Girl Guide Leaders

July 14, 2009 Steve

Mike wrote in recently with a bit of a double whammy.  He’s running a very busy Girl Guide Leaders forum and has asked us to carry out a quick review of the site. At the time of posting, Mike’s forum has 4,600 members and 282,015 posts in 13,234 threads! Girl Guiding is currently the largest youth organisation for girls in the UK, so Mike certainly seems to have targeted a great niche, but he needs some advice on how to monetise the site:

Guiders.co.uk

 “Love the site idea and think it’ll be a huge success. Think I’ll get my site into the surgery quickly before the huge demand.

The site is www.guiders.co.uk and is a vBulletin forum for Girlguiding Leaders. It has steadily grown over the last few years and has a good following of users.

I’ve tried to keep the site as low on advertising as possible to keep it user friendly. I’ve implemented Adsense which are the only paid adverts.

Other sources of income are very minimal clothing sales, but mostly paid subscriptions to a chat room and other features. I also use it to promote my badge website, www.BadgeFreaks.com, which is the main source of income for paying for the forum.

Could you give me your opinions on the design and feel of the site, technical setup and whether I’m missing any tips in getting more income from it.”

Here’s what the docs had to say:

Kieron

Kieron DonoghueLooks like you have a thriving forum there and a very specific niche you have cornered, well done. You’re doing absolutely the right thing by not stuffing the site with ads. The best advice I can give you on monetizing a forum is to approach companies/organizations who you think will be interested in advertising to your audience. Then ask them if they would like to sponsor the forum. So the forum could have “in association with xxxx” and feature some of their ads etc.. This could prove to be quite a valuable proposition to anyone wanting to target your niche audience, and you could command quite a premium for such selective advertising.

Lammo

John LamertonOh yeah, monetising forums is one of the hardest things for any Affiliate Marketer to do – Many (including yours truly) have tried and failed, and you’re going to come up against one very big problem – you have a very loyal following of users, none of whom want to see adverts and none of whom want to pay to access your forum.

You could try advertising some sponsorship to your members? Maybe one or two of them has a small business building websites or some other service that people would  appreciate using “someone they know”.

Your busiest forum is the “Off Topic” section, so that tells you that you have a community of people who love chatting and sharing things with each other – perhaps they might also like a special deals/money saving/discount codes section?

Do you send newsletters out to all the registered members of the forum? There’s an opportunity right there for either sponsorship or promotion of BadgeFreaks.

Al
 
Al CarltonThe site looks good, it’s instantly recognisable as vBulletin but that’s not so much a bad thing. I love the Question? and Urgent! additions, could be very useful.

I expect the current Adsense placement is making you peanuts, but on the plus side it won’t annoy your frequent readers. In order to generate more from Adsense, I’d whore the site a lot more to non-members. For example, if a new visitor comes in from a search engine, display mores ads in prominent positions, like between posts.

Another revenue option would be related affiliate programs (camping equipment, uniforms, etc). You could also use CPM banners on the top of the site.

Steve

Steve KennyHope that gives you some food for thought Mike, and thanks for sending in your sites for review. The second part to Mike’s question will be covered later in the week where he asks about the value of adding a blog to his other site, Badge Freaks.


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4 Responses to “Girl Guide Leaders”

  1. Hi Docs, Can I start off with a big thank you for your time and effort in reviewing my site. It’s great to have some decent advice of people whose opinion I have so much respect for.

    I’m so glad to see so many positive comments on the site as it seems I’ve spent most of my spare time building this site over the last few years.

    Kieron – You always say Content is King and I’ve certainly been conscious of not over commercialising the site. Now it has a good standing I’d like to slip in some good quality advertising that the members will want to use. I’ve already been approached by one such company thanks to this website so will replace the next to useless Adsense.

    Lammo – You’re right, the Off Topic is so popular I’ve set it not to count towards users post count as a site of 4600 woman do love to chat. Your idea of a special discount page is a good idea and I’ll have a took at how to integrate it.

    I don’t have a newsletter at the moment but have an opt-in/out system already as part of the registration. I think I’d base it similar to that of the A4uForum ones I used to get showing the favourite threads, useful Q&A etc. As you say it would also be a good chance to cross sell the latest badges from my other site and I could kick start the first letter with a competition or offer.

    Al – I love vBulletin after using most of the other forum software and its well worth the price tag. Modified a lot of it but think the layout is perfect and give the user confidence in the site. I’ve also added a forum section which allows them to ask a question and choose the best answer like Yahoo.

    Your right about the Adsense which is probably down to laziness on my part. I can replace with some camping, outdoors and craft sites. I like your idea about whoring it a bit more for non-members. It may both catch a few sales and urge them to sign up. Not had much experience with CPM banners, just used commission based before, do the main networks have these too? I was big into affiliate sales for years but let it slip while I’ve been building the site. Also I’ve found selling my own physical product much more profitable and easier than trawling though the emails and networks.

    Steve – Thanks again for the review and I’ve plenty to think about and work on. Best of luck with the new venture however I’m sure you won’t need it, and I look forward to Part 2.

  2. For CPM ads it depends what you mean by main networks, in the past I’ve used Tribal Fusion, Burst Media and a fair others that I can no longer remember. I’m not familiar with your niche so can’t really recommend any specific ones. I love Kieron’s advice of approaching companies directly, that would be the best way of maximising profits, it would be more time consuming but would prevent having to pay a cut to an agency.

  3. @Mike – No problem. Appreciate the feedback. Would be good to do a follow up in a few months time to see how you’re getting on if you’re up for it. Badge Freaks coming up on Monday.

    I must get threaded comments sorted on here!

  4. […] on from last week’s Surgery review of Mike’s Guiders.co.uk site, we cover his second question in this short post about BadgeFreaks.com – a site that specialises in […]

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