If you’re running your own website or contemplating doing so, you know that there are upfront costs to the hobby. I started running my own website here, 404 Tech Support, and hoped to cover the costs of hosting and domain registration by displaying ads on my web site.
First things first, you’ll want to try to reduce your costs as much as possible. If you’re just starting out, you’ll want to choose appropriate scalable hosting. Time for a reality check! If you’re just starting off, some cheap (but fast and reliable) hosting will likely do the job just fine. Many hosting providers offer shared hosting. Basically your site sits on a server along with a bunch of other sites. You’re limited to a certain amount of RAM and CPU usage, but other than that you’re basically all set. Some will even pay the domain registration fees for as long as you’re paying them to host your site.
With lower costs, you’ll be more likely to recover those costs sooner rather than later with a few well-placed advertisements and incoming traffic. HostICan has proven to be very sufficient for my needs. They pay the domain costs and have a low per-month price for reliable hosting.
To create your income, the easiest way is through advertisements. Affiliate systems might work for you, depending on what your site is about, but they are usually a little less reliable than embedded advertisements on your site. The best thing you can do for your site is to just create quality content. Any system you come up with, you’re going to need to bring visitors in to your site. A lot regarding the amount of revenue you might be able to generate will depend upon how much traffic your site sees on a daily basis. Therefore, create/write about/etc. something that people would want to see. With that in place, you can have your pick of the litter when it comes to advertising systems out there. Some examples of common systems include:
Google AdSense – Google’s ads are probably the most common and easiest for a new website to start off with. They are very customizable to fit your site just right and Google does all the legwork of matching your site (as a publisher) up with a company’s ads that are somehow relevant to your content. For targeted advertising, this is definitely the easiest. Google pays out after you earn $100 and credits mostly based on clicks with a few coming from views.
Project Wonderful – Project Wonderful is very common among webcomics or so it seems. This system has a different take on ads than Google’s ads. They provide the means to connect advertisers and publishers together through their site. Basically, you put a spot on your site (of a few different dimensions) for advertisements. Advertisers on Project Wonderful can then bid in an on-going auction to have their ad shown on your site for X amount per-day. The person with the highest bid wins and their ad is shown in that slot. You get paid incrementally as time goes on and an ad is shown. You can add funds via Paypal if you wish to do your own advertising or withdraw to Paypal when your account reaches $10.
BuySellAds – BuySellAds is another system that’s popular among bloggers. You can see the different sites that are using BSA by browsing their inventory, the same place where you can also purchase a place to put your own ads. They are similar to Project Wonderful but sell the ad space by the month instead of by the day. I have no personal experience with BSA, but I imagine the success you experience with any ad system is going to differ based on your traffic level, your area of content, and how appealling both of those are to interested advertisers. If you have personal experience with BuySellAds, either good or bad, please share in the comments.
Do I have to pay taxes?
Once you have your cost-recovery system in place for your site, you might be wondering about the related taxes to this source of “income.” A great resource in that regard is the Adsense Taxes site. This site can help you sort fact from fiction and make sure you’re in the all clear with Uncle Sam’s IRS.
If you have any other ad systems you’d highly recommend, related questions, personal experiences, or other valuable resources to up-and-coming website owners share it in the comments. We’d all love to hear and learn from your experiences.