Generating Revenue from Websites

Unless you're willing to contribute your own time for free, as well as pay hosting expenses from your own pocket, you're probably thinking about supporting your website by selling advertising. This sounds great in theory, and many people do it all the time, but how easy is it in reality?

Choose a Niche

Anyone that's had any success with Internet marketing will tell you the importance of selecting a good niche for your site. A niche is basically a narrow topic that people are interested in learning about. Ideally, you want a niche with as few competing sites as possible, as this will result in a higher proportion of people searching for that niche ending up at your site. You'll also need to fill your site with worthwhile content that will satisfy your visitors. If someone lands on your site, you want to give them a reason to stay there and/or return another time.

Once you have your site up and running, you'll probably want to pick one or more advertising partners. Depending on your niche, different approaches may work differently. The basic approach is to go with an ad-serving company such as Google AdSense. Alternatively, you may find it better to advertise products related to your site as part of an affiliate network. For this article I'll be focusing on ad-serving platforms.


Ad-Serving Platforms

Ad-Serving platforms display advertising on your site once you embed a piece of supplied code to your site template. You are then either compensated by being payed based on impressions displayed or actual clicks. Adverts are generally chosen by the ad-serving platform, often matched to the site content or based on the reader's geographical location. High-quality advertisements will lead to higher click-through rates and greater revenue for you, so it's important to pick the right partners.

Google AdSense

Currently the market leader, Google AdSense is probably going to be your first choice for an advertising partner. Unfortunately, while it used to be easy to get an AdSense account, the standards have been tightened up. The standards are now very strict, raising the bar for being approved in the first place, as well as having the possibility of your account being yanked if Google believes you've deviated from these standards. It's also very hard to get an account for a new site -- some people have suggested that your site needs to be established for at least six months before it will be seriously considered.


AdSense Alternatives

Unless your one of the lucky ones that gets an AdSense account approved, you're probably going to want to look at alternative partners. Even if you do have an AdSense account, you may wish to run additional advertising rather than have all your eggs in the one basket. The AdSense T&Cs permit this as long as other advertising could not be confused with AdSense adverts. Some of the possible alternatives are listed below.

Chitika A data analytics company founded in 2003, Chitika is now a fully fledged advertising service. They welcome applications from a wide range of publishers, but sites are approved for bronze, silver or gold levels, which determines the quality of the advertising displayed on each site. Payment can be received via PayPal with a $10 minimum, or a check can also be requested if your balance is $50 or higher.
AdBrite AdBrite offers an online marketplace for advertisers and publishers to buy and sell advertising space. The publisher can set his own required rate and personally approve or disapprove advertising. When no suitable advertising is available for your site, the system gives the option of displaying ads from another service or displaying a "Your advert here" notice that enables readers to buy advertising on your site through AdBrite. Payment is sent by check in U.S. dollars once a user specified threshold is reached.