Web Business Model: Information Delivery
One of the biggest benefits of the World Wide Web is that it presents a fast, efficient, and practical way to share information around the world. Information can be updated quickly and easily in a single location without incurring the costs of reproduction and distribution for each individual recipient. There are two common Web models for information delivery:
Each of these Web-based business models is described below, including a discussion of the benefits of each model, the responsibilities you'll be required to assume, the costs of building your site, and how you'll make your profits.
Newsbytes provides valuable news and how-to articles about business, finances, law, and technology through an electronic medium. Rather than buying the content from a physical newsstand, however, dues-paying Newsbytes members get the premium content free of charge right off the Web, and nonmembers pay a per-item price to get the information.
Workz is an example of an online magazine that provides information to small businesses about building, managing, and promoting a profitable Web site.
Responsibilities. To have a site that offers new content or presents information in a new way, you'll need to develop your own content or purchase it elsewhere.
First, create a content strategy to decide what kind of content you'll feature on your site, such as articles, news, or chat. You'll have to either create your own content or acquire content from outside sources. Then make sure to develop procedures to update your content. Creating your own content requires a significant amount of time to make sure that it remains fresh and interesting. If you want to publish an e-mail newsletter about wool sweaters, for example, you, as the owner, may need to be the moderator, so anticipate the maintenance that your information delivery site will require.
In addition, especially when dealing with acquired content, you must be careful to avoid copyright problems.
If you are charging your subscribers for your online publication or have restricted access to your content, you may need many of the components of an e-commerce site, such as online forms, a merchant account provider, payment gateway software, alternative payment options, customer service, and possibly a product catalog and shopping cart for larger content sites. See workz.com's "Features and Relationships that Support E-Commerce" for details about these components. If your site content is extensive, you may also need some form of content management software to track and manage your content.
Costs. Building a Web site that delivers information will cost you fees for Web hosting, fees for a payment processing service, and the price of security software to protect customer information, such as names, addresses, and credit card numbers.
If you decide to acquire content from outside sources instead of creating it yourself, that costs money too. Check out iSyndicate to see how content is bought and sold.
Profits. Profits from your new-content Web site can come from charging customers for the content you provide to them. And you can syndicate your content to other Web sites. Check out iSyndicate for an example of how this works.
Of course, your Web site itself can also be a source of income if you sell advertising space for banner ads, sell and manage e-zine advertising space, join an affiliate (or associate) program, or create your own affiliate program.
Portals are informational sites; they are not used sell products or services but serve as information centers and gateways to other sites.
Some portals -- such as Excite, Yahoo!, and iVillage.com ? attempt to be complete directories to the Internet. Consider Excite, for example, with its broad range of topics: autos, business, careers, news, shopping, etc., which all lead to an introduction page and a set of links. This kind of portal often offers other special features too, such as e-mail, news, shopping directories, and search tools, to entice people to use the site as their main "point of entry" (or "portal") to the Web.
A special-interest portal is another kind of portal site, but it doesn't try to index the entire Web; rather, it is a directory pertaining to one particular thing. The Classic Truck Shop site is an example. There you'll find everything from classic truck auctions to parts dealers, truck clubs, chat, and a bookstore. The site also offers a free e-mail account to its users. Workz.com is another example of a special-interest portal, but it provides information to small businesses about building, managing, and promoting a profitable Web site.
Responsibilities. The advantage of building a portal is that you get to be an expert -- either an expert on one particular thing or on the broad scope of the World Wide Web. In the former case, you'll need to gather everything you can on a particular subject, establish contacts in that field, and decide where you want to advertise your site. With the latter, you'll need to constantly monitor and post what is important, popular, and useful about everything on the Internet in general, in order to keep users returning.
Therefore, you'll have to create a content strategy. Decide which kinds of content you want on your portal site, such as articles, news, or chat. You'll have to either develop the content yourself or purchase it elsewhere. Then make sure to develop procedures to update your content. And, for example, if you want to send a weekly newsletter about wool sweaters, you, as the owner, may need to be the moderator, so anticipate the maintenance that your portal will require.
Costs. Building a Web portal will cost you the fees for Web hosting and design. If you decide to acquire content from outside sources instead of creating it yourself, that costs money too. Check out iSyndicate for an example of how buying and selling content works.
Profits. While portals do not typically sell products or services, you can make money from your portal if you sell advertising space for banner ads, sell and manage e-zine advertising space, join an affiliate or associate program, and/or create your own affiliate program
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