Psstů. I want to let you in on a little secret. Content sites don't always make a whole lot of money. Sometimes they don't make any money at all. Despite a lack of revenue content sites are not worthless, because what they don't have in revenue they more than make up for in traffic and incoming links. The only problem is figuring out how to turn that traffic into money.
When the bubble burst Internet advertising plummeted and content sites, large and small, got hurt. Smaller ones, being smaller, were more able to adapt and change with the environment. However, many larger corporate run content sites failed miserably and ended up bankrupt. Despite all of that negativity, ecommerce never slowed, it didn't even hiccup. Internet advertising may have hit the gutter but ecommerce is still growing at an amazing rate.
What does this all mean? It means that if you cannot profit from your content site with advertising, try profiting with commerce. The easiest way to do this is to simply join some retail based affiliate program as discussed in this article. If you're looking for something with more potential though you'll want to get into ecommerce.
There is no greater partnership than that between an ecommerce site and a content site. So if you run a popular content site by branching out into a related retail area you could drastically increase your income. Its also true that if you run an efficient ecommerce site by making a related content site you could drastically increase your traffic. You see, content sites get traffic, tons of traffic. They also get tons of incoming links and PageRank, however profiting from a content site a little more difficult - thanks to the current online advertising market. In contrast, an ecommerce site can make oodles of cash, the problem is its much much harder to get incoming links and traffic.
For instance check out YankeeCandle.com, if you've never heard of YankeeCandle ask your mom, or wife, or girlfriend. They are a pretty big company, with a lot of mall locations nationwide. Yet their website only has a PageRank of 5. I've managed to get sites a PR of 5 within a month, and that is without any cross promotion. Even with that piddly PageRank I'm sure they make millions of dollars of their site.
People online are more likely to be searching for information than for a product to buy so content sites get more traffic. Also people are more likely to link to free content sites than they are to link to ecommerce sites. Plus, directories are also much more likely to list you, or list you for free, if you are a free content site. So if you already own a content site and you use it to promote your ecommerce site then your ecommerce site should have an easy time competing against other ecommerce sites.
So, if you're having trouble profiting from your content site, consider going into retail. It's a big step, you'll probably want to form an LLC or an S-Corp, you'll need to setup a business bank account if you don't have one yet, and you'll need a way to process credit cards. For more information on getting into ecommerce check out our ecommerce primer.
Once you've built your ecommerce site you need to cross promote with your content. The easiest way to do this is to just run advertisements on your content site. For search engine purposes the most effective advertisement will be a text link with your keywords in the anchor text. There is nothing wrong with cross promotion in this manner since the two sites are complimentary in their subject matter.
This solution isn't going to be appropriate for all content sites. If you are going to be competing with a place like Amazon.com you might want to rethink your decision. Also if the product you want to sell has low profit margins you might not be that successful. For instance if you run a video game site this solution will probably not work very well for you. You could sell video games or strategy guides, or maybe even gaming hardware, but in all of those instances you'll be dealing with lower margins and higher competition. Can you compete with Amazon.com on a price basis? Probably not. In contrast if you ran a fishing site you might have success as there isn't a dominant fishing ecommerce site out there. You could sell specialty lures, or customized tackle boxes. Niche things that can't be found at a major retailer.
If you can manage to find a niche product that compliments your content then you will have the potential for some serious income.