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My other concern is to how profitable an educational site can be. My site is part reference material so that people can quickly find the answers as to the whos, whats, wheres, and whens, as well as more detailed accounts of certain events in a more story-like manner. Are visitors to these types of educational sites generally fairly inclined to buy stuff, or are they more inclined to swoop in, read for a bit, and be on their merry way?
Anyway, any thoughts you might have on making educational sites profitiable would be most welcome. :)
As far as affiliates go, think about not just your topics but the wider student market. There are hundreds of products that will appeal that do not have to be directly involved in your areas of content but appeal to the people who will be attracted to your content. Make sense?
I would suggest you produce an opt in email list, maybe a forum, etc - think of a way to get the same people coming back. There is value in just having repeat traffic as it allows you to branch out and attract bigger sponsors and advertisers.
Some affiliate programs allow you to encourage clicks (don't try that with Google). Join programs that would be of interest to your readers and urge them to support the site by visiting sponsors.
And as metioned, a good resource site can be used as a launching pad for other stuff designed to make money.
Do you expect it's mostly highschoolers? Do you expect it's university kids? Then run stuff that would appeal to that market.
The tricky part here is nailing the demographic. Perhaps you should encourage people to "sign up" for something and take down name, age, sex, and education, if you can, to work out who you're getting. Maybe encourage them to enter that data to win some prize.
Also, products are a good idea.
My company sells a product called 10,000 Books on CD-ROM - which does fairly well for Educational Sites. Something like this is the way to go.
Teachers will buy, but they are not affluent. Parents may buy sometimes. Lots of visitors will probably come for info and not be in the buying mood. You'll have to do something to grab their attention. I sell a few products to teachers from a special teacher's page on a site that is not specifically focused on educational material.
There are some good affiliate programs for the cable tv networks that deal with history and geography. They feature lots of different kinds of products.