How this information website makes us money
Are you wondering why we have written this information web site offering free support without expecting anything in return?
Are you suspicious that there is a catch?
Well, let me explain how this informational web site generates money without costing you a penny. It works for me – and who knows, you might be able to use the techniques to generate additional income for your business too.
Information Web Sites
This type of web site is known as an information web site. Information is provided on a specialist subject, freely available to all to use.
There are lots of information web sites across the internet. Of course, some are better than others, but the best ones focus on a single specialist subject and provide as much information as possible, and regularly add new pages with additional information, ensuring that visitors return again and again, using the site as a useful reference.
The specialist subject in this case is business accounting, and my expertise is in this area – with over twenty years experience in book-keeping and accounting. I’ve run various businesses myself, run management accounting for various SMEs including public listed companies and trained and taught numerous entrepreneurs in managing and running their own accounts.
How Information Web Sites earn money
There are multiple ways that informational web sites can earn money:
The Silent Salesman
Many consultants and published authors create information web sites to show their expertise in their particular field. As prospective customers browse the web site, they gain an appreciation of what the author can offer.
These prospective customers may use a lot of the information on the web site several times before they call the consultant or buy the book, and of course many people will never call but use the information they find, but typically enough people will use the consultancy services or buy the book to make the venture worthwhile.
Many informational web sites have been created as ‘silent salesmen’ also include a regular e-mail newsletter, and web site visitors are given the opportunity to subscribe to receive regular bulletins and new information.
If the information web site is good, the likelihood is these e-mail newsletters are worth subscribing to: they tend to give a good snapshot of news and up-to-date topics and can often be scanned in 20-30 seconds.
From a consultants’ point of view, the ever-updated web site and these e-mail newsletters allow them to keep in touch with prospective customers. So long as the web sites and the newsletters remain interesting and informative and not overtly pushing sales at every step of the way, they will get regular sales enquiries.
I worked for one company that used e-mail newsletters as a way of keeping parcel carriers and couriers informed on the latest news for parcel tracking and barcode systems. None of the information in the newsletter was sales based, yet it remained the most successful on-going marketing campaign in the company, constantly providing new sales leads. In one case, the company received an e-mail from Royal Mail asking how much it cost to subscribe to the newsletter!
Affiliate Marketing web sites recommend products or services that are relevant to the content being shown on the information web site. In return for sales and sales leads, a commission is paid to the owners of the information web site.
Affiliate marketing can work in a number of different ways: a link from the information web site to another company offering associated services, for which a sales lead commission is paid when the prospect ‘clicks through’ to the second company, or a link to a specific product, for which a commission is paid if a sale takes place.
Commission levels vary, depending on what product or company is being promoted. Typically a sales lead may be worth anything from 5p-50p whereas a product sale will normally be between 3%-10% of the total sales value.
If it is implemented correctly, affiliate marketing can work extremely well. It is important that the authors of the information web site do their research well and make sure they are only recommending good companies and good products and services, but if they do, and the informational web site contains excellent information and is search-engine friendly, sales will follow.
It is absolutely imperative with affiliate marketing web sites that the recommendations are honest: if you are recommending a product or a service, make sure you are confident that the product or the service is worth recommending. Otherwise, steer clear. Gaining trust with prospective customers takes time, if you recommend poor quality products or services, you will loose that trust in an instant.
Incidentally, in case you were wondering – that is an actual recommendation. We have been customers of VistaPrint for over ten years, and we really are impressed with the quality and the prices.
With the above link, we earn a small commission if you buy anything from VistaPrint – and that includes the free business cards!
Examples of informational web sites that use affiliate marketing:
A lot of web sites make money simply through advertising. Advertising may take the form of text advertising or graphic banner advertising, and can either be placed in fixed locations on a web page (banner adverts, for instance, are often found either at the top or on the right hand edge of each web page), or interspersed through the text.
Many web sites that generate revenue through advertising work with Google or Yahoo. These schemes work where the search engines scan the contents of the page and then add relevant adverts to the page.
How this web site earns money:
This web site earns money through a combination of affiliate marketing and Google advertising.
Where we find an appropriate product, we will research it – often even buying it ourselves to make sure it is appropriate for us to recommend it. If we are happy that the product is suitable, we will then find a company that sells this product who will offer us a commission if someone buys it as a result of our referral.
Could your business profit from an informational web site?
Depending on what your business does, it may be that your business could profit from an informational web site.
Informational web sites demonstrate your expertise in your own particular field. It can help you promote your product or service in a very different way – allowing you to reach prospective customers earlier in the buying cycle and in a non-pushy way, which appeals to lots of prospects.
You can also have multiple revenue streams to fund your web site – Google adwords advertising, affiliate sales links and your own products or services may easily work effectively side by side.
If you want to consider your own informational web site, there are a few things you need to consider:
- Building up an informational web site takes time and dedication. You can’t expect to launch a new informational web site and expect it to earn you significant income in just a few weeks. It takes a few months for the web site to start being found and for the revenue to start growing.
- For an informational web site to be successful, it needs to be search-engine friendly. Google, Yahoo, Ask, Yell and all the other search engines need to be able to index it correctly and rank it highly so that it can be easily found.
- You need to be able to encourage people to return to the web site time and time again by adding new content regularly – at least one or two pages every single week.
- You need to promote the web site by getting other relevant sites to link into your site, and in the early days by promoting your site through web forums and other business activities.
Building an informational web site can be hard work. However, there are online web site builder that can guide you through the maze and ensure your online traffic grows through choosing the right search phrases and by getting your web site listed on Google and all the other web search engines.
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