I have made a website http://www.humanisms.co.uk, it is similar in concept to other very popular websites that are user-content orientated, ie. FML, TFLN, Sickipedia, TrueLad...etc.
Now, all its cost me so far is time and domain & web hosting fee's (so not a lot)
My question is, how much money is it advisable to spend on advertising to actually see some real income from the site?
So far i have done the usual Google adsense and put an Amazon Affiliate Widget on there. Both are free and both have fairly small payback.
What are my options?
Ok, in a nutshell my question is, are Google Adsense and Amazon Affiliate programs the best way to monetise a website for free?
Have you optimized your site for SEO? Depending on your level of traffic, you may have to invest some time and money into growing your traffic levels. If you're not optimized for SEO yet, I'd spend my initial dollars on organic Search Engine Optimization, so that you begin to grow traffic to your site. You gotta get traffic before you can start making money from your site visitors.
If you're only making money from ads, and not from your site services, you're going to need significant traffic numbers before ads will start making you much money. This is especially true because your website doesn't seem to be targeting a niche group of people - and this means that it will difficult to get very high click through rates/conversion rates, since it will be tough to have targeted ads. For this reason, I think you should focus on growing your traffic at this point. You can probably get optimized for about 5 reasonably competitive search terms within 6 months. A competitive SEO guy will cost you $2000-$2500/ month, and you'll probably have to pay him for 4-6 months in order to be successful.
If you don't want to spend that much money, I recommend learning about SEO yourself. There are tons of free blogs and free software that will help you, as well as premium ones that are even better. I think that SEO is really fun, and its very satisfying to see your site traffic increase as you improve your search engine rankings.
Here are my favorite free tools:Google Analytics is very good for this, and it is also free.
Hope this helps!
First I would work out one obvious flaw with your site, you can infinitely vote for entries. There doesn't appear to be any functionality checking if you've already voted for an entry, so theoretically someone could take your site down with little effort if they wanted too.
As for Google Ads, most people are using AdBlock which blocks ads and the type of site you are building doesn't really have a Google AdSense friendly layout in the first place. I'm not sure if you should try and monetise the site right away, get traffic first and then maybe consider monetisation.
I'm not sure how Amazon Affiliate programs could integrate into the site though, your content isn't about a product or products in particular, so how would these even come into the equation?
Get the visitors first, monetise later. That's my advice.