How to start up a money-making website 101

David Wang share in FounderMethod Webinar on How to Optimize Website for Business … Here are some of his valuable points that I summarize

Introduction

Starting up a new business is just like entering a cave. You have to adapt to your surroundings and begin to make out the shapes and forms around you in the shortest time. Otherwise, you are in danger.

Having a good start indicates the high possibility of success, as we all know. But is it that easy to have a good strike in the beginning of the game? Plus, you are inventing in somewhere very tricky, internet.

Heard of many successful cases in doing online business, and now it is the time to have yours? Sure, there you go. Do not be afraid of how should you do, it is quick and easy than what you have thought about.

To clear your doubt, I would like to share some tips on how to start up and optimize your website to avoid making expensive mistakes.

Choosing the Right Strategy

Choosing a right strategy for your website is like arms your business with the right weapons. A right strategy is the foundation of your web business. If you have a wrong strategy, your business is not going to become a profitable one even though having lots of funding in hand.

There are some common problems will come to light in the beginning of running your business. First of all, your website takes very slow to launch, for example, a year or two. There is a case that an entrepreneur starts his project on April and successfully built his website on March of next year. Secondly, building a website is costly but does not guarantee its effectiveness. Thirdly, you do not know how to operate the website and making changes to it in the way you want. And perhaps everyone will agree that technical problems are indeed a headache, the most annoying thing is it will only happen at the important days. For instance, when your website finally draw publics’ attention and many people are clicking through your website but out of the blue your website crashes at this moment.  Lastly, your website brings you no sales, no traffic and no money.

To be honest, everyone knows online is free, so that by itself, website does not make you money and it will only cost you in developing and management. You should think about what is actually making money for your website. It is none other than your business model. Business model refers to how a business makes money. The first step to make a successful website is to understand how your website fits into the business model. If you do not have an idea on it, guess what, your website will not be able to earn you even a penny.

The biggest mistake that many people will make is you build a website but do not think about how the website is going to make money. It is never ever going like you put some advertisements on your website and you can make money from that. Even if you are a blogger for your personal blog, you need to have a business model if your ultimate goal is to make revenue.

General Types of Business Model

There are three types of business model that had been commonly used in the market. For each and every business model, you should come out the right strategy to support it. A website with clear business model and supportive strategy is no doubt a successful online business.

1. Product or Service-based

It is making money by selling your own products or services directly to your targeted audiences or selling somebody else’s products or services. Leading generation is a good strategy for supporting products or services-selling business. It grows up the website to generate enquiries and attract people to buy what the website offers.

In this case, a few key success factors should be keep in mind.

  • A clear call to action on the website tells people where to contact, how to contact and why should they contact.
  • To make sure attracting targeted audience who are actually going to buy your products or services, it is no point of having large traffic but none of them are the right ones.
  • Establishing trust and creditability is to convince your audiences no need to worry about giving you their money. Your brand history will effectively help your audiences know about your business and build up their confidence on your website.
  • Having detailed description of your products or services. When you are running a product-selling online business, bear in mind that people cannot see and touch the products physically, the only information they can count on is the description of your products.

An example of the website under this business model is Foundermethod, an information-selling website which is using product delivery as the strategy. It provides educational webinars for the audiences to watch when they signed up for it. The key success factors of Foundermethod included having quality presenters and topics that are able to attract the targeted audiences as well as the easy-to-use method of signing up and make payment.

2. Audience-based

It is making money by selling audiences’ attention to advertisers or direct selling products to the audiences by taking advantage of the website’s influence on their large following. To cite an example, CC Food Travel, a personal blog that introduces the foods and restaurants around Malaysia is an audience-base business. Its strategy is to monetize audiences’ attention and doing advertising.

For running this business model, you have to make sure your website have the success factors below.

  • Your website’s following and page view is high. The more page view you have, the higher the opportunity of your advertising to be seen by the audiences. Here comes a trick, is that you may find some websites have slideshows and you need to click through the next page in order to view the complete version; it is actually increasing the page view.
  • You have to keep your content fresh and up-to-date, such as three new posts in a week.
  • Making your website an effective advertising platform. It means that you need to find a balance between your traffic and your amount of advertisement. You can have many advertisements on your website if your traffic is large and also locate the advertisements at the right spot is needed.
  • You must keep your audiences coming back and ensure that their attention always on your website. By doing so, you can encourage them to subscribe your blog or newsletter to receive your updates regularly.

3. Commissions or fees-based

It makes money by making affiliate referrals for other companies. The Wirecutter, a website that reviews the products and provides the affiliate links for audiences who are interested to buy is an example of commissions-based business. When the audiences click the affiliate links on the website and direct to Amazon.com, the company get paid.

There are few things vital for the success of this business model.

  • Finding right targeted audiences who buy. You can do a survey or set up a poll on your website to seek for the opinion of the audiences on what are the products they do interested buying. The Wirecutter had done this before, doing a survey on the several brands of earphone, and list out the best among the category.
  • Investing in branding is a must. It does help your website to establish trust and creditability but of course your reviews cannot be too biased.

Normally business models can be overlapped. In short, what you should do is to figure out what are your business model and the right website strategy to support. Always remember that different types of business models require different success factors, you have to find out and fully understand the appropriate success factors to fit into your business. After that focus on it and eliminate other irrelevant stuffs. You can definitely avoid wasting time and money by doing so.

Optimize and Develop Your Website

After knowing the key success factors of your website and complete the basic process of launching, it comes to developing. Webpage design will be the first thing comes to your mind. Your webpage design should have a purpose; it can be building trust and creditability or highlighting your brand image. Fancy webpage design does not equal to effective information-telling webpage. If the design is fancy but it does not lead the audiences to know what the website is selling for, it is a failure particularly in terms of money-making. The design of webpage should not affect the function of describing your business and products if you want to make revenue. You cannot have something looking good in your eyes on the website and expect others like it as you are; your purpose is to make the audiences know what they are looking at.

The next thing is you have to accept that your website will never be complete or perfect because it is on-going. Adapting the changes and playing with it is crucial for success. You need to take care of the security of your website, keep updating and maintaining your website regularly and be aware of the always-changing SEO to make sure your website will come out in the Google search result.  Adding new feature or new content on your website is recommended. And keeping tracks on your website daily or weekly is the work you cannot abandon once you set up a website.

Moreover, Lean start-up model helps you to start your business quickly and cheaply. It talks about building a minimum viable product at first, measure it and then learn from where did you went wrong, after that continue the cycle. Minimum viable product is something just enough to work and spend you the least of time and money on it. It is to ensure you do not lose a large amount of money if you go wrong.

Challenges are something you cannot avoided facing. The biggest one is surely to be the cost. A website can costs from few hundreds to even 5 figures. So here is the question, “how much do I spend for my first website?” You no need to spend so much because it is only your minimum viable product; you will learn and improve your website day by day. The ideal amount to spend for setting up your first decent website is at least RM1000 to RM2000.

Besides, the process of setting up the website challenges every new entrepreneur. In personal, I had experienced the pain of DIY (Do It Yourself) my first webpage. I spent 10 hours a day and work on for 30 days to just setting up the website. To lessen your suffer, you can hire the experts like the professional web designer or web developer to the rescue. However, could you differentiate the function of web designer and web developer?

 

Web Designer Web Developer
someone good at making the visual of the website looking good someone good at writing codes and turns the idea into a visible website

Sometimes web designer and web developer can actually be the same person but you may force to have a little scarifies on the skills, for example, if a web developer takes over the designing part, his designing skills may not as good as a professional designer. Yet if it is difficult for you to find a web designer or web developer who fits your needs or charges you a cheaper price, looking for the web package instead.

The Role of a Website Owner

As a website owner, you have to at least know about coding and website security for your management. The responsibility to grow the traffic falls under you. You should brand your website; make it stand out from other competitors. And also putting effort on attracting or inviting the audiences such as borrows the traffic from other websites that have large traffic than yours. For instance, if you are a blogger, post your best written article on other blogs as a guest post attach with the links to your own blog. It can help you to grow traffic and at the same time boost up your blog’s SME because your article becomes the hit.

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