ASK STEVE #3 – Content & Community Makes Money for Resource/Hobby Sites


Hey Steve,

We run a popular World of Warcraft Google Maps mashup at Although traffic has been growing, we’re looking for ways to take the site to the next level. Two major ideas are to:
1) enable users to embed portions of the map on their own sites and
2) translate the site in to non-English languages supported by Warcraft, such as Chinese and Korean.

Do you think allowing users to embed the map on their own site would cut in to our traffic, or virally increase it? Do you think there is much value in translating the site in to other languages?

Thanks for the advice,

Drew — First off, I’m not a WoW’r, so pardon any bad lingo here. Your website is a resource. Currently, it’s a map — seems like a useful map if I played WoW. Seems like I might come back on occasion to check it out. But are people doing that? Maybe you need to expand the site to have a larger focus as a resource — informing people how to “up” their characters? Any way to create community — possibly message boards?

Is there any way to make the map more interactive, such as plotting people/characters on the map as to where they currently are? Are there any specific WoW social networking sites that exist (you could grab your own Ning network and wrap that into your website)?

As for other languages — what language visitors are you seeing visit your site? If lots of foreigns, then maybe look to do that. Maybe they (any of the languages you speak of) are lacking a social networking or forums site too?

Letting users embed the map — I don’t think so. They’d have no reason to ever come back to you. You need to create community on your site if you want to make any money — or you need to be publishing new posts/articles every day that help WoW users. Content and/or Community will make you money — otherwise, just let the site sit out there as a resource to WoW’rs on occasion and focus your time/energy on something else.

Also, check out, sign up for an account, and grab some links for WoW stuff — you might be able to make more money from these than from AdSense.

Hey! Want my advice?