I was walking down the street today and was approached by a man who wanted to sell me a small ‘book’. He said that he and his cousin were riding their bikes around the world for charity, and would I please help out, as my purchase would help them get the necessary funds to make it over to their next continent by cargo ship? They refuse to take any airplanes. My natural reply was, ‘Do you have a blog about the experiences you’ve had on your journey? Here’s the blog: ‘Free Wheels East’. Have a read; they’ve already had an amazing time cycling across Europe to Russia, down to Indonesia from China, and even on the ice of Antarctica!

So it got me thinking (even before I read of their travels); Here’s a couple of people doing something completely outrageous, courageous, and crazy, plus they’re inspiring others to support a charity (‘Practical Action‘), and they’ve got corporate sponsors who’ve provided them with all of their equipment. Why then do they have to sell small books (actually small excerpts from their online blog) to make it to where they’re going? Well, they assured me that they’ve sold 8,000 copies, and as I paid $5.00 for mine, that is quite helpful, plus they get to meet a lot of interesting people that way (part of the beauty of such a round-the-world experience), but I just had to wonder: Should they have to be doing this with all of their spare time? If people are willing to buy the partial blog in book-form, wouldn’t others (marketers/advertisers) see the potential here?

Therefore, I got my curiosity-sniffing big nose in action and inquired on whether their blog gets many visitors. Their reply was totally optimistic, and for me, actually quite unexpected. 1,500 hits a week and rising exponentially, plus lots of original page-views. Of course people like it! After reading some of the blog I can see why; they’ve really had some exciting times, and even harrowing ones at that…boulders falling off landslides in China, the road they were on being completely swept away…You get the picture. It’s really interesting stuff. Besides being well-written, the content is relevant on so many levels: for adventurers, as well as people interested in different cultures or geographical landscapes.

So I wondered, ‘These sponsors give you equipment and supplies…have you tried to get some paid advertising? Hmmm, it seems the mad bicyclers hadn’t thought of that. Now, I’m not super-knowledgeable about business etc., but I’ve read on several occasions about how bloggers have made some fairly good money after they’d built up considerable traffic to their sites. It sounded like the obvious step for these wearied but bright and happy ‘wheel wanderers’. Could they have created a ‘micro niche’ for themselves? Remember, 0.1% of a billion Internet users are one million people. Could there be a million people interested in riding bikes around the world, helping people through charity, and being adventurers?

You see, these bloggers unwittingly have great content. Just being who they are and doing what they do is so removed from most of humanity’s normal everyday sphere of reality that they don’t even have to try and write about interesting topics-It just flows naturally! The only issue here is that obviously they might be a bit too caught up in what they’re doing to realise all of the opportunities that they’ve now given themselves. Well, after reading the blog you’ll see that this isn’t totally true…They’ve had all kinds of interest from TV documentary-makers in different countries, magazines, newspapers etc. They’ve probably even been overwhelmed by all of the choices that they’ve been offered, some most-probably by fast-talkers and all-talk-no-action types.

I don’t exactly know how to put this plan into action, but I really think these guys’ next move should be to call up some of their sponsors and ask them if they want some ‘real’ ads on the site. Start out by telling them the numbers of how many people are coming to the blog each month, I mean these are all potential customers. A lot of bicycle riders are going to be hanging around there-why not get some big, even moving (Flash/video) advertising to sell some bikes?

So, come on all of you business people. Am I on the ball? How many site visitors does one need to attract corporate advertising? How do you get their attention-by calling them up on the phone, sending them an email, going into their offices-kind of hard when you’re presently out riding across deserts? What do you think? I’ll do some research and get back to you about it.

Jesse S. Somer wants to know what it takes to create a popular blog…I bet you want to know too.

I don’t know how much snow these guys have ridden through yet; hopefully they won’t have to deal with a day like this…Then again, it might be fun, just as long as there’s some thick underwear packed and ready.