How to Build a Money Making Website
Finding a Niche
The successful money making Website must have a specific theme (niche).
The general purpose space has already been cornered by the behemoths, but the Web has unlimited space for sites that serve clearly defined niches, the so-called long-tail.
Choosing a niche is the most important decision in building a money making site. Your niche should be something:
- you are interested in (and preferably passionate about)
- you know about (people come to your site primarily to be informed)
- you believe in (if you don’t believe in it why should anyone else)
- with profit potential
Despite the claims of certain strategy marketers, the niche site operator probably won’t become a millionaire or even turn a profit without spending time and effort, but there is plenty of scope for the dedicated to make a decent living doing something they love.
How Websites Make Money
The two main ways Websites make money are:
- product marketing (the product can be your own or someone else’s, eg as an affiliate, it can be digital or physical, and it includes “services”, eg translation, tutoring etc)
- paid advertising (eg Google AdSense)
Affiliate marketing can be a good way to get started as:
- campaigns are quick and easy to set up (and discontinue)
- you can run (eg test) multiple campaigns simultaneously
Once you’ve some gained some experience with affiliate marketing you can continue with this strategy, focusing on proven sellers. Or you can use the market knowledge gained about what sells to develop your own product.
Or maybe you already have a product, or an idea for a product you wish to develop.
Defining Site Goals
A money making site operator has one or more goals he/she would like visitors to fulfill. Ideally, we’d like them to spend some money. But, failing that, other desired outcomes might be: clicking a Pay Per Click (PPC) ad, signing-up for a newsletter, subscribing to an RSS feed, “liking” the site/page on social media, bookmarking the page or simply taking the time to explore the site further.
Money making sites generally have two specific types of page:
- content pages that give something of value to the visitor. These are magnets for search engine traffic and there should be lots of them covering every aspect (micro-niches) of the chosen niche (to capture as much relevant traffic as possible). Content pages should deliver on value and have clear design and navigation so that wherever a visitor enters the site they can clearly see 1) what the site is about, 2) how to find other pages that might be of interest. They may hint at the site’s products and may include some PPC ads, but these should be secondary to providing useful content.
- sales pages are designed to sell a specific product. There are probably significantly fewer sales pages than content pages and their main aim is to get the desired click. For consistency they share site navigation and may or may not carry additional ads. For an affiliate site these pages should seek to pre-sell, ie they should send the visitor to the vendor’s site in an “open to buy” frame of mind. Producing effective “pre-sell” pages is an acquired talent, so be prepared to experiment with different strategies (and products) to discover what’s most effective for your site.
Every page should have target keywords, usually one primary key term with a number of secondary options. These are the phrases your ideal visitor will be typing into the search box. The primary key term should form the page title and main (h1) heading. The secondary terms should form the sub-headings (eg h2, h3). All the terms should appear (naturally) in the page text. Every page should also carry a meta description tag; this usually appears in search results and helps users determine whether to visit the site, so it’s worth taking the time to make it enticing.
In order to make money, in any way, you first need to attract visitors (traffic) to your site.
Visitors come from a number of sources, eg:
- Organic search - results from typing search term into a search engine such as Google
- Returning visitors - they’ve been before and like what they saw
- Links from other sites - eg from syndicated articles, guest blog posts, social bookmarks eg Digg, can attract large numbers if you get a mention on a high volume site
- Offline, eg print ad, leaflet, business card
- Paid - eg PPC advertising such as Google AdWords
But visitors are not all of equal value. The Web has engendered an expectation of free content. Most people, most of the time, surf the Web without wishing to spend money. A few people are looking for a solution to a specific problem, and are willing to spend money to obtain it.
Obviously, the latter group should be the prime target of visitor attraction efforts, particularly of paid marketing campaigns. Among the former group only a very small number will make a spontaneous purchase, but a well-designed site offering quality content may well deliver on one of the secondary goals.
The quality of traffic you are attracting can be estimated by: