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Making money from your web site

There are many ways you can make money from your website (with varying degrees of success). I'm going to explain the programmes that I have used which have generated a small amount of cash over the years. In my case I manage to cover my web hosting fees and have a bit to spare. Making a small amount of money is relatively easy. Making a large amount isn't. Definitely don't give up your day job! All these programmes are easy to sign up for and use. You don't have to make any commitment to use them. If you find they work for you, then you should use them. If you find they don't work then you can stop. I'm going to be looking at the Amazon Associate, 1&1 referrals, and Google's AdSense.

If you are going to make any money using the following programmes the most important thing you need is a popular website. This means having a website with reguarly updated, original, quality content on it. It will work best if you genuinely enjoy creating your web site - if you only try to create sites with the aim of making money then you are unlikely to have much luck. As well as having a quality website you need to make sure people can find it! Look at my search engine page for more details on how to get your site listed.

Google AdSense

Google AdSense is one of the largest targetted advertising programmes out there. You can include Google's text links on your site, then if someone clicks on them you get a commission. The commission rates are somewhat of a mystery. Some clicks are more valuable than others.

The clever thing with Google's programme is that you get links which are relevant to your page. Google's AdSense server reguarly (and automatically) checks any page that includes the adverts. It scans the keywords to work out which adverts would best suit your page. They have some very sophisticated customisation and reporting tools. You can heavily adjust the size and look of the ads. You can even set up filters so that ads from your competitors don't appear.

Examples of use

I use AdSense on a number of my sites. It provides a (very) small but steady income. The amount of money depends on how popular your site is, the type of site and also on how you position your adverts. It is worth experimenting with different advert positions and styles as small changes can make a big difference. The type of website makes a big difference as well. Certain types of site have much higher click rates than others.

AdSense Tips

  • Make sure you are familiar with the AdSense Program Policies. This should keep you out of trouble.
  • Experiment with different types and sizes of advert. Text adverts tend to work best. The 'large square box' often works well for people.
  • Experiment with link units. Many people find them to be very effective.
  • When experimenting keep a record of how effective each change is. Make sure you are able to go back to previous versions of your site if a previous type of advert worked better.
  • Make the look of your adverts fit in with your site - a technique known as 'blending'. Note however that they must be recognisable as adverts. Any attempt to trick people into clicking the adverts by making them look identical to other parts of your site will get you in trouble.
  • Write good content. This will get you quality visitors, and good adverts which people are likely to click on.
  • Use channels so you can track how your different websites or different parts of your website are performing.

Success rating: 7/10 - I've had moderate success with AdSense.

Signup link:

1&1 Hosting Referrals

1&1 is the web hosting company I use. If you get your web hosting from them you can take part in their referral programme. You get a selection of links and images which you can use on your web page. If someone buys a hosting package from them then you get a comission. The good thing with 1and1's programme is that the comission rates are very generous. You can earn �25 for selling a standard home package, and there are a whole host of other commissions available right up to �300 for an enterprise server.

On the minus side the reporting information that they provide is very basic. There is no way of finding out exactly where your referral comes from. The only way of taking part is if you host with them yourself. In my case this isn't a problem as I'm very happy with their service. On the plus side the links are easy to add and payment is very straight forward - they can pay direct into your bank account.

Examples of use

You can see examples of me using this programme on my how to buy web space page. Below is an example of their banners which you can include on your site.

Success rating: 8/10 - Out of the various affiliate schemes I've tried 1&1 referrals has made the most money. I sell less items than with Amazon's programme but the high rate of commission more than makes up for it.

Signup link: 1&1 Web Hosting

Amazon Associates

Amazon Associates is one of the best known and successful referal programmes. After joining the program you are able to put links to Amazon's products on your web site. These can range from simple text links, to image links, to having a full store embedded in your web site using Amazon's aStore.

Each link has a tracking identifier in it so Amazon can tell where the sale has come from. When someone buys an item through one of these links you get a commission. There is a sliding scale of commissions which starts at 5% and then rises depending on how many items you sell per month. Payment can be a direct bank transfer or cheque (althouth as in most programmes if you want cheque payments there is a higher minimum payment value). Interestingly your viewer doesn't actually have to buy the items you advertise for you to get money. If they click on one of your links, but then buy a different item on Amazon, you still get the money.

The key is to link to relevant books that your readers are likely to buy. Some people just build spam sites full of Amazon book links with no content whatsoever. These are never going to work. If there is nothing interesting for your reader to look at on your site then why would they buy a book through it?

Amazon Associates provides very good information on what items you have sold and when. You can even use multiple tracking IDs so that you can tell which website or page the items were purchased from.

Examples of use

Here are examples of how I use Amazon's referral programme. There are other ways of embedding Amazon links into your page (banners, search boxes and more), but I'm just going to describe the ones I use.

1. Product links

This is one of the more popular ways of linking to Amazon products. You create the link (using Amazon's easy tool) and paste the code into your page. The image is automatically retrieved from Amazon's server, and the price is automatically updated so you don't need to worry about maintaining the link.

2. Plain text link

Below is an example of a plain text link which you could embed anywhere in the text of your site which takes you to an Amazon search page, you could do exactly the same to take you do a single product:

Making money on the internet - Amazon book section

3. Amazon aStore

An aStore is a way of embedding a whole Amazon store complete with shopping basket into your website. No programming knowledge is needed. You simply choose the books, categories and colours that go into your aStore. You then embed the HTML into your page. The easiest way to see how it works is to look at my aStores.
  1. Advanced HTML aStore

Success rating: 7/10 - I manage to sell several Amazon products per week with not much effort by including links to relevant books on my sites.

Signup link:

Good luck with making money from your site. If you want to share you success (of lack of) stories send me an email.

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