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The Web has come a long way from its military/academic origins. Today, the Web is an intensely commercial medium, offering plenty of ways to make money. And because the Web is still defining itself, your best strategy is to raise as many cash cows as possible. Even if some run dry, you can milk the others to make sure your own web site pays off.

  1. Sell advertising and sponsorships for your site. This is the classic Web business model, selling "eyeballs" to advertisers who want to reach the audience your site attracts. Times are tough for companies selling banner ads -- as response rates drop, so do the rates businesses can charge for ads on their sites -- but this is still the most common way businesses try to make money from their Web sites.

  2. Sell products and services from your site. These days, commerce is king on the Web, as everyone scrambles to enable e-commerce on their Web sites. Despite the competition, online merchants can rack up impressive sales. Be warned, though: doing it right is harder than it looks.

  3. Point people to other sites. The Associates Program at and other online retailers may be simplest and easiest way to make money with your site. Simply point visitors to your site to a related book or other product on, for example, and you collect a commission on anything the user buys.

  4. Collect and sell information. Creating a database of your users isnīt just a good idea -- itīs good business. Demographic information about your users is a potential gold mine, and specific information about a userīs preferences and interests is even more valuable. But donīt sacrifice your credibility with customers for a quick buck -- always respect your usersī privacy, and never sell personal information without their permission.

  5. Charge a fee to access your site -- or at least part of your site. Even though the Web offers a cornucopia of free content, if your content is unique and valuable, you can make money charging for it online. If youīre not comfortable charging for all of your content, offer a premium area, or sell critical bits piece by piece. Some newspapers, for example, offer free online access to their daily editions but charge to view their archives.

  6. Do email marketing. Remember, thereīs more to the Internet than just the World Wide Web. In many ways, email is an even more lucrative revenue source than the Web. You can sell ads on email newsletters, and use targeted emails to alert customers about special deals or new products. Just lay off the spam, please -- make sure that a customer wants your email before you send it.

  7. Rent software online. Some businesses now supply software on a "pay per use" basis. Instead of licensing software on a permanent basis, users can run it over the Net, whenever they need it, from your servers. For users, rented applications mean no boxes to lug home, no bloated files to download, and no high prices to pay for applications they use only occasionally. Businesses that rent software donīt have to pay the fulfillment costs associated with standard software sales, and they also enjoy the benefits of an ongoing relationship with their customers.


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Last modified: January 29, 2004