Starting to See My First Kigali Advertisers

So as mentioned in my A Change in Direction post, I’m making an attempt at moving my income away from what I consider to be dodgy ‘Google gaming’ techniques, over to something more sustainable and less as risk from Google crackdowns. I’ve made a whole bunch of plans on how I’ll be able to accomplish this and, though I’ve been moving really slowly, I’ve managed to take a few steps in the right direction and I’m starting to see some results.

My main focus over the past several months has been on getting my Kigali restaurants guide up and running. It’s online now and I’m very happy with the functionality of it, but there’s still a bunch of design work and other small things to do before I’ll truly be happy with it. But I was sick of looking at the thing so I put it up for people to use about a month ago and have since mostly forgotten about it. My programmer was on vacation but he’s back now, so it’ll soon be time to finish up those loose ends. One I’m happy with the site, that’s when I’ll start to think more about how to monetise. But, for now, I’m happy to just put it aside and focus on other things.

My main focus has shifted back to my Kigali website. The site is laid out how I want it and there’s no more little tweaks or fixes to do… it’s just about continuing to add good content which I’d sort of let slide while I was working on the eating website. But now I’m giving it the attention it deserves (adding things to the Kigali events calendar, becoming a lot more active on my Facebook page, improving some older content, and trying to add at least one new article per week) and it seems like this has caught the attention of some businesses in town.

As I’ve probably mentioned a bunch of times, I’m definitely not a salesperson. So the magic emails I’d get from people wanting to ‘advertise’ on my websites was wonderful for me. I didn’t expect that sort of thing to work for Kigali but, as it turns out, it does! I guess if you make a great product and people want to reach your market, they’ll find you.

The Deal

I’m charging US$100 per month for a ad square in my sidebar (135 x 135 pixels) linking to their website plus they get three posts per month (by me, about them… whatever they want within reason) to my Facebook page which just passed the 20,000 ‘likes’ mark a few days ago. The Facebook page is a huge part of making this all work and I’ve developed quite a community on Facebook who trust me and look for recommendations by me. I’m not sure I’d feel like a small sidebar ad would be worth $100 a month but with the Facebook page exposure thrown in, I think it’s a no-brainer.

Plus, any partner who happens to run events regularly or even just once-in-awhile will get my guarantee that it’ll be added to the events calendar. Normally I’m pretty lazy with events because they’re a pain in the ass to add, but with a bit of notice, I’ll make sure to add theirs and also to promote them on Facebook.

My goal is for my advertisers to see a benefit in payment me $100 per month so I’m going to do what I can to really promote them. On Facebook, word of mouth, whatever. Since I’ll only choose businesses that I like, it’s easy for me to want to tell people about them. I think this model will work well and once I have 10 or 12 advertisers, I’ll be busy promoting them, but I don’t think it’ll be too annoying to my readers because they’ll be businesses they’d want to know about.

The Advertisers

I know there are a lot of businesses in Kigali who’d really benefit from being an advertising partner with me. But rather than work to convince them of that, I like how it’s been happening more organically. Like with my previous accidental business model, I’m getting surprise emails looking for information on how to advertise on my website. The people who are finding me already understand the benefit… there’s no sales pitch. This also means that they’re not likely to have unrealistic expectations as they’re already fully active online (they all have Facebook pages, Twitter and websites) and understand what’s possible online.

I’m thinking of the advertisers on my website more as partners. Businesses that I believe in that I really want to push. I’m not interested in selling an image ad square in my sidebar to some company I don’t know anything about and then collecting a cheque. I’m taking an approach that I think will work better in the long run. One where I only partner up with trusted companies that I like and that I’d actually use myself and recommend. This means I won’t lose the trust of my readers by seeming to recommend crappy businesses just to get paid.

At the moment I only have four advertisers paying in full. The Pearl Lounge (Rwanda’s airport lounge for departing passengers), K-Club (a nightclub), Azizi Life Boutique (a shop selling handicrafts), and Inema Art Centre (…an art centre and gallery). The others are The Office (a co-working space that I’m bartering with for a desk), City Arts (a centre for ballet and other classes that a friend of mine runs – they’re only paying $25 a month for now) and Kigali Konnect (a directory site that helped me get my work visa). Plus I’ve given Azizi Life a second slot for free just to balance out the spacing and because they’re a good cause.

I’m happy with the group of partners I have on board but definitely see room for a hotel or two, a tour company and a couple of restaurants. This might be where it becomes a good idea to get out there and approach some people I think would make a good fit. Or I can just wait for them to come to me…

The Goals

I’d like my Kigali website to be bringing in around US$1,500 a month. I think this is a pretty reasonable goal if I can fill all of my ad spots (10 to 12 in the sidebar and one at the top) then that’ll be around $1200/month (if I take any discounts for advanced payment into consideration and manage to sell the top ad for a bit more per month).

Thank leaves me with around $300 to make up and I haven’t quite figured that part out just yet. I’m going to have an ebook for sale once I get around to writing the thing. Plus I have this map that I keep talking about that’s been a work in progress for over two years now. That’s definitely needed here and would be easy to sell… I just have to make the thing! A lot of people cycle through Kigali at a quick pace and a lot of people find my website and trust my opinions… so I think selling these yet-to-be-created maps and ebooks would earning me $300 fairly easily. Possibly. Maybe.

I’d eventually like to push my total revenue for Kigali-related projects up to $2,000 and I think I’ll be able to make up the extra $500 with advertising on my Eating in Kigali website. If I were to work hard (finish my ebook and the eating site and do a bot more to reach out to advertisers) then I think I could reach my goal could be done by the end of the year.

Hmm… perhaps some motivation to get going! $2,000 is plenty of money here and would be easy to live on and even save a bit. It would be great to be earning and spending here in Kigali without my magic money from other internet endeavors. It would just prove to myself that this style of community website business is totally viable without resorting to dodgy Google gaming techniques.

It would also act as a great model and some inspiration for my team over at Living in Kampala. To be able to show a good amount of revenue on my Kigali site would be a big boost as Kampala is a much bigger and more internet-savvy market and the earning potential there is even greater.

But I shouldn’t get ahead of myself… I’ve only sold four ads, after all! But I feel like things are moving in the right direction and I’m really excited to get working on this ebook and map and to keep growing my site and expanding my Kigali products and knowledge.

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