For some people, having a website is just about having an online presence. This is fine however what if your goal is to make money from your website. This resource article discusses some ways of going about this.
Sell products or services
The obvious way is to sell your products and services directly via your site. The web offers some great advantages none more important than the ability to handle huge amounts of visitors for no additional costs and the ability to streamline things to the point where in some cases you don’t have to do anything! Not to mention the ability to market to people other than those close to your location.
If you run the sort of business that is most likely to conduct your sales in person or at your premises, don’t disregard the web as a great way to convince buyers of your value before they come in. People will make assumptions based on your website (especially if you don’t have one) and an effective site will convince people of your value before they step in the door.
Deliver well qualified leads
A website can be a great way of qualifying your potential buyers. For example on our site we provide the ability to sign up for a free quarterly eNewsletter and provide contact forms for further information about our services. While you don’t know who is viewing your site, you know if someone submits a form or signs up for your newsletter that they are interested in what you do. This can be a great source of potential well qualified clients.
On-sell to current customers
Your website can also be a useful way to on-sell to current customers. If you can get your current customers visiting your site regularly (perhaps by using an eNewsletter or just providing regular and valuable content) they will stay up to date with what you are doing and what new services you are offering. This can be a lot more efficient (and less annoying) than calling customers every time you have something new to offer.
It is really easy these days to sell advertising via your site. There are a number of ways of doing it but the easiest is by using Google Adsense or similar services. These services will display links on your homepage to other similar sites and each time a link is clicked on by a visitor you will make a small amount of money. You generally need a pretty high traffic site to make much money out of this method and you need to consider the benefits vs. the negatives of having your potential customers taken off to other similar (perhaps competing) websites. Similarly you can do the same thing in your eNewsletter if the size of your subscriber base justifies the advertising.
Becoming an affiliate with places such as Amazon is another way to make money from your website. You refer or point people to other websites and if they purchase something, you receive a commission. See my affiliate links page for more.
Paid Member area
If your content is unique and valuable you might want to consider introducing a paid membership area. We have done this for clients in the past and it can work as a one-off access pass or an annual subscription. You can automate everything so all you need to do is approve members and update the content. You should make sure the information is something worth paying for and be wary of competing sites who offer content for free and rely on advertising income.
Obviously there are other benefits of having a website that aren’t simply about making money. Consider things like the ability to inform and educate customers, build brand awareness and the ability to streamlining administration tasks to name a few. However for this interested in utilising their site to generate revenue, the ideas above should be a good starting point.
Written by Dan Norris, Director of Gold Coast Web Design agency Web Circle on 25 March 2008.