Content and media Web sites that develop multiple streams of online revenue end up with better odds of meeting or even exceeding their advertising goals.
They also increase their odds of surviving as a business.
Online banner advertising — including contextual ads such as Google AdSense — dominates many articles and discussions about Web site management.
But robust sites have eight to 10 or sometimes even more revenue products as part of their business strategy.
Here are 13 options common among many content Web sites:
1. Banner ads. Sell both direct sales and remnant ads along with multiple banner products that command higher CPMs such as expandables and interstitials.
2. Sponsorships. Land an advertiser who buys a presence on an entire section, often exclusively.
3. Email marketing. Deliver banner ads within newsletters or sponsorship of email blasts to lists of customers.
4. Classified / directory ads. Produce text listings; some sites generate more than 50 percent of their total revenue from classifieds.
5. Top ads. Develop banners with four or five mini text ads, similar to Google AdSense. Newspaper sites with classifieds often upsell classified ads from print to online and then upsell them again into this premium product.
6. Text links. Sell sponsorships of keywords within articles.
7. E-commerce. Sell photos, products or services such as hosting or site development.
8. Multimedia. Video in particular has become an established niche.
9. Coupons. Provide coupons from either a third party product or built from scratch.
10. Premium content. Develop subscriptions to archives, proprietary databases, etc.
11. Mobile. Produce a mobile app for sale or advertising dedicated to a mobile browser product.
12. Search. Google offers a custom search product with ad revenue potential.
13. Affiliate marketing. Sell products and services on behalf of other companies and get paid a percentage of any transactions.
All revenue ideas aren’t feasible for every Web site, but most sites are capable of delivering at least some of the ideas on the list above.
Any site that has only one stream of revenue is likely to struggle financially. Sites that can effectively juggle multiple online revenue streams will likely do well.
Adding Revenue with Clients
Many solo site publishers supplement their publishing revenue by providing client services or contributing time to other Web sites.
1. Advertising: Manage promotional accounts at the likes of Bing, Facebook or Google; supporting ad-serving software; providing ad trafficking; maintaining remnant campaigns for national networks.
2. Marketing: Help with SEO, social media accounts, email marketing, analytics, blogging and link building.
3. Site development: Build sites, redesigning them, maintaining content management systems and providing staff support.
4. Management: Consult with clients on all of the above, help with planning and provide insights about best practices.
5. Content: Act as an editor or writer, produce flipbooks or email newsletters.
Among the five options above, the first four pay well but content usually pays the least.
Tiered Approach to Revenue Streams
With that in mind, a smart solo publisher will take a tiered approach to outside services by focusing on the most lucrative one first and the least lucrative last.
In a common example, publisher or small company might provide client services and produce its own Web sites. If client services pay $80 an hour and a new company-owned site produces only $20 an hour, the company will emphasize client services. But if the time commitments to clients are fulfilled, and extra time is available, the company will switch over to new site development.
In some cases, developing new content sites might not even pay as much as minimum wage. But it’s better to get some revenue than none at all if a few extra hours are available.
Speaking from experience, some work can pay well, but the client can be difficult and the work can be tedious, boring or unpleasant. At some point, the money might not be worth the hassles.
Because client services tend to be short-term contracts with a beginning and an end, solo publishers may find phases when most if not all of their time is dedicated to clients and little of it to publishing.
Then in another phase, publishing may occupy most of their time with little for clients because of fewer opportunities for outside contracts.
Regardless, building a successful online business has a better chance of surviving when even a small operation concentrates on having multiple income streams rather than trying to make it with just one.