Over the past three years my site has grown through a variety of methods, some of which I have discussed in my previous articles, and some that I’ll save for another day, but throughout, my goal has always remained the same: deliver what the readers and audience want.
As The Sports Chat Place has grown from just a handful of readers a month to hundreds of thousands each month, I continue to receive reader emails, comments, posts in my forums, you can pretty much name it. While I used to listen to all of the advice and take it into consideration, I still read it all, but most of the stuff is either already on the radar for a current or future project, and some of the stuff I am content to just not listen to or act on.
By not listening to everything, I can honestly say it’s because I don’t care as much about what people have to say or add. I know exactly when and why this transition took place and I’m not sure I’ll ever go back to caring about everything anymore when it comes to Sports Chat Place.
While I care about the site very much, it’s my primary source of income, I think the bulk of the advice, suggestions, and comments from the public just aren’t very well thought out. I don’t think most of the people have had any kind of success financially or traffic wise building a site from the ground up, and many of them don’t help me pay the bills for what they want to see. For some reason they think tech work and my time don’t cost anything. Of course the ones that have had success, I’m all ears.
The comments about what people want to see that I really tend to listen to more are those that come from people who are members of my premium section, they pay the bulk of the bills. While I have monetized my free site, it just doesn’t make the same kind of money the subscription site makes, and really it just pays the bills of the day-to-day and monthly operations. While I truly like and care about all of my readers the same, I like my Premium Members better.
Recently, Yaro posted that he was changing his business plan and what he was doing with his site. I read all of the comments up until the time I wrote this, and it really inspired me to write this article as I can relate.
What I read were tons of comments from people basically complaining that Yaro wasn’t working hard enough or paying enough attention to his free site. Many people criticized the way he was going about doing it and that by adding more writers he was not doing as much himself, though he clearly said he was posting with the exact same frequency he always has.
While change is always difficult and growth means change, and while what one person sees as a good change others don’t, I noticed something even odder about the comments. Of all the comments I read, nearly 70, I only recognized one name from Yaro’s coaching programs forum of which I am and have been an active member for several years.
To me it’s beyond comprehension how someone could complain about any information they were getting for free and wanting to call the shots of someone who is a true legend in the Blogosphere, especially when they never took the proactive steps to absorb all that Yaro has offered at a very affordable price with a variety of payment plans.
If you don’t get enough of Yaro, you can podcast him 24 hours a day with all you get in his programs. You can talk to him on conference calls (he says they are an hour, I have been on at least 80 of them and they are never an hour, usually closer to two or three), but if you never took advantage of this, how could you possibly complain?
To take this even further (and to get back to where I was going when I started this post), it begs the question: Why would Yaro gear his site towards people who aren’t even willing to help him pay the bills, or to people who claim they want his information, but won’t even spend less than the cost of a newspaper? These aren’t the people who are ultimately going to help him grow his business. I don’t remember what I paid for Blog Mastermind, but I paid by the month as that’s what I could afford at the time. I now make what it cost for his program before I even get out of bed every day, in other words it was money well spent.
When I started my site, I started it because I love College Football and I had no one to talk about it with. I hoped I could express my opinions and someone might care, and I might even be able to connect with other College Football fans, I never thought it would be my job.
When I opened my Premium Section, which is far and away the most affordable product of its kind anywhere, I heard from several readers saying they wouldn’t pay for the premium content and that I should continue to give it away for free. The bottom line is that this is what I do for a living, everything cost money including running and building a site, my time, and then of course the general cost of living.
At the same time I told these same people I would gladly give them a free membership if they were willing to go to their job for free, and in return they should do whatever I say for me for free as well. I suggested they start with my kitchen, which needed a slight overhaul and I wanted to put hardwood floors in the house. I suggested that they do all of the work themselves and pay for all of the materials. None of them ever redid my kitchen, my Premium Members did.
I’ll admit it, some days it feels like a job because it’s a lot of work to be successful and to manage 18 employees, makes it more of a company than watching sports all day, which is what it may look like to an outsider.
That day I was talking about earlier that it all changed, was the day I lost my first chargeback, when the person obviously got what they paid for, but knew the loopholes in Paypal to get it for free. If you use Paypal and sell electronic information as your product, there is nothing stopping someone from charging you back. You can show them logs of people logged in, you can show agreements they agreed to, email chains, whatever; you will not win, you will be giving that money back.
The public can be tough, and having a popular spot on the web puts you right in the middle of hundreds of thousands of people. The tough call is: Who are those to listen to? And who are those to disregard? I have to say when it comes to what people want to see, I lean towards my paying customers. When it comes to how something should function or be presented, I listen to those who have done it before and had success. Like I said, I read it all, but a lot of it is really people expecting me to do more for free and to foot all of the expenses, regardless of cost, out of my pocket.
I don’t expect this post will endear me to the public, and I will be reading about how people can’t afford this or that, I’m sorry, but I don’t believe it.
I know the “Become a Blogger” Yaro did with Gideon Shalwick, which I believe is closed, was about a buck a day, and even if you never watched one video, the conference calls alone were worth it, as back in the beginning they did several a month. I am not alone as living proof that it is money well spent, as even the people who may not have done as well as I have to this point are well on their way, or at the very least have paid off the out-of-pocket expense several times over.
It’s about making sacrifices and prioritizing your life, and I can’t even begin to tell you about the year I spent without leaving my house except for a few hours here and there, while I built the audience and built out the site at Sports Chat Place. The bottom line is: I deliver what appeals to the most people and what drives my site as a business, I deliver what works for me and if that covers what a certain segment wants as well, well that’s great too.
I do have a point at the end of it all and that is, listen to the people who you want to deliver to most as you can’t make everyone happy, it’s impossible. If you want to make money, listen to the people who spend money. If you want people to think you are a great person, then deliver to the people who would make such judgments. Personally, I believe that people willing to spend money on your information is affirmation that you have done both.