A little over 2 years ago, I started a website called iPod Media Selection on which I wanted to sell iPod softwares through affiliate programs. It did pretty well for a while because I was marketing the hell out of it, mostly by spamming forums and blogs. I soon got tired of playing the cat and mouse game with forums so I completely stopped marketing it. Then came the iPhone…
I started a site called iPhone Download Blog to replicate what I had done with iPod softwares. At first, I set up the blog like a store and only had products for sale. I didn’t have content per say, except descriptions of softwares. So I started creating content just so search engines could see that my site was legit. I expected to write just a few articles but I quickly got sucked into it and started blogging about the iPhone for fun.
I found my niche
I had an iPhone so I knew what I was talking about, I wasn’t just bullshitting people with some useless content. In the same time, I started hacking my iPhone and learned how to jailbreak it. I wrote mostly about this topic, and I started realizing people really liked what I was doing, and most of my traffic was coming to learn more about how to hack their iPhone and how to get the most out of it. That’s when I realized that I had found my niche.
I was spending a lot of times reporting about iPhone news; the same news that most other iPhone blogs were already talking about. At this point, I kinda stopped blogging about iPhone news. It was pointless. I was clearly wasting my time. So I really cut back on the posting of iPhone news and I didn’t notice a traffic decrease at all. It was very stable. I received a few emails from die hard readers who were pissed because I wasn’t posting news anymore so I wrote a post explaining what the situation was. I was pretty honest and told them that people were obviously not coming to my blog to read iPhone news and that writing these articles took a lot of my time (sometimes up to 2-3 hours a day). Looking at the comments I had on this post, I think people understood the situation and were cool with it.
These days, I still write about iPhone news from time to time when it’s a big deal or when I feel like it’s important but I mostly focus on my niche: iPhone hacking.
I hired free staff
In the meantime, I posted on my blog saying that I was looking for writers/bloggers to join me. I thought that even though people mostly came to my blog to learn how to hack the iPhone, it wouldn’t hurt to have other people blog about news, applications, and other stuffs. For a while, I had 3 bloggers that were posting quality content, but like most bloggers, they got tired of it and after a few months, they completely stopped writing for me.
What was really cool is that these people were writing for free. They were writing very good content, which to date still drives large amounts of traffic.
Today, I have only one guy who writes on a pretty regular basis about iPhone applications. I also have a few people applying to write for me every once in a while but it’s very hard to find good bloggers. I’m really not looking for quantity anymore. I’m all about quality now!
What about money?
When I started my iPhone blog, my only income stream was the Regnow affiliate program to sell iPhone softwares. I have to admit that it was performing very poorly. Let’s say that a $100/month was a good month at the time.
Then I set up the blog with Adsense. It was working ok, making about $10/day on average. The problem with an iPhone blog is that visitors are young and are pretty much adproof, meaning that they don’t even see the ads anymore because they are too used to them. I tried optimizing my ads but it didn’t improve things much. Then I heard about The AdSense Code, a best-seller by Joel Comm, a pretty successful internet marketer. I bought it from Amazon and implemented a few of the techniques described in the book. Results were astounding. I went from making $10/day to making between $20 to $30/day, sometimes more.
The last few months, my checks from Google have been between $700 and $800. I created a special banking account for all the money I make with Adsense and it is my girlfriend and I’s travel found. For example, we’re going to Costa Rica next month for 2 weeks and it’s all paid by Google Adsense!
I also signed up for 2 other affiliate programs: one to sell iPhone screen protectors and one to sell custom iPhone skins. The first one brings in about $150/month and the other one about $100/month. Not too bad considering that I don’t have anything to do at all for these.
The biggest move was probably to set up an iPhone store where I sell hundreds of accessories for iPhone. The best thing is that, again, I don’t have anything to do at all. It’s all managed by a third-party company. They set me up with the store integration, they add products as they come, they take care of billing, shipping, and customer service. I basically have nothing to do but sit back and wait for my monthly PayPal payment. The iPhone Store brings in another $150/month on average.
I used to be an affiliate of the iTunes App Store as well, which started working very well for me but the assholes at Apple cracked down on every affiliate that had an Apple trademark in their URL. Since my URL contains the trademark “iPhone” (www.iPhoneDownloadBlog.com), they suspended my account. I wasn’t the only one having this issue. Many other iPhone and iPod blogs had this problem and were forced to stop marketing the App Store applications. Why would Apple do such a thing? I have no idea, but all I know is that they’re leaving a lot of money on the table by doing that.
Where am I today?
Things are doing pretty well for my iPhone blog these days. I get about 12,000 unique visitors a day on average and I usually spend a couple hours a week working on it, except when there are major events such as the release of a new model, new firmware, or a new jailbreaking or unlocking method.
If I add up all the revenue streams from this blog, I make an average of $1,100/month, which is more than decent. I really want to keep growing the site without compromising its integrity. I think it’s very important to stay true and don’t be a total sell out.