In a recent post entitled Make Money Blogging By ‘Selling’ Your Knowledge Caroline Middlebrook asked this question, “Why do all this work if all you are ever going to do is display ads for other people’s products?” Her concern, and it is a common one, is that running a successful blog involves creating high value, well researched, posts and then going out and promoting this blog like she did her flagship blog with a massive social media blitz. However, the point that she is missing is that a blog can essentially be a money making billboard and this is the lesson that Arturo “Arte” Moreno can teach us.
Who is Arte Moreno?
Unless you’re a Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim fan or in the outdoor advertising field you may not know who Arte Moreno is. Mr. Moreno, word is that he prefers to be called “Arte”, is an advertising executive who made his millions by displaying ads for other people’s products on outdoor billboards. He was the President and CEO of Outdoor Systems until he sold the company to Infinity Broadcasting for a cool 8 billion dollars and change in 1999. This put him in the Forbes 400 richest Americans list with a personal net worth just shy of $1 billion.
With this money, he then pursued his passion, baseball, and bought the Angels from the Walt Disney Company for a ‘mere’ $180 million in 2003. Within 3 years of this purchase he had doubled the value of the team without having to build a new stadium or raising admission or concession prices.
So what lessons can we apply to niche blogging from his impressive accomplishments?
It’s a Numbers Game
Having a well trafficked location is one of the keys to the billboard business. One of Moreno’s talents in the outdoor advertising business was in finding these locations and capitalizing on them. For example, one of his deals involved paying $170 million for 45 billboards in Times Square in New York City. Another involved buying into the lucrative vacation destination billboard market along commonly traveled highways in Florida.
A problem that he faced early in his tenure at Outdoor Systems was that the company couldn’t afford to be the biggest local billboard company in the Phoenix Arizona area where the company was located. Instead, he concentrated on customer service and judiciously selecting the right locations for his clients.
For our niche blogging efforts this means that we need to know our numbers. We need to know how well a location, our niche, performs. Does it bring in traffic or not? Does this traffic convert to advertising clicks and affiliate sales? What is our competition and how can we make our niche site stand out and be profitable in the face of tough competition? If you know your target niches and research them well you’ll soon find profit.
Everybody Starts Small
Arte’s first commission check from selling outdoor advertising was for $2.25. That sounds like many people’s Adsense earnings for the month, doesn’t it? The thing is that in spite of this paltry commission check, Moreno did not give up and say, “Well, this isn’t working.” Instead he forged ahead and moved up within the company he was working for at the time. When he started working with Outdoor Systems in 1984 they had 80 billboards in the Phoenix area and made about $500,000 a year. When he took the company public in 1996, they were making $90 million a year and had 237,500 billboards all across the country.
The lesson here is to not be discouraged by the low earnings you see at the start and give up. How many people do you know who’ve given up when that first month’s Adsense total was really Adcents? Instead of throwing in the towel, constantly be looking at ways to make your niche blogging business grow and expand.
It’s a Passion But It’s Also a Business
Arte’s big passion in life is baseball. Before buying the Angels, he owned part of the Salt Lake City Trappers along with comedian Bill Murray and others. They enjoyed the games and owning a minor league club but they also treated it like a business, increasing the value of the team from $150,000 to $1.75 million. Likewise Moreno has increased the value of the Angels during his tenure there by using innovative marketing techniques.
There are two things we can learn here.
First of all, Moreno didn’t just concentrate on putting billboards in baseball stadiums or only running ads on his billboards that related to baseball. One mistake that novice niche bloggers will make is that they only want to blog about the one or two things that they have a passion for. Remember that as a niche blogger your business is providing advertising space that gets traffic that converts to sales. While you may not be passionate about Ohio DUI Attorneys, providing good advertising space for them can give you the time and money to enjoy your real passions in life.
Secondly, it’s OK to blend your passion with business or to keep them separate. If you enjoy writing on a topic and building an audience for it without a monetary motive behind it, that’s fine. If you want to build a money making flagship authority blog on a topic you have a passion for, that’s fine too. Where people get into trouble is when they incorrectly mix the two motives and their marketing approaches.
There are some other great things you can learn from Arte Moreno. If you’re developing a local niche blog I’d highly recommend looking into the techniques he used to sell outdoor advertising and how he promotes the Angels in his local market.
Do you have anything to add on niche blogging, Arte Moreno, the Angels, baseball, or whatever? Leave a comment if you do.