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Making Money With Your Website: Reality Check

There are just as many ways to make money with your website as there are ways to invest your money. And just like investing, the "hotter" the deal sounds, the more suspicious you need to be.

Most of the methods revolve around two basic concepts:

  • Selling goods and services from your website
  • Providing "introductory services" (i.e. links) to other website that sell products and services.

But within these two concepts, there's a whole world of innovative ideas and approaches that change almost on a weekly basis. Below is an overview on the class. This workshop is also offered in an online tutorial format for $20.

Requirements for success

Most Important: Your Website Popularity

No matter how fabulous your products, information, etc. without "eyeballs" to visit your website, there's no way to earn any income.

Niche Subjects

If you are a business with a niche audience, people may not have any other place to find more information about the specific product or service that you promote. A niche audience (such as manufacturers who make pencils, companies who provide database translation, businesses who train rescue dogs, people who need custom made shoes) will make you the major resource and get you all the traffic possible, but the universe of people interested in that niche can be awfully small. Researching the subject's popularity can be as simple as doing a keyword search, or use Google's Keyword Research Tool to determine how popular your search words have been. (take a look at the Keyword Research page)

If you are a business that is already associated with a location, brand, special event. then your built in audience is a bit more competitive, but you're also familiar with the subject and can easily get an idea of the potential.

The more visitors to your website, the more money you can make. (and a lot of people have made a lot of money helping people get more traffic to their websites.)

They look, but don't buy.

But you're not out of the woods yet. your site can draw a lot of traffic, but still not generate income. How your site is designed, what information your provide, what you choose to sell, resell, affiliate or link to is another big factor. If someone comes to your website and sees a big list of google links, there's a good chance they'll move on. If your site is a list of google ads, there's no novelty, since they show up everywhere. And the same with any products or services you sell. If your site does not draw interest, provide unique content, or solve a problem, most people just close their browsers and search on. Let's explore both concepts: selling directly and providing "introductions" (affiliate)

Making Money by Selling Products/Services

There are many things you can sell from your website that are of value to others, far beyond any electronic gadget or gemstone jewelry. What you sell is only limited by your imagination, and i've seen some incredibly creative offerings!

Being an artist, your first thought is to sell own products! If you are taking that route, you'll need to find a way to add value to your product or somehow differentiate your site and create a dedicated following. Something simple as going green and using recycled materials, or adapting your art for special events or themes, maybe even promoting a cause like animal rescue can give you an edge.

To sell your work online, there's a few basic applications and policies you'll need:

  • A simple shopping cart so people can purchase your product online
  • To determine shipping costs so that you can integrate them into your shopping cart
  • Information on privacy policy, return policy, any minimums, to eliminate any customer confusion
On my website "YourCraftBusiness.com" I've gathered a lot of information covering online craft stores, selling online, selling on ebay, etsy and artfire... you'll find including James Dillehay's comprehensive e-book: Sell your crafts online

Step beyond selling retail (and wholesale) and share your knowledge of art. Why not sell packages or kits that teach crafting techniques as well as providing the exact materials that will be needed? When I started designing kits back in 2000, most people considered kits mainly for children, and I saw a need for high-quality kits for adults that included specialty materials and featured original techniques. What I found is that I enjoyed designing new products, but was not really enjoying the production. By creating kits from my designs, I was getting the best of both worlds. In this tutorial i cover the basics of making a kit out of your work, how to write the directions, and share my spreadsheet that helps me determine wholesale and retail pricing.

The Marionette Kit page on my NotJustPartz Website: kitz-marionette.htm
The directions that come with the kit: MARIONETTE KIT.pdf
The Wired Woman Kit page: pz-kitz-wiredwoman.html
Directions: wired-woman-kit-flower-up.pdf

This is a perfect bridge to your next revenue-generating area: Selling Your Knowledge! (otherwise known as teaching!)

Think of what you've learned in your lifetime. Knowledge is "intellectual capital" and if you have the ability to package and sell it, you've got a great place to start making money! Whether you're selling an e-book or a series of "how to" projects, you can do well in fast-growing area.

I just did my first set of e-guides (they're not long enough to be considered books) craft-making-techniques 2 weeks ago and already have had my first sale!

Clickbank specializes in "digital products" for those who have written their own tutorials/books or those who want to make money promoting e-books and articles on specific subjects. They're a good place to learn more about the entire industry. http://www.clickbank.com/index.html

Making Money by Providing Introduction/Referrals

Called "affiliate programs" by most of the web and internet marketing industry, this group of direct response programs are quite similar to infomercial, advertorials and direct mail.

Probably the most commonly used and well known of these programs is run by google (followed by amazon). Google AdSense is a "free, simple way for website publishers of all sizes to earn money by displaying targeted Google ads on their websites. AdSense also lets you provide Google search to your site users, while earning money by displaying Google ads on the search results pages." You can review all of google's revenue-generating tools by starting at https://www.google.com/adsense/static/en/Publishertools.html. Google is one of the few affiliate programs that offers a simple pay per click (which means you get paid when someone clicks a google link from your website), and offers a wide variety of ways to implement their program. Be sure to read all the options you have before you begin to make a decision. Since you are paid on a "per click" basis, usually somewhere between 20 cents and $1.75 per click, unless you have thousands of visitors to your website in a week your overall earnings from google adsense will not be a huge money maker. However, if you have a website that isn't earning you any money right now, and its content has some draw, then using adsense will be found money and probably quite welcome!

Let's talk affiliate programs. An affiliate program is an automated marketing program where a webmaster places banner ads, links and buttons on their website that link to advertisers or merchants selling products or services. Webmasters receive a referral fee or commission from sales when the customer has clicked an affiliate link on their website, goes to the affiliate site, and makes a purchase or fills out a form. The most common types of affiliate programs include pay-per-click (PPC), pay-per-lead (PPL), and pay-per-sale (PPS).

Affiliate marketing is basically a revenue-sharing plan using an online automated marketing program so that Webmasters can place an advertiser's link in the form of a banner, button, paragraph, or image on their own Web site. They receive a referral fee or commission from conversions when a customer has clicked the affiliate link and performs the desired action, such as make a purchase or opt-in for downloads or newsletters on the advertiser's site. Advertisers invest in affiliate programs for lead generation, and, of course, sales.

Not all affiliate plans work in the same way or pay the same rates. Some enable use text or image hyperlinks, others use a store page that offers products based on the content of your Web site, and others are general advertising banners or buttons.

The payouts for Webmasters also varies, but most offer a commission when a sale is made (pay-per-sale) or a flat fee when an application is submitted (pay-per-lead).

All affiliate programs work pretty much the same way, you place the affiliate's tracking code on your website as a link so all sales and click through can be properly attributed to you.

There are dozens (probably hundreds by now) of different affiliate networks for you to choose from, each network featuring all types of products and services. Larger affiliate networks have signed up companies like Home Depot, Staples, Intuit, HP and other "brand names", some networks promote web-based companies like light bulb depot, vistaprint, esticker, and more. You'll find thousands of different programs within each affiliate network for you to chose from.

Figuring out what affiliates to choose, where to put your affiliate link as well as how it should look is quite a task. The tutorial includes several spreadsheet tools to help you plan that part. This is an area where many different opinions can be found.

Choosing what works for you

Whatever revenue generating method you use, there are some basic rules that apply for most websites:

  • If you are selling your own products on your website, be wary of putting affiliate ads on pages where your products are listed.... You don't want to distract potential buyers away from your work!
  • If you are selling kits or e-books, confine your affiliate marketing to products and services that complement - but do not compete- with your own offerings.
  • For an informational website, or sections of your site that don't feature products, affiliate programs offer a great way to bring in some money.
  • How you format your affiliate links and where you put them depends on the subject, type of website and your design. This tutorial offers several smart ways to integrate affiliate programs into your website without looking like an ad-filled site.
 
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