Advertising and Marketing
Advertising Your Site
Just because you've built a wonderful new website doesn't mean visitors will automatically find it. Even before you launch, you need to start thinking about how you’re going to attract visitors - first-time users and repeat customers, content consumers and content creators, sponsors and advertisers. The bulk of your site’s popularity will depend on how well you promote it and how well you let people know when it’s refilled with fresh content. (For information about selling ads for your site, please see Sales, Fundraising and E-commerce.)
What we once called "word of mouth" has given rise to something known as "viral marketing." Viral marketing is more than simply hoping your most ardent supporters will mention your site as they go about their lives. Viral marketing is a marketing message that is attached to or part of the normal use of your site (or more generally, your product) by its readers.
RSS is an efficient way to get information quickly from the web. Basically, it drives information from the web directly to readers instead of forcing those readers to surf a list of bookmarked sites. Think of it as the difference between subscribing to a magazine and going out each month to buy that magazine at a newsstand.
Getting and Giving Links
Current thinking on when to provide links recommends adding as many outside links as are appropriate for the content you’re providing. This is a significant reversal from the linking theories of the web's early years, when many news sites adopted policies of rarely linking to external sites.
Using Twitter for promotion and community
Twitter, the leading service for microblogging, was quickly adopted by dozens - then hundreds - of news outlets in 2008.
Sales, Fundraising and E-commerce
Putting Ads on Your Site
Now that you're an Internet publisher, you may look at advertising in an entirely different light from when you were just an Internet user. Users are seldom big fans of ads. But as a publisher, you not only want to draw readers for your content, you also may need to raise money to keep your operations going. Let’s take a look at the various types and uses of advertising online.
Identifying Revenue and Sales Opportunities
As you plan for the launch of your site, you should think about how you are going to keep it going once it gets off the ground. You'll need funds to pay for such things as your web hosting service, software, telephones and equipment. You also may want to pay someone to edit your site and help solicit writers. Support for these costs can come from a number of sources including selling advertising, selling subscriptions, soliciting sponsors or donors, seeking grants, holding fundraising events, and even selling some content, such as photos.
Advertising is one of the most common ways to raise money. To sell ads, however, you have to identify potential advertisers, establish prices, and establish guidelines for content. Selling ads may also mean you need a sales representative or sales staff.
Maintaining Ethics and Standards
Whether you’re just trying to make enough to cover your hosting costs or building your website as a full-time business, money talks. Even those who start out with the best intentions can be led astray by the lure of a big ad buy.
Tracking Your Users
Why Traffic Matters
It’s critical that you start tracking your visitors at launch so that you can gauge your site's growth. And it’s important that your tracking tools give you specific information about what sections are most popular and how your visitors are using your site.
The most widely used metrics for measuring traffic to your site involve counting page views, visits and unique visitors. They all measure different things and all have shortcomings that affect their reliability. In addition, time spent on site, bounce rate and loyalty are other metrics worth your attention.
Thankfully, technology has come a long way with regard to online traffic reporting. It’s no longer necessary to run log files through special software to analyze your traffic.
From the moment you launch your site, you should create ways to listen to the responses of people who visit it. Sometimes your readers will initiate responses through comment forms. At other times you'll want to solicit feedback, perhaps through an online or e-mail survey.
Web-based tracking services are the most common practice for measuring your traffic.
Law and Ethics
It’s common practice nowadays, with aggregation sites popping up all over the web to direct traffic to other sites. In fact, there’s even a movement called “link journalism” (see the Wikipedia entry on "Collaborative Journalism") that is all about deep linking.
Copyright and Attribution
Copyright is a tricky idea, and there are many overarching legal battles going on relating to copyright and the Internet. It’s natural to be a little confused about it.
Online Libel Issues
Quality publications build solid reputations on competent factual reporting and sage editorials. Losing your footing on these foundations for even one paragraph can expose you to legal liability and a loss of credibility. The resignations of top editors at the New York Times after reporter Jayson Blair fabricated information in stories demonstrate that no publication is immune to the consequences of poor reporting.
Legal Issues for Online Publishers