Monetizing Your Web Site
I've gotten a few requests to write this post and, to be honest, it's probably about time. Creating a valuable and well written web site is a service that some people offer for free. However, do a simple Google search and try to find a web site in the top 10 that doesn't have some sort of advertisement, store or banner.
I'm willing to bet that, with most broad topics, you will be unable to find one within the first 30 results. The simple fact is that web sites are expensive to build and take a lot of time to develop. Why not be rewarded for your efforts?
In fact, any online entrepreneur or small business that is looking to generate a revenue stream through their web site will need to take the time to consider several factors required to do so. This being said, properly monetizing your web site takes time and skill as there are several aspects to consider, including understanding your potential customer base, sound search engine optimization (SEO) practices, and a whole host of monetary approaches to sell your product and/or services.
Creating a Good Product
Creating a poor and rushed web site simply to make a quick buck is almost like inventing a product that serves little to no purpose. Sure, you could glue a toothpick to a bottle cap and call it an "automatic paper hole punching device," but who would buy it? Treat your web site's content as your advertising space. If you were to set out to buy a product, you would likely want to know as much about the product as possible.
By investing the time and money required to get good Internet content can turn a plain black store sign into a sign that says "WE SELL COMPUTERS!" Your customers will know what you sell through an online search and they will know how to get there with multiple links from good content.
The First Step - You Guessed It...
Ah, Google. Nobody that has taken even the smallest step on the Internet has been able to avoid the god-like presence of Google. Not only is it the search engine that you MUST rank highly on, Google's AdSense can turn a web site into a money making machine with only the click of a button. Although you will eventually want to move on to more targeted affiliate relationships that are set up with individual companies, AdSense can put advertisements on your web site in no time. Even when you do secure alternative affiliate relationships, there is no reason to abandon AdSense.
Banners and Links
After a while, you might begin searching for affiliates related to your industry. If you originally set up your web site solely to make money, you likely considered the affiliate relationships that you could obtain in order to monetize your efforts. For other web site owners, getting good affiliates might require adding content to suit their needs. This should always be related to your web site however.
For example, if you operate a video game web site and want to take advantage of the huge amount of World of Warcraft players on the Internet, you might consider adding content about the game (perhaps 50 pages or so) and then applying for an affiliate relationship with Blizzard Entertainment.
Often, affiliate relationships can be built by simply reviewing products that are solid and relate to your web site and then linking to businesses that sell those products. Whatever the case, affiliate programs are usually free and easy ways to make money with your content. Don't overdo it though. If your visitors trust you to provide solid and accurate information about your topic, they will likely trust that your affiliates will provide the same service, even if it is as small as a simple side banner.
REMEMBER - no pop ups. Nothing turns visitors off like pop up ads or ads that force visitors to close windows to continue reading. If an affiliate uses such aggressive tactics, they are not worth obtaining.
Web Site Promotion
Finally, actively promote and market your web site through directory listings and Blog posts. One of the most effective search engine result boosts and traffic increasing tactics is simple link trading with related businesses or web sites.
This can be as simple as offering a free guest Blog post to a popular Blog with a link back to your site. Provided that they reciprocate, you can support each site while promoting your own. With a good enough link trading relationship with another web site, you might be able to obtain a partnership and double your web site monetizing efforts.
However, remember that you should never link trade with a web site that offers your same products. They should be a similar supplier, not a competitor. For example, if you sell copy machines but not copy paper, you could find a great deal of value in link trading with a web site that sells copy paper but not copiers. Both web sites will benefit from the link trade and you can be sure that you will not lose business to your links.
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