When you started gardening, it was hard to find beginner’s information. Was that the problem you were trying to solve?
Without growing up as a gardener, there were two issues I noticed. All the terminology was only for gardeners — if you’re trying to learn, that’s not helpful — and the good information was buried in semi-inaccessible formats. I thought I’d write it in a blog format, which was the prevailing medium at the time.
How did you turn your garden blog into a successful online business?
There were a lot of ups and downs because I didn’t know much about monetization. I knew how to get some traffic and build a little community, so I tested different ways to make money online. I ran display ads and created affiliate links to products that I used. Those are two methods that still exist today in Epic Gardening. I had built websites and done marketing, and still hit a ceiling that I couldn’t get past. So I went to work for a publishing company. I thought to myself, “If I can’t figure out how to make a viable income on my own, I’ll go work for someone who can. Then, once I learn enough, I’ll jettison out and do Epic Gardening.” I learned a lot about business there before I dedicated myself to Epic Gardening.
What did you learn at the publisher that allowed you to take your business to the next level?
I learned that it matters what you focus on and the order in which you focus on it.
For example, I added links everywhere and tried to blanket the site with affiliate links wherever it made sense. At the publishing company, I saw how focused and targeted they were. I dug into my Amazon affiliate data, and I asked a few questions: “What are the products I’m selling the most of by volume? What are the products I’m selling the most of by price, and how can I either expand that affiliate coverage by writing about a single piece of expensive equipment? Can I cover those in ways that increase the overall footprints and clicks?”
I wrote a couple of articles on hydroponics on how to keep the reservoir cool. The chiller that I use made a nice commission on Amazon. Those two articles are still ticking away, making a decent amount of affiliate commission. That one activity accounted for a 30% increase in revenue.