Below you’ll find an unedited chapter from my upcoming book 40 Rules for Internet Business Success. To receive updates about the book and get a free digital copy of my book in its current form, enter your email address in the sidebar to the right.
After you’ve built your Internet business and have been in business for a couple of years, there will be hidden and untapped revenue streams that your company could tap into if you were aware that they existed. Many business owners try to grow their company’s revenue by raising their prices or selling their products and services to new customers, but don’t often go hunting for new potential revenue streams. Don’t make the assumption that the ways that your company is making money now are the only potential income streams your business could have. By leveraging your existing audience or your products and services in a new way, you can create new income streams for your business. You might be able to package your business’s products and services differently and sell it to a new audience. You might find a related product or service that you can sell to your existing base of customers. You might find a new ad-network that will pay above average rates to market to your audience. You have to keep your eyes open and go looking to unlock hidden revenue streams. If you only focus on the day-to-day operations of your business, you won’t ever identify new sources of income. Finding hidden revenue streams requires creative thinking, competitive research and regularly trying out new ideas.
Identifying Hidden Revenue Streams
There have been several times during the history of American Consumer News, LLC that I’ve unlocked hidden revenue streams that have added several thousand dollars in net profit to the company’s bottom line. In 2010, I received an unsolicited email from a company that wanted to license the content from American Banking and Market News for use in research databases and various proprietary search tools. I receive a lot of pitches out of the blue for companies that want me to use their ad network, submit content to my websites or setup some other deal. It would be easy to dismiss most of these as spam, but I did a little bit of research and talked to some of the companies that partner with them and decided to give them a shot because there was no potential downside to my business. To this day, they pay my company approximately $3,000 per month in licensing fees to use our content. If I hadn’t been open to new opportunities and dismissed their initial email as another spam message, I would have never unlocked this revenue stream. When you’re presented an opportunity out of the blue, take a bit of time to give it a cursory evaluation before saying no reflexively.
Befriend Your Competitors
A great way to identify hidden revenue streams is to keep an eye on what your competitors are doing. Regularly check out your competitor’s websites to see their company news, product announcements and marketing promotions. If they have an email list, sign-up for it. That way, you’ll know how they’re marketing to their customers and will be able to see if they’re doing something that you should be doing as well. You shouldn’t be paranoid about what your competitors are doing, but you should keep a healthy level of interest in their activities. If at all possible, become friends with entrepreneurs that are in your space. Internet businesses are rarely a zero-sum game where a new customer for your company means someone else loses a customer, so you’re not always in direct competition with other entrepreneurs in similar businesses.
I’ve tried to maintain a healthy relationship with people that are at other companies that do financial reporting during the last several years and have received valuable suggestions and advice as a result. In early 2013, an acquaintance in my industry asked if I had thought about showing co-registration ads to people that sign-up for my email address, in which new email subscribers are offered the opportunity to sign-up for advertisers lists when they’re signing up for my list. New email subscribers on my list had previously just been sent to a thank you page telling them they would receive their first newsletter soon, so I decided to setup a co-registration advertising block below that thank you message to try it out. My company has earned more than $50,000 in co-registration commissions during the last twelve months by leveraging a thank you page that I previously thought had little to no advertising value. Because I maintained a healthy relationship with other people in my industry and have kept a keen eye on what my competitors are doing, I was unable to unlock this particular income stream that I was previously unaware of.
Maximize Your Existing Revenue Streams
Finally, look to make your existing streams of revenue and new customers flow faster. Look for ways to maximize existing sources of web traffic and revenue on a regular basis. A while back, I had noticed that some of my Analyst Ratings Network subscribers were sharing our content on StockTwits and Twitter on a regular basis and were receiving healthy traffic back to our website as a result. In order to maximize these web traffic sources, I placed prominent StockTwits and Twitter share buttons on my website and in my newsletter. I also created StockTwits and Twitter accounts for Analyst Ratings Network and started publishing on those platforms directly. By seeing the potential of those two particular web traffic streams and maximizing our use of them, we were able to get an additional 500 new newsletter subscribers per month and get more than 2,000 additional unique visitors to our website each day the stock market is open.