How to Build Your Own Revenue Share Site
Do you currently generate content for revenue share sites such as HubPages, Examiner, Infobarrel, Helium or Yahoo! Voices? Do you envy the money that these sites make and how little of that cash goes to you (via page views)? If you’ve dreamed about collecting all the revenue that a site like Yahoo! Voices makes or even selling such a site one day (Yahoo! paid $100 million for Associated Content), then read on. Here are the steps that you will need to take to build your own revenue share site:
1. Buy a domain name and web hosting.
Obviously, you need to have your own website before you can generate any income from it. Fortunately, the cost of doing this is rather minimal with sites like HostGator and GoDaddy charging you roughly $10/year for a domain name and another 10-$15/month for web hosting expenses.
2. Create a Google AdSense account.
Google AdSense is probably the most ubiquitous adshare program around, offering instant platforms through which publishers can generate income via posted content including articles, blog posts, photos, videos, etc. Google AdSense also offers a range of useful tools to track page views and ad clicks and generate ad campaigns. For the purposes of a revenue share site, Google AdSense offers a software tool called the AdSense Host API; this tool offers the opportunity for a pool of publishers to each earn his/her own separate income from one publishing site.
3. Install Google AdSense on your website.
Before you can install the AdSense Host API, you should first install Google AdSense on your website. AdSense will report how many visitors your website is getting, where these visitors are coming from (both geographically and online), what keywords are being used to locate your site, etc. Having such information is critical for increasing your site traffic and recruiting other publishers. It’s also imperative because, as step 3 notes, you won’t be able to implement the AdSense Host API without a certain level of traffic.
4. Install or build your revenue share infrastructure.
Google releases the AdSense Host API only to those websites that generate at least 100,000 page views a day. Yes, Google’s page view requirement does make things difficult for publishers who are just starting out with a revenue share site. If your site is hovering a just a few 100 page views/day, you may want to take these alternative approaches to AdSense revenue share:
a. Create your own revenue share infrastructure. If you have any programming knowledge, you can generate code that will allow you to incorporate different Adsense codes and payment percentages into a single revenue share site.
b. Hire a programmer. With sites like oDesk and eLance, your outsourced programming costs could be rather minimal; i.e., a few hundred dollars should have you set up with your own personalized AdSense revenue share site.
c. Find and install a clone script. Sites like HotScripts offer scripts that can be used to implement a revenue share model onto your website. Likewise, you can look up and copy the coding of revenue share sites like HubPages, then make some edits to that code and use it on your own site. However, unless you’re familiar with coding programs and what they are capable of, your best bet is to go with option b and work with a programmer.
5. Decide how you will pay your publishers.
Now that you have your revenue share model up and running, decide how you will compensate your fellow publishers via Google AdSense earnings. Some sites initially give publishers 100% of their generated earnings in order to inspire more and better content. However, if you are concerned about covering your investment costs, you could set up a 60/40 earning model where publishers receive 60% of all earnings and you receive the remaining 40%. You might even wish to pay certain publishers up-front for selected pieces of content that you request. Such up-front payment could go a long way towards promoting your site and attracting a higher caliber of publishers.
6. Promote your site.
The hardest part of owning a revenue share site is driving traffic to it. Traffic is the lifeblood of your business because it generates AdSense income, thus keeping you and your publishers happy. Traffic can also lead to lucrative ad offers from outside advertisers, lessening your reliance on just Google for your income. Finally, traffic works through a positive feedback loop: more traffic equals more publishers signing up to your site, which equals more content, which equals more traffic and more publishers producing more content, ad infinitum. Of course, once your traffic levels reach 100,000 page views/day, you can implement the AdSense Host API and receive account help and information from Google itself. How can you best promote your site? Here are some time-tested methods:
a. Create a referral program. Provide your current publishers with a strong incentive for bringing other publishers on board. Those incentives can include a share of the new publisher’s earnings, a referral bonus or a prize.
b. Use social media. Use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to talk about your revenue share site and what it offers to publishers. Encourage content submission by posting a contest or some other buzzworthy event.
c. Go local. Consider setting up a booth at your city’s or town’s next career fair and advertising your website. Place an ad in your local paper. Put up flyers on college campuses and in town (with permission, of course). Don’t forget to talk about your revenue share site with everyone you meet; oftentimes, you might recruit publishers simply by the fact that they know you.
7. Create incentives for star publishers.
How do you motivate your current publishers to stay with your revenue share site and keep publishing good content? By providing them with various incentives. For example, you could create publisher levels based on a certain number of page views; with each page view level surpassed, that publisher earns a higher AdSense income. Alternately, you could target certain assignments and payments to a select group of “emeritus” publishers.
What else can you do with your revenue share site once it’s generating page views and money? In some cases, you may receive a buyout offer from a major online player such as Yahoo! or even Google itself and thus ensure a very comfortable retirement for yourself. You might also team up with another revenue share website or two and create an online network such as Demand Media has done. In short, the sky is the limit and you will definitely be surprised by where your revenue share experiment takes you.
Photo credit by Kyle May