Attempting to Woo Rwandan Advertisers

So far February is looking like it’ll be my crappiest month in a while. So it’s probably a good time for me to make an effort towards monetising my Kigali life website which is something I’ve been avoiding. Though I’ve had a few businesses approach me about placing ads on my site, I’ve shied away from it, saying that the site’s not quite ready yet for ads.

This is due partially to me wanting to increase the number of users to my Kigali forum which means slowly stealing them away from a popular (but very unruly) Yahoo group. This is a slow process and, while I’m getting there bit by bit, I’m nowhere near having my forum be as popular as I’d like and as I think it could be.

But the main reason is that I’m currently in Rwanda on a work visa and I’m not so sure about what’s involved in changing that over to a business visa so that my site can legally accept advertising payments and pay tax and all of that fun stuff. As I plan on being here for the long term, I don’t want to mess around with shady behaviour and want to make sure everything’s done right. Fortunately, Rwanda is an easy place to open a business and I should be able to sort things out with a visit to the Development Board.

I had a meeting over the weekend though which has started getting me more interested in getting the monetising thing going. I met with the owner of a tour company, guesthouse and hostel in Musanze (the city people stay in when they do gorilla trekking) and he’s a smart guy who really understands the potential of online advertising. He’s actually switched his focus from print ads to online ads which was interesting to talk about.

I feel like many businesses in Rwanda aren’t as on board with online ads as this guy and it’ll be a slow process to get there. But I do know of many businesses that are and these are the ones I’d like to partner with. My plan is to choose my favourite businesses (many of whom I’ve already been in touch with for one reason or another) and offer more than just advertising… I want to bring them on board as partners.

I guess basically this is still advertising but with more social media and even offline promotion to go with an image ad in my sidebar and possibly a page on my site dedicated to their business. I’ve built up a huge amount of trust with my readers and I feel like my recommendation is worth a lot here. So my idea is to find businesses I really like, offer them some ad space and also to act as a sport of ambassador for them as well where I’ll promote them whenever I can – both on- and offline. I’m not sure that these is really that measurable… but I feel like people who are a bit more internet savvy and can see the potential might be up for something like this.

So I guess my plan is to offer traditional online advertising with an extra kick of support from me. Treat my advertisers as more than just someone paying monthly for an image ad and more as a business that I’m proud to promote when I can. I’m not sure what sort of value this would have but I’m hoping to bring on 9 to 11 partners (one space in the header, and 8 or 10 square ads in the sidebar), starting small and slowly growing. I’d like to be charging $75-150 per partner per month which would depend on the extras like the dedicated page on my site, Facebook shout-outs etc.

This is all new territory for me. The ‘ads’ I sell now aren’t really businesses that I know and would recommend. My opinion on my other sites isn’t worth much. Maybe on this blog, but the rest of my sites don’t have a personality attached to them. My Kigali site is very much mine and my personality and opinions are all over the place. People know, trust and really like the site and I think this is something I might be able to capitalise on.

Does anyone have any experience monetising a site like this? Do you have any good examples of community sites that have been able to monetise? It’s all a bit intimidating, even without the whole business registering part… so I guess that’s why I’ve avoided it for so long!

I’m not sure how much money I’ll realistically be able to earn with the site, but I do see this as being a far more sustainable approach to my current strategies and I’m excited to get started and see what the interest is.

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