The following is the three step process that I view as the best path for creating sustainable sites that are valuable, successful, and profitable.
Launching a New Website
When starting a new site a webmaster should be willing to do just about anything to build link equity, brand exposure, and an audience. This includes:
- not monetizing too heavily off the start
- buying a good domain name and site design (or as best you can afford)
- paying attention to the marketplace
- stroking the ego of important players in the market (via things like award programs, interviews, mentions, etc etc etc)
- having a unique value proposition and something you stand for
- create real value
- buying a few key trusted links
This phase should include trying many different things...even if 90% of your ideas go nowhere you still do good if just a few of them spread. Test and learn, test and learn, etc etc etc. It is ok if some of your ideas in this stage are flat out bad...it shows that you are learning and it will make others more comfortable feeling they can also learn with you. People don't like to read someone who thinks they are perfect, especially if they are new to a market.
In this phase I usually do not care too much about monetization other than coming up with ideas that I know I can bolt on, unless the site is so niche that it is already immediately focused on the commercial aspect.
If you bought an old trusted site you can skip step 1 and head to step 2.
Monetize Your Site
As the site gets traction, the site can be back-filled with related higher profit content ideas. Don't place ads on your subscription channel in a distracting way. Instead, add other content sections to the site that are of high profit potential. Make a channel / feed of related deals, or create a static content portion of the site with related commercial offers. After you created enough content you can also repackage portions of it in an information product or sell a premium subscription service.
The site's internal link structure should also place more weight on the important high profit pages. As the site ages and gains high authority trusted links, the site's inbound link profile can back-fill that with obtaining some average to lower quality links with the desired anchor text for the most profitable sections of the site.
Here you can also look to launch (or at least think of) ideas that make you the authority on the profitable section of your site. What can you do in that niche to make people view you as the expert? Why would they cite you instead of competitors?
If your site makes more than your living costs, but you feel is on shaky ground, it is time to reinvest earnings to create a real brand. If you don't have a great design and great domain name make sure to buy them. Make the site so strong that the competition can't clone you and has no choice but to buy you out. Create thick content that builds your brand even if it does not feel like it will be highly profitable in the short term. After you have enough easy to monetize content keep increasing the quality of your content and create something people would want to subscribe to and share with their friends.
As you keep building your brand and link equity you can also look to increase your income by doing any of the following
- selling consulting or information products
- adding parallel profitable content sections monetized via ads
- going deeper with the commercial sections on your site (by adding more content in that section)
- if you have enough distribution and market leverage, consider creating a marketplace or leverage your brand asset to move your site up the value chain
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