Making the Most of Your Web Traffic
Once your site has a steady stream of visitors, how can you use that to your advantage?
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Q: I recently put up a parody Web site. To promote it, I sent out a single e-mail to a "sites of the day" Web site. Well, I got more than 10,000 hits the first month and am being linked to from all over. The traffic is growing, and I can see that pretty soon I'm going to be receiving too many hits for my Web hosting account.
How can I capitalize on all these eyeballs? Where would I start to look for advertisers? Aren't there businesses that place ads for other companies on third-party sites to drive traffic? Any help would be appreciated.
A: Congratulations! You've created something many entrepreneurs only dream about: A Web site that draws a steady (and growing!) stream of targeted traffic. Now that you have the attention of so many people with such a clearly defined interest, you're in the right position to start marketing carefully chosen products and services to them.
One of the first challenges you'll likely face is the task of converting your site visitors to paying customers-whether you want them to buy from you or from advertisers. People are coming to your site expecting something free. To persuade your visitors to even consider making a purchase, you'll have to make sure that any advertising on your site is closely related to the content that brought them there in the first place.
Of course, before you begin selling "all those eyeballs" to advertisers, you might want to consider whether you have anything to put in front of them. Is there a related product you can develop?
However, if you prefer to cash in on your site traffic without the hassle of developing and promoting a product of your own, there are a number of lucrative possibilities. Let's take a look at two strategies: attracting paid advertising and promoting affiliate products.
Attract Paid Advertising
Your site is attracting a lot of visitors, all of whom are interested in a specific topic, so you should definitely be able to sell ad space on your site to advertisers of related products. However, you should keep in mind that the value of online advertising has dropped a lot since the early days of the Internet. Most online ad formats just don't generate the revenue they used to, so these days, advertisers offer modest payment for placement on all but the most visited sites.
If you don't want to seek out advertisers who are interested in your niche market, one easy alternative is to sign up for Google's AdSense program. Google evaluates the content of your site, then serves ads it thinks will interest your visitors. When someone clicks an ad on your site, the advertiser pays a fee to Google, and Google pays you a portion of that fee. It's an easy, almost hands-free way to generate some extra revenue from your site traffic.
Ad brokering companies such as Real Media and Burst Media offer similar services, but be sure to check out their terms and conditions, which can vary widely from company to company.
If you don't mind taking a more hands-on approach, you can research companies that market products related to your site content, then contact them with an offer to sell space. Remember, they will be cashing in on the value of the site you've created-so before you accept an offer, make sure you decide what ad space on your site is worth.
Promote Affiliate Products
Recommending affiliate products is a great way to get started making money online. An affiliate program is simply a no-risk partnership that allows you to promote another company's product or service on your Web site to earn a percentage of their sales.
When you sign up for an affiliate program, you are assigned a special "affiliate URL" that tracks all the visitors you send to a company's Web site and all the sales you generate. Each time someone you've referred makes a purchase, you earn a commission.
The affiliate "ads" you place on your site can take a variety of forms, from a standard banner ad to an article about the company with a link at the end. The following directory sites are good places to start researching affiliate products:
Remember that for ads (affiliate or otherwise) to be effective, they should be closely related to the content of your site. Well-targeted ads will perform better, making your advertisers happy and putting more money in your pocket.
Corey Rudl, president and founder of the Internet Marketing Center, is the author of the best-selling course Insider Secrets to Marketing Your Business on the Internet. An internationally sought-after Internet business consultant and speaker, Corey focuses his energy on the research and development of practical, cost-effective Internet marketing strategies and software for the small and homebased business owner.
The opinions expressed in this column are those of the author, not of Entrepreneur.com. All answers are intended to be general in nature, without regard to specific geographical areas or circumstances, and should only be relied upon after consulting an appropriate expert, such as an attorney or accountant.