Before you begin, if you’re scratching your head wondering “How do I make a business plan?” consider whether you will write one yourself or if you’d like one written for you. There are options available for both choices, and articles available here to help you decide.
If your website’s business plan talks of bringing in revenue through sales of products AND advertising AND subscription fees, stop and think through the revenue model again. Strong business plans, whether for internet businesses or otherwise, feature a clear and primary business model. Providing a list of the ways revenue will be achieved rather than making a choice, will be considered weak by readers, who may assume that you don’t really believe in the ability of any given one of these revenue streams to carry the business.
Subscriptions Versus Advertising
For a content-based website which does not sell products directly, the two main revenue models are charging customers for access to the site (or to a premium version of the site) or integrating advertising for other websites and businesses into the site. The subscription model has met with only success on the internet, as so much content is being provided by amateurs for free that professional content for pay can be a hard sell.
The advertising model is more common, and is even used by non-professional websites to capitalize on their growing popularity and earn some money on the side. However, the strength of Google as an ad provider drives down the revenue that can be earned from these means. More and more site visitors are needed to reach old levels of revenue.
The third model is to actually sell something on your site. Even if this was not your original intention, you can become a hybrid e-commerce site as an e-retailer affiliate. With affiliate programs available from Amazon and Ebay, you can help to sell their products. By encouraging your site users to relevant products on these sites you can earn commissions for each purchase you send their way.
The reason that readers would prefer to see one compelling revenue model rather than a mishmash of two or three is that each of these models calls for strategic choices in how you provide content, what partners you have to manage relationships with, and the balance of skills your staff will need. Think through what you and your site has to do to make any one of these revenue models work, and you will understand the kind of tradeoffs you must make.
Want more tips? Here’s a related article: How to Start an Internet Business
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