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Monday, December 20, 2010 Post By: Grayne Wetzky

How To Monetize Your Web Site

Making money from your website traffic is an elusive goal. Many entrepreneurs set out to create the next big thing only to find that their revenue never gets close to their expectations. The typical way of trying to make money from your website, blog or similar online presence is by adding adsense ads and trying to build traffic through search engine optimization. In this article I will explore ways to monetize your website traffic without chasing after a high Google ranking.

The key component in lifting your website from a few dollars a day adsense operation to a genuine money making endeavor starts with changing the way you view website traffic. Instead of trying to attract more users with keywords and page ranks; build a site that attracts a market and do everything you can to keep them coming back.

As with most online projects it pays to start out with a narrow and well defined niche. Find your niche market, preferable one that is currently under served and move towards filling as many needs of this segment as possible. This might sound like it would require a lot of work. However, if you go about it the right way you can leverage your existing traffic to generate the content that will keep your visitors coming back and draw in more users from the same market.

For many websites the traffic they draw depends on someone finding the site in a search and serving up some content that is of interest. This can be successful but requires a lot of traffic to be sustainable. If you manage to build a site that has compelling reasons for the users to return over and over you can do well with a much smaller user base. To achieve this you need to provide interesting content and experiences that updates frequently.

If your target market is well defined and narrow your goal is to create a website that provides this market with services and content that is not available anywhere else. This is precisely why you want to focus on markets that are currently undeserved. If you can identify features and products that would useful for your target customers that they can't find anywhere else you are already well on your way to becoming a leading resource for that market. Finding a niche market is easier than it sounds. Most people will already be part of many small niche markets through their work, hobbies or just their fields of interest. Focusing on a market segment that you already know will also make it a lot easier to identify useful services that are currently not available.

The challenge once you have an established website is to build a community of users that will make going to your site part of their daily online routine. Depending on your niche there can be many ways of doing this. Many websites already employ this strategy in part by including a discussion board. Following interesting discussions will compel many users to return to the site daily. The problem is that a discussion board is not very unique. Nor is it particularly easy to monetize outside the standard adsense approach.

A key part of building residual traffic is to build a sense of community spirit. You want your users to feel that they are part owners of the website. The best way to accomplish this is to open up as many ways for the users to contribute to the site as possible. Letting users maintain and expand the content on the site is a great way of building a strong connection. You could either assign certain sections of the website to different end users who act as editors for that content. You could even employ a wiki style website where all or parts of th information on the site is managed by the community together. By giving your targeted audience power to shape the content of your site you will be able to offer a lot more compelling content without the work of producing it yourself. Community generated content will also tend to be very up-top-date and pick up trends very early. Always having the most relevant information for your field will be a huge draw for return traffic.

There are endless ways to build a strong community feeling. Another great way to draw in users and make money at the same time can be to let users sell their products through your site. Let's say that you have built the best website in the world for golf cart decals. Letting one selected user every month sell their best decal designs through a featured spot on your site; you will collect part of the revenue. Users who make money from their hobby on your website will be very likely to return. And if their products are successful they will be more likely to spend money themselves on future products offered by other users.

Making money directly through sales on your site is great. As your site becomes a trusted source for your niche you will be able to generate more income from traditional methods as well. Sticking with the golf cart decal site you can get very targeted ads for golf carts. Your site will probably include a section where users can write their own reviews of different models of golf cars. Targeted ads in these sections will most likely perform very well, with a steady flow of repeat users who comes to your site when they are interested in golf carts.

Other features to create a strong bond between your users and your site could be to let users submit their own work. Once an item is uploaded to the site other users can naturally leave comments, rate the item, feature it on their personal profile page on the site etc. This has the double benefit of bringing in return traffic looking for new interesting user submissions as well as having the people who submit their content return repeatedly to see how it is received by the community.

By building a strong connection to the community you will know at all times what they want form a website. Listening to the website users when they voice their wishes for the website will help you create an even stronger experience for new users. An added benefit is that users who see their expressed wishes implemented on the website will feel even more connected to the site and the community. As your website gains penetration into your market segment this effect will be stronger and stronger. This will give you a tremendous advantage in trying to create the kind of experiences your audience wants.

If you are able to pick a niche that is not already saturated and provide the perfect experience for your users you will no longer need to worry about search traffic. Once you build a strong following word of mouth will bring in the visitors from your niche that still are not part of your new online community. The stronger your position and trust factor becomes in the specific area the more people will be attracted to your site. If you stay focused on giving those users the best experience on the internet they will keep returning.

It is even possible to raise funding from your community if you manage to build a strong enough sense of connection. Let's say you have identified a series of improvements that would require additional funding to implement. You could start a donation program on the site towards the completion of these features. With a strong community and a clear explanation of the benefits to all you could potentially raise all the needed capital this way. Huge communities like wikipedia has used this strategy to raise millions of dollars in funding from their user base. You will not be building the next wikipedia but if you can build a smaller but equally strong community you have a great platform for making money.

The big shift in thinking when monetizing your website this way is to shift away from thinking about what keywords will be most profitable to thinking about your individual users. By focusing on narrowing your customer base and then providing great experiences for those users you open up a huge revenue potential. Not only will your website have a much higher monetary value. Building and participating in an online community is a lot more satisfying than writing focused on keywords density.



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