At one time or another, nearly every web master thinks about how to make (more) money on their web site. The challenge is that most people who surf the internet expect things to be free. The internet was formed on the idea of free access to information. Scores of companies are willing to subsidize the cost of building out a website and gathering an online community without charging a dime. Why?
Because people are not interested in frequenting a site they have to pay for (unless it is for porn). If somebody stumbles upon a web site with an entrance fee, they will quickly browse to another site and are almost guaranteed to find exactly what they are looking for free of charge (yes, even for porn). Although it may be lucrative, there will be no Bot pron on Themebot. Sorry. NO BOT PORN! So how is a web master supposed to make money?
The most common way to monetize a web site is by incorporating online advertising. Since it is so easy to set up the ads, there are a quite a few people trying to make a quick buck by capitalizing on the online advertising phenomenon. As a result, thousands of crap sites are floating around the web packed with pixel after pixel of advertising. These sites usually do not provide much value to visitors, although they do perform well in the search engine results (SERPS). You know the ones I'm talking about. The ads are nearly indistinguishable from the real content. There are so many ads plastered across the top of the site that you actually have to scroll down a ways before seeing any real content. Menu navigation items are actually advertising links. You click on something expecting to find what you are looking for and end up being redirected to Cursor Mania or some other crap you don't need. Businesses are formed around funeling as much traffic to a site and getting the most possible clicks while minimizing the time "wasted" on actually providing the visitor with something valuable. There are quite a few sites out there that are just advertising portals.
There has to be a better way to make money on a web site. I was reluctant to put pay-per-click advertising on Themebot when it was first getting started. But I decided to try it out with the intention of making enough to support the cost of development and later adding paid services to benefit members so that the pay-per-click advertising could be eliminated. Shortly after Themebot was launched I added some Google Adsense. The very first theme submitted by a member was called "Drunk Loser". You can imagine what started showing up in Google Adsense. For months, there were all kinds of advertisements for DUI Lawyers, Drunk Driving Schools etc. My opinion of pay-per-click advertising did not get any better, but I waited it out and eventually the advertising became more relevant.
Here we are one year later and Themebot has a decent amount of traffic. Is the Adsense bringing home the bacon? Well... let's just refer to it as "Adcents" from now on. I can't see any web master making a living solely using pay-per-click advertising. Perhaps some of the very popular sites that blog about trendy new products are making a decent supplementary income from pay-per-click ads. But for the majority of web sites out there, I wonder if Adcents is even worth the bandwidth?
I have not put a lot of time into optimizing Adcents, probably because I don't like the idea of displaying advertisements for things that I am not familiar with. I would much rather advertise specific products and services that I have used myself and feel comfortable recommending to clients, family and friends rather than random ads that are somewhat relevant. At this point, Themebot is poised for a huge amount of growth and two assistants have been hired to help with the site. In order to sustain the expansion, more revenue needs to be generated.
I have researched and used quite a few services that are relevent to web designers and web masters. In upcoming articles, reviews will be written for a variety of useful services. If you decide to sign up for one of these services using the link provided in the article, you can count on purchasing a well-researched product, receiving the best price available and you will also be supporting Themebot. Don't forget, Themebot donates a portion of profits back to the open source community. Stay tuned for trustworthy reviews and recommendations for useful services and products.