The following is a guess post by Dr. Lyle Dennis of GM-Volt.com, a text book example of a blogger turning a passion into a money making venture.
The experiment began in January 2007 when I read two articles on Digg that would change my daily life for the foreseeable feature. The first was an article about how setting up a niche blog could be profitable. Included was a recommendation to start a site about a brand new technology. The second article was a top Dugg post about General Motors newly introduced Chevy Volt concept electric car.
Later that day I had purchased the domain name GM-Volt.com, and had a WordPress blog about the car up and running.
I have always been a major computer and internet technology enthusiast, and for years imagined a world without oil, for all the political, financial, social, and environmental benefits it would bring. Running GM-Volt.com seemed a perfect marriage of my two interests. Better than surfing the internet endlessly looking at meaningless stuff, it seemed better for me to use my computer time productively. Also, I saw it as a chance to help change the world and demonstrate to GM just how much enthusiasm there was for this technology so that they would continue towards production.
It started off slowly at first, I was new to blogging and had a lot to learn. Also, being that I am a physician, I had to learn about automotive engineering. Soon I began to see dividends. My readership, comments, and revenue steadily began increasing. Other passionate Volt enthusiasts got on-board. Before I knew it, within 6 months, GM took notice, and began flying me out to their headquarters to meet the actual executive engineers and designers who were building the car. As a result, my credibility began to grow.
Next came a nod from the New York Times, acknowledging my site as a top-10 green car website, I was also myself interviewed for articles by WIRED magazines blog and the New York Times. I was hooked.
Recently I have even had the opportunities to meet two of GM’s Vice-Chairmen, and soon will be in a conference call with their CEO.
Right now the site is getting around 70,000 unique visitors per month, and I had to hire programmers and designers for a soon-to-launch complete overhaul.
It is interesting that the car is still three years from production, and in the end may lead to millions of units in sales. I predict continued growth for my site. Also it is important to note that the site has made it to either the number 2 or 3 position by Google or Yahoo search for “chevy volt”. This means every dollar of advertising that GM spends actually benefits me, I joke that my site has a $100 million advertising budget. There is no shortcut to getting that PageRank though, it has taken a lot of hard passionate work, i.e. content.
For revenue, I run banner and contextual ads. I am currently looking for sponsors and considering selling merchandise.
As a fan of John Chow, I wanted to share my experience with his readers as an example of an experiment that so far has worked. Let’s hope the car does!