How Do You Know, If a Site Will Make Money?

I saw today this thread at 5StarAffiliatePrograms with the title “How Do You Know, If a Site Will Make Money?” A newbie to internet marketing started the thread with the following post.

“Well I am hoping for some money. I started a blog that’s about technology and games and am not getting much so I am trying Yahoo! ads, starting small just 15 cents and 3 dollars a day. No luck with that either. Also another thing I have tried multiple affiliate programs and I am having no luck at all so I am spreading out a little. But how exactly does one go about knowing if a site will make money on ads?”

Several people already responded with good comments and helpful suggestions. I can only agree with what was said by “MarketLeverage” and Linda Buquet.

You never know if and how much money a new site will generate, however, there are some things to consider in general that have direct impact on how much money you make off a site.

If you start a new site that is a content site or blog, you have to establish trust and a readership first. Would you listen to a stranger, who you never met before and who starts with trying to sell you something? Of course not, if you can, you would shut the door or leave yourself. Building trust and selling does not work very well at the same time in almost every case, except what you are offering has to do with selling (comparison shopping engines are such an example). For the most part should you not think about monetization at the beginning and avoid ads like AdSense or Banners as much as you can or better, altogether.

Once you established credibility and trust, you can slowly introduce some advertising and sales pitches. This has to be a slow and step by step process where you get the chance to check how your increase in commercialization was received by your visitors.

The good thing and side effect of this approach is that by checking how your visitors react to certain things, that you learn at the same time, what their needs are and why they came to your site in the first place.

There can evolve monetization opportunities that you have not even thought of when you launched the site.

When it comes to investment into marketing or something else that you hope will provide another stream of income, be careful with spending too much money and energy on something that did not prove itself. Start new things small, with the least possible investment, to get enough data to tell if something looks promising or not. If you invest too little, then you don’t get enough data to make a good evaluation, if you invest too much, you might burn precious resources on something that does not work and creates a hole in your budget that is hard to fill again.

The right balance is not a set figure. You always have to try and find out yourself what that right balance is for your vertical, your audience, your budget and your goals. If something works, try to do more of it until it is saturated. If something does not work, stop doing it as soon as possible and prevent unnecessary losses.

A Note on the Side
People who were able to establish a blog without commercial intent and gained many followers and readers tend to have a problem with monetizing their blog at that stage. They should have started thinking about it earlier, but waited too long and to the point where the blog consumes too much of their spare time to become a time and financial burden and typical gradual approaches take too much time.

For those folks (and anybody else too actually) are this video by Jeremy Shoemaker and my post here at from Blog World Expo last November might be of some help. Affiliate marketing is an ideal way to monetize content sites and blogs, but it is not as easy as Google AdSense or Yahoo! Publisher Network for example. To get your head around the subject of affiliate marketing, check out these resources on my site and get going from there.

I hope this helps and good luck with your business ventures.

Carsten Cumbrowski

About Carsten Cumbrowski

Internet Marketer, Entrepreneur and Blogger. To learn more about me and what I am doing, visit my website and check out the “about” section.

Twitter: ccumbrowski

10 Responses to How Do You Know, If a Site Will Make Money?

  1. Cyrus says:

    Thanks for that post Carsten. Useful info.

  2. Linda Buquet says:

    Great points Carsten. Thanks for linking to the 5 Star forum discussion! Some really good feedback was given there over there and in your write-up here.

  3. Brook Schaaf says:

    I think this is a great post with great points. When we review affiliates, we often see zero bar performers (CJ and Performics indicate the level of commissions an affiliate gets) with loads of domains listed – 20, 30, 40 +.

    This indicates to me that they are spreading themselves too thin from the very beginning. Better to focus on one thing the right way. This isn’t a get rich quick scheme.

  4. Yep, I agree with you Brook…

  5. Good points, Carsten. As I’ve seen rich people say “it took me 10 failures before 1 success”. You simply have to keep trying things, and that is the only surefire way you will know when you have found one that is successfull.

  6. Mister Poo says:

    I make a guess: that good affiliate earning will come from good targeting.

    I haven’t made any money yet – but I’m hoping that keeping all my links tightly bound to poop and philosophy will eventually pay my bill.

  7. Interesting article – after working my old website for 10 years, my new years resolution was to take all the lessons I learned and to try a new website.

    While my new website is still just getting started with virtually no visitors – it has already earned me a couple of dollars.

    But still a long ways to go towards my website earnings goal.

  8. Carsten,

    I’d have to agree and disagree at the same time with point #1. Its not always the case about “establishing trust.” Yes, if you start a blog about online marketing and fill it up with adsense and try to bring in traffic to establish them as readers, rss subscribers, then yes, you must establish trust and most importantly have good content.

    NOW, if you want to throw up a site to try and make some quick cash and fool visitors, etc. adsense is the key, I wouldnt throw any affiliate offers up. PPC, pop-ups, etc. Depends what route you choose.

  9. Some of us spread ourselves thin because we don’t know what will work. Why spend two years building a blog audience if the site/subject will never work?

    I would rather have 20 sites in order to find two winners instead of trying to pick a winner from the start.

    I also learn things and can apply them to all of my sites. If this was a get rich quick thing, I would put all my eggs in one basket and try to make it work. Since this is a long-term business, I enjoy having a diversified portfolio of sites.

  10. Carsten Cumbrowski says:

    Pablo said: “NOW, if you want to throw up a site to try and make some quick cash and fool visitors, etc. adsense is the key, I wouldnt throw any affiliate offers up. PPC, pop-ups, etc. Depends what route you choose.”

    This is actually much harder than developing a real site where people come back to. You always depend on new and fresh traffic of new people to your site. You won’t get much direct traffic and also no inbound links. That means that you have to rely on search engines. Either organically or PPC (arbitrage).

    Both of those areas are getting more and more scrutinized and harder to pull off, because search engines and advertisers don’t champion those kind of publishers. They will not go away and make this type of making money a thing of the past, especially with search engines profiting from it, but they have to keep it low profile enough to avoid to make users upset. This means that the space is pretty competitive and to be successful there on an ongoing basis is really tough.

    It also moves into the realms of gray hat/black hat methods that must be applied in order to generate the necessary stream of traffic and I would give ill advice, if I would recommend to any newbie to go that route.