How to make money from your website
Filed under: TV, Phone & Broadband
1. Try not to spend any money on web space
There are people falling over themselves to offer you web space. A free blog at blogger.com will allow you to take advertisements (unlike wordpress.com which is also free but quite reasonably expects to take a cut if you're going to sell stuff). Equallly, your ISP may have allocated web space to you when you signed up. Don't pay over the odds unless you have to.
2. There are people who will sell stuff for you
The obvious place to go if you want to get money for stuff you already own is of course eBay; buyers get to leave feedback so everyone feels safe. Amazon also allows people to sell second hand books, DVDs, videos, whatever.
Be careful to ensure you have the time to queue at the Post Office for both of these. Buyers may assume they're purchasing through Amazon itself, and they'll certainly expect comparable service. A contact sold some DVDs a few years ago through the company and got flu so che ouldn't get them sent as quickly as he'd have liked; a few comments later from his customers to Amazon's management and he'd earned himself a permanent ban from selling through that site. It seemed harsh but it's their reputation at stake.
3. Pick your topic
So you have your web space. Consider what you want to put there if money is part of your objective - it needs to be something niche enough so the big companies won't have it covered but popular enough for people to come and read. Music reviews and links to Elvis' greatest hits won't cut it, they're too widely available; meanwhile your academic treatise on earwigs may be fascinating but the audience is going to be tiny.
That said, you need to engage your reader somehow. Consider putting some free stuff up there; a list of how-tos if they're appropriate for your subject niche, maybe a white paper or brief e-book. Remember your readers have come to get something of value, they aren't looking specifically to send you money, nice though that would be!
5. Market it
This is where the social media come in. You can have an utterly rivetting site but if nobody knows it's there they won't come. Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn are your friends and other than the cost of your time they're free.
6. Back to Amazon
Look into Amazon's affiliate scheme (details are at the bottom of the home page). Amazon will send you a cut of everything that's bought through its links. Unlike some affiliate schemes it offers specific links to specific products too, so you can really make the most of highlighting a particular item (this gives authors, for example, the chance to link directly to their book and take a cut in addition to the royalty payment - the reader doesn't mind as the price is the same as Amazon's usual).
7. Other affiliate schemes
Check Affiliate Window and other sites to fill your website with adverts. Be careful - per centages are low and it's easy to get carried away and put every little piece of marketing you find on your site, which isn't going to attract many people to view it.
8. Consider Google Adsense
Google Adsense, once you've signed up for an account, allows you to put a piece of code on your site which then attracts targeted, relevant ads based on keywords. It's important to keep your keywords relevant; you can exclude some of them so you won't end up advertising the competition. You get paid per click-through.
If you have tens of thousands of readers per month you could consider selling ordinary ads, in which case the money available to you would go up considerably.
9. Sell your services on
Got a compelling, readable blog on contemporary furniture? Great - contact some furniture companies and offer to blog on their behalf, for a fee. Or use it as a clippings file when you're pitching ideas at magazines. It's how a lot of modern freelancers start writing for money.
10. Set your expectations
A final and rather sobering thought is that there isn't a huge amount of money in this just yet for many people. Most of the amounts changing hands remain small for the moment. Nonetheless if your offering is really compelling - and that, not your desire to make cash, has to be at the centre - you should be able to glean a little extra pocket money without too much trouble.
Blogger Guy Clapperton is the author of "This Is Social Media"
- Why I wouldn't touch Facebook with a barge pole
- How to complain effectively using Twitter
- Will the cookie law make us crumble?