The 7 Secrets of a Profitable Website
By Stuart Reid
Published February 01, 2006. Copyright © 2006 Stuart Reid. All rights reserved. Published at websitetips.com with permission.
There are many ways to build a profitable website. You can offer a service, sell a product directly, sell something indirectly, sell advertising space, sell affiliate products, and everything in-between.
There are a number of methods you can use to improve your site. Follow these steps and you too can have a moneymaking site that will practically run on autopilot. These sites make money in many different ways.
I don't say this idly. I, and a thousand of other marketers do exactly this. It's a guaranteed blueprint if everything is set up correctly. And it's not difficult.
The type of site discussed here is the “free” site - one that offers a valuable product at no cost up front. These are powerful ways of generating income.
Here are the top 7 elements that make a website into a cash-cow...
1. The Copy
“Copy” is basically the text on your website. It will take up most of the page, apart from the graphics and interactive elements (e.g. forms or buttons). In fact, you shouldn't use too many graphics. Focus on the wording instead. A header image, a cover image, and a screenshot are usually sufficient.
Copywriting is a skill that can be worked on, and the subject is far too big to go into detail here. However, one of the worst things you can do is to endlessly tweak the page. You should get *something* up as soon as you can and edit it over time. Copywriting is one of the two most important tasks for a website (the other is promotion) and it's an ongoing process.
There are a number of factors to be taken into consideration.
- First and foremost, you need a strong headline. This should attract the visitors' attention and get them to read more. A number of 'tricks' top copywriters use are “How To...” headlines, “x Ways To...” headlines, and question headlines. You can also have sub-headlines and even sub-sub-headlines. Establish the point of your site right here at the start.
- The body text can be thought of as a letter to your prospective customer. It's best to write in a friendly way, focusing on their needs and wants, and providing the solution. Above all, remember that the point of this page is to get the visitor to take action, such as fill in a form, click a link, make a payment, etc. Anything else, such as “multimedia overload”, or links away from the page, can prove to be a distraction.
- You can jazz up the copy with judicious use of Bold, Italics, Underline, boxed areas, highlighted text and coloured text (usually red, but whatever you use, keep the colours to a minimum).
- Certain words and phrases can elicit an emotional response (e.g. “Free”, “Secret”, “Hot”, “Important”, etc.), and curiosity is always a good way to keep your prospect interested.
- Because some people tend to just scan a webpage, the use of sub-headlines throughout the text and bullets can help catch their attention. Here we use a tick-graphic as we list the content.
- Finally, testimonials can help provide proof on your website. You can get these easily by asking for them after a few sales, or by providing free pre-copies in exchange for a review/testimonial. You can also show proof in other ways, such as images of your income (Paypal account, Cheque scan, etc) if you are running an online business site.
(Tip: If all this seems a little confusing just view existing sales-letters on the web. You'll soon get a feel for it. All top Marketers 'copy' and have a “swipe file” of great ads.)
Google AdSense is an easy way to a monetise a website and would be your first income stream (see point 3). However, don't just jump the gun and place ads everywhere, as they can take your visitor away from your site.
Everyone seems to use Google AdSense these days so it's also important to know there ARE alternatives, which are reported to have varying degrees of success. AdSense provides context-targeted ads (they automatically relate to your site), and some of the others don't. If you're interested, look into Chitika MiniMalls, Yahoo Ads, or the clickbank-based Affiliate Power Ads.
2. The Form
Some sites are not interested in selling up front. The point of these pages is to capture the visitor's name and e-mail address.
After we do this we provide the download. It's a quick and easy process and most interested prospects are happy to do this. It's a win/win situation. The webmaster gets the new subscriber, and they get a quality ebook bundle.
You create a form easily, as most autoresponders (whether you use a third-party or a script on your site) will build one for you.
Getting new subscribers is very important, as they could be customers for a long time to come. Just don't abuse the relationship.
3. The One Time Offer
This is the first income stream on a “free” site. It's an 'upsell', even though there is no real sale on the first page (just a subscribe action).
Income Streams are simply the various ways you can make money. For example, if you are an online business person you could be selling software, using Ebay, consulting, designing websites, copywriting, promoting sites and more. Each of these would be an income stream. If you also work in a regular job that too would be an income stream, possibly your primary one. It's far easier to 'get rich' if you have a number of options working for you.
The One Time Offer here will show another related product, in this case a premium bundle of marketing-related software and books. For a One Time Offer to work you should price it low and over-deliver on the contents.
4. The Product
Your main product should provide whatever you promise. That is a given. It could also be working for you in many more ways and act as your ambassador on the Web.
- First, provide giveaway, resell, master-resell rights or all three. This means the product can be passed on and provide a viral effect. It's up to you whether you charge for your product or not. If you do, then these sales are your second income stream.
- Sometimes the product will spread further if it's a sold item as the prospect of making sales will encourage other marketers to promote it. You can provide a website and sales materials, such as pre-written ads, to make the task easier for them.
- Within the product include links to your main site(s). If you have many sites then there should be a web of links connecting them all to each other. You can also provide ads to affiliate programs or other products you sell / giveaway but don't overdo it, and don't do it at the expense of the product itself. Always deliver what you promised!
5. The E-Course
Since you've captured the prospect's e-mail address, it's worth your time setting up an e-course to be delivered over a period of days, and it can both provide valuable information to them and keep on plugging your product (or an upsell).
Make sure you tell the customer that they will receive this information.
Each e-mail in the course can also promote another product, so even after the free software is downloaded the e-mails will continue to make sales.
It's usually considered OK to keep subscribers past the course as long as they are aware of this fact and can unsubscribe at any time (a legal requirement). Automated un-subscribe links are usually available from your Autoresponder, or you can allow them to contact you manually - the usual way is by replying to the message with 'Remove' or something similar. I prefer the latter as I have had many, many subscribers who report clicking the automatic link by mistake.
6. The Upgrade
This is the third and main income stream at the “free” site. There are many ways a visitor could get here, from clicking directly, from the links in the free ebook, from the links in the e-course, or from links from affiliates.
The entire website could have easily been more traditional and just offered a sales page for this package (as most do). However, the techniques described above provide far more scope for sales, as I hope you can see.
This premium package is again priced realistically and over-delivers on its content. There are also other benefits included that can help promote the site, and as above, they are a win/win situation.
First, the package comes with a 50% Affiliate Program, paid instantly. This turns all your customers into a potential affiliate. It's a fair system used across countless sites on the internet, since any profits are split equally.
Secondly, there is a brandable version of the giveaway and a copy of the website. This gives the customer the power to be a copy of your “free” site themselves. It allows them to give away the product, as before, but now with potential of making an income from it.
Sometimes branding rights are given with the product as an incentive to purchase. In our case, the main product is free, so the upgrade provides those rights. However you do it branding can create a massive viral effect.
7. The Future
To summarise the action of a visitor so far:
- He/she arrives at the website,
- fills in the form,
- is offered a one-time-offer,
- downloads the ebook,
- starts receiving the e-course.
The book and course link back to the upgrade page. That is the “visitor path.”.
The income streams are:
- Sales of the one time offer,
- affiliate program links in branded books,
- sales of the upgrade.
So, what now?
- Even though you could have made money in three or more ways by this point an actual e-mail address of a happy customer is perhaps the most lucrative. If they stay with you, you could keep in contact with carefully chosen and relevant content for years to come.
- You could provide an e-zine, periodical free downloads (perhaps branded to earn you commissions), articles, and affiliate offers. This is technically an income stream in itself, for a well-built subscriber list will literally allow you generate cash on demand - all you do is press a 'send' button.
- After you've built your site and it's working correctly all you need to do is promote it. This is a subject unto itself but remember: a well designed site with interested visitors is almost guaranteed to succeed...
About the Author
Stuart Reid is (apart from creator of the site mentioned above) webmaster of Netpreneur Now - dedicated to helping you make money online. http://www.NetpreneurNow.com
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