People have been trying to make money from the Web since its inception, and it's consistently proved to be a lot harder than anyone expected. Even top sites like Facebook and YouTube have had publicized troubles turning a profit. So how is anyone expected to create a profitable website on his own? Surprisingly, with the right combination of hard work and patience, it's possible.
Niche Blog Advertising
Creating a niche website--usually, and most easily, as a blog--with a limited subject matter doesn't seem, at first, to be a one-way ticket to profitability. But niche blogs actually have one big leg up from mega-websites like online newspapers, entertainment sites, and social networks: visitors actually tend to look at, and click on, relevant ads.
To place ads on your site, join ad networks such as Google Adsense and Text Link Ads that automatically create targeted ads based on the content of your website. Adsense, for example, works using a pay-per-click method: Every time a visitor clicks on an ad, you get a few cents. For large, broad websites, the click rate (clicks vs. total visitors) can be less than 0.3%, but for smaller niche websites it's consistently over 1%.
Once traffic grows, you can also find private ad sales from companies related to your niche. Check out who's advertising on your competitors' websites and post an "Advertise With Us" page on your site.
Niche Blog Reviews and Referrals
The other major way to turn a profit with a niche blog is through sponsored reviews and referrals. Sponsored reviews are reviews you write for certain products that the makers of the products pay you for. Some sponsored review brokers include ReviewMe and PayPerPost.
Referrals are similar. Instead of getting paid for a review, you hype the product on your own and get paid a percentage of the profit whenever a visitor clicks through from your site and buys the product. Most web hosting companies offer referral programs, as do many other sites that make online transactions. Amazon has a very popular affiliates program.
Have you ever come across a website that sucks you in with big bold writing promising to tell you a secret that can make you rich in just two weeks? That's a sales pitch, and more often than not, if you scroll to the bottom of the website, they're selling a downloadable "e-book." If you know how to write effective sales copy, and you have an area of expertise that you could write a few dozen pages about, you could do that too.
The trick with e-book websites is that people have to know the website exists in order to buy the book. A lot of e-book sellers offer referral programs to websites that cover the same topic as the e-books themselves.
It may sound strange, but it's possible to run your own profitable web hosting company without any resources or employees. You do this through what's called "reseller hosting": plans from major web hosting companies that allow you to create unlimited websites with your own packages and pricing. The most popular web host that offers reseller hosting is HostGator.
Probably the toughest option, it can also be the most lucrative: Create a real business selling products. Even Amazon started somewhere. Online store strategies actually have a lot of similarities with brick-and-mortar store strategies: Have a clean layout; allow your customers to get in and out as fast as possible; and offer add-ons while they're checking out. Whether you're selling your own custom-made crafts or creating a virtual department store, you'll get paid whenever somebody buys.
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