Ryan Sawyer manages two main websites, wrapcandy.com and BabyAnimalz.com, in addition to a number of other sites like his personal site, ryansawyer.com. Wrapcandy sells software for creating personalized candy wrappers and party favors. There’s some really cool stuff you can do using wrapcandy so check them out if you’re looking to get a little creative! BabyAnimalz provides light-hearted photos and commentary on baby animals and there’s no better place to go for a little cheering up.
Lijit sat down with Ryan, Lijit publisher extraordinaire, to learn some of his tricks of the trade.
How do you generate revenue off of your websites?
Wrapcandy is a commercial website where people download wrapcandy software so they can print custom labels from home. I built the software, which ranges between $36 and $64 depending on the version you download. It’s super easy to install and use. On the flip side, BabyAnimalz is a social market that only generates revenue through online advertising.
What are you most proud of?
I’m most proud of the user community that we have built around wrapcandy. There are over 18,000 members with approximately 500 active daily members. What has made it so great are the members and moderators themselves. It is like a second home to me and to many of them as well. It is a place to share new ideas about crafting, business and even personal life.
What has been your biggest challenge?
It’s a big challenge to deal with all of the operational aspects of running an online business such as wrapcandy. For example, a standard or shared server was no longer an option for the wrapcandy forum. Members view, upload and download 3 to 4 megabyte files throughout the day which would pretty much stall or crash my shared server…not very good for business. I had to buy my own server so the community could upload and share photos and files. It was pretty difficult to find someone who could cost-effectively and reliably maintain it for me.
What is the most interesting thing you have learned?
Marketing. People oftentimes get so wrapped up in building a site that they forget the importance of sales and marketing. Being able to monetize your site lets you to spend more time on it which ultimately allows you to do more of what you love.
I have spent a lot of time lately working on affiliate marketing programs and am finally generating a pretty predictable income. Also, I’m seeing a really solid uptick in lead generation and have already gotten over 830,000 referrals from StumbleUpon alone!
What recommendations do you have for other publishers?
Blog about something you’re passionate about. It’s as simple as that.
How has Lijit helped you become a more successful publisher?
Lijit helps me keep people on my sites longer. Because of the awesome statistics they provide, I keep track of who my readers are and where they’re coming from, and all stats from all of my sites are viewable in one simple console. My favorite stats are the “most often searched phrases” and “most often searched phrases that return no results” because they help me develop new content to better engage my readers.
Lijit’s site search is easier to install and offers more options than Google’s, especially for a blog like BabyAnimalz that’s all about photos. Their thumbnails functionality helps people quickly find photos and videos on animals they’re most interested in. And the two best things about Lijit – awesome customer support and it’s all free!