Why is it that some websites and blogs make money and others don't?

I think the key reason is unprofitable site owners do not have a clear focus on what the purpose of their site or blog is.

There are basically two types of websites or blogs:

  1. A "Branding" Site, is a site that is designed to build your credibility or your "brand."

    For someone like myself, who uses this site to build a reputation as a freelance copywriter, a branding site is designed to establish oneself as an expert in a certain field.

    The same concept is true for any independant business person, whether you are a lawyer, doctor, consultant, home builder, realtor, etc. Your goal is to establish yourself as an expert in your field.

    But for an organization, the purpose of your site is still to build a brand, increase credibility and demonstrate that your firm is an authority in whatever service you offer.

    Think about how many sites you see that make empty boasts about how such and such firm is "the best" at whatever they do. Do such ads impart credibility to you?

    Probably not, but when you see a site that offers informative articles, free white papers or reports on how to solve a problem that concerns you, do you have any doubts about that company's credibility? In most cases you will find this company highly credible.

    In either case, whether you are an individual business person or a company, a branding site must build repeat visitors who keep coming back because you offer valuable information, keep them abreast of new trends, or post "how to" articles that solve certain problems.

    Another distinguishing trait of a branding site is that it seeks to generate money from offline business. If you'll pardon me for using this site as an example again, it exists solely to attract clients who want me to write web content, case studies, white papers and other copywriting materials for them.

    So the way I do that is to write about things I think will be helpful to my potential clients. Sometimes I may miss the mark, but I always try to think of what problems these businesses want to solve and what information they need.

    And over time, based on the feedback you readers give me, I have created a site that is a valuable resource to businesses that need to turn their website visitors into customers, or want to use white papers and case studies to attract more business.

    To sum up, a branding site is built upon the principle that them more free, valuable information you give away, the more you will attract new business.

  2. A Traffic Site, on the other hand, makes money by making sales or hosting advertisements online. This site is nothing less than an "online saleperson."

    As a result, traffic sites are less dependant upon repeat visitors and more dependant on search engine traffic.

    A traffic site usually lives and breathes on ranking high on Google, Yahoo and other search engines for prospective customers to find it. Few traffic sites are designed to attract clients to offline businesses, but instead their purpose is to generate online sales and orders, or get visitors to click on ad links.

Are these two types of websites mutually exclusive? Hardly. A branding site needs to use all the search engine optimization techniques it can in order to rank higher when potential clients do a Google search. Moreover, many branding sites make additional sales by selling products like books or white papers on their sites.

By the same token, traffic sites often provide valuable, problem-solving information to enhance the company's credibility and reputation and to give visitors reasons to return again and again.

But the key here is focus. One of my biggest errors with this site when I first started out was a failure to focus on branding myself. I once had Adsense ads on this site, which only resulted in visitors clicking away to go off to see what someone else had to offer.

One of the best ways I know to prevent a muddled focus is to think about what you want a visitor to do once they arrive on your site.

If you want them to order a product, find ways to display those products with attractive photographs and descriptions of each item.

If you want them to click on your Adsense ads, make sure your site is optimized so the search engines have a clear "understanding" of what type of visitors to send your way. That way the search terms these people typed into Google match the type of ads displayed on your site.

On the other hand, if you want to establish yourself as an authority in your field and get visitors to hire you for offline work, make sure your articles are really informative and give them a reason to keep coming back.

Again, these two types of websites and blogs are not mutually exclusive, but you will find they produce much more business for you if you maintain your primary focus. To use the baseball expression, "It's all a matter of keeping your eye on the ball."

COPYRIGHT © 2008, Charles Brown


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