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Making an educational site profitable...

3:15 am on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I'm working on an educational site at the moment with a focus in the humanities (ie. history, mythology, etc.) and am scratching my head as to the best way to make it profitable. The obvious routes to go, at least from what I can see so far, is AdSense and affiliate links to books related to my site's subject matter. However, I'm at a loss as to what else, if anything, I should think about using beyond this for bringing money to the site. I don't know if CPM is the way to go, since it seems much of the networks don't run ads relevant to what my site's subject matter is, but I'm wondering if there's anything else in the way of affiliate links that I'm missing (perhaps affiliate links to various knick-knacks related to the subject matter of my site?).

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. :)

11:04 am on Jan 18, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Sites do not need to always directly be profitable. If your site attracts lots of links, particularly .edu links, it can be valuable just as a launch pad for other more commercially targetted efforts. Failing that .. Get high enough PageRank and you could sell textual advertising in addition to adsense, aff banners, etc.

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.

4:10 am on Jan 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

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You might want to come up with some ideas for history/humanities related tee shirts, and set up a Cafe Press shop. I don't make much money with Cafe Press, but it's a free service (for a limited store), and anything I make is pure profit.

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.

5:47 am on Jan 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

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WebmasterWorld Administrator skibum is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member

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Language learing packages, university lead programs, books, movies, Satellite TV (might be a stretch but promoting channels relevant to the audience could work), spring break and travel if you have a student audience, personals, collectables, old or rare books, auctions, etc...

And as metioned, a good resource site can be used as a launching pad for other stuff designed to make money.

6:07 am on Jan 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

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I agree with the others. You can sell stuff, or run ads for people who sell stuff, but you have to do some work to find out exactly who is hitting your site, and then target the demographic, rather than trying to sell stuff related to your content.

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.

2:58 pm on Jan 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

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Collect Geo information on your users, as many Universities pay good money for geo targeted leads.

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.

Good luck.

6:06 pm on Jan 31, 2005 (gmt 0)

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What is your target? Students, educators, administrators? What is the age group? Teenagers don't spend much money on educational material. About the best thing for them is music and movies.

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.