Leonardo da Vinci, the Helicopter, and How to Make Your Monetization Fly


Are You a Leonardo da Vinci?

No, I’m not asking if you can you paint…

Leonardo was a genius waaaay ahead of his time. Born in the 15th Century and mostly self-educated, he was nevertheless able to conceptualize planes, robots, self-propelled vehicles — and did you know he was the first to design the helicopter (or as he called it, the “Aerial Screw”)?

Leonardo’s Aerial Screw: ''...the said screw will make its spiral in the air and it will rise high''
Leonardo’s Aerial Screw: ”…the said screw will make its spiral in the air and it will rise high”

Leonardo’s Aerial Screw: “…the said screw will make its spiral in the air and it will rise high”

Yet Leonardo was largely mocked by his contemporaries. They could see the value in his paintings — who wouldn’t? But a flying machine that rose directly upwards? Really?

Four centuries later, the first helicopter would be designed. Leonardo was, indeed, a man ahead of his time.

Solopreneurs — Making Like Leonardo

What can we, as solopreneurs, learn from Leonardo and his flying machine?

Let’s go back in time — not as far back as Leonardo, though. 2004 should do it.

And let’s take a look at a website. It looks dated now, but in its day this website was pretty much ahead of its time.


It was written by a teenager called Nori, who had no previous knowledge of website design. In 2002, at the age of just 14, she’d put this together using SBI!. As she says:

“The Net was for MSN Messenger and research for school projects, only.”

By 2004 she was making money. Inside the site, she had affiliate links to Anguilla-related eBay and Amazon products. And see that arrow at the top of the right column? It’s pointing to a Google AdSense ad.


A nice passive income earner for a 14 year-old. Smart.

AdSense was the way most solopreneurs began, and still begin, their monetization journey. Some leave it there for the remainder of their site’s life.

For many, AdSense and affiliate products are the only monetization options. Forever.

Maybe because of her youth, “forever” did not seem like a great option.  Worse, AdSense was gradually paying her less despite her growing traffic.  And affiliate income was pitiful – some simple math pointed out who was getting the short end of the money-stick from Amazon, TripAdvisor, eBay, etc.

From Passive Income to Product Creation

Fast forward just 18 months, to October 2005, and look at how her understanding of monetizing had developed, at the changes this young SBI! user, still one of SiteSell’s more successful solopreneurs, was making.

See that space in the right hand column? No more AdSense.


Instead, she’s replaced it with a product of her own. A small product, it’s true — and AdSense is still there, lower down. Why not? Keep different monetization models in place, while transitioning to better paying methods.

But the point is, no longer was she completely dependent on the commercial giants for income. As she matured, so her site and her monetization matured with her. She was becoming more self-reliant.

But wait — did she stop there? No way!

Ditch the Old, Look for the New

Let’s take a bigger leap forward — to 2010. If you could see inside, you’d see no more affiliate programs.


Nori dumped them. They’d earned decently for years, but changes in policy had made it more difficult to make decent money.

In some areas, Amazon withdrew their program altogether. Yes, it came back for some — but sites in the meantime had lost a lot of money. They had no “Plan B” in place.

The writing was on the wall. WIN-WIN had become WIN-LOSE — and Nori was not the winner. Solopreneurs were not the “partners” of the “BigCo” promotional lip service.

And they were increasingly not in control of their destiny.

So she altered direction again. She saw no long-term future in what was standard solopreneur passive monetization practice — AdSense and affiliates. Instead, she saw more potential in doing something new and innovative.

Just like Leonardo.

Here’s how the site looked back in 2010. Yes, the look and feel was becoming more sophisticated. But that’s not the big point here….

Take a look at that right column. See the text?


“Site Sponsors.”

Notice anything else? No AdSense.

Why no AdSense? Isn’t that risky, taking away a sure-fire income provider?

How Solopreneurs Can Make Like Leonardo!

The correct question is, “why even use AdSense?” Why pay Google a large commission to have space on your site? Why let Google host ads, when your site visitors know that anyone can host ads? What does it tell them about how special your website is?

Why not get people to pay you for advertising on your site? Now there’s an idea ahead of its time!

Speaking of which, let’s go back to Leonardo for a moment.

Leonardo was well known — a well respected painter with a huge following. Which led to him being sponsored by the Medicis, one of the most prosperous and powerful Italian families of the time.

He provided the “content” — the paintings. They provided the money. Same principle as major corporations sponsoring racing cars or football teams.

The payoff for the sponsor? Kudos. Basking in the glow of their successful protégé.

This is better than “just” advertising. The “advertiser” not only gets the usual exposure, it gets a complete “reassignment” of the relationship from advertiser to “sponsor.” That word says…

“This solopreneur is our friend. We like her work. We support her.”

The visitors to that site already like the site and its owner. See the power?

Your sponsors pay for advertising on your creation — your website. They get much more than just an ad — the relationship contributes to their brand-building in a big way!

Simple. And genius.

Sigh… I can hear you now: “Why would anyone want to sponsor my online business?”

  • You have an excellent, high quality, content-rich information site.
  • You have learned the key steps and you have the right tools to keep building.
  • You have an RSS feed that people can follow.
  • You have a newsletter to which people enjoy subscribing.
  • You have social media channels that help develop near-personal relationships.

…and, as a result, you have

  • PREsold, enthusiastic followers who love your site
  • the potential to continue developing as a high-traffic site
  • the option to grow the relationship with your sponsors, to include sponsored newsletter articles, full sales pages, social media links…

Are you getting the picture? Just like Leonardo, your site has become a product — a product that does more than just provide “ad space.”

I can hear your next question, too: “That’s all very well, but how do I find someone who wants to sponsor my site?”

Ah, well — we’ll come to that in a moment. But first…

Let’s take one last look at that website, as it is today. Different again, and still no AdSense, still that Site Sponsors column.

And again, Nori has seen potential in a different way of monetizing. A way that others might have thought would fail. Or be too difficult to implement. Or not “fly.”

Take a look at the top of that right column again. A simple but lucrative product — the “Anguilla Card.” It saves visitors to the island 10% off services and products at 70 partners on the island — hotels, villas, restaurants, activities, etc.


The result?

Site sponsorships are increasing. The “Anguilla Card” is earning more, year on year, and now forms the largest part of her income. Why sell an occasional click on an ad for $0.50 when you can earn 100x that for the sale of a single Anguilla Card?

Yes, both the sponsorships and the “Anguilla Card” took work to set up. But, once set up, they take minimal maintenance effort, day-to-day.

See what she’s done?

She’s flown higher than ever before. And more importantly…

She’s completely independent of “GiantCo.”

AdSense has gone. Amazon and other affiliate programs have gone. No longer is she at the mercy of companies that change policies without notice, or that withdraw their products or their entire scheme.

The important point? Nori is in control. And that feels good. The day you do not depend on anyone other than yourself for how well you do in the future is a milestone moment.

Can you imagine yourself in that position? How good would you feel?

Want to know how to get there? No problem!

What Does It Take to Develop Your Site to This Level?

Is your site dependent mainly on “the two A’s” — AdSense and Affiliates? It needn’t be! Let’s take a look at some of the more adventurous monetization options open to you. Options that could make your site fly.

Sell Advertising

Probably one of the easiest choices to make. Suppose someone comes to you, wanting to buy advertising for a specific web page.

You’d adjust the price according to ad size, how prominent the ad will be on the page, how popular your page is — premium locations could earn substantial amounts.

But — how do figure out how much to charge?

Great question — and a common one. Let’s take this simple formula from Yaro Starek at Entrepreneur’s Journey:

“Charge X dollars per month, where X equals daily visitor count / 10.”

As an example, if the page where the ad will be displayed has 1,000 visitors per day, that ad should be worth $100 per month to you. So that one ad could make substantially more than your monthly AdSense income for the entire site!

And that’s just a simple ad. Suppose you go for something more advanced, like…

Sponsored Content

This boils down essentially to writing a great article about a product someone wants to sell — and charging for publishing it.


  • You could either write the article yourself, or ask your advertiser if she would like to write it. Make sure you approve it though — you have your reputation to consider!
  • Optimize the article for keywords; write a catchy headline that makes your site visitors want to read more; use nofollow links to her website. In other words — do what you’re used to doing when you write your terrific content!
  • If you are writing the article, gather comprehensive information about the product or service. Maybe you even use it yourself. Great — you have first-hand experience to share!
  • Is the product or service from a small business? Write to the owner. Get to know her, personally. How about some photos of her working, or using the product herself? A jeweller making jewelry; a creator of fine Italian pens in her workshop; an independent tour guide at work.
  • Foster a close relationship. Encourage her to have a personal investment in your site. She should want it to succeed as much as you do — after all, it’s her product at stake!

Work out pricing that compensates you fairly. Remember, you’re not just putting a banner ad in place. Articles like this take time. As Sue Dunlevie of Successful Blogging puts it:

”I’m not selling an incoming link on set key phrases. I’m selling access to an engaged readership, exclusivity (because I limit the number of blog posts) and the chance to be featured on an established and high quality blog.”

But how do you find people who want to advertise or sell their products on your site? And how do you know what to charge? Good questions — to which we’ll return soon.

First, how about looking at another possibility:

Lead Referrals / Finder’s Fee

This is where you send “leads” (that is, potential customers) to another business and are paid per lead. You may be paid only when there’s a sale, or regardless of whether there’s a sale or not.

Using our favorite website again, take a look at this example:

Until the real estate collapse of 2008, this was Nori’s highest revenue generator. Her best single payment was (wait for it…) $17,000!

No old methods. New methods, ahead of their time maybe — and they work.


Setting up a partnership like this can be time-consuming. But how much more income might it generate than selling Amazon products for tiny affiliate commissions?

And then there’s email marketing. And social media marketing…

I could go on. But I know you want an answer to this question more than almost anything else in the world right now:

“How do I find people who want to do business with me?”

Because that’s the crux of it, right? Without knowing where to find partners, this whole concept falls flat.

Sure — you could go out to trade fairs. Or trudge round your local town searching for rental villas to advertise. But how do you know the people you meet are honorable? How do you know they’ll pay? And what happens if they don’t?

Clearly, solopreneurs needed a better way to quickly find solid businesses with whom to do business.  Solopreneurs like Nori (who weren’t waiting around) were talking about how to earn more than low-paying A&A.

The answer sparked the inspiration for “the next big thing” in solopreneurism…


Trafeze provides you with the answer to that “where do I find…” question as well as the “what if…” questions.

And you don’t have to go to trade fairs. Or slog around your town. You don’t even have to go outside your front door. You can stay right there, in front of your computer screen.

How Trafeze Is Like Leonardo’s Aerial Screw

Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. – Leonardo da Vinci
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Trafeze is new, it’s ingenious, it’s simple. It’s ahead of its time.

And it could make your monetization rise above the rest.


It not only brings potential partners together, it guides them through the process.

What’s the recurring theme of the monetization options we’ve outlined above?

  • How to find people who want to advertise on your site.
  • How to find people who want to sell products from your site.
  • How to find people who want to do business with you.
  • How to negotiate terms when you do find those people.

What’s the “Mission” of Trafeze?

  • To bring solopreneurs together to monetize at a higher level than using old and largely unproductive ways.
  • In doing so, to promote relationships where both parties stand to profit in more than just financial terms.

And to do this by…

  • creating a database of high-quality content websites with good traffic levels
  • finding people with products or services who want to advertise on high-traffic websites
  • identifying solopreneurs with impressive products to sell
  • bringing those groups of people together, and
  • guiding them, step-by-step, through the process of building a business relationship and negotiating terms.

If Nori’s Anguilla site was still at the “A&A” stage (i.e., not where it is right now), she would start off as a Traffic Seller.  She easily passes the TrafAlgo for traffic and has a strong social presence in 3 networks.

Trafeze’s matching opens the way for her to propose sponsorships rather than just advertising. She could also suggest a higher-paying HelloBar, or newsletter and social media advertising for special events.

This is the type of relationship that could earn several times what Google AdSense would earn, and that would deliver a higher ROI for the “Traffic Buyer” (the Trafeze term for the company buying the promotional exposure).

Later, when Nori developed her own product, she could not only promote it internally within her own site, she could also join Trafeze as a Traffic Buyer. Just because she has the most successful site about Anguilla does not mean that she could not secure the same sort of positive sales-generating deals as a Traffic Buyer (aka “Product Seller’).

See how this works? How it could make your website fly?

It’s not just about making money. It’s about creating WIN-WIN business relationships. Relationships where there are no losers.

Is that even possible in the business world? Many would say not.

Join the Modern Way to Monetize Your Website

If your high-traffic site is still depending mostly on the “platforms” of large A&A companies, you’re stuck in the Dark Ages of the Internet, remember: Da Vinci’s Renaissance marked the transition into the modern era.

Commerce and freedom moved forward and power shifted to those ready to adapt to the newer ways to do business.

Trafeze is this ground-breaker.

Another example of what Trafeze does…

Inexperienced business people by and large believe that negotiation is about getting the best deal possible for yourself, at the expense of the “other guy” — your business partner.

The truly skilled business person, though, knows that the best deals are those that are fair to both parties. WIN-LOSE never lasts and leaves bad vibes that hurts both partners going forward.  

Instead, WIN-WIN!

Knowing that each person in the partnership is helping them both achieve their goals removes some of the anxiety many solopreneurs have.  Both parties follow the same process to get to a deal, a fair deal, fast!

Then get to the next one. And the next one.

You win. Your partner wins. Your customers are happy.


That’s the objective of Trafeze. And the added bonus?

It’s completely free.

So — Are You a Leonardo?

Would you be one of those people who laughed at Leonardo, and called his inventions crazy? Or would you want to invest in him as a sponsor?

The Medicis certainly did well in their day! They even supported him to find him other sponsors, so that his work could continue to grow. It’s unlikely that your sponsors will bring you new, royal (literally) deals, but this is a new day in doing business together.

Trafeze concepts are evergreen, built on universal human behavior.  It’s not “new age.”  It’s still backed by trackable metrics showing a positive ROI for your sponsors, for example.

Do you have the capacity to dream bigger? Does the thought of developing business relationships with people who have an investment in your success excite you?

Can you see yourself promoting the heck out of Trafeze to make sure it reaches as many people in your niche as possible, so that you have multiple choices of products or services to sell?

Or do you choose to stick with AdSense and Amazon for the rest of your site’s life? To be beholden to those who can pull the carpet from under you at a moment’s notice?

The choice, of course, is yours.

Let’s give the final word to Leonardo.

“It has long since come to my attention that people of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them. They went out and happened to things.”

Be like Leonardo. Take the risk. Go out and happen to Trafeze.

And watch your monetization fly.