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Expert Answers to Biz Questions

Listen in! Pick up some expert advice to a reader's question that we selected from CyberSchmooz.

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The Biz Question

I want to launch a website, and I'd like to know how to find sponsors, so I can post their banners on it, and get money through the referral service. What are the rates? Is it worth it?

Answer from our Guest Expert Mark Bower of Aberdeen Mobile Home Repair

Hi, Adam!

Congratulations on launching your website! I've recently launched my own website, so I know where you're coming from.

Think Twice About referral Services

As for the referral services and banner exchanges you're asking about, I want you to know they won't have you rolling in the dough. Sure, you may end up with a small commission check every month (rates are low), but it'll come at the cost of subjecting your visitors to those very annoying banners all over your website. My recommendation would be to stay away from them and to attract sponsors and advertisers other ways.

When it comes to finding those sponsors, keep in mind websites are a dime a dozen these days. Advertisers and sponsors don't have unlimited budgets, so they're very choosy about which websites get their advertising dollars.

Build "Real" Traffic to Your Website

So before you even start to solicit those sponsors or advertisers, make sure your website is too good to resist. To do this, start building real traffic to your site. Notice how I said "real" traffic. The number of "hits" that a website touts means nothing to many advertisers. They're more interested in the number of visitors who stayed longer than a minute. These visitors are the ones most likely to see their ads on your website. For instance, a person who only stays at a website for one second could have 10 recorded hits as the various servers route to it. So anytime you hear a website say it has 10,000 hits a day, divide that number by 20 or so to get a closer look at the "real" picture.

Increasing traffic to a website is a full-time promotional job. The days of submitting your URL to a search engine and watching the money roll in are long gone. Like any other business -- online or off -- smart marketing strategies are the key to making people come to your storefront. Finding and implementing those strategies takes time, trial and error, and creativity. I'm sure you have some of those already up your sleeve. Market your website every opportunity you have.

Once you start building real traffic and reaching a designated target audience, finding those sponsors will next involve basic sales skills. Like with any business getting started, cold-calling and knocking on doors are two successful ways of recruiting advertisers.

Unless you're a big name thinking of starting a website, you'll first have to prove yourself before advertisers or sponsors are willing to risk their heard-earned money with you.

Best of Luck!

Mark Bower

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