Good stuff Scott and thanks for the update. I mentioned I was going to give this a go on the other post comments (under posting name appnoodle) and ended up buying matlock.org.uk which was parked. For the non-locals, this is a touristy town in central England.

    So far it’s just been a case of customising the theme and building some content. I’m starting to see a few visitors already, especially through Yahoo but ranking in Google’s going to take a bit longer and more backlinks, I think.

  24. Just a for info, not worth a post, Ullapool.co.uk which does rank and gets a couple of hundred visitors per day. It has now taken in just under £1000 in the last month in fees from B&B’s & guest houses for yearly listings and £140 in Adsense so lot’s of promise there, a few more no.1′s next year and a good income could be made.

  25. Nice bit of land grabbing goin on here, any of u using .ltd.uk domains do you think they are of any value?

  26. Scott, do the B&Bs and guesthouses provide you with all of the images and copy for their features/adverts? And if so, do you insist on unique copy, or do you not worry about the duplicate content affecting your SEO? Cheers

    • Bit of both, no I wouldn’t worry about unique text for the description snippets, it’s common to have the same description on more than one site.

  27. I recently came across a new website based on the name of the town where I live, and wondered why the person had bothered to put so much time and effort into it – now I see why!

    This is something I’d never even thought about until I stumbled across your website, but it looks like a lot of fun. It sounds like it could be hard work, with having to phone local businesses etc, but I guess the outcome will be worth it if you can have each site making you several thousand £s per year.

  28. Hi Scott, hope all the ventures are going well.

    I recently saw that Galloway Forest Park has officially been named as the first Dark Sky Park in the UK. This could be a great feature for some of your sites since the Dark Sky Park is very likely to attract alot of tourists to your towns like Ayr and Kilmarnock.

    I don’t know if you already know about the Dark Sky Park but just thought I would mention it incase it would be of interest.

    Julian

    • How on earth do you find out about things like this Julian?

      • Saw it on the ITV news a few weeks ago and then stumbled across an article about it on the bbc website this morning. news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_of_scotland/8361244.stm

        Thinking about visting the park myself!!

        • Cheers Julian, I do remember seeing it was to be the first in the UK in the paper a while back, I should probably take note and get something written on it, as you say it’s an attraction. Just bought StirlingCastle.co.uk today which will go well with EdinburghCastle.co.uk as tourist attractions have the advantage of a lot of up-sells like tickets & accommodation.

        • Nice domain purchase Scott, you could try and scoop all the castles of scotland, would make a great network!

          scotlandcastles.co.uk or castlesofscotland.co.uk both up for sale so it seems! :)

  29. Damn it, sorry forgot to post a link to the news article about the Dark Sky Park:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/scotland/south_of_scotland/8361244.stm

  30. No I’m not going to sell it Justin as it’s based off another script so won’t repackage & sell it. I’d get the site ranking top 10 with some general content to make the trip more productive with possible sales, certainly preferable to have a local contact or spend a bit of time there just taking your own pictures which can save lots of royalty fees.

  31. Hi Scott,

    Any updates on your geo exploits? How are your sites faring in terms of traffic and ads coming in? It’s nice if you can provide inputs. I’m planning to venturing on the same niche and expand my online empire (kidding!).

  32. I have been thinking a lot about the idea of blog sponsors. I’ve written a list of companies I’d like to approach, but I recently was told by another blogger that I shouldn’t even consider putting any ads on my blog until I have at least 4000-6000 daily readers. I’m nowhere near that right now…should I wait?

  33. You are a true entreprenuer my friend. Thinking in a new way again and again. This accquisition that you are doing is pretty catchy, I think I’m going to try and replicate your model!

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