Easy ways to make money from your website

A browse through phpbbhacks.com may provide inspiration for a number of money-making ideas

You don't have to be Amazon or Facebook to generate income from the web.

The modest presence you already have – whether it's a regularly updated blog, fan page or community message board – may be enough to provide a decent trickle of cash.

Many of the methods available can be implemented with very little investment: all that's required is a bit of extra code, a subscription or two and some elbow grease.

Our first tip is even more straightforward than that; sell your site's backend to other budding online entrepreneurs.

White labelling is a term borrowed from the world of supermarket branding. You've seen Sainsbury's beans and Tesco turkey fillets on supermarket shelves. These 'own brand' goods are often made by the same companies that make branded goods, but instead are given blank packaging, leaving the supermarket free to add their own bespoke logo.

The principle's the same online. A white label service provides the meat of the site – the backend programming and database. The client can then customise the 'package'; the look and layout of the pages.

If you've already built a content management system, a classified ads database, a shopping tool or any other online application, there's earning potential in selling that system, or the content in your database, to other sites.

Own brand

Any business that can be conducted on the web can be run as a white label service – from web hosting to financial advice, comparison-shopping to online dating.

For example, FastCupid and White Label Dating supply full online dating services to a range of high-profile sites. The ubiquitous Lastminute.com supplies access to its holiday database and search facilities as a white label product, too. Aer Lingus and Tesco can be counted among its users.

There are some big advantages to developing your web service idea into a white label product rather than a standalone site. The main one is that there's a transparent revenue model based on subscriptions or a cut of profits.

A standard deal would be to charge an initial set-up fee followed by a regular subscription charge to your clients. Other sites simply take a share of the client's revenue, lessening the impact on their pocket.

Just about any site can be white labelled. Travel, dating and gambling sites are ideal moneyspinners, but you could choose to offer a more generic service like a hosted shopping cart or blogging system. Income potential for white label providers is high. You'll need to be tech savvy with a product to market, but in the right market you can set your own price.

Selling services

Not quite ready to package up your back-end and sell it on? Perhaps there's some other aspect of your site that you can profit from. Could you provide a premium service with the domain and space you already have? For example, if you have a sought-after web address attached to a hosting account that enables you to create sub-domains and mail boxes, you might be able to sell those on to lucky punters.

Check your current hosting account to see if those features are available. If not, an upgrade might swiftly be paid for through sub-domain sales. Supanames offers a package with 5,000 mailboxes for £89.99 a year. This comes with 5,000 sub-domains too.

Alternatively, you can add saleable, dynamic services to any site using free PHP, ASP or CGI scripts. How about starting a classified ads service targeted towards your site's specific readership? PhpCA gives your phpBB message board classified ads capabilities, for example. You can charge for ad placement using PayPal. Scour phpbbhacks.com for further extensions to the venerable message board, or try WordPress plug-ins.