It can be very frustrating at times to constantly be reading all of the “How to make money online” Blogs like Shoemoney and John Chow to only to be left with more questions and a sense of “How do I get started?”
For any beginner to the world of internet marketing and web entrepreneurship things can be quite overwhelming. The big boys make it look so easy – after all John Chow makes over 27,000 a month with his Blog, and he seems to make an awful lot of posts about food. For any newbie to John Chow, his success is not in his endless pursuit of the perfect meal, but rather his ability to generate lots of traffic, and provide quality information to his readers.
So the ultimate question for any beginner in the field is, “Where do I begin?” You can only read so much about how to make money online. There eventually will come a time when you just have to take that first step and do something yourself. The first place to start is to do some market research. One of the best places to find out how others are making money online, are the Sitepoint Forums.
What is Sitepoint?
Sitepoint is one of the best resources online for webmasters. It has tons of information, and the community forums are a great place to ask others questions and gain insight into this lucrative field. However, by far the best place to get information is the “Established Sites for Sale” Forum. This is where other webmasters auction off their websites to people interested in buying. When I first discovered these forums, I was completely hooked. It provides the opportunity to see exactly what others are doing to make money, how they are monetizing their websites, and how much money they are really making. This is the perfect way to research what works and what doesn’t when it comes to making money online.
What to look for?
I usually like to browse the forums a couple times a week. I am not really there to purchase anything, but just to see general market trends and get new ideas for websites I want to create. Just browsing the forums you can quickly see which types of websites are actually selling, and for how much. This information is invaluable. Here are a few important things to look for:
What Sites are Selling – A couple years back, MySpace resource sites were the hot area. It seemed everyone with a MySpace resource site was making huge money from these cookie-cutter-how-to-pimp-my-page websites. There were tons of listing on Sitepoint, and they were selling for a lot of money. Also you will constantly see websites like free image hosting, web directories and proxy sites. These are popular because they are easy to create, and generate their own traffic through their viral nature. Follow the forums closely and you will start to see trends of which type websites are selling and which are flopping.
How Others Monetize Their Sites – One of the greatest benefits I got from monitoring the Sitepoint forums was I got to see how others were making money from their websites. I was introduced to a wide array of online affiliate programs and I got to see some very clever ways of how others were getting the most money from their website traffic. It is very specific too. You get to see real world examples of what others are going. This information is very helpful in the learning process.
Traffic Stats – Whenever someone is selling their website, others want to know how much traffic they get and where it comes from. Most site owners post screenshots of their traffic and top refers. Use this information to help you get the “Big Picture” You can see how much traffic is takes to generate a certain amount of money and also where the traffic is coming from.
Big Money Makers – Sitepoint also has a section called “Premium Sites For Sale” This is where sites which are of high value get listed. This is a perfect place to see how the bigger sites make money and what specifically they do. Look and see what kind of business model they have. Ask yourself some important questions, “Is the site content driven?” “How much traffic do they get?” “How do they make money?” This gives you the perfect place to research sites which are already successful online.
A few years back when I was first starting out in this field I used the Sitepoint forums exactly how I described above. I would monitor the new auctions and see exactly what others were going. After doing a few weeks of research, I decided to buy my first site. It was a cookie cutter image hosting website, built upon a free image hosting script. I got a full working website, the domain name and a custom theme for $60. (I thought it was quite the deal) Because I did research for a few weeks beforehand, I was able to use others monetization techniques on my own website and also target my advertising towards their top refers. For a $60 investment, and a few hours a week, the site made me $800 its first year. Nothing spectacular, but the knowledge and insight I gained from my first website venture helped me get to where I am at today.
So next time you are drooling over Shoe’s 132K AdSense check (I still do it too sometimes) remember you have to start somewhere. The Sitepoint forums are a great place to research what everyone else is doing before you take that first step. Trust me, the market research you do in the beginning will make your life much easier down the road.
About the Author: Brennan Heyde is an e-commerce consultant, and affiliate marketer working in San Diego, Ca. He specializes in online marketing and SEO for e-commerce.