This is part 2 of a post by Sarah Sharp of familiesrecommend.co.uk. You can read part 1 of How to run an information-based website here.
Adding information submitted by others to the website
One thing that people expect of the Internet is that everything happens instantaneously! If you receive user content and moderate it before adding it to the site then be prepared to work at odd times of the day. We often work until late into the evening to make sure all the reviews we have received that day are on the site within 12 hours of receiving them. It can be a tiring process but actually pays off as reviewers see their review on the site in a short period of time.
A good way to bring visitors to your site is to incentivise their visit. Offer them something for free or the chance to win something. If you can keep in contact with them, you can be letting everyone know what you have to offer via your newsletter, Facebook and Twitter.
Making money from a site that does not sell a product, takes time. You need to be patient and work at developing a following of users. Once you have that, getting businesses to advertise will be much easier. No advertiser is going to look twice at a site that has only a few visitors per day. This is too much of a risk for them.
Affiliate Schemes and Adwords
You can make money through adding adverts to your site through affiliate schemes or Google Adwords. Affiliates schemes generally pay you if a visitor clicks through from your site and then makes a purchase to the site they’ve clicked through to. We’ve used these on our site, but unless you’ve hundreds of thousands of visitors coming to your site immediately on launch then its unlikely you’ll make much money from them. We’ve never used Google adwords on our site, but I guess the same principle applies, and you will get paid per click, so if not many people are clicking through, you are unlikely to generate much income. Plus, through using both of these methods, you are then allowing the user to leave your site.
Take marketing advice
In order to attract advertisers, you need to provide them with all of the information they need in one go. This is called a media pack and will tell them all about the your site, the number of visitors you get on average, the options they have to advertise and how much it costs etc. Take advice on the right pricing structure as you do not want to price yourself out of the market nor do you want to be giving it away too cheaply. A professionally designed media pack will also help.
Getting offline and getting face to face
Sometimes it just helps to get offline and get face to face with either your target user group or with people who can help. I have found business mums networks to be the most helpful and useful forums to promote my business. I’ve also been to talk to the people in the industry, and have used their advice and expertise to get the name out there.
I hope I haven’t put you off setting up your own information based website business. It is worth it, but a little time, thought and patience will make it a successful venture. And finally, if you have an idea and it you keep thinking about even after a couple of weeks of thought and research, don’t dismiss it – just go with it.
Sarah Sharp is the co-owner of www.familiesrecommend.co.uk, an online review and information site for discerning families. She is married to Lee and is mum to Thomas, who is almost three years old. She lives in Newcastle upon Tyne.