5 Ways To Make Money From Your Website

 

How to monetize your website

There are as many reasons to have a website as there are websites.

Perhaps you have a website to chronicle your child’s soccer team. Perhaps you have a website promote your restaurant. Perhaps you have a website to announce your church’s services.

Whatever the purpose of your website, just the fact that you have a website gives you the opportunity to generate revenue.

What you generate the revenue for is just a varied as why you have a website in the first place.

Perhaps you just want to make enough money to pay for the cost of the website, or perhaps you want to use the money to support a team, for donations, for your church kitty.

Or perhaps you want to use the website as a means to supplement your income. Or even as a means to generate your main income.

However you choose to spend the money you generate from your website, the bottom line is that there are a number of ways you can us it to earn income.

What are some of the ways you can earn income from your website?

1) Advertising

Advertising is probably the easiest way to generate income from your website. And the easiest way to add advertising by far is to use Google Adsense on your page.

Google Adsense

The nice thing about Google Adsense is that Google already knows what your website is about, and therefore they can automatically place ads on it that complement your website.

For example, if you have a website about movie reviews, Google will figure out that people who visit your site are probably into movies and may display ads for local cinemas, or trailers for movies.

If you already have a Google account, such as a gmail account or a Google+ account, then you are half way to having a Google Adsense account. Select the Business tools from your Google account and you will see a link to sign up for Adsense.

To include Adsense on your web page you just add the code to the page where you want the ads to appear. You can find out how to add code to your page in WebDwarf, SiteSpinner and SiteSpinner Pro here.

There are a number of different services including Yahoo/Bing, SiteScout to name a few. Each use a different method. Some place adds in locations you choose on your site. Some put banner adds up, and some create links from words or phrases in your text.

Some websites make a lot of money off advertising. However, you have to have a lot of traffic, and it has to be targeted traffic. That is. if you have a website about an zombie movies, and your website generates a hundred thousands visitors a month (and that is a lot), then there is a pretty good chance that an ads for zombie paraphernalia will generate considerable income for you.

For websites with a smaller amount of traffics, don’t expect to earn a fortune with ads.

2) Affiliate & Referral Marketing

With Affiliate Marketing you make a commission on a sale of a product or service that is referred from our website.

Unlike Ads where you are trying to get people to simply click a link or an image, with Affiliate marketing you are trying to make a sale of another company’s product or service.

If you manage to sell the other company’s product, then the company give you a commission on the sale.

Affiliate Marketing works best when the product you are promoting is a good fit with the topic of your website.

For example, we develop and sell website design software. We do not offer web hosting as that is not our expertise and so it makes sense for us to partner with a web hosting company as anyone who uses our products will need to host their website somewhere.

Keep in mind that if you are going to promote a product by another company you need to do your due diligence and ensure that the company is reputable because if people are not happy with them, then they will also not be happy with you.

We chose Bluehost as our partner beciuase they have such a great track record and we feel good promoting them. On top of that, they offer a discount to our customers. This works out as a win win for Bluehost, us, and our customers.

Blue Host Website Hosting

Think of a product or  service that would be a good fit for your company then check out their website, or approach them directly to find out if they have and affiliate program.

There are also a number of Affiliate networks you can sign up with and then pick and choose which products or services you want to promote to your website visitors. Some of the more popular are Amazon and eBay.

3) Selling A Product

This might seem a bit obvious, but if you have a product, your website is the place you should be selling it.

SiteSpinner Pro Website Design Software

Our SiteSpinner Pro Website Design Software

That does not mean that if you are an oil company, that you should be selling oil on your website.

However, if you have a church, you could be selling raffle tickets, a Girl Guides cookies through your website. Your website is a great vehicle to sell any product that is associated with your

When I was Executive Producer for Scholastic, the largest children’s book publisher in the world, the Web was a not fully understood by the higher management. If you did not get a scholastic book through school you could get it through your local book store, and then through Amazon, but Scholastic would not sell books through their website.

Don’t make the mistake of letting someone else make money off one of your products.

4) Selling Your Services / Training / Membership

Do you have valuable content that cannot be gotten somewhere else? Then creating a membership section of your website might be a good fit.

You can create a section of your website that members pay to have access to.

There are a number of different models for this. You could offer free useful content, but then offer more in-depth content behind your pay wall.

You could have a Forum that only paid visitors have access to

You could have an online course that has a set amount of time, or one that is open ended.

Of all the means of generating revenue from your website, having content that produces recurring revenue produces the greatest amount of income.

Having said that, you need to have a track record to make this successful. There are a multitude of Gurus on the web who tout subscriptions as a means of generating revenue from a relatively small amount of work. If you are a Doctor, then perhaps it is not that difficult to set up a subscription service for doctors. But the work to become a doctor is where the work is

If you are service company then your main goal may be to promote and sell your services via your website.

If you want to set up a subscription service to teach people how to climb Mount Everest, then you better have climbed Mount Everest yourself.

Are you good at something? Has anyone ever asked you for help with something or advice on something? If you answered yes to any of these, then you can be selling that service on your website.

5) Donations

One of the most direct ways of generating revenue from your website is to ask for donations.

Wikipedia Donation Page

Whatever it is you are offering, giving your thing away, whatever it is, is a valid and common form of generating revenue

Think of Wikipedia that generates all its revenue through donations.

You don’t have to be a large site. Radio Paradise, a website that streams commercial-free music supports itself purely by donation.

Radio Paradise Donation Page

The easiest way to accept donations from your website is to set up a PayPal account. If the person donating does not have a Paypal account, they can still use a credit card or debit card to make a donation.

Bringing it all together

Keep in mind that you do not have to use a single method to monetize your website. A novelist may sell products (her books), sells services (how to write books), accept donations (pre-orders for her next book), have Affiliate links in her site to purchase book related paraphernalia, and still include Google Adsense.

Adding every means possible may be a bit over the top for some websites, but mixing and matching ways to generate income is valid and accepted on for many sites. Just be sure to not over do it.

Question:

Which of the above ways to monetize your website make the most money?

Share your answer on , , or .

How To Create Better Web Pages For Your Visitors

 

Create Better Web Pages

Creating Better Web Pages Is Not Rocket Science. But you learn both using the same basic process.

According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers: The Story of Success, it takes roughly 10,000 hours of effort to be one of the top people in any given field.

You might not be thinking of putting quite that many hours into learning how to build your website.

Never the less, you can use the same learning process to create a decent web page that will serve your visitor’s needs, as a person who is striving to be the top in any given field.

There are plenty of free products out there that you can build a web page with (Virtual Mechanics’ WebDwarf Free Web Page Maker is one of them). And there are plenty of online services that will hand over a template free of charge that you can then edit to your heart’s content.

However, if you have little experience creating a web page, then what you produce may not look great or have the intended affect on your audience, regardless of the tool you used to build it with.

Though you may not create the most beautiful or usable website the first time you try, if you follow a basic process for learning, you can create a great website.

 

The three steps of learning anything well are:

  1. Instruction
  2. Emulation
  3. Practice

 

1 ) Instruction

 

I built my first website way back in 1996. I guess you could say it was my lucky break. I had finished university, but I had no idea what I was going to do for a living –  not really that unusual when you graduate with a degree in Fine Arts.

A friend and I – Eddie –  would hang out at the local coffee shop in the morning and talk about what we might do with our highly-unsaleable degrees.

On one particular morning the discussion got around to the latest buzz at the time. You might have heard of it, it was called the World Wide Web – at least that was what the Web was called back in the mid 90s.

I was flat broke, so much so that I was two months behind on my rent and I was getting eviction notices taped to the front door of my apartment.

I told Eddie that perhaps there might be something to this World Wide Web thing. So I decided to invest $35 in a book on making websites coding HTML – that was a big investment for me, both financially and psychologically, and I really agonized over it.

Within a couple of years of that purchase I was Executive Web Producer for Scholastic (Canada), the largest children’s book publisher in the world (you might have heard of this little series they published).

Scholastic

I guess you could say that $35 book on how to make a web page was a good investment for me.

Studying served me well. Look for a good book on web design – there are a lot more available now. It worked for me. Remember, the old saying goes that you should learn all the rules before you break them.

 

2)  Emulation

 

When I created my first website in 1996 I realized I had a bit of an eye for layout that I did not know I had.

I had done a double major in music and literature, but I had not done anything related to design.

That is not to say that I created great websites right off the bat, but I was able to tell what a bad looking website looked like.

I believe that we are all capable of doing just about anything. But having said that,  I don’t think I could whip off a symphony before dinner tonight and have it performed at the local concert hall if I have never created one (and I haven’t).

I think it is part of the human condition that it is much easier for us to identify good or bad quality in the works of others than it is for us to be able to judge our own work.

See what others are doing who are focusing on the same audience as you.

It has been shown that once we learn to navigate a certain type of website, we assume that other sites that are about the same thing will have the same look and feel.

CNN, FoxNews, Huffington Post. They all have the same look and feel. Whereas Jetblue, British Airways, and Air Canada have a different look and feel.

Check out what your competition is doing.

If you are selling off-shore drilling services, it is probably not a good idea to emulate one of the above news sites.

Howevre, if every offshore drilling company is using a certain design, then you could do worse than to emulate that (and note that I am explicitly saying ’emulate’ and not copy).

But emulating is key to not only having your visitor’s trust, it is also key to getting you on the road to learning about building websites.

 

3) Practice

 

When Virtual Mechanics first started distributing website design software in 1998, people would send us links to the websites they had created for us to post in our Gallery.

Not all of them looked great. And I had to really agonize over whether it would help us sell our software if we posted links to websites that were built with our tools that did not look good.

However, it was clear that the people who worked on their websites became better at designing sites over time

The more you practice, the better you become. Like all things, the more time you put in, the more reward you get out.

A Few Tips:

Include the fundamentals that every website should have.

Grow your pages, and your website. As you pick up knowledge and practice, you can add more to your site. But at first, keep it simple.

 

Conclusion

 

By following the same steps that all professionals use to become tops in their fields, you can create better web pages.

That means:

a) Putting a bit of time into studying some basic design and navigation principals.

b) Seeing what others are doing, and emulating them.

c) Practice, Practice, Practice makes Perfect.

 

Tell me what you think, what are the worst web page design blunders you have seen? Please share your experiences with us on Facebook.

3 Easy Search Engine Optimization Tips

Don’t get ignored by the search engines!

Think about the last time you searched Google for something. You got what – hundreds, thousands, perhaps even millions of results!

seoscreencap1

In an instant Google will serve you up more results than McDonald’s has served hamburgers – and that’s no bull! (sorry).

And that is great if you are looking for something – lots of selection, right? But what if you have a web page and you want people to find you.

So you build a page, put it up on a web server, and wait… After a few months maybe Google will list it on page 1,000,000,001.

The old adage ‘build it and they will come’ does not apply in search engine land.

The reality is that search engines want people to find your page. Here’s how you can help them, and help potential visitors to find your site.

The three top items to help your web pages make nice with the search engines are:

  1. Page File Name
  2. Page Title
  3. Page Description

Page File Name

Your Page Filename is the actual name of the HTML file, and is the first thing that a search engine seas when it comes to your web page. Most directory-level files are named ‘index’. Your web host assumes that any file named ‘index’ is the top-level page of that directory – or the home page of the directory. So, when you type in our site – www.virtualmechanics.com, the page the web server displays is actually www.virtualmechanics.com/index.html

Page File Names for SEO

Though your home page file should be named index, what you name your other pages has a big influence on the search engines.

Lets imagine we have a fictitious company called Teas of the World. Imagine the person we want to attract to your site – lets call her Sally. Sally is getting tired of boring old orange pekoe tea and wants something more interesting. So Sally goes online and does a search.

Think about what Sally might search for. Perhaps she searches for ‘distinctive teas’. Well, if you have named your web page file ‘distinctive-teas.html’ now Google has a clue that perhaps this is a page that Sally might be interested in.

A few tips when naming your web page:

  1. give your page a name that resembles what you think someone may search for
  2. use a hyphen between words. Don’t use an empty spaces
  3. avoid capitals, numbers, and odd characters (such as &, ª, £ etc) in the file name

Page Title

Page Titles are similar to the file name in that they give search engines a clue as to what your web page is about. More so however, it also gives your potential visitor an idea what your page is about. That is because the search engine uses the Title as the main heading when it displays the search results.

If your Title is vague, or not relevant to what someone is looking for, then they will skip your page and move on to the next result.

 

SEO Results for SiteSpinner Website Design Software

Tip: A good branding practice is to include your company name in the page title, along with what the page is about. So to bring back Sally who is looking for an interesting tea, you could name your page: ‘Teas of the World | Delicious Dandelion’. Another page might be titled ‘Teas of the World | Amazing Amazon Aroma’

Page Description

This is where you get to describe what the page is about. And like the Title, it is important not just for the search engine, but for the person looking at the search engine results. Keep your description to 160 characters or less so that the search engines do not cut it short.

SiteSpinner Pro Mobile Website Design Software

For our factitious Teas of the World‘s Dandelion Tea page, they might say:‘Delicious Dandelion Tea is a unique blend produced only by Teas of the World. Order some today!’

Tip: Make your description unique (i.e. produced only by Teas of the World). Include a Call to Action (Order Today!).

More…

To find out how to edit the page file name, Title, and Description in WebDwarfSiteSpinner and SiteSpinner Pro, see the Page Properties in the SiteSpinner Tutorials.

Please share your experiences with us on our Facebook Page.

Top Five Things Every Website Needs

Don’t leave these missing from your web pages.

Top 5 Things Ever Website Neets

Top 5 Things Ever Website Neets

How many websites do you visit without ever going back, or without ever interacting in any way?

It may be that you just ended up in the wrong place – you might have been looking for the local Fiat car dealer, but ended up on someone’s blog about foot care…

Or it could be that the site owner missed an opportunity to engage with you.

Perhaps it is not realistic for every website to get you to engage, but it should be your goal to get the maximum number of visitors to your site to do so.

So, what does your web pages need so that people are interested?

Clear Content

What is your site about? Say you are selling hand-knit scarves? Great! But if you are, make sure that visitors to your site know that as soon as they first visit.

Pictures of your scarves are good, but if I don’t know that you are selling them, I might think you are simply collecting pictures of scarves for some weird reason.

State clearly what your website is about.

Don’t leave me guessing, because I might leave without ever knowing.

If the purpose of your site is clear, who knows, I might not have been looking for a scarf, but now that I have stumbled upon our website, I might suddenly think that a scarf might be good idea as a birthday present for my mother.

Get Feedback. 

When you create a webpage, make sure you get at least two or three people to look at it, read it, and give you feedback –  preferably people who have no idea what your website is about.

I have created countless webpages that I thought were clear, but when I asked a friend or family member to read it, they pointed out all kinds of problems I did not see.

This can be somewhat discouraging – I know it can be for me – but if you let the discouragement pass, and come back to it, armed with the feedback you have gotten you will improve and produce a better website.

Contact Information

So now that I know you knit scarves, and you sell them via your website – how do I contact you? Maybe I have some questions (my mother might be allergic to cotton, and only prefer lama wool scarves – do you sell them?).

I might want to contact you because I don’t know you and therefore don’t trust you yet.

Have an easy way to contact you on every page of your website.

Have a link at some prominent place on every page that says ‘Contact’ that leads to a page with an email form, an address,  or even a phone number.

Tip: Remember, don’t put your email address directly on your website as plain text. Spam robots troll the web looking for them. As a test I put an email address on a webpage and within two hours I started to receive spam to that email address.

Customer Reviews

Your happy customers are your best sales referrals. People want to know that other people have, and like your product or service.

Remember, if there are two restaurants across from each other and one is empty and one is full, which one are you going to be most interested in? I would go for the one with the people in it.

It is the same with customer reviews on your website. Posting reviews from customers adds credibility to your website.

Of course, these have to be real reviews and can’t simply be made up. But I don’t have to tell you that…

How do you get reviews? 

If you don’t have any reviews the best way to get them is to ask for them. You know who your biggest fans are. Ask them. Generally, happy customers are more than willing to say something nice if you ask them politely.

Perhaps I saw a review that said “I gave this scarf to my mother for her birthday and she loved it. I sure am glad I bought it…”. Now I am almost sold.

Newsletter Sign Up

If you have a website, you should be collecting email address.

Anyone who is willing to give you their email address is saying ‘I am interested in your product or service’, or whatever your website is about.

Lets say I am interested in a scarf for my mother, but her birthday is still six months away. Once I leave your website there is a good chance I will forget about it.

However, if you send an email with your new, fall collection of lama wool scarves, it will remind me that my mother’s birthday is coming up.

Go Social

Just as reviews give your website credibility, a referral from a friend is even more powerful.

If you are sending out a newsletter, encourage your subscriber to forward it to a friend.

If you have a Facebook or Twitter account, encourage visitors to your web page to Like your page. Whatever you can do to get others to spread the word about your website will benefit it.

Finally

You can do all the search engine optimization in the world, spend a fortune on advertising your website, but it is wasted if those visitors gag and leave.

As a final thought, be sure to keep your website up to date. The search engines love new content, and so do your visitors.

Your Turn

What is the most important thing every website needs. I would love to hear what you think. Share your opinion on Facebook.

A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing

What is Digital Marketing?

You hear a lot about digital marketing these days. But what does that mean?

 

 

Woman working on SiteSpinner Pro Website Design Software

Woman designing her website with SiteSpinner Pro. Photo courtesy of iStock.

 

Very simply, digital marketing means to market a product or service by digital means. OK, that is a bit obvious.

More specifically, it means marketing a product or a service on the Internet.

The medium has changed and matured quite a bit since I first became involved with Digital Marketing back in the 90’s. Today, digital marketing includes, but is not limited to:

Websites
Email Marketing
Blogging
Social Media
Paid Advertisements

Websites

Your primary Digital Marketing vehicle is your Website. This your home base. It is where you tell people about what you do or what you sell. The first websites I built were basically digital brochures. Though that is not a bad starting point, they can now be so much more.

Email Marketing

Email is still the best means to keep in touch with your customers or clients. If you have someone’s email address, then (hopefully) they have given you permission to keep in touch with them. And you should be taking advantage of that opportunity.

Blogging

A blog is where you gain trust. You do that through telling people who you are, talking about things that are of interest in your field, or to you. Just about anything that is either going to convey a message, to teach, or to tell a story.

Social Media

If you are going to engage with your audience, Social media is one of the most effective ways to do it. Social includes Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and more. For digital marketers, Social must be done right or it if can backfire. Using social channels purely for selling is a no no.

Paid Advertisements

Paid includes Google Adwords, Pay Per Click campaigns, Banner Ads, and more.

Social Media

So where do you begin when promoting your product, brand or service? A rule of thumb is that you are much better off doing a few things reasonably well, than doing a lot of things poorly.

Avinash Kaushik in his book W Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity uses the metaphor of a ladder when marketing online.

Start out with a website. And if you want it to be mobile friendly, SiteSpinner Pro is the way to go. It does not have to be spectacular. However, it should not look amateurish. Simple and clean with a clear message. And it must be SEO friendly – see the SiteSpinner WebTip on this.

Build an email list. Once you have a website up, add a means to collect email addresses (see the WebTips on this here). Sending out a regular email once a month is a good start. Schedule it so that your customers (and you) get use to the schedule. The first or third Monday of each month is a good starting point.

Start Blogging. If you have the time and the interest, start writing. This can be integrated into your website and your email schedule. Remember, the majority of people who start blogging end up stopping. So if you don’t think you have an interest or the time, then skip this. It is better to have no blog at all, than one that you can watch the tumbleweeds blow through.

Get Social. If you have all the steps above in place, dip your toes into social media. The same rule applies though, if you don’t think you can do it well, then go small.

Create a Facebook Page for your company or service. You can then add Like buttons to your website. Get your email service provider to post your emails directly to your Facebook page, or to Twitter. Create YouTube videos of your product or service. If you have the time, resources and interest, you can be creative and have fun.

Pay for it. If you have nailed all of the above (and if you have, then you are doing well) then, and only then, start thinking of paid advertising. You have all these means by which you can grow an audience organically. Don’t waste money on Paid until you have the foundation above in place.

The Internet has taken away a certain amount of innocence. These days we can all spot a fake, and our radar is up for a scam or sale’s pitch as soon as we log on. But the flip side is that online marketers have to be more honest. If you want to get something from someone, then you have to be prepared to give first. And that only makes sense.

Your turn

I would love to hear what you think. Share your opinion on Facebook.

5 Ways To Make Money From Your Website

 

How to monetize your website

There are as many reasons to have a website as there are websites.

Perhaps you have a website to chronicle your child’s soccer team. Perhaps you have a website promote your restaurant. Perhaps you have a website to announce your church’s services.

Whatever the purpose of your website, just the fact that you have a website gives you the opportunity to generate revenue.

What you generate the revenue for is just a varied as why you have a website in the first place.

Perhaps you just want to make enough money to pay for the cost of the website, or perhaps you want to use the money to support a team, for donations, for your church kitty.

Or perhaps you want to use the website as a means to supplement your income. Or even as a means to generate your main income.

However you choose to spend the money you generate from your website, the bottom line is that there are a number of ways you can us it to earn income.

What are some of the ways you can earn income from your website?

1) Advertising

Advertising is probably the easiest way to generate income from your website. And the easiest way to add advertising by far is to use Google Adsense on your page.

Google Adsense

The nice thing about Google Adsense is that Google already knows what your website is about, and therefore they can automatically place ads on it that complement your website.

For example, if you have a website about movie reviews, Google will figure out that people who visit your site are probably into movies and may display ads for local cinemas, or trailers for movies.

If you already have a Google account, such as a gmail account or a Google+ account, then you are half way to having a Google Adsense account. Select the Business tools from your Google account and you will see a link to sign up for Adsense.

To include Adsense on your web page you just add the code to the page where you want the ads to appear. You can find out how to add code to your page in WebDwarf, SiteSpinner and SiteSpinner Pro here.

There are a number of different services including Yahoo/Bing, SiteScout to name a few. Each use a different method. Some place adds in locations you choose on your site. Some put banner adds up, and some create links from words or phrases in your text.

Some websites make a lot of money off advertising. However, you have to have a lot of traffic, and it has to be targeted traffic. That is. if you have a website about an zombie movies, and your website generates a hundred thousands visitors a month (and that is a lot), then there is a pretty good chance that an ads for zombie paraphernalia will generate considerable income for you.

For websites with a smaller amount of traffics, don’t expect to earn a fortune with ads.

2) Affiliate & Referral Marketing

With Affiliate Marketing you make a commission on a sale of a product or service that is referred from our website.

Unlike Ads where you are trying to get people to simply click a link or an image, with Affiliate marketing you are trying to make a sale of another company’s product or service.

If you manage to sell the other company’s product, then the company give you a commission on the sale.

Affiliate Marketing works best when the product you are promoting is a good fit with the topic of your website.

For example, we develop and sell website design software. We do not offer web hosting as that is not our expertise and so it makes sense for us to partner with a web hosting company as anyone who uses our products will need to host their website somewhere.

Keep in mind that if you are going to promote a product by another company you need to do your due diligence and ensure that the company is reputable because if people are not happy with them, then they will also not be happy with you.

We chose Bluehost as our partner beciuase they have such a great track record and we feel good promoting them. On top of that, they offer a discount to our customers. This works out as a win win for Bluehost, us, and our customers.

Blue Host Website Hosting

Think of a product or  service that would be a good fit for your company then check out their website, or approach them directly to find out if they have and affiliate program.

There are also a number of Affiliate networks you can sign up with and then pick and choose which products or services you want to promote to your website visitors. Some of the more popular are Amazon and eBay.

3) Selling A Product

This might seem a bit obvious, but if you have a product, your website is the place you should be selling it.

SiteSpinner Pro Website Design Software

Our SiteSpinner Pro Website Design Software

That does not mean that if you are an oil company, that you should be selling oil on your website.

However, if you have a church, you could be selling raffle tickets, a Girl Guides cookies through your website. Your website is a great vehicle to sell any product that is associated with your

When I was Executive Producer for Scholastic, the largest children’s book publisher in the world, the Web was a not fully understood by the higher management. If you did not get a scholastic book through school you could get it through your local book store, and then through Amazon, but Scholastic would not sell books through their website.

Don’t make the mistake of letting someone else make money off one of your products.

4) Selling Your Services / Training / Membership

Do you have valuable content that cannot be gotten somewhere else? Then creating a membership section of your website might be a good fit.

You can create a section of your website that members pay to have access to.

There are a number of different models for this. You could offer free useful content, but then offer more in-depth content behind your pay wall.

You could have a Forum that only paid visitors have access to

You could have an online course that has a set amount of time, or one that is open ended.

Of all the means of generating revenue from your website, having content that produces recurring revenue produces the greatest amount of income.

Having said that, you need to have a track record to make this successful. There are a multitude of Gurus on the web who tout subscriptions as a means of generating revenue from a relatively small amount of work. If you are a Doctor, then perhaps it is not that difficult to set up a subscription service for doctors. But the work to become a doctor is where the work is

If you are service company then your main goal may be to promote and sell your services via your website.

If you want to set up a subscription service to teach people how to climb Mount Everest, then you better have climbed Mount Everest yourself.

Are you good at something? Has anyone ever asked you for help with something or advice on something? If you answered yes to any of these, then you can be selling that service on your website.

5) Donations

One of the most direct ways of generating revenue from your website is to ask for donations.

Wikipedia Donation Page

Whatever it is you are offering, giving your thing away, whatever it is, is a valid and common form of generating revenue

Think of Wikipedia that generates all its revenue through donations.

You don’t have to be a large site. Radio Paradise, a website that streams commercial-free music supports itself purely by donation.

Radio Paradise Donation Page

The easiest way to accept donations from your website is to set up a PayPal account. If the person donating does not have a Paypal account, they can still use a credit card or debit card to make a donation.

Bringing it all together

Keep in mind that you do not have to use a single method to monetize your website. A novelist may sell products (her books), sells services (how to write books), accept donations (pre-orders for her next book), have Affiliate links in her site to purchase book related paraphernalia, and still include Google Adsense.

Adding every means possible may be a bit over the top for some websites, but mixing and matching ways to generate income is valid and accepted on for many sites. Just be sure to not over do it.

Question:

Which of the above ways to monetize your website make the most money?

Share your answer on , , or .

How To Create Better Web Pages For Your Visitors

 

Create Better Web Pages

Creating Better Web Pages Is Not Rocket Science. But you learn both using the same basic process.

According to Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers: The Story of Success, it takes roughly 10,000 hours of effort to be one of the top people in any given field.

You might not be thinking of putting quite that many hours into learning how to build your website.

Never the less, you can use the same learning process to create a decent web page that will serve your visitor’s needs, as a person who is striving to be the top in any given field.

There are plenty of free products out there that you can build a web page with (Virtual Mechanics’ WebDwarf Free Web Page Maker is one of them). And there are plenty of online services that will hand over a template free of charge that you can then edit to your heart’s content.

However, if you have little experience creating a web page, then what you produce may not look great or have the intended affect on your audience, regardless of the tool you used to build it with.

Though you may not create the most beautiful or usable website the first time you try, if you follow a basic process for learning, you can create a great website.

 

The three steps of learning anything well are:

  1. Instruction
  2. Emulation
  3. Practice

 

1 ) Instruction

 

I built my first website way back in 1996. I guess you could say it was my lucky break. I had finished university, but I had no idea what I was going to do for a living –  not really that unusual when you graduate with a degree in Fine Arts.

A friend and I – Eddie –  would hang out at the local coffee shop in the morning and talk about what we might do with our highly-unsaleable degrees.

On one particular morning the discussion got around to the latest buzz at the time. You might have heard of it, it was called the World Wide Web – at least that was what the Web was called back in the mid 90s.

I was flat broke, so much so that I was two months behind on my rent and I was getting eviction notices taped to the front door of my apartment.

I told Eddie that perhaps there might be something to this World Wide Web thing. So I decided to invest $35 in a book on making websites coding HTML – that was a big investment for me, both financially and psychologically, and I really agonized over it.

Within a couple of years of that purchase I was Executive Web Producer for Scholastic (Canada), the largest children’s book publisher in the world (you might have heard of this little series they published).

Scholastic

I guess you could say that $35 book on how to make a web page was a good investment for me.

Studying served me well. Look for a good book on web design – there are a lot more available now. It worked for me. Remember, the old saying goes that you should learn all the rules before you break them.

 

2)  Emulation

 

When I created my first website in 1996 I realized I had a bit of an eye for layout that I did not know I had.

I had done a double major in music and literature, but I had not done anything related to design.

That is not to say that I created great websites right off the bat, but I was able to tell what a bad looking website looked like.

I believe that we are all capable of doing just about anything. But having said that,  I don’t think I could whip off a symphony before dinner tonight and have it performed at the local concert hall if I have never created one (and I haven’t).

I think it is part of the human condition that it is much easier for us to identify good or bad quality in the works of others than it is for us to be able to judge our own work.

See what others are doing who are focusing on the same audience as you.

It has been shown that once we learn to navigate a certain type of website, we assume that other sites that are about the same thing will have the same look and feel.

CNN, FoxNews, Huffington Post. They all have the same look and feel. Whereas Jetblue, British Airways, and Air Canada have a different look and feel.

Check out what your competition is doing.

If you are selling off-shore drilling services, it is probably not a good idea to emulate one of the above news sites.

Howevre, if every offshore drilling company is using a certain design, then you could do worse than to emulate that (and note that I am explicitly saying ’emulate’ and not copy).

But emulating is key to not only having your visitor’s trust, it is also key to getting you on the road to learning about building websites.

 

3) Practice

 

When Virtual Mechanics first started distributing website design software in 1998, people would send us links to the websites they had created for us to post in our Gallery.

Not all of them looked great. And I had to really agonize over whether it would help us sell our software if we posted links to websites that were built with our tools that did not look good.

However, it was clear that the people who worked on their websites became better at designing sites over time

The more you practice, the better you become. Like all things, the more time you put in, the more reward you get out.

A Few Tips:

Include the fundamentals that every website should have.

Grow your pages, and your website. As you pick up knowledge and practice, you can add more to your site. But at first, keep it simple.

 

Conclusion

 

By following the same steps that all professionals use to become tops in their fields, you can create better web pages.

That means:

a) Putting a bit of time into studying some basic design and navigation principals.

b) Seeing what others are doing, and emulating them.

c) Practice, Practice, Practice makes Perfect.

 

Tell me what you think, what are the worst web page design blunders you have seen? Please share your experiences with us on Facebook.

3 Easy Search Engine Optimization Tips

Don’t get ignored by the search engines!

Think about the last time you searched Google for something. You got what – hundreds, thousands, perhaps even millions of results!

seoscreencap1

In an instant Google will serve you up more results than McDonald’s has served hamburgers – and that’s no bull! (sorry).

And that is great if you are looking for something – lots of selection, right? But what if you have a web page and you want people to find you.

So you build a page, put it up on a web server, and wait… After a few months maybe Google will list it on page 1,000,000,001.

The old adage ‘build it and they will come’ does not apply in search engine land.

The reality is that search engines want people to find your page. Here’s how you can help them, and help potential visitors to find your site.

The three top items to help your web pages make nice with the search engines are:

  1. Page File Name
  2. Page Title
  3. Page Description

Page File Name

Your Page Filename is the actual name of the HTML file, and is the first thing that a search engine seas when it comes to your web page. Most directory-level files are named ‘index’. Your web host assumes that any file named ‘index’ is the top-level page of that directory – or the home page of the directory. So, when you type in our site – www.virtualmechanics.com, the page the web server displays is actually www.virtualmechanics.com/index.html

Page File Names for SEO

Though your home page file should be named index, what you name your other pages has a big influence on the search engines.

Lets imagine we have a fictitious company called Teas of the World. Imagine the person we want to attract to your site – lets call her Sally. Sally is getting tired of boring old orange pekoe tea and wants something more interesting. So Sally goes online and does a search.

Think about what Sally might search for. Perhaps she searches for ‘distinctive teas’. Well, if you have named your web page file ‘distinctive-teas.html’ now Google has a clue that perhaps this is a page that Sally might be interested in.

A few tips when naming your web page:

  1. give your page a name that resembles what you think someone may search for
  2. use a hyphen between words. Don’t use an empty spaces
  3. avoid capitals, numbers, and odd characters (such as &, ª, £ etc) in the file name

Page Title

Page Titles are similar to the file name in that they give search engines a clue as to what your web page is about. More so however, it also gives your potential visitor an idea what your page is about. That is because the search engine uses the Title as the main heading when it displays the search results.

If your Title is vague, or not relevant to what someone is looking for, then they will skip your page and move on to the next result.

 

SEO Results for SiteSpinner Website Design Software

Tip: A good branding practice is to include your company name in the page title, along with what the page is about. So to bring back Sally who is looking for an interesting tea, you could name your page: ‘Teas of the World | Delicious Dandelion’. Another page might be titled ‘Teas of the World | Amazing Amazon Aroma’

Page Description

This is where you get to describe what the page is about. And like the Title, it is important not just for the search engine, but for the person looking at the search engine results. Keep your description to 160 characters or less so that the search engines do not cut it short.

SiteSpinner Pro Mobile Website Design Software

For our factitious Teas of the World‘s Dandelion Tea page, they might say:‘Delicious Dandelion Tea is a unique blend produced only by Teas of the World. Order some today!’

Tip: Make your description unique (i.e. produced only by Teas of the World). Include a Call to Action (Order Today!).

More…

To find out how to edit the page file name, Title, and Description in WebDwarfSiteSpinner and SiteSpinner Pro, see the Page Properties in the SiteSpinner Tutorials.

Please share your experiences with us on our Facebook Page.

Top Five Things Every Website Needs

Don’t leave these missing from your web pages.

Top 5 Things Ever Website Neets

Top 5 Things Ever Website Neets

How many websites do you visit without ever going back, or without ever interacting in any way?

It may be that you just ended up in the wrong place – you might have been looking for the local Fiat car dealer, but ended up on someone’s blog about foot care…

Or it could be that the site owner missed an opportunity to engage with you.

Perhaps it is not realistic for every website to get you to engage, but it should be your goal to get the maximum number of visitors to your site to do so.

So, what does your web pages need so that people are interested?

Clear Content

What is your site about? Say you are selling hand-knit scarves? Great! But if you are, make sure that visitors to your site know that as soon as they first visit.

Pictures of your scarves are good, but if I don’t know that you are selling them, I might think you are simply collecting pictures of scarves for some weird reason.

State clearly what your website is about.

Don’t leave me guessing, because I might leave without ever knowing.

If the purpose of your site is clear, who knows, I might not have been looking for a scarf, but now that I have stumbled upon our website, I might suddenly think that a scarf might be good idea as a birthday present for my mother.

Get Feedback. 

When you create a webpage, make sure you get at least two or three people to look at it, read it, and give you feedback –  preferably people who have no idea what your website is about.

I have created countless webpages that I thought were clear, but when I asked a friend or family member to read it, they pointed out all kinds of problems I did not see.

This can be somewhat discouraging – I know it can be for me – but if you let the discouragement pass, and come back to it, armed with the feedback you have gotten you will improve and produce a better website.

Contact Information

So now that I know you knit scarves, and you sell them via your website – how do I contact you? Maybe I have some questions (my mother might be allergic to cotton, and only prefer lama wool scarves – do you sell them?).

I might want to contact you because I don’t know you and therefore don’t trust you yet.

Have an easy way to contact you on every page of your website.

Have a link at some prominent place on every page that says ‘Contact’ that leads to a page with an email form, an address,  or even a phone number.

Tip: Remember, don’t put your email address directly on your website as plain text. Spam robots troll the web looking for them. As a test I put an email address on a webpage and within two hours I started to receive spam to that email address.

Customer Reviews

Your happy customers are your best sales referrals. People want to know that other people have, and like your product or service.

Remember, if there are two restaurants across from each other and one is empty and one is full, which one are you going to be most interested in? I would go for the one with the people in it.

It is the same with customer reviews on your website. Posting reviews from customers adds credibility to your website.

Of course, these have to be real reviews and can’t simply be made up. But I don’t have to tell you that…

How do you get reviews? 

If you don’t have any reviews the best way to get them is to ask for them. You know who your biggest fans are. Ask them. Generally, happy customers are more than willing to say something nice if you ask them politely.

Perhaps I saw a review that said “I gave this scarf to my mother for her birthday and she loved it. I sure am glad I bought it…”. Now I am almost sold.

Newsletter Sign Up

If you have a website, you should be collecting email address.

Anyone who is willing to give you their email address is saying ‘I am interested in your product or service’, or whatever your website is about.

Lets say I am interested in a scarf for my mother, but her birthday is still six months away. Once I leave your website there is a good chance I will forget about it.

However, if you send an email with your new, fall collection of lama wool scarves, it will remind me that my mother’s birthday is coming up.

Go Social

Just as reviews give your website credibility, a referral from a friend is even more powerful.

If you are sending out a newsletter, encourage your subscriber to forward it to a friend.

If you have a Facebook or Twitter account, encourage visitors to your web page to Like your page. Whatever you can do to get others to spread the word about your website will benefit it.

Finally

You can do all the search engine optimization in the world, spend a fortune on advertising your website, but it is wasted if those visitors gag and leave.

As a final thought, be sure to keep your website up to date. The search engines love new content, and so do your visitors.

Your Turn

What is the most important thing every website needs. I would love to hear what you think. Share your opinion on Facebook.

A Beginner’s Guide to Digital Marketing

What is Digital Marketing?

You hear a lot about digital marketing these days. But what does that mean?

 

 

Woman working on SiteSpinner Pro Website Design Software

Woman designing her website with SiteSpinner Pro. Photo courtesy of iStock.

 

Very simply, digital marketing means to market a product or service by digital means. OK, that is a bit obvious.

More specifically, it means marketing a product or a service on the Internet.

The medium has changed and matured quite a bit since I first became involved with Digital Marketing back in the 90’s. Today, digital marketing includes, but is not limited to:

Websites
Email Marketing
Blogging
Social Media
Paid Advertisements

Websites

Your primary Digital Marketing vehicle is your Website. This your home base. It is where you tell people about what you do or what you sell. The first websites I built were basically digital brochures. Though that is not a bad starting point, they can now be so much more.

Email Marketing

Email is still the best means to keep in touch with your customers or clients. If you have someone’s email address, then (hopefully) they have given you permission to keep in touch with them. And you should be taking advantage of that opportunity.

Blogging

A blog is where you gain trust. You do that through telling people who you are, talking about things that are of interest in your field, or to you. Just about anything that is either going to convey a message, to teach, or to tell a story.

Social Media

If you are going to engage with your audience, Social media is one of the most effective ways to do it. Social includes Facebook, Google+, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, and more. For digital marketers, Social must be done right or it if can backfire. Using social channels purely for selling is a no no.

Paid Advertisements

Paid includes Google Adwords, Pay Per Click campaigns, Banner Ads, and more.

Social Media

So where do you begin when promoting your product, brand or service? A rule of thumb is that you are much better off doing a few things reasonably well, than doing a lot of things poorly.

Avinash Kaushik in his book W Analytics 2.0: The Art of Online Accountability and Science of Customer Centricity uses the metaphor of a ladder when marketing online.

Start out with a website. And if you want it to be mobile friendly, SiteSpinner Pro is the way to go. It does not have to be spectacular. However, it should not look amateurish. Simple and clean with a clear message. And it must be SEO friendly – see the SiteSpinner WebTip on this.

Build an email list. Once you have a website up, add a means to collect email addresses (see the WebTips on this here). Sending out a regular email once a month is a good start. Schedule it so that your customers (and you) get use to the schedule. The first or third Monday of each month is a good starting point.

Start Blogging. If you have the time and the interest, start writing. This can be integrated into your website and your email schedule. Remember, the majority of people who start blogging end up stopping. So if you don’t think you have an interest or the time, then skip this. It is better to have no blog at all, than one that you can watch the tumbleweeds blow through.

Get Social. If you have all the steps above in place, dip your toes into social media. The same rule applies though, if you don’t think you can do it well, then go small.

Create a Facebook Page for your company or service. You can then add Like buttons to your website. Get your email service provider to post your emails directly to your Facebook page, or to Twitter. Create YouTube videos of your product or service. If you have the time, resources and interest, you can be creative and have fun.

Pay for it. If you have nailed all of the above (and if you have, then you are doing well) then, and only then, start thinking of paid advertising. You have all these means by which you can grow an audience organically. Don’t waste money on Paid until you have the foundation above in place.

The Internet has taken away a certain amount of innocence. These days we can all spot a fake, and our radar is up for a scam or sale’s pitch as soon as we log on. But the flip side is that online marketers have to be more honest. If you want to get something from someone, then you have to be prepared to give first. And that only makes sense.

Your turn

I would love to hear what you think. Share your opinion on Facebook.