Content Management: Developing Content and Information Websites
Chances are you've seen at least one or two of these sites when browsing the internet... large websites that are comprised entirely of short to mid-length informational articles. You might not have thought much about them at the time, but good websites like that are designed with one goal in mind; each of the sometimes thousands of pages on the site contains small ads which bring in money for the site's creator.
If even a few visitors to each page clicks through on the ads per day, that can equate to thousands upon thousands of clicks per day... and that's just for the one site. Many individuals and companies who create informational content sites will develop several of these "educational websites" at one time, and each of them are all linked to the same advertising account. If done correctly, content and informational websites can equate to quite a large amount of money for their creators.
At first glance, it might seem nearly impossible for a private individual to even conceptualize creating a content site (or several) of that scope... after all, that can equal out to thousands of pages of content that all need to be written and formatted! There's a secret to it that pretty much all major content sites use, though; the content is generated by freelance writers and then uploaded to the site's database, where it's placed on the pages which are pre-formatted so that the site owners only have to make sure that the pages are edited correctly. This form of content management system is very common.
Obviously there's still work involved with the creation and execution of such a website, but if you're willing to put the work into it to make it a success then you could receive quite a return for the time and money that you invest into the project.
Anatomy of a Content Site
When looking at the overall structure of an informational content site, it’s actually pretty simple. Most sites of this sort feature a central homepage, with links to the top (or newest) articles hosted on the site as well as a search function that allows visitors to find articles on whatever topic they’re looking for. There will also often be links to the various categories of articles that the site features. This core homepage only serves as a hub for everything else, however, because the majority of the visitors to the site never even see this page.
The main purpose of the articles on the site is to snag visitors from search engines who are looking for information on whatever topic the article is covering. The articles are search engine optimized (SEO) so as to be picked up by searches for specific keywords on sites such as Google or Ask.com, and this is where the majority of the site’s traffic comes from. As an example, if you were searching for information on how to make soap and went to your favorite search engine and typed in “how to make soap” then you would get pages upon pages of results from your search. You pick one that seems like it might be what you’re looking for, and you’re presented with an article that tells you what you need to do to make soap… and there are a few ads on the page that provide links to websites that sell soap-making supplies or perhaps custom soaps that other people have made. More than likely you’ve found yourself on a content portal website, and should you decide that you want to click on one or more of the links in the ads to possibly order some soap-making supplies then you’ll be registering even more clicks for the site’s owner… just like potentially thousands of other visitors every day.
Finding Talent to Write the Content
If you want to try your hand at making your own content website, then you’re going to need some original content to place on it so that you can begin drawing in visitors. Some of these sites grow to be so large that it would be difficult at best for one person or even a small group of people to create all of the content in a reasonable amount of time; the key is getting other people to write it for you and then making sure that you own the rights to the finished product. This last bit is very important, because it ensures that the authors aren’t going to post the content elsewhere (which would make those pages potentially rank lower in search engines because they contain duplicate content.) If nothing else, make sure that you have exclusive usage rights to the content; the writer would still own the copyright, but wouldn’t be able to publish the content elsewhere online without your permission (or you removing the content from your site.) Most content sites require that writers surrender the full copyright upon submitting the content.
There are two main ways to get the content that you want from people… you can either buy it from them, or you can get them to give it to you for free. If you’re purchasing the content then you might attract a higher grade of writers who are actually trying to make money off of their writing abilities; if the content is submitted for free (with the writer usually getting a by-line on the finished article but still surrendering the copyright to you) then you will mostly get people who just want to see their name in print. You can often buy content in bulk for relatively little per article, though you should be wary of writers who are willing to take a very small amount of money for a large number of articles as they may be getting other new writers to create the content for free and then selling it to you for a profit. These sort of exploitive writers are quite common online, but are frowned upon by the professional writing community… hiring them or paying your writers exceptionally small amounts can garner you a bad reputation among various writers and online bloggers.
The Editing Process - Good Content Management Means Careful Editing!
Once you’ve begun collecting content, you will most likely need to run it through at least a basic editing process. Here is where a good content management system can help. Most content sites have a generally small pool of editors who stay busy, but many of their edits are simply matters of formatting and grammar as opposed to the in-depth fact checking and editing that would occur at a publishing company or major magazine. It can sometimes take a week or two for submitted content to make it completely through the editing process, especially if your editors return articles to the author that need revisions and ask them to resubmit them once the requested changes have been made.
When the editors have finished with the various articles then they are put in queue to be uploaded to the website, and it’s generally at this time when payments (if any) to the authors are made.
Getting the Content Online
The articles that are ready to be put on the site will generally be placed into the content management system - a database that is automated to update the site… this means that the formatted file will be processed by the site’s automation script, a page complete with advertising code will be generated for it, and it will be listed in the “latest articles” blurb (if your central page has one) without anything else needing to be done to it other than simply uploading it. If your page has an RSS feed announcing new articles, then it will also be submitted to any subscribers. So long as the page doesn’t need to be removed from the site, that’s all that will have to be done to it and all clicks on the page’s ads will be registered in the site’s advertising account.
One thing that you should keep in mind, though, is that as the site becomes larger many more of the articles are going to start being found by searches each day. This isn't a bad thing, as that’s the entire point of opening up an informational content site, but it will begin to use more and more bandwidth as the site becomes more popular. Make sure that the web server that you’re using to host the site is able to handle the increased load, and also check to make certain that you’ve got enough bandwidth allocated to you if you’re using a professional web hosting service or else you might end up going over your allocation and either have your site go offline or be charged for additional bandwidth.
The best thing about this type of content site is that once an article has been uploaded to the site and is generating advertising revenue you don’t have to do anything else to it other than collect the money brought in by the advertising. The page will remain online until the site is closed down or you specifically take it off of the site due to problems with the article or to rotate it out with other content.
Depending upon what you have planned for your content site, you might want to occasionally remove articles from it and place them on other content sites developed in a similar manner… you can actually operate several sites using the same pool of informational articles, simply rotating out different articles from one site and uploading it to another. This not only generates “new” content for the site that you upload the article to, but it also helps to prevent the “duplicate content” problem since you’ve removed it from the original site.
This hub brought to you...
by Julie-Ann Amos, professional writer, and owner of international writing agency www.ExquisiteWriting.com
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