If you can't come up with a business model for your idea for a website, can you just slap ads on it and call it a day?


I apologize in advance to smart, experienced tech entrepreneurs if the question is absurd, I'm just trying to get where you are and you have to start somewhere. I have an idea for a website that could generate a decent amount of traffic (~ 1000 uniques a day lets say) and it would have virtually zero overhead costs (estimated $100/month), but the problem is I don't have a business model for it. Can I just slap ads on it and expect to recoup my monthly costs and then some? Other advice?

Thanks so much in advance for your wisdom!

Advertising Website Web Dev

asked Dec 20 '10 at 17:15
319 points
Top digital marketing agency for SEO, content marketing, and PR: Demand Roll
  • 1000 x 30 = 30,000 unique visits, and only some of it will count towards advertising. It won't make back your $100/mo overhead. Advice won't be easy to give without more info. about your site content. – Henry The Hengineer 13 years ago
  • Never apologize for your inexperience. Inexperienced entrepreneurs are just experienced entrepreneurs waiting to happen. – John Sjölander 13 years ago
  • They are virgins waiting to be broken in! =) – Frank 13 years ago

3 Answers


Do you plan on making actual business of it? Then I'd say – probably not.

The CPM of Google AdSense, and the likes, are usually about 10-25 cents CPM. For bloggers and other low-cost online sites that should cover the basic costs, and even make some money if you're big. To make actual money on a site, you need more than that.

Andrew Chen have written well about how "Your ad-supported Web 2.0 site is actually a B2B enterprise in disguise ", which is worth the excellent read. His point being, to make actual money you're going to have to sell your ad space yourself, by providing a good audience segmentation (what's your visitor demographics) to a suitable advertiser.

But as with everything, there is another side to this story.

It's a start. And perhaps an important start. Maybe it covers your server costs, etc, allowing your a few extra hours a week to produce new features, or grow your audience? AdSense may very well be on the path to your sustainable business model.

However, it's important that your bet isn't "I have to grow huge before I can grow profitable". Very few businesses succeed at that, and the costs are immense. Your investors know from the bubble days that it's not a bet worth taking. (Even Facebook, at > 500M users isn't really profitable)

In short, day one you need to have an idea what your business model will be. And day two, you start exploring if the idea you have can generate any sales ("maybe these guys would pay for promoted posts", "maybe if I charge for this extra feature", etc.) If it works, try scaling it, if it doesn't throw it away, come up with something new and try that. Iterate quickly.

Wow, I feel like I can go on forever. But my basic advice is: have an idea and start exploring it early.

answered Dec 20 '10 at 19:35
John Sjölander
2,082 points
  • Great tips, there is a business model if you look hard enough. You can sell the data you collect, or if you give us a look we can help you figure out a revenue source. – Frank 13 years ago


You should study the marvellous world of business models (the best reference so far: http://www.businessmodelgeneration.com/ ) and, if you feel overwhelmed and/or lazy, contact an expert.

The easy way is to try different business models in a short period of time and research which is better for your web page.

answered Dec 20 '10 at 20:29
184 points
  • +1 Business model generation, the book is great! – John Sjölander 13 years ago


Theoretically, you can and a lot of people do it, but without knowing the specifics of you website idea i doubt nobody can give you more detailed answer.

answered Dec 20 '10 at 17:36
2,288 points

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