How to Make Money on The Internet (Free Guide)
I've been making money from the comfort of my home computer since 1998 (full time since 2006) and now I'm going to help you do the same.
Please take time to read this page completely because it will prevent you from making so many of the common mistakes newbies make when trying to earn money online.
In fact, many people trip up in the very beginning because they don't take the time to plan and understand how websites generate traffic.
Choosing a Profitable Topic
I wish people would spend more time in this area. I believe that failing to understand the importance of researching and narrowing down a topic is a big cause for failure.
A profitable topic is one that has a great deal of demand (searches) and minimal supply (existing sites). And one way to determine how profitable a topic is to start with the search engines.
Sites like Google and Bing are great barometers for supply and demand because so many people use them to find information.
So before you jump in feet first with your "great idea" you need to stop and think about how people are going to find your site.
They don't just stumble upon websites because they are on the Internet. They find them through things like search, social media and word of mouth.
This is important to think about because if your idea involves building an online store or a membership site and you have absolutely no existing audience or brand awareness, you will need a plan to generate traffic... and lots of it!
Even if you are not planning to build a site like this, you still need to read the following info because it applies to any kind of website.
Yes, a lot has changed with regards to websites since I started, but the one thing that continues to rule is quality, targeted content. The more you build, the better off you'll be in the long run.
The reason I used the online store and membership sites as an example is that's where people make the biggest mistakes due to how people search the web.
You've got to establish a funnel of traffic to your site first and I'll talk more about that below.
Target The Search Engines
My suggestion is to always start by targeting the search engines for traffic because it's free, targeted and can convert very well.
So in order to optimize your website for the search engines, you have to understand what they look for.
First of all, the search engines love...
- Lots of theme-based, unique content
- Inbound links (backlinks) from related sites
- Clean layouts
- Pages that load quickly
I want you to focus on the first point of theme-based unique content.
If you are trying to build a website that will rely on user activity (membership, social/interactive sites) it's best to start by building a content site that is related to theme of your website in order to drive traffic to it.
If your site is dependent upon user activity, you need lots and lots of traffic because the majority of people who join will not remain active. It's important to have a large pool of traffic to funnel to that site.
Here's another mistake many people make...
They begin their journey by trying to build a membership, store or interactive site and put all this energy and money into customizing it and making it look pretty, but they have absolutely NO IDEA how to drive traffic to it.
I'll say this again...
People don't just stumble upon your website because you have a great idea. There are billions of sites out here authored by people with "great ideas", so it's going to take some work to get your site some visibility.
Now, if you go back to targeting the search engines, remember they love content-rich websites with tons of theme-based content.
So let's say you want to build a social networking site that targets teen parents. Rather than quickly launching your network, first build a content hub to draw traffic to it.
That's because it's much easier for a content site to get ranked in Google than an interactive website.
Remember, the engines LOVE content.
Start by building a website or a blog thats full of advice for teen parents. The more specific your niche is, the greater the chance you'll generate targeted traffic that will be interested in your content.
Compare a website that targets teens to a site that targets teen parents. First of all, it would be very difficult to rank well for "teens" in Google because it's such a very broad phrase.
Not to mention, if your site were to get found by such a broad word, you wouldn't know what your visitors wanted. That would make it very difficult to target products and services to them.
Go for long-tail keywords, which are phrases that are less competitive. Sure, not as many people search for these phrases, but they are easier to rank for because there's less competition.
So if I use the Google AdWords keyword tool and type in teenage pregnancy it shows me the number of searches that were done on that phrase and related phrases for the previous month.
Always be sure to check the Exact box under Targeting Type before you search so you can make sure you are seeing results exactly as you typed them. If you perform a Broad search (the default) the numbers will be inflated because they include variations and related terms.
As far as the numbers go, I like my primary keyword phrase (main idea) to have at least 10,000 global monthly searches. But I also look at many of the related keywords to make sure there are enough phrases with at least 4-digit monthly searches.
I don't get caught up in the numbers. Even if the phrase has less than 10,000 searches, if there are a variety of related phrases with decent demand I'll still consider the topic.
Don't let the numbers paralyze you. Also check out your competition by searching Google for various keywords and analyze your ability to compete. If the majority of the sites are similar or less than stellar, the topic may not be as competitive as you think.
Now, let's say I had chosen to search for the phrase teenagers instead.
The global monthly search volume is 74,000. That may sound great because there's a lot more traffic potential. However, the phrase teenagers is way too broad. You won't know anything about what the person is searching for.
Again, it would be harder to target your content and products to such a broad audience. It would also be harder to gain a top 10 ranking for that competitive phrase.
If you use Site Build It! for your website, their system comes with a keyword research/brainstorming tool to help you identify demand and choose the "best" keywords to target. You'll also get help with analyzing the numbers.
So once you've taken the time to identify a niche, congrats, you are light years ahead of most people who often rush and assume they have taken the best approach simply because they have a "great" idea.
I hope you understand now that having an idea for your website isn't enough. You need to research the demand and have a plan for how people are going to find your site.
Make Providing Value Your #1 Priority
No matter what kind of website you plan to create, the one thing you have to think about is providing value.
So if you are trying to sell a book you wrote on how to handle teenage pregnancy, you'll write a plethora of useful content that teenage parents will value.
For example, you could create a blog that offers emotional support and advice for teenage parents -- or more specifically teenage moms.
Providing valuable free advice is one of the best strategies for making money online because it builds up credibility and warms your visitors up to buy products that you're trying to sell.
People often begin their quest by putting up ads for the products they want to promote. The problem is they haven't taken the time to build up their credibility so getting that sale is so much harder.
Remember, your visitors don't know you from Adam, so you're going to have to earn their trust. And when you build a website that encourages, educates, informs and provides an extreme amount of value, people are much more open to supporting you and buying products you sell or recommend.
Whether you're trying to sell other people's products (affiliate marketing) or your own, you have to establish that trust factor first.
So before you become obsessed with making money, first plan out a way to let your content do the PREselling for you.
- Build trust by giving away unparalleled information that your readers won't find anywhere else.
- Identify your visitor's main problems and provide solutions
- Be transparent and show your #1 priority is to help, not make money
Building Your Website
The method you use to build your site really doesn't matter in terms of success. Any kind of website can become successful. What matters is what's best for how you plan to deliver your content.
Most people today choose to use WordPress to create their websites, and that is fine if you want a website that pumps out newsworthy articles on a specific topic.
Think PerezHilton or TechCrunch where all the latest posts are highlighted and sorted by date and category.
You may also want to consider Site Build It! (SBI!) - especially if you want to make money with a simple, content/informational website. This is not a blogging platform, so your content will be arranged in a more static, controlled layout like this website.
You can actually use WordPress to create a more traditional layout like this, but it takes some tweaks here and there. I talk about this in my WordPress guide.
WordPress is faster and has extreme flexibility, but you are on your own if you want to learn how to make money. SBI! provides a video action guide, web building tools and help with marketing your site.
Making Money With Google AdSense
Google AdSense is one of the most convenient ways to monetize a website -- especially if you plan on building a site with a lot of content.
This free program allows you to add Google ads to your pages and when an ad is clicked, you earn money.
While the concept is easy, making money with AdSense is not if you don't have a lot of targeted traffic. That's another reason it's important to take time narrowing down your niche prior to starting your site.
If making money with AdSense is a priority, you'll also want to take time to make sure there are enough related ads for your niche.
Google makes this very easy to do...
1) Perform a Google search for the topic or keywords you plan to target and look to see how many sponsor ads show up above the results and on the right side of Google.com.
2) Use the Google AdWords Keyword tool (you must have an AdWords account first). When you perform a keyword search, the tool will show you the average cost per click.
This shows you how much advertisers are paying Google per click. As an AdSense publisher you will get roughtly 68% of that amount.
So this will give you an idea for what kind of earnings are available for keywords in your niche.
Now, of course your earnings are going to depend on your traffic and how many people click your ads (1-3% is typically the average).
Building a Forum, Membership or Social Networking Site
After reading this page, you should now understand how crucial it is for you to have a plan and build up traffic before tackling this part.
You should not proceed to this step until you already have a trafficked site that will funnel traffic into your forum, social networking site, etc.
For example, when I launched Website Babble in 2007, 2createawebsite.com already had a few thousand visitors per day. I used that traffic to promote my forum and build up activity.
I would have NEVER been able to build up that forum had I not had the traffic from this website.
Remember, interactive sites need lots of visitors to get them going, so you need an existing traffic base first. Don't make the mistake of trying to create this first.
So once you're ready to build this part of your site, the good news is it's very simple to setup today thanks to free scripts that many web hosts provide.
For example, if you want to build a forum, once you sign up with hosting at WebsitePalace.com, you can install scripts like a forum, shopping cart, WordPress and many other scripts with the click of a link.
Back in the old days, this was a major task but hosting companies have made setting up this functionality a lot easier.
Creating an eBook or Other Digital Goods
An electronic book (eBook) is a great way to monetize your website. If you have a program like Microsoft Word or Pages (Mac), you simply write your book in the software and use a converter to convert the file into a PDF.
Then you can easily sell your book by using vendors like Clickbank or eJunkie.
Selling Products Online
If you have tangible goods you'd like to sell then you can integrate a shopping cart into your website through a service like Web Marketing Magic.
The cool thing about this option is you can sync it up very easily with PayPal and begin collecting orders for whatever you want to sell.
So whether or not you use WordPress, Site Build It! or whatever site building platform, WMM works in conjunction with all of them because you're simply copying and pasting code into your pages. There are also videos to help guide you along.
Selling Ads From Your Website
Once your site begins to get traffic, you may want to think about selling 3rd party ads on your pages.
If you don't want to deal with scripts and manually installing your ad system, you can outsource something like BuySellAds. All you have to do is paste some code into your pages and they will manage the ad inventory for you.
Of course, the downside to using a 3rd party is you have to share more of your revenue with them. It's really best to host your own ad management system.
For this site, I use AdPeeps, but I had to install the script manually since this is a static website I created in Dreamweaver. WordPress makes installing scripts much easier because of the many plugins available.
Building Traffic to Your Website
What About Setting Up a Corporation? Do You Need One for Your Website?
Check out this article that discusses what you need to know about registering your business and setting up a corporation.
Need More Guidance?
If you enjoyed this article, you should check out my book Niche Website Success. I go into far more detail about how I make money online and how you can achieve success with a content/niche website like me.
Ready to Start Your Website?
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