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How My Hotaru Site Earned More Than $2k Per Month, And How Yours Can Too

Discussion in 'Marketing Idea' started by seekyt, Feb 24, 2015.

  1. seekyt

    seekyt Donor Donor

    My Fellow Hotaru users,

    I just sold my Hotaru site on Flippa for $15k because of some health issues some members of my family are facing. I wanted to share with you my ideas on creating a successful, profitable website with Hotaru. Although I did not create the next Facebook or Instagram with my Hotaru install, I was able to create a site with over 45,000 users who have posted at least 15,000 pages of content that contain 400-500 words each.

    My site earned me an average of $1,200 per month profit, and in the best months, I earned over $2,000 per month. The amount of money I earned from my sites only represented approximately 40% of the total income, because I use the revenue sharing plugin to share ad revenue with my users. Assuming that my month to month hosting expenses are only ~$45, this is a pretty nice payday each month.

    My site is nearly 5 years old, and I have been around since Hotaru was a wee baby of a CMS. I originally used Pligg, but switched to Hotaru because I liked the lightweight size, the efficiency, and the fact that it was very easy to learn to edit files.

    When I first started my sites, I had no experience with programming, with PHP, with CSS, and I only had minimal HTML skills. This is proof that with Hotaru, anyone can create a winning website that pays for itself and pays dividends month after month.

    Here are some simple tips for success with Hotaru:

    1. Be Creative - Hotaru is a social bookmarking CMS. But it's also a lot more than that. I used my Hotaru site to create a revenue sharing writing site called Seekyt.com. There is only a slight hint of social bookmarking flair on Seekyt, yet I used the exact same software that we all used. With Hotaru, you can create a user-submitted content site of any kind. My site only accepted articles that were at least 2,000 characters in length. You can create a site that only accepts videos, images, written words, etc. People are generally tired of the same old sites, social bookmarking or otherwise. My site was meant to compete with HubPages, and while it never did attain the same status under my management, I was still able to grow the site to one of the top 50,000 sites in the world (according to Alexa.com).

    2. Think Outside the Plugin - Many of the plugins that are already written for Hotaru can be easily extended if you have some basic skills. For example, I was able to easily extend the CKEditor plugin to allow image uploads, Youtube and Vimeo embeds, Article templates, Google Rich Snippets, Google Maps, and more, just by searching for "Ckeditor plugins" and extensions. If you have the will, there is a way. You can extend the "media select" plugin to be your own category plugin that doesn't change URLS. You can create your own revenue sharing plugins and referral programs using information you can find on this forum. There is a whole world of possibilities out there!

    3. Content is King - if you want to earn money with your site, you are going to need original content, and lots of it. Why not require all posts to be at least 100 words long? I moderated the first 3 submissions by all new members at Seekyt, and I never published anything that was already published on another website. I promoted articles to the homepage that were not self promtional, and especially paid attention to articles that used headings, images, videos, and other rich content. I think that there are a million ways to make your own site unique. You can create a site that competes with Pinterest with Hotaru. You can create a reddit clone. You can be the next Seekyt.com (but don't do it, that's my game! lol). Just think outside the box and you can come up with a site where users are dying to publish original content. Even if all you want to do is build a bookmarking site, why not get creative with this too? You can create a site where users only share cat memes, or fail videos, or the ever popular "Thug life" videos. There are limitless possibilities.

    4. Choose the right kinds of ads - AdSense isn't appropriate for everything. Many times, you will earn a lot more using affiliate ads, related content ads (e.g., outbrain, taboola, content.ad), and direct ad sales. It depends on your niche. For affiliate ads, I can't speak highly enough about VigLink.com - you can automatically affiliate links from 40,000 online retailers by simply signing up for this one program. Some products will pay you $100+ per sale, and it's easy and quick to sign up.

    5. Get your hands dirty - if you are building a website, there is no excuse for not learning how to customize this site. I recommend learning how to edit the CSS (design) files of your site, learn how to insert custom html and javascript into the pages, and learn how to create some simple PHP functions that will benefit your site. Learn the ins and outs of Twitter Bootstrap to customize the layout of your pages. Just do it!

    For example, here's a PHP function you can use in your bookmarking_post.php file to insert "something" on pages that only have the tag "website." (warning, I'm no coding pro, so this might not be the most efficient way to do this):

    <?php if (stripos($h->post->tags,'website') !== false) { ?>
    hello world <?php } ?>
    You can replace "hello world" with an affiliate ad, a custom call to action, or anything else you want. Get creative. You can replace website with any other tag you think is appropriate. There's a million things you can do! Use this opportunity to reach out the exact users with the exact content they are looking for. And, for the record, this is a code that I don't even use on my site! You might be the first :)

    6. Don't spam - only promote your site where it is appropriate to do so. Not everything is suitable to be promoted on Reddit. Not every image belongs on Pinterest. Not every page will do well on StumbleUpon. Only share your best content on Facebook and Twitter. Feel out those sites and tread carefully. A well placed link is worth more than 1,000 spam links. Really! A little goes a long way. Trickle out your promotional efforts slowly, continuously, over time, and don't ever stop. You will attain the high rank in Google, the direct traffic, the income - everything you are looking for.

    7. Customer Service - Remember the saying "The Customer is Always Right?" Well, this is absolutely true. Be prompt, courteous, and friendly in all interactions with users from your site, including people who reach out to you through your contact form. Assume that the users of your site have no idea what you do, what advertising is, etc., because most of them don't! Many times it will take 10-20 emails to solve a problem. Don't get fed up with users. Listen to their complaints, to their ideas, to what they have to say. You will build a much more successful website if you have good rapport and reputation with your customers/users.

    8. Be Picky - If I could do one thing different, I would have been more picky and choosy on what content I allowed on my site, and what content I didn't allow. This tip will carry you very far. Don't just allow any old content to be published on your site. Pick a niche, pick a style, and stick with it. If people want to just be self promotional, ban them! They aren't going to do you any good. Those extra 5 pageviews aren't worth anything in the long run. When you build a site with 100,000+ pageviews per month, you will realize that only great content achieves great results. If your site is about cats, don't allow articles about "The Best Plumbers in Philly." Etc., etc. You get the idea!

    Finally, just for the record, I only spent 15-30 minutes each day maintaining my site. You don't have to make this a full time job. Build your site day by day, and never give up. I've made over $13,000 for three years in a row from my Hotaru site. This is your chance to change your life in one way or another. Use it however you see fit!

    What do you think guys and gals? Do you have any ideas on creating a successful site? Share them below and let's make Hotaru a more popular CMS, because it's changed my life and it could help change the lives of others. And, in the coming days, be sure to support the new owner of my site by visiting Seekyt.com - the site is down right now as we are transferring to a new server.

    I hope this is helpful and slightly inspiring for some of you!
    sereban and valMETNG like this.
  2. valMETNG

    valMETNG Administrator Staff Member Admin

    Great post. What do you think is the best way to go about getting quality original content creators? My site has a similar concept in that content providers get all the revenue, but I find it challenging to get those content providers. I'd very much welcome a few niche content providers to start communities, but finding ones who provide real quality has been a bit tough. Mind sharing your strategy when you initially started to get those content creators?
  3. seekyt

    seekyt Donor Donor

    The best way that I learned is to use other quality content sites, provide users with an incentive to use your site by writing articles about your site and using their site forum, and then when you get a well-known quality content author to sign up at your site, promote the hell out of them. Most content authors are very well connected with one another. If you get one hooked you'll catch the whole bunch. I was having the same problem with my site at first, but once I found a couple of well-known people signing up and giving Seekyt a chance, I tried my very best to keep those people. I used the forum at HubPages to let people know about my site. I wrote articles about my site at Hubpages and Squidoo. I did my best to let people know I existed. Of course, step one is getting familiar with the top content authors in your niche, step two is making your site known, and step three is keeping your "cash cows" happy by making sure they are earning well from your site.
    valMETNG likes this.
  4. valMETNG

    valMETNG Administrator Staff Member Admin

    Useful advice. I need to do a much better job looking for a few key content providers.
  5. seekyt

    seekyt Donor Donor

    The best thing you can do is go where the content authors are, make a name for yourself in their community, and then introduce your site after that. Most online writers are very picky about the sites they use, because many sites rip the authors off. If you can become a trusted asset on another platform, writers will flock to you when you introduce your site to them.
    valMETNG likes this.

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