I’m the webmaster over at The Surfing Handbook (http://www.surfinghandbook.com). I was able to turn my passion (surfing!) into a website that earns money. Here’s my story on what I went through to get there.
FIRST LEARNING ABOUT WAYS TO MAKE MONEY WHILE ONLINE
When I first heard about ways to make money while online, it was from my dad who had stumbled across a guide for using Google adwords as a way to generate an income. I was pretty skeptical at first. It sounded like some sort of fly-by-night scheme that wouldn’t really work. I honestly wasn’t interested at the time, and in fact I was surprised my dad was even looking into it.
A few months passed and I was done with my summer job. I didn’t want to get yet another restaurant job, so I asked my dad if I could see the Adwords ebook he bought. I took a look at it, and I also took a look at another ebook he had printed out called the Affiliate Master’s Course. I was more impressed with the Affiliate Master’s Course. It made sense, and I thought I could give it a try. I had some experience with websites, although I didn’t really know any HTML. I also knew I loved working on the computer and surfing the ‘net, so it seemed like something that would suit me.
After reading the Master’s Course I was chomping at the bit to get started, but the book authors kept mentioning how this Site Build It website service would make the Search Engine Optimization part extremely easy and automated. (Yep, they are pretty good at selling their service! But more on that later..) Again, I was skeptical. I really didn’t want to spend any money! I checked out the site, and thought it over for a while. I discussed it with my parents. I worked on some other projects I was doing, and kept thinking about it.
TAKING THE PLUNGE
Finally I decided I’d give Site Build It a try. I figured it would help since I didn’t know anything about this “search engine optimization” and honestly I didn’t really want to get that into it. Sure it was $300, but after reading a couple of the case studies I figured that a year is a long time, and I could make back at least some of the money. Besides, if I could set up a way to make money while online, then I’d maybe be able to save up for a surf trip!
When I started SBI (Site Build It) I didn’t really have an idea of what I wanted my site to be about. I toyed around with some ideas, but none of them stuck. That’s when it hit me. Ken Evoy and the SBI action guides kept saying do something you’re passionate about. Well, the thing that I’m most passionate about is surfing! I realized that there’s a whole world of people out there interested in surfing, and I love the sport so much that I generally think about it all the time. (If you know any surfers, you know what I’m talking about!)
I researched some monetization opportunities, and found a bunch of promising programs, like Becker Surf and Tactics.com. There was even a surfing memorabilia site that had an affiliate program! I was stoked.
GETTING IT STARTED
So I got started. I worked on the site endlessly, and build up a bunch of good content. It was easy and fun since I was doing something that I loved. Even when I needed to do research (like my fin design history page) it was more fun than work.
I took a break from working on my site after two months to move back to Michigan for the winter so I could live with my friends. Long story short, my life got a little busy with a new job and my website went on the back burner for a few months. I wish I hadn’t done that! I put off monetizing my site and I could have been earning money much sooner.
Anyway, fast forward to this past summer. I finally turned my attention back to my website in July, and set up Adwords. I started getting a few clicks, and after optimizing it I was getting up to $7 a day from adwords. Then I put up my affiliate links. This was actually kind of fun, although I must admit it gets a little tedious sometimes.
After a few weeks some sales started to roll through. Imagine my surprise when I logged into Commission Junction (my main affiliate program provider) and saw that someone had bought a surfboard through my affiliate program! I got a commission of $43.40. I was so stoked!
This past October my traffic has jumped to 3841 unique visitors in that month. My best day was 241 unique visitors. And I haven’t done one drop of “search engine optimization” beyond what SBI does for me automatically, and a few link exchanges here and there. (AND I stopped working on the site for almost 5 months…thankfully SBI kept working even when I wasn’t!)
The best part of doing my website, though, are some of the emails from literally all over the world I get from people who are actually getting some use out of the site.
Here’s one letter:
> Gidday Thanks for your web site. I think it’s great. I’m an aussie surfer-girl and always looking for a new site to refer to. I too, surf in cold water – Melbourne ! I’m heading to Bali for a month of joy in the water. Yipee!
Let me tell you, when I get emails like that I’m totally stoked.
I’m still working on my site, and if you visit it you’ll notice I’ve got a few monetization methods going, like ebay stores, Google Adsense, in-context affiliate links for products, and some banner ads (which really don’t work well, and I’ll probably take them down soon.)
I’m going to start a newsletter/mailing list hopefully, and try to experiment with product recommendations through the newsletter. SBI makes that super easy, so I don’t have to worry about learning a complicated new thing (and it’s slightly complicated to build lists and generate e-zines if you are using a plain vanilla FTP type hosting service.)
NOW IT’S YOUR TURN!
Anyway, if you’re thinking about trying to make money while online, then I suggest you check out what Site Build It has to offer. If nothing else, download and read the Affiliate Master’s Course. It’s free, and it is widely considered one of the best affiliate ebooks available. You can download it directly from our site by clicking here. Yes, they do mention how Site Build It! can help you do all the stuff they say in there, but even if you don’t use SBI it’s still a great resource.
I wish you much luck in your online entrepreneurial efforts!