The real money with web development (when you aren’t selling a product or service) is in direct relationship deals with advertisers. Instead of having to hope for clicks with Adsense or a parked page, you can work with someone to build a website, add space for 5-6 advertisers, charge a fair rate for top placement, and blow your PPC earnings away.
Depending on the industry and traffic, a fair rate can be anywhere from under $100 a month to thousands of dollars per month. If you have a great generic domain name, chances are good that if you add relevant, interesting, and useful content that visitors will want to see, advertisers will want to capture the attention of those visitors. Also, if you have a great industry defining domain name, you better believe people in that industry will listen when you tell them who you are. This sounds oversimplified, but I hope the information below will be helpful.
My advice is for you to find the best possible domain name that you can afford in an industry you are passionate about. Search for domain names for sale at companies like BuyDomains and Sedo, and also make direct inquiries using the Whois database. Just keep in mind that when you are trying to buy a domain name in private, make sure you make a good offer, or it will be a non-starter.
Once you have your domain name, write up a small business plan with details about how you plan to build and monetize it. I personally recommend using WordPress, which is easy to maintain, gets lots of Google search love, has considerable development support, and there are plenty of people that can help you manage your blog. With WordPress, you can visually set it up in any way you’d like, and you can add many plugins and widgets to enhance your site. You can also purchase fairly inexpensive templates, so much of the hard work is already done.
After the look and feel of your website is created, it’s time to start discussing what you like and know about that particular industry. Write interesting posts and articles about the “buzz word” topics, helping to share what you know with others. Since you are an afficianado of that industry, you probably know the most popular blogs and forums already, so begin letting people know about your website – but don’t ask for links. One thing that annoys people is when you ask for a link back without a reason for them to give it. Don’t be annoying when you post in the forum, but if you really like that industry, this should be obvious.
Sign up for news aggregation sites that are specific to the industry (like Domaining.com is to ours). You will also want to submit your site to the major search engines, and you may want to submit it to the Yahoo Directory, which costs about $299/year – this should help with SEO. Later on, you will want to submit your site to DMOZ, but don’t do that until your site is fairly established. Some people think you should sign up for a search engine submission service, but others say it’s a BS waste of money. I really don’t know so I can’t give you advice on this.
By doing what I’ve mentioned above, you will begin to get traffic – both naturally (via type-in and links) and via organic search. The companies who make the products or sell services to people like you will hopefully begin to notice your website, and you should start looking to find the contacts who manage marketing or advertising. Use company directories, search engines, or attend tradeshows to find these people, and let them know who you are and what your site is. One way to do this is to request an interview with people within the company – not only to provide interesting content, but to make them more aware of your existence. When they know your domain name, website, and traffic, they should want to advertise – or recommend their affiliate program, which can be even more lucrative.
I know all of this sounds time consuming – it is. However, you will end up with a website about a topic you enjoy, and not only will you have increased the value of your domain name, but you should also have a good opportunity to sign on direct advertisers, which is lucrative, since you are able to cut out the middle man. There really is no easy magic way to make a lot of money online – except by the people who sell the books about making a lot of money online 🙂 You will need to put the time in, but it will pay off.
Great advice Elliot.
I doubt a website catering to domaining or webmastering/SEO would even make $100 per month through Adsense because all the visitors understand how paid links work and don’t usually click on them, so direct is definitely the way to go.
One tip to add for sites making enough to justify this: You can try to get more than 1 link in the Yahoo directory — it’s going to cost $299/yr for each so it won’t be cheap, however they are quality links and might be one of the few white hat ways to buy yourself a better pagerank. You can get multiple listings in DMOZ as well, however your content will likely need to be extraordinarily useful. If you speak a second language, it much easier to get a second DMOZ link by writing a few posts in that language. I speak French for example and with there being much fewer French speaking domainers, it would be much easier to get a link in the French DMOZ section than it would in the English one.
Don’t forget to use Social Networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, Digg etc to help grow traffic to your site.
Sites like Twitter and Digg are KEYWORD vital.. so write your titles and general write ups with keywords in mind.
I agree with everything you say. However, I don’t have time to do this myself. I have the names already and even the traffic but looking to outsource this. Do you have any recommendations that is cost effective?
“…submit your site to the major search engines.”
Search Engine Submission is an urban myth worse than people getting chloroformed in the New York Subways and having their kidneys removed. One NEVER needs to submit their site to the search engines…they do a real good job finding you on their own.
Also DMOZ is basically dead and has been so for many years…almost nothing new gets added there.
Doesn’t a DMOZ acceptance still have some pull in Google or Yahoo?
Google does still value DMOZ some.
Google just does not value DMOZ near as much as it used to.
I think this causes some confusion.
I my experience DMOZ is so outdated and has so few resources — I think it is going to fall farther and farther behind. Google knows this and DMOZ will be valued less and less in the future.
DMOZ is one where you submit it and forget it. Takes about a year to get accepted unless you happen to help w/ the vetting process. Even when and if you do get accepted the link isn’t nearly as valuable as it used to be. If you want a directory pony up a few dollars for BOTW or the tried and true Yahoo Directory – both still pass some juice and can help you out in the SERPS.
DMOZ links are usually PR3-PR5, not to mention still among the most trusted links according to just about any SEO website on the planet. Not very many places or people will give you a free non-reciprocal PR5 link…
Thanks for a very informative post! I have a name or two that I will eventually try this concept with…I found quite a few good names over at SnapNames recently, so their site should be considered as a source for names!
Just wanted to point out that DMOZ has indeed undergone some changes in the past couple years.
DMOZ links are not “usually PR 3-5” but are mostly ‘unranked’. But we don’t trust PR anymore anyways, do we? 🙂
I did a quick search for Burbank and Lowell DMOZ listings and all the main DMOZ pages were indeed ‘unranked’, but I’d still love a link from the pages if I owned Burbank.com and Lowell.com !
My testing has shown that the SE’s still trust DMOZ links [with relevant anchor text] because the listings are approved by humans, thus less likely to be spammy.
Wikipedia links have been getting us good results AND *traffic* lately too. FYI.
You’ve all probably read about the ‘announcement’ of changes to how the SE’s treat no-follow …
Elliot…a DMOZ link is a great link to get…the problem is that almost nobody is getting them anymore :.)
I noticed… I haven’t gotten them for my geodomains, but my blog has a newish one.
I know its difficult to be sure but……………
In your opinion what sort of level of traffic per month would a website need before it becomes attractive to advertisers. I’m developing a site for an English city of 450,000 at the centre of an urban area of around 2.5million.
It really varies depending on the industry. If it’s very targeted and the CPA is high, traffic doesn’t necessarily have to be high at all. I don’t have a ton of experience outside of my blog and geos.
Traffic on Burbank.com and Lowell.com vary between 10-16k visitors each per month, and my blog is more.
great post, thanks. Focusing on one website is the hardest part for me.