Monetizing Your Website
Many people these days are looking for ways to "make money on the Internet". These are not people looking to take their bricks-and-mortar business online to expand, or sell things they have manufactured, but instead people who are looking to create revenue from having a website.
It's not an impossible goal, but it's not as easy as the spam e-mail you receive would have you believe. It takes real work, just like any other business, and the rewards can be somewhat shaky if you are depending on free traffic from the search engines to build your business. But done correctly, there are some tried and true ways to make your website turn a profit.
The very first thing you must do is make your site a resource. You've heard it before most likely-- what does it mean?
It means making your site useful to a specific audience- it could be a local portal site, a specific brand of car enthusiast site, a craft or hobby site, or even a political opinion site. The best thing to do is turn something you love into a resource site- you may be devoted to the conservation of a river in your area or have great ideas for keeping kids occupied during the summer-- build a site around your unique knowledge and ideas.
You've built your site and it rocks- the people who visit leave you great feedback and send you e-mails about how helpful it is. You are adding to your content regularly and keeping it updated and interesting- now you need to turn up the volume on the traffic.
Search out similar and complimentary sites to your topic and let them know about your site. Send an e-mail letting them know what the value to their visitors is and ask them to include a link to your site. There may be commercial, hobby, or other resource sites that would be happy to include a link to your useful resource.
Find any forums or other venues that are complimentary to your topic and join them-- often you are allowed a signature link in your posts that will help people find your resource. Consider starting your own forum if none exist.
Send out a press release to local media and online (try www.prweb.com/ PRWeb) detailing the newsworthy aspects of your site. Write articles on your topic for redistribution on other sites (provided they include a link to the original article).
Now we are ready to make some money! There are many, many affiliate programs available on the web that allow you to join simply by filling out an application. The key is to find products and services your visitors want to buy.
A good place to start is (http://www.linkshare.com/) LinkShare, a sort of affiliate consolidator for many major companies. Browse their affiliate partners and be selective- only choose the ones that will appeal to your audience.
Many companies only offer their affiliate program through their site so don't overlook those programs you glanced at while looking for link partners. Knowledge goods (reports and e-books) are a great product to sell when they relate to your topic. Authors often have an affiliate program available to resellers. Make sure you DO want to recommend the product before offering it for sale.
If there aren't any knowledge goods in your chosen field, why not write your own e-book? Don't repeat general knowledge- have a reason for writing it. A helpful e-book can not only make money, but it can help establish your reputation as an expert.
If you have a newsletter or blog on your site, you can mention the affiliate products you sell for an even bigger boost in sales. Don't lower your credibility by promoting junk! Only promote those things you really believe in.
Selling AdvertisingBanner Ads
Banner ads have a bad reputation, but I'm finding that highly targeted banner ads convert like crazy. If you are selling what the reader wants, they will pay attention.
This is a slightly controversial tactic, selling text links for link popularity. As long as you are selling links to related sites, it makes sense. When you start accepting paid links from any industry, your page looks silly and in some engines (like Teoma) you confuse their linking communities, which may make your site less relevant. Be careful when accepting paid links!
Apply for Google Adsense and you can be showing Google ads on your site in no time. Every time a visitor clicks one of the Google links, you earn money.
For many sites, Adsense alone can turn a hobby into a revenue-producing site.
Build a Directory
This is not a short-term quick-money strategy. But a directory can make long term revenue for you!
The problem with most industry directories is that they start out asking for payment, before they are a proven resource. Build your directory first with free listings, possibly requiring a link back in exchange. Once the content and the search engine rankings are there, THEN it's time to charge for listings.
Once you've proven to companies that your directory sends them business (with your free listings) they'll be happy to pay to remain in the directory- it's a no-brainer.
Consider giving new listings a free trial period even after you move to paid listings- your goal is to have the most comprehensive industry directory possible. Once you have that, you've achieved critical mass and it's no longer a question of "should I join" the directory, but "should I pay extra to be featured" in the directory.
Isn't there a quick way to make money from the internet anymore? Maybe -- maybe if you send enough spam mails about your low cost Viagra affiliate site, you can make enough to allow you to retire in Tahiti, but I doubt it.
Affiliate sites that do nothing but spam the search engines in an effort to gain traffic are having a harder and harder time succeeding as the engines try and deliver the best sites, not duplicates. The time spent trying to stay one step ahead of filters and algorithm changes is better spent building a resource that will grow and continue to produce revenue over time.
This article originally appeared in the High Rankings newsletter.
Scottie Claiborne is the owner of Right Click Web Services, a firm specializing in usability, search engine optimization, and internet marketing.
Copyright © 2003 by Right Click Web Services. All rights reserved under U.S. and international law.
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Text Link Advertising
Text Link Ads (aff.) – The leader in paid text link ads.
LinkWorth – Keep up to 70% of the ad revenue.
Text Link Brokers – Make money buy selling links in a directory on your site.
Live Customer – Static HTML ads with flat monthly rates.
LinkAdage – Matches advertisers with publishers
Direct-Link-Ads – Keep up to 75% of the ad revenue.
PaidTextLinks – A smaller text link program.
Kontera – Create contextual links automatically.
AdSter – Customize your ads to match your website.
Vibrant Media – Vibrant in-text advertising.
TextAd.biz – Basic text ad service.
SearchFriendlyAds – Not live yet.
YzMedia – Another text link option.
KickStartCart – A shopping cart, merchant account and marketing tools.
PayPal – One of the lowest-cost choices for selling your own products.
EasyStoreCreator – Provides a package that includes hosting, merchant account integration, and shopping cart.
1ShoppingCart – Offers different packages with marketing tools, shopping carts and merchant accounts.
ASecureCart – An affordable shopping cart service
NetSuite – Full e-commerce option.
GotShoppingCart? – Free version available.
3D Cart – Includes marketing, statistics and more.
Americart – 30-day risk-free trial.
MonsterCommerce – Full of features.
Google AdSense – The industry leader.
Yahoo Publisher Network – Yahoo’s AdSense alternative.
Chitika – eMiniMalls is not a typical PPC program, it is different kind of pay-per-click product promotion.
Kanoodle – A second-tier PPC option as opposed to Google and Yahoo.
Ads-Click – You set the price per click for ads showing on your site.
AdBrite – Control and customization options.
ABC Search – Another 2nd-tier option.
BidVertiser – Large network PPC program.
Clicksor – Contextual ads program.
Qads – Ad program from Qumana.
PeakClick – Pays in Euros.
DoubleClick – Another targeted PPC
RevenuePilot – Keep 60% of the revenue.
Search Feed – Another option for targeted PPC ads.
Targetpoint – For publishers of all sizes.
OneMonkey – Keep 80% of the revenue.
Miva MC – PPC ads plus the option for contextual PPD ads.
ClickBooth – Claims to have the highest payout in the industry.
FOXnetworks - You are as publisher for high revenue
Commission Junction – One of the leaders. Manages affiliate programs for all kinds of products.
Click Bank – All downloadable affiliate products.
LinkShare – Claims to be the largest pay-for-performance affiliate marketing network.
Azoogle Ads – Also claims to be the largest performance-based online advertising network.
Amazon – One of the oldest and most successful affiliate programs.
Context Links for Amazon’s Affiliate Program – Auto creates affiliate links to Amazon’s products.
The News Room – Make money by placing news items on your site.
Tribal Fusion – Represents the advertising for selectively approved websites.
IndustryBrains – Has a few different options that would fall into various categories above.
Adknowledge – Options for email, web, and search engine inventory.
Yesadvertising – Lots of options, including contextual ads, email, banners and pop-unders.
ValueMedia – Several different options, including video.
Auction Ads – Make money by displaying Ebay items.
IntelliTXT – Contextual ads that include video.
PremierAd – Lots of different options. You keep 80% of ad revenue.
BurstMedia – A variety of different options.
Advertising.com – Multiple options, including video ads.
Openads – Online advertising software.
Casale Media – You choose what type of ads you want on your site.
VC Media – CPC or CPM options.
Ads by RSS – Places ads on your website, using RSS.
AdSpaceAuctions – Sell ad space on your website through an auction.
TextMarks – Monetize your blog with text message alerts.
Sell Ad Space
AdSonar -Provide content-targeted ads.
BlogAds – You control the ads that appear on your site.
Crisp Ads – name your price for direct sponsors.
ADSDAQ – Choose your asking price for ads and ADSDAQ matches you with advertisers.
AdVolcano – Set your own prices and ad sizes.
RSS Feed Monetization
Pheedo – PPC for RSS feeds.
PostPostWordPress Plugin – Display affiliate links or ads before or after your feeds (other uses beside just advertising).
Feedvertising – Runs txt link ads in your feed.
FeedBurner Ads – If you use FeedBurner’s services for distributing and tracking your feeds, you also have the option of using their advertising services in your feeds.
MediaFed – Automatically inserts ads into your feed.
FeedShow – Puts PPC ads into your feed.
Fedafi Publishing Network – Monetize your feed with the Fedafi WordPress plugin.
Yahoo Publisher Network – PPC ads in your feeds.
AdSense-Deluxe – Embed AdSense or Yahoo Publisher Network ads into your blog.
AdSense Sharing Revenue and Earnings System – A plugin for blogs that have multiple writers. Let each of your writers make money from ads on their own posts.
AdSense Injection – Inject AdSense ads throughout an existing blog.
Google AdSense Referral Rotator Plugin – Make money by referring other users to AdSense.
Amazon Media Manager – Easily ad Amazon affiliate products to your blog.
WP-Amazon – Quickly search for products and add Amazon affiliate links while writing your posts.
Last Amazon Review Plugin – Displays your most recent review of a product listed on Amazon and includes your Amazon affiliate link.
Text Ads Link Widget for WordPress Sidebar – A simple widget that makes it easy to display text ads in your sidebar.
WPAds Plugin – Show and rotate ads on your blog.
AdRotator Plugin – Randomly rotates ads that you choose.
WP E-commerce Shopping Cart Plugin – Creates a shopping cart with tons of features and options for your WP blog or website.
EasyPayPal WordPress Plugin – Integrates your blog and your PayPal account to accept donations or fees.
Buy Me a Beer Plugin – Accept donations from your readers by asking them to buy you a beer (or coffee) if they liked your post.
CafePress – Sell your own products on your blog.
YAK – Simple shopping cart plugin.
What other methods do you use to monetize your site or blog? This post may be updated, so please leave your suggestions in the comments. If you own or represent one of the advertising programs mentioned on this page and you feel that you should be in a different category, please leave a comment. Thanks!