The Web offers many paths to fiduciary gain. Here are some of the most popular ways Web sites make money:
Donations . It sounds crazy, but some Web sites badger their visitors for spare change. Donations might work if your Web site provides some truly valuable and unique content (see Figure 13-1). Otherwise, don't bother. Don't be seduced into logic like "If 1000 visitors come and every visitor pays just 10 cents ." They won't. (If you still want to add a Donate button to your Web pages, you can use a payment service like PayPal, which is discussed later in this chapter.)
Advertisements . The most popular way to make money on the Web is by selling small spaces of Web-page real estate. Unfortunately, this is also a great way to exasperate your visitors, especially if the ads are distracting, unrelated to your site, or simply take up too much space. Not long ago, ads were the worst thing you could do to your pages. Fortunately, in the 21st century, monitors are bigger, and companies like Google provide targeted , unobtrusive ads that fit right in with the rest of your site.
Affiliate Programs . Rather than plastering ads across your site, why not put in a good word for a company you really believe in? Many affiliate programs let you get a commission for referring customers to other sites. For example, if you review gourmet cookbooks, why not include links to the books on Amazon's Web site? If an interested reader buys a book, Amazon's associate program will fork over a few dollars.
Sell Stuff . If you have your own products to sell, the Web is the perfect medium, since the costs required to set up shop online are so much less than in the real world. You can build a slick store, with product pictures and a shopping cart, with surprisingly little work.
Pay-For-Content . If you have really great content, you can ask for cash before letting your visitors read it. Warning: This is even harder to pull off than asking for donations, because visitors need to take a huge leap of faith. It's a technique that's used by established media companies (like the Wall Street Journal ) and hucksters promising secret ways to conquer the real estate market or get free camcorders.