If you're just getting started on the internet--or simply looking for ways to add new revenue streams to your business--you might be considering accepting ads for other companies' products on your website.
Who wouldn't like to make a few extra bucks without any effort? You just put up a few ads on your site and wait for the cash to roll in, right?
To make your site attractive to companies looking for ad space, you'll need to have a great niche market, tons of traffic and the promise of good ad placement on your site. However, if you don't have all these elements in place yet, there are still ways for you to make money from ads on your site. The easiest--and often the most successful--include:
1. Promote an affiliate product on your site.
Joining another company's affiliate program is one of the simplest ways to get started with internet advertising. While affiliate links aren't technically ads, they allow you to make money by promoting someone else's product. As an affiliate, you earn a commission each time someone you've referred makes a purchase. To encourage sales, you might post a banner on your site that links to the affiliate site or publish a newsletter article about their product.
Different affiliate programs offer different payout options. Some might offer 10 percent commission for each sale, while others pay up to 50 percent of each sale. You'll want to shop around for the best deal for you and the best fit for your site. To find good affiliate programs, check out the following directories:
Some internet advertising pros are actually making all their income from signing on with multiple affiliate programs. They don't even have a product of their own! This isn't a strategy for beginners, however, so take some time to check out different programs before committing to this option.
2. Use targeted advertising with Google AdSense.
Google's AdSense program allows you to make money advertising on your site by placing targeted text ads generated by Google on your pages. The ads appear in rectangular boxes running down the side or across the bottom of a web page with the words "Ads by Google" over the top. These ads are paid for by businesses that use Google's pay-per-click program, AdWords. These ads reflect the content on your site, so if your site sells a book on how to recognize authentic baseball cards, for example, the ads that appear on your site might be for baseball card retailers.
As a Google AdSense publisher, you earn money every time a visitor to your site clicks on one of the AdWords ads on your site. If you're getting a lot of targeted traffic--and if these visitors are interested in the products being advertised--that could mean a healthy new source of extra income for you.
Best of all, Google AdSense is free to join. It's easy, too. Google does all the work of finding relevant ads for your site--you just collect the payments.
A word of warning: Google ads don't work for all sites, so if you add them, be sure to test them. You don't want to lose credibility with your target market.
3. Approach companies directly to ask if you can advertise for them.
If your site is already getting lots of traffic, try looking for sites that offer complementary products and target the same niche market as you do. For instance, if you own a bridal shop, you could approach a local florist to see if they'd like to advertise their wedding bouquets on your site. An ad on your site would also be seen as an implicit recommendation of their product, and it could send a ton of brides to their site. And the more successful your ads are, the more you can charge for them.
Be sure to contact potential internet advertising partners in a professional manner. Call them on the phone instead of just e-mailing them so your communication is more personal and professional. Be ready to supply them with information about your business and your site traffic. The more information you can give them, the more likely they'll be to consider your offer. And above all, make sure they have a solid reputation. If you partner with a questionable company, their activities could reflect poorly on your business.
4. Sign up for a blog-specific ad program.
If you have a blog, consider signing up to feature blog-specific ads on your site. The key is to consider the kinds of ads your target audience will find valuable. Here are some great ways to attract advertisers to your blog:
- Sign up with a context-based ad program like Google's AdSense that will automatically generate ads for your site that you can put up within minutes of being accepted to their program. Crisp Ads offers a similar program, but only for blogs.
- Place Amazon Associates ads on your site, and feature ads for products you personally use or are happy to endorse. That way, your customers are responding to your recommendations.
- Get advertisers interested in your blog with a link they can use to contact you for rates and requirements. This link can be a simple message saying "Click here to find out how to advertise on this blog!" That way, anyone visiting your site is free to discuss advertising opportunities with you.
- Sign up with an advertiser-publisher connection program like BlogAds or AdBrite, and get listed in their publishers' directory. One important note: With these types of ads, the advertisers look through listings of thousands of blogs to choose the right people to promote their products. Unless you're getting thousands of visitors a day, they might not be all that interested in doing business with you.
Making money from your site isn't a matter of putting up a few ads and grabbing a paycheck--it takes a lot of research and testing on an already established site to make even the best internet advertising strategies truly pay off.
Even then, you may find that your audience resists the presence of ads. If you're putting people off by placing ads on your pages, you could end up losing more customers and revenue than you actually gain. To make sure this doesn't happen, test every aspect of each new ad campaign you run.
Once you do discover the internet advertising strategies that work best for your site, you can try promoting another product, and then another. Soon, all those added revenue streams will combine to swell your profits.
Derek Gehl is the CEO of the Internet Marketing Center, an internet marketing firm that has helped thousands of people learn to start and run their own online businesses.IMC hosts a new Search Marketing Lab Forum, where members have their strategy questions answered by search marketing specialists.