The best website ideas are proven website ideas. If someone else has made a website work, you know you can make it work too. Furthermore, you can learn from the mistakes made by other people who have used the website idea and make your website even better.
Website ideas fall into two broad categories: website ideas which help you make money and website ideas which attract traffic. Let’s look at five website ideas from each category:
Make Money #1—Donations
This is the money-making website idea I recommend the least. If you accept donations from your readers, you probably won’t make much money, and if you ever start hosting adds or affiliate marketing links, your core readers will complain—and possibly leave.
Donations don’t work for a lot of reasons, but the most important is that there’s no sense of immediacy. When someone sells you a product, you buy it because you want it. But by the time someone asks you for a donation, you’ve already received the useful information from the website, so there’s no immediate reason for you to donate.
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Further, there may be people similar to me who refuse to donate to websites because they donate to other, more worthy causes. When I have to choose between donating to the poor and donating to someone with enough wealth and free time to create a website, I’ll donate to the poor every time.
Make Money #2—Host Advertisements
A lot of people monetize a website using advertisements, but I’m not completely convinced it’s a good business model. For starters, some advertisements are ugly. Add to that the increasing number of people using AdBlock Plus to hide the advertisements on your website and the number of other websites which engage in fraud (lowering the value of legitimate ad clicks), and you have a tough market.
But advertisements do have one thing working for them: they’re easy. Just create an account on an advertising platform, copy and paste some code on your site, and start serving ads. I kind of make this sound too easy and if you are interested to find out more see my advertising check-list. This will help you get on the right track. If you make ads work for you, that’s great, but also consider trying some of the other techniques on this list.
Make Money #3—Affiliate Advertising
Unlike serving other people’s advertisements, affiliate advertising lets you write your own advertisements and embed them in your articles. For this reason, affiliate advertising can be much more successful than regular advertisement.
Of course, it can be hard to get your readers to trust you when you make money off of every product you recommend, but this doesn’t seem to be a major problem for most website businesses.
Make Money #4—Retail or Resale
If you’re successful at affiliate marketing, you can often increase your profit percentage by selling your own products or by selling other people’s products directly.
Of course, this means you’ll have to deal with customers directly—but that can be a major advantage. It gives you the chance to satisfy a website reader who would otherwise stop reading your website because you recommended a product that didn’t work as expected.
Making your own products can be difficult, but the growing industry of drop shipping makes selling other people’s products from your own storefront increasingly easy.
Make Money #5—List Marketing
Websites are a great way to find customers, but they’re a terrible way to keep them. This is especially true if you focus on Search Engine Optimization (SEO), infrequent blogging, and other ways of attracting one-time traffic.
The best businesses are built upon relationships. You go back to the same stores and websites over and over because you’ve learned to trust them—or at least, you’ve learned what to expect.
But if people search for information about a product, visit your website once, and never come back, you aren’t building any sort of relationship, and the only products you can sell them that will repay your investment will either have to cost a lot of money or offer a huge affiliate percentage.
Instead of selling people a product, consider getting them to sign up for your weekly newsletter—and then use the newsletter to consistently tell them about great offers. That way you can sell them dozens of low-priced products or low-profit products over a longer period of time, increasing and stabilizing your income. We all know this is called email marketing and you need to build a list of subscribers in order for this to work.
Attract Traffic #1—The Blog
Everyone wants a blog today, and blogs are a great way to attract traffic—if you write things people want to read. You can build a blog or website, the difference is disappearing because most are built on blog content management systems anyway.
Too often I stumble upon the personal opinion/personal problem blog. These blogs are only interesting to the people who write them and maybe that person’s closest friends. It’s easier to post your opinions and problems to Facebook.
On the other hand, if you can regularly post useful information, a blog is a good way to distribute it and attract traffic. But you must make sure that you write it in a way search engines can find it. To do that, use Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to arrange your keywords and blogs.
Attract Traffic #2—FAQ
People—all people—hate to look like idiots. Most people even hate to ask questions because they’re worried about looking like idiots. So one of the easiest website ideas you can create is the Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) list.
On many websites I work for, the FAQ page is the most visited page on the site after the homepage. That’s because people have learned that it will probably provide useful information in a quick and easy-to-read summary format.
You can even create an entire website devoted to the FAQ about a particular subject. Just make each entry on your blog the answer to another question.
Attract Traffic #3—Variety Sites
A good way to attract traffic is to collect the best ____ from the web. The ____ can be videos, blog posts about a particular subject, photos of kittens, or anything else. If people know they can come to your website for the best of ____, they’ll probably come back often and recommend your website to other people.
This can be one of the easiest or one of the most difficult websites ideas to implement. It’s easy if there is a ton of ____ already easily searchable. It’s difficult if you need to do a lot of research everyday to find your next ____ post.
Attract Traffic #4—Product Reviews
Before buying any high-budget item (which can cost as little as $10 for some people), people want to learn whether it will be worth their money, so they’ll search the Web for information about it.
You can tap into this huge traffic stream by offering quality reviews for these products—and you can monetize it using affiliate advertising, as discussed above.
The key to this website idea is answering people’s questions about the product even to the point of answering questions they haven’t yet asked themselves.
Attract Traffic #5—How-To
Probably the best way to attract traffic on the Web is to help people learn how to do something. Despite widespread reports of an apathetic population, most people on the Web make several searches every week for information about how to do something or another.
Any article you write which starts with the words “how to” is almost assured traffic once the search engine indexes it, making it the most simple and effective of website ideas. That is exactly how I built Tips4pc and made it so popular, by writing good how to articles.