What Type of Website do I Need?
Over the years that I have run thesitewizard.com, I've had some visitors writing to me to ask what sort of website they should create in order to earn money. I hate to say it, but this sort of question has got the cart before the horse.
To put it bluntly, if a person were to take this attitude when creating a website, unless he/she is a seasoned webmaster with lots of know-how (in which case he/she won't be asking me this question), chances are that the site won't earn very much, if at all.
The question to ask is not whether people will give you money but whether you have anything original and useful to offer them. In a sense, cyberspace is an reflection of the real physical world. And no wonder, since the same real physical people surf it. Like things in the real world, if you have nothing to offer, others will have nothing to give you in return.
What Makes a Successful Webmaster?
I know that there are a lot of misconceptions going on about what you can earn from a website. Some people read the (very) few success stories of people who have made it big, and think, "Gee, I want to quit my day job, work from home and make a fortune."
To put things in perspective, so that you don't get fooled by others' bragging, here are some things you should know about the people who have succeeded on the Internet:
Only a Very Small Percentage of Websites Make It Big
There are very few people among the millions of websites and webmasters who have actually made it big. The majority of websites on the Internet don't really make their owners any useful money, if at all. I have new webmasters who tell me that they make less than $50 (much less) in their best months. I say this not to discourage you, but so that you can be realistic in your expectations.
You Must Be Willing to Work Hard Over a Period of Years
Those who have succeeded have worked very hard and persevered over a period of time, usually years. They may pretend they can relax now, but they have probably slaved away at their sites over the years.
You Need Some Talent, Skill, Knowledge or Ability in Your Field
Those who have succeeded had talent, skills, knowledge and abilities in their areas of specialization. As a result they could create original content, and not a stale rehash of existing information. Their experience in their field also gave them insight into their users' needs and they could adjust and cater to it.
You Need a Passion for Your Work
The successful webmasters love their work. They enjoy the things that their website dealt with, and thus are enthusiastic when working on it. This is one of the reasons why these successful webmasters don't seem to realize that they are working like dogs on their sites. They enjoy the work and so don't define it as work. When you ask them how many hours a day they work, they think hard and say, "oh, maybe one or two hours", because those were the hours they actually spent directly updating the website. But they forget to count the umpteen hours every day they spent learning, researching, experimenting and planning before it culminated in those "one or two hours" of actual updating.
A website is not a shortcut to fame and fortune. If you work on one long enough, you'll realize that it's exactly like the real world.
What Makes a Successful Website?
A website that is successful has these characteristics:
It has Original or Unique Content
There are thousands, if not millions, of websites on the web rehashing the same old content or selling the same old things. This is probably even more so today with blogs being so easy to create. Those sites more or less talk about the same old stuff everywhere, or sell the same old things in the same old way. A reputable and successful website is one that creates original and new content, or provides some outstanding service, or sells something unique, and thus stands out from the crowd.
It has Useful Content
Original and unique content in and of itself is pointless if it is of no use to anyone. Note that "use" does not necessarily mean that others need to be able to take direct action based on your content. Even blogs that tell of (say) your struggle with some particular issue in your life (be it office politics or relationship problems) can be considered useful to others because it helps them understand or cope with their own problems. So when I say "useful" I mean it in the broadest possible sense.
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