Why Your Popular Website Isn’t Making Money


by Don Smith

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I got an email this morning from Flippa, a popular online business selling platform, regarding a business for sale. As a business consultant, I'm always interested in what industries are performing well. I also like to keep an eye out for businesses that might sell simply because the owner has made enough and wants to retire.

Anyway, this morning's email was interesting. There's a site for sale that has 1.1M+ visitors and 13k followers on their Facebook Page, yet only produces $1,293 in profit each month.

Email from Flippa

How can a website with over a million visits every month only produce $1,293 in profit? That's $0.001 or 1/10th of a cent per visitor! Most of us have heard that views equal cash. Not so fast. I don't know about where you live, but here, $1,293 a month isn't going to go very far.

As a business consultant, I already know the answer to why a popular website like this isn't making money. I've worked with companies with virtually zero visitors to their website who do millions of dollars in business every year. I've also worked with companies with tons of visitors yet very little revenue.

The answer is simple.

There's a BIG difference between VISITORS and CUSTOMERS.

I mentioned this in my articles, “3 Lessons I Learned by Going Viral on Reddit” and “How to Get Ranked High in Google's Search Results,” where I talked about what happened when stuff I created hit the front page of Reddit and Google. Likes, views, and followers don't turn into cash if you don't sell things.

Placing other people's ads on your site usually won't create a multi-million dollar business that supports several employees unless you've identified a highly profitable affiliate marketing program like selling websites and themes or other software. If you want to have a successful online business, you've got to sell stuff that people want to buy.

For example, SiteGround and Thrive Themes have decent affiliate programs for their customers. SiteGround pays $50 for each new customer and Thrive 35% of every sale. That's why you'll see links to those at the bottom of this website; it's worth sending a customer their way plus that's what we use here so I know they are good programs.

If you coupled that with website development or a course on creating websites that convert, you could have a decent business. Better yet, you could even host the customer's site on those platforms, do all the development and management of the site, and charge the customer a recurring fee that includes the cost of hosting and your time.

Most companies BUY ads to sell their products and services rather than rely on ad revenue to drive their business. Even guys who write articles for a living like my blogging buddy Ryan from Blogging From Paradise aren't relying solely on money from ads on their websites. No, Ryan sells courses and e-books about blogging.

You'll see virtually no ads on this site, although we allow promoted articles and guest posts that help our readers achieve their goals. That's because our primary source of income is business consulting and sales of personal development e-books and courses. I don't want our potential customers to go to other websites, and I want them to have a great experience, so you won't see many ads here.

If you have a popular website that isn't making money, it's time to reevaluate your business model. Ask yourself what do my visitors want that they'll be willing to buy? Better yet, what do my visitors want to buy regularly? Then give them what they want! Businesses grow not because they're misleading their customers but because they provide products and services their customers crave.

Why Your Popular Website Isn\'t Making Money

About the Author 

Don Smith

Happily married with five kids, Smith owns a technology company, has served on the board of directors for multiple companies, and loves playing soccer, hiking, and mentoring.

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