If you have ever wondered exactly how people make money online just by setting up a website, let me help you find out. The great thing about an income generating website is that you do not even need to sell anything directly yourself, which makes things so much easier; no stock, no shipping, no after sales issues, no online payments or any of that stuff. The other great thing is that your income continues to come in even if you are asleep or on holiday! However, that does not mean it does not take a lot of work - beware of anything you come across that suggests you can get rich quickly with no effort. The only people getting rich are the ones selling you this fraudulent idea.
OK - here is the basic principle behind how websites make money:
You create a website about any subject you want, you attract loads of free visitors to it from search engines, some of whom will click on adverts and links to other sites. You get paid either for every advert click or whenever someone buys something from one of the other sites you provide a link to. You have to understand that this is a drastic simplification, but it sums up the mechanism for how you get your income from a site that sells nothing at all directly.
Your website really can be about absolutely anything, though you should be aware that some subject areas can be more lucrative than others, depending how much competition there is for advertisers and what products or services are available to be sold in that particular niche. By the way, niche is a word you will come across a lot in the field of online business. In order to succeed, it is quite important to find a niche market that is not being targeted by millions of other websites. It is easier to get to the top in a small field of competitors than one full of businesses with lots of money and expertise to throw at the problem of getting visitors.
It is easier if the subject of your site is something you know a lot about or feel passionate about. The subject of your site is less important than the fact that you can find plenty to say about things relating to it. It is of course perfectly possible to research a subject you know little about and this is a great way to learn more about new subjects you are interested in. You need to set up a relatively simple, well structured website with lots of pages of information, advice or guides. This should be genuinely useful information that will be of interest to your target niche market.
There are no short cuts here. The only way you will get any income is if you get lots of visitors, and the only way you will get lots of visitors is to create a site that offers people interesting and useful information. Make no mistake, no matter what your website looks like, or what adverts and links you have on it, your income will only ever be in direct proportion to the number of people who actually visit your site. Ranking highly enough in search engine results to get visitors to your website is a big subject in itself (search engine optimization), but making sure your website is full of useful and unique content is the first step in this process.
This website currently gets about 1,200+ unique visitors every day from search engines. This traffic costs absolutely nothing and is achieved by targeting words and phrases that I know for sure people are searching for every day. Keyword research is the absolutely essential first step when you are trying to build a website that will attract visitors. Remember, unless you get lots of visitors you will make no money at all. You can create a wonderful looking site providing lots of great information, but unless your pages are targeted at what people are actually looking for, your lovely site will go unseen.
The only way to know what people are searching for is to use a keyword research tool. A good tool will tell you what words and phrases are actually being searched for on the search engines and it will tell you how many searches per month are being done on each one. It will also show you how many other websites are competing for those phrases. You can use this information to identify keywords with enough traffic to make them worthwhile targeting, but not so much competition that you will never achieve top rankings in search results.
You need to identify lots of words and phrases that you will optimise your pages for, which together will allow you to bring lots of free traffic to your site. There are only a few really good tools out there. I use one called Wordtracker, but a good alternative is Keyword Discovery. Without the vital information that these tools provide, anything you do on your site could be a complete waste of time. I tried to manage without them when I first started, but learned the hard way after getting to the top of Google for keywords that I then found out no-one was actually searching for. A keyword tool is one of the best investments I have made.
Your domain name is the unique URL of your website, such as keithgarrow.com, and it is best to use your keyword research to find one that will help you get traffic. There are hundreds of websites you can use to find out which domains are available and to register one, but you can usually get one free when you choose a web host for your site.
The easiest approach is to find a good web host that will include a free domain name and you can register it when you sign up for hosting. All web sites must be hosted somewhere. A Web host provides powerful computers where you can store the pages of your website. They are stored on robust servers and that is where all visitors to your site are directed when they click on links to your pages. There are thousands to choose from and there are plenty that offer perfectly good hosting for very little money. However, you do need to take care to avoid the many that offer unreliable hosting and poor support.
There are some sites and systems that offer free hosting, but these are just not worth bothering with if you are interested in making money. They are too limited in what they offer and do not give you the control you need in order to optimize and promote the site properly.
You can find a list of recommended hosts on my web host review site, but I can recommend Fat Cow as one of the best to begin with. Not least because of the next thing you need – a tool to help you build your site.
You can buy very expensive website design tools, such as Dreamweaver, but this is a big investment for anyone who is not doing web design professionally. This page is about how to make money from websites with very little initial outlay. By far the cheapest way to get started is to find a good web host that offers a free site building tool. For anyone with no knowledge of HTML, CSS, etc, this is the ideal way to begin.
One of the reasons for recommending Fat Cow on my web host page is that they offer a very good free site building tool as part of the deal. It is a very simple drag and drop tool and you can see a video of how it works below:
An alternative to buying all the separate ingredients of creating a website is to use a package that is specially designed to take you through the entire process of building a website that is an online business. One such system is SiteBuildIt, and in fact is the only one I am aware of at the moment. It will cost you considerably more than just using a host as suggested above, but you will not need to spend anything else and, if you appreciate a package that will take you through every step of the way, it is hard to beat.
SBI is uniquely all inclusive, as it covers web design, hosting, domain name, keyword research, search engine optimization, round the clock support and all sorts of other useful tools, so you have no additional costs at all. To compare the cost of using this package with the alternative of doing everything separately, have a quick look at this comparison.
In general, your basic approach should be to concentrate on building a site with good quality content and focus on SEO techniques to get it up the search result rankings. The reason for this is that the first thing you need to get is traffic to your site, so do not worry about adverts or any other money making techniques until you have first cracked the problem of getting lots of visitors.
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