First of all, my apologies to Dire Straits.
Second, I'm not an NFL analyst. But I am an authority on blogging and making money. Unfortunately the two don't match up very well. Which you have noticed.
So forgive me for going way off topic here but I just want to offer something to the four of you as you look for ways to monetize Steelers Lounge. No, this isn't a pitch for my services. It's one small way I have to contribute to this great site.
The best way to make money on blogging is to persuade your boss to make it part of your job. Or get a recurring writing gig as a freelancer on a popular site.
But to make real money off your own site is significantly harder.
Your first instinct is advertising. This is very attractive because it's passive income. You only have to write once to reap the benefits of many customers. Problem is that it's a numbers game. A big numbers game. You need to collect a huge audience in order to make good money.
And it takes dedicated sales effort. This isn't a slam dunk. Yes there are ad services that automatically put targeted ads on your site. But the payout is small.
If create enough content and promote your site well, you might be able to earn your hosting fees.
The big problem is that there is no shortage of Steelers bloggers and news sites. It's a crowded field and it's not enough to be good. Because good is such a relative term. The people who recognize SL as a good source of Steelers info is a slice of a niche.
Another way to make some money is affiliate advertising. Post links and ads that basically give you commissions on sales. If you can find affiliate opportunities with Steelers related businesses, this might supplement ad revenues nicely.
This would be a natural business model for the NFL. Make affiliate deals with bloggers. Let them advertise official team gear and feed them stats and news. Help bloggers create content, attract audiences and make money. That could help some billionaires in danger of becoming millionaires.
But back to SL. Charging subscriptions is tempting. As someone who appreciates not paying to read your content, I have to selfishly discourage this idea. As someone in the business of making money by writing, I say premium content is a good way to go.
But remember what I said about competition as a Steelers blogger. What do you offer that really is different from every other blog or newspaper? You have to be very honest with yourself here. Is it worth paying for? Commentary isn't enough. Any hack can do that. (Most fan forums prove that) You need to do some needs analysis of your market.
What is your market by the way? The answer is less obvious than you think. If you insist on saying Steelers fans, reread the previous paragraph. You need to be more specific. Narrow down that niche even more.
Like most of you, I don't live near Pittsburgh. That means I have few opportunities to see the Steelers play. (Which is why I love the playoffs. I'm guaranteed to see the Steelers those weekends.) So can you do something for those of us in exile?
I believe the PG has a guide to Steeler-friendly sports bars across the country. Take that a step further. Help me find other Steeler fans in my area and invite them to my place to watch a game. Or make friends with someone with the NFL all access package.
Let's go back to my assertion that there is a lot of competition in Steelers commentary. Maybe that's a market. What would make your job easier? And what would you pay for? So that may be a business model.
Look at other team bloggers. Those fan sites are very well informed about their teams. In the week leading up to their game against the Steelers, would they pay for an intelligence report on what to expect?
How about fantasy football owners? Can you tell them something about the Steelers on their teams that they can use?
What do you bring to the table that no one else can? JJ's O-line analysis is above and beyond the call of duty. No one else takes that sort of time to grade every snap. That's something that makes this site unique.
Wonder if you can do that on the defensive side of the ball. Since everyone loves to hate the secondary, maybe the same kind of analysis will give you some great content. But it's hard to get video on what the corners are doing since the camera is focused on the ball. So if the ball isn't thrown, can you see how well Ike or B-Mac covered his man?
The key here is to think of what is useful and unique. Then you have a chance of selling that content. Think about putting that content in a weekly email that you can charge for. Publish a guidebook or survival manual for SteelerNation. There are affordable self publishing options.
Sorry for such a long post that isn't of interest to most members. But I wanted to get the ideas out there and help in the best way that I have. I hope more members have some ideas to share.