<%response.buffer=true%> <% yere = year(date()) Response.Expires = 0 %> Intro: Writing For The Web
< Making Money on the Web >
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Web Business

"In life and business, there are two cardinal sins.. The first is to act precipitously without thought and the second is to not act at all." Carl Icahn

When Is A Business A Web Business?: This page will focus on ways businesses make money directly through their web presence. We will not cover 'brick and mortar' businesses who also make up the web landscape.

A Level Playing Field Means More Competition: While it is nice that the web allows us to reach our customers, it also forces us to stay competitive!

Money Making Categories: We'll start by defining common ways money is made on the web:

  • Advertising
  • Membership
  • Merchandise

Most of these solutions are about heavy web traffic and high sales. For a small business, there are other, less lucrative opportunities like affiliate marketing.

ADVERTISING

Brought To You By (buy?): While we are all painfully aware of advertising wherever we go, that also speaks to it's effectiveness. Properly placed advertising is a staple of all business, not just web business. We are all aware of famous ads like the AFLAC duck, which brought a 90% brand recognition (the realm of Pepsi and Nike) to an insurance company!

To Attract Advertisers, You Must Provide Consumers: To be able to make significant money hosting ads, you must be able to prove your site is frequented by visitors who are likely to purchase from an advertiser. If your site does not have 100,000 or more 'visits' per week, you may wish to skip down to 'Membership' or 'Merchandise' as ways to make money via the web!

Server Log Files: To determine how many people visit your website, the first place we need to look is in our Server log files.

A server log is in essence a simple text file that tracks information about the visitors to a site. Several things can be generally deduced about these visitors by careful examination of the server log files:

  • How many times each page was requested (hits per page)
  • What browser was used
  • What time of day the pages are viewed
  • The IP address, sometimes identifying the originating location
  • The number of unique visitors to a site
  • Any 'search words' the visitor typed to find the site

Server logs can be viewed in a visual format with charts and graphs using software called web log analyzers. A good hosting company provides such software for a small fee. A popular log analysis tool is Google's Urchin.

The study of server logs, and other methods such as page tagging are called web site analytics.

Who Are All These People?: To be attractive to an advertiser, we not only need numbers, but also demographics. Some of the things advertisers are interested in are:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Income

To get this information, a survey is the most common solution. While you can build and administer your own surveys, with software such as WebSurveyor, it is advised that you use a third party company, so that the results of the survey are not in question.

A large business might use a company like Ipsos-Reid, while a smaller company could use Nooro.

Once the survey results are in, you can determine if your site appeals to a particular target market. If so, ad agencies can help you find products that appeal to your customers!

Ad Agencies: An Advertising Agency is a service organization that places advertisements on behalf of it's clients. Ad agencies make money by being awarded an account, in which a client commits to a budget for an advertising campaign.

Does It Pay?: An ad campaign is only as good as it's ROI, or Return On Investment. If advertising does not pay off, (if the amount of new sales does not cover the cost of advertising) the advertiser is unlikely to return . Customer Life Cycle

Ad Management: Once an ad campaign is underway, you will need a way to display ads on your website. There is software to do this... blah blah clickthroughs and impressions, blah blah blah

MEMBERSHIP

Value Added: A 'membership' based site, usually has a 'public' area of the site, and a 'private' or 'members only' area, in which a paying member has access to exclusive material. The catch (of course) is to provide material that is worth paying for!

People Are Willing To Pay: People are willing to pay for something that is exclusive. However we will need to convince them that what we have to offer is beyond the 'free' content you provide.

Lack Of Advertising: One of the things we can provide is a 'lack' of advertising for a paid member.

Full Access: We can give members full access to all articles we provide. Another example is to provide free podcasts of information that is only in written form for free.

Free Merchandise: We can soften the blow of charging for our services by throwing in T-Shirts, Mugs or other cool swag to create a package. Think of the Sports Illustrated subscriptions, which are geared to a winning sports team.

Personalization: As simple a thing as a special logo saying 'gold member' or 'member since' is enough to help sweeten the pot, without costing you anything!

Celebrity: If you have access to celebrities (even 'site' celebrities) you can provide special events or reserve personal contact to members only. Remember that anything that is offered to the members is made painfully aware to the non-members!

Appeal To Conscience: Always let them know how much you appreciate their patronage, and support for the work/service you provide. People are willing to support a job that continues to be well done!

Focus On New Services : Continue to develop new reasons to join, and new reasons to maintain membership.

Multi-Site Pass: You could also share access to affiliate sites with one pass, if you are willing to share the funds acquired!

Social Networking: Some sites entire focus is on connecting people, whether this is by sharing files, or allowing people to chat or otherwise connect. Don't overlook any way that your resources (or membership) can enrich your site!

E-COMMERCE

Where The Competition Is: The last, (and most competitive) form of the web business is e-commerce. This is the area where your bottom line may be the deciding factor!

Consignment/Auction: The web is especially good at connecting buyers and sellers that have rare needs or items. EBay has become the standard to which all others have been compared in this arena.

There are lots of options for e-commerce, but I would read a couple of articles first:

How to & what is:

An e-tailers guide to credit card processing:
http://www.devguru.com/features/tutorials/creditcards/creditcards.asp

Wikipedia, my favorite general resource:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ecommerce

General e-commerce articles and guide:
http://www.ecommerce-guide.com/

Tutorials & gateways:

simple tutorial, and links to payment gateways:
http://www.online-commerce.com/

Resources:

Tens of thousands of links across all e-commerce categories:
http://www.ecominfocenter.com/

A Plug for Paypal

As an FYI, Paypal does over 27 billion dollars of business a year, accepts credit cards and now owned by EBay, has run virtually all of the competition out of the market, plus they are the cheapest:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/PayPal

 

 

   
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