I have been blogging and writing about barbecue since 2001. I also competed in professional barbecue contests from 2001 - 2006. My original goal when starting this blog was to build an
audience to buy my spice rubs and sauces. And then, if everything turned out well, I hoped to open a barbecue catering business. If that business became viable, I planned to open a small barbecue restaurant to concentrate on barbecue carry out sales.
I sold my spice rubs from this web site and at local barbecue contests from 2002 - 2006. In total I sold about 7 cases of barbecue rub during that time, strictly from this website and via word of mouth among family and friends.
After posting the first 100 or so articles about my barbecue experiences including my personal recipes for rubs and spices along with numerous pictures of contest turn-in boxes, I decided to attempt to monetize some of those efforts maintaining the website via affiliate links to Amazon.com, to advertisers via Google AdSense and with educational materials from Click Bank. During the past 13 years, this free website has earned approximately $5,000 from those avenues and income from the contests where I was awarded prize money. I spend $10 a year or less to maintain the website, which represents the cost of the domain name.
I have learned that content is key to building an audience and ultimately earning any significant income from a free website like mine is dependent on having daily visitors who are interested in looking at my barbecue pictures, reading my articles and learning from my success and mistakes.
Based on my experiences with this website I have learned a great deal about online marketing. I have learned what works and what does not work. I receive occasional questions from others trying to build their own online presence and have tried to help them when possible.
If I were starting over from scratch with this site, I might take a different approach - an approach where content is more dependent on user and reader generated discussion and less on my own personal effort. But that ship has sailed - 14 years ago in fact.
I have other online blogs and businesses. I have used my experience here and applied it to other websites and business strategies. I have a blog about fishing, blogs about photography, about vermicomposting and even gardening. I have monetized many of those sites with Amazon, AdSense, educational material via Click Bank, but I am most excited about the step-by-step instructional material
recently available teaching average gals and guys like me, how to earn income from existing websites and how to create new websites specifically to earn extra income on a part time basis.
If these educational materials had been available to me 14 years ago, I would have saved a lot of trial and error; and certainly would have earned significantly more income from this website.