Speaker Ann Zeise shares her own success with web publishing as a way to earn money while homeschooling. In short, she recommends finding a topic you are passionate about, researching it, and publishing what you find on the Web. She then details how to monetize this valuable content using advertising services such as Google AdSense.
I'm familiar with this business model. It's a component of my employer's business model. But I also see it as the main reason for the dot com bust in 2001-2002. I had assumed it could not be profitable to produce content monetized by advertising alone. So I am surprised to hear Ann say her 1200 page site will earn $17,000 in the peak month of August. Granted, she has amassed a huge corpus of content over the years, but that's still $14 per page on average. It might not be profitable if you consider the research and authoring as an expense. But if you write about your passion, and that's something you'd do anyway, then I suppose authoring the content isn't really an expense.
Ann explained the importance of marketing your content on other sites. Choose sites that are very closely related to yours, and whose visitors you think would be interested in your site. For each of those sites, contact the webmaster. Try to find the actual name of the webmaster so your request is more personal. Do the leg work of finding the most relevant place on the webmaster's site for your link and provide that information in your request so it's clear you've looked at the site. If you want to be listed in a directory of resources, provide a sample listing that exactly matches the format and length of other listings in the directory, to make it easier on the other site owner.
When other sites link to your site, not only does it mean people on those sites might visit yours, it improves your rank in Google search results, resulting in more search traffic.
Ann says the vast majority of her revenue comes from Google AdSense, a program that lets you get Ads on your site with a minimum of fuss. You don't need to worry about collecting payments from dozens of advertisers or even about which ads are most relevant to your site — AdSense will tailor the ads to your audience for you.
She has found she gets more revenue with fewer ad units per page, perhaps because the reduced supply of ad space on her site results in higher bids from advertisers. (Google AdSense allows publishers to make money displaying ads, while Google AdWords allows advertisers to bid on ad add inventory.) Or perhaps it's because visitors on her site have a better experience when the ads are not overwhelming.
She offers these resources:
- Homeschooling Webmasters Yahoo Group (HSWM)
- 12pointdesign.com has offers free web hosting to homeschoolers - say Ann sent you
- If creating a site from scratch sounds daunting, consider creating a blog instead. You'll get a leg up on marketing if you use Ann's a2zhomeschool.com as your blog platform
- She describes an AdSense feature that lets Google automatically list related pages on partner sites for you (and also include a couple relevant sponsored links in the results)
- Commission Junction lets you participate in affiliate programs, but doesn't earn as much as AdSense in Ann's experience
- Sites exist that will show how your page will be seen in other browsers or on other operating systems, such as IE NetRenderer
- An audience member suggested contacting your local Small Business Development Center about whether you need a business license, since requirements can vary by county and city