Webmasterspot - Website creation and management
Exploring Web development and everything that goes together with trying to run a website!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Making money from your website – the 101 guide

Let’s face it; although it might not be the primary reason, most websites are created to generate some kind of revenue for the Webmaster. After all it’s only reasonable to expect that someone who put hours of effort into creating a site would want something to show for that effort – even if it’s only enough to pay for hosting to keep the site up and running.

There are basically 5 main methods available to get income from a site:

  • Charge membership fees
  • Ask for donations
  • Sell a product / Provide a service
  • Link Sales
  • Advertising

Charge membership fees:

This is the online equivalent of the subscription service of most magazines. You charge visitors a membership fee to allow them access to your site for a certain period of time.

This method is only suitable to sites with exclusive content that can’t be found on other sites. It’s a reasonably difficult system to set up and maintain. Unless you have something exceptional on offer, it’s not very likely that people will be willing to pay for access to the content.

Ask for donations:

This model relies on the charity of your visitors. You ask them to give a donation to keep the site up and running. Once again your success will rely heavily on what you offer to your visitors. If your site offers something unique or has a very loyal user base this could be a viable method of generating revenue.

Keep in mind that the income could be very sporadic. There is no guarantee that you will get any donations at all, so you should not rely heavily on donations to cover costs. It should rather be used in conjunction with other revenue methods.

Sell a product / Offer a service

Most eCommerce sites fall into this category. You sell a product, either a physical (books, shoes etc.) or a virtual (eBooks, templates, photos etc) product to your visitors. Alternatively you can offer a service (web design, proofreading, graphic design etc.) to visitors.

The quality of your product or service is extremely important. You need to gain the trust of the visitor and really impress them with what is on offer before they are likely to make a purchase. Virtual goods could be a good option since you wouldn’t need to worry about shipping costs. However you run the risk of someone distributing your virtual product without permission, so you need to keep that in mind if you decide to follow that direction.

Link sales

Once your site is very popular or has obtained a high Google Pagerank (PR) rating you will be able to sell links on your site for a considerable amount of money. This is basically a form of advertising where another site buys a link on your site in order to gain more traffic or increase their Pagerank.

You can sell links on a weekly, monthly or yearly basis. Pricing will depend on the rank of your site and the amount of traffic you are able to send to the sites you link to. You need to be aware that Google frowns upon people selling and buying links to artificially manipulate their Pagerank. The site that buys the link runs the risk of Google negating the PR being passed by links they consider to be purchased.


Displaying some form of advertising is one of the most widely used and most successful methods of generating revenue from a site. There are various advertising models in use today (CPC, CPM, CPA) and deciding on which one to use would depend largely on the specific site.

The easiest way to leverage advertising on your site is to join one of the multitude of advertising networks available. They will provide you with ads to show on your site and charge a commission (mostly between 45% – 30%) on the revenue generated. They handle the advertisers on your behalf so you don’t need to worry about selling ads, accepting payments or managing which ads to show.

You can also sell ads directly to advertisers on your own. This might be more difficult to do, but in most cases you can expect a higher income and more relevant ads.

Deciding on the revenue model to use will depend largely on your site and what you have to offer. It might take some time and experimentation to see what works best for your situation. The methods discussed here can also be combined and used in conjunction with each other. Experimentation is key. Remember that making money online isn’t a get rich quick scheme. It takes time and effort, but once you have a successful model in place you will be able to reap the rewards for years to come.

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