Whether you’re considering a career change or just want to start a project that will prove to be a good source of additional income, building a website is an excellent choice. Not only are sites easy to put together once you’ve chosen the right platform and template, but they can also be a great way to make something with a minimal investment.
Info sites and e-commerce sites are two popular categories to choose from. Still, they work in very different ways and require a distinct type of commitment.
So how do you know which option is best for you?
The answer to this will depend on how much time you’ve got on your hands. Your skills and strong suits will also be a determining factor. If you’re looking for a way to make your choice easier, here are the main things to consider when it comes to info and e-commerce sites.
The Passive Income Route
If you already have a blog, are a good writer, or are simply passionate about any type of product, then the obvious choice would be to direct your efforts towards running an info site. These websites are meant to offer relevant content to readers regarding a wide variety of topics.
The way to earn from an info site is simple – you set up an affiliate account with product sellers, link to their pages using a tagged link, and earn a commission every time one of your readers makes a purchase.
The amount of money that can be made through an affiliate program is unlimited but will depend on the number of visits your website gets each day. This means that, for this type of venture, your focus needs to be directed to two things:
- A high volume of quality content
- Search Engine Optimization
Writing content for info sites
If you’re knowledgeable about a topic, you can monetize your insight by offering people information. According to research, 91% of people read online reviews, using them to form an opinion regarding a product.
Some of the most popular info sites do exactly this: they either put together lists of best products from a category or point out the pros and cons of a single product. However, writing these types of posts requires research, and sometimes even spending money before you can make it back.
A rule of thumb is that, in order not to compromise its authority, an info site must be objective, stating both the advantages and disadvantages of a product or service. RunRepeat, a website that reviews footwear, finds a great way to do this by offering readers a clear overview of the positive and negative aspects of every item.
Another great way to write info site content is to compare similar products or services so that your readers have a very clear image of how they differ. By including a direct link to merchants at the top or bottom of a page, you’re helping website visitors take the next logical step in their shopping experience, all the while maximizing your chances of making a profit. Even if your readers don’t make a purchase right away, cookie settings will ensure that you receive your share if a product is bought within 30 days of clicking on the link.
How E-commerce Sites Are Different
While info sites focus on providing information, e-commerce aims to sell a product developed and marketed by you. Unless, of course, you decide to go the dropshipping route.
With e-commerce, you should be prepared for the business to be a full-time job, which might make it your only source of income. It will not only require you to invest in the design and development of a product or service, but you’ll also have to take care of marketing, customer support, shipping, and financial matters.
Nonetheless, if you’re an entrepreneur who has a vision, this could be a great way to make it in the business world, especially if you are ready to roll up your sleeves.
E-commerce Web Design Rules
When it comes to presenting your items in the best possible light, you will greatly depend on web design. The ground rules for e-commerce websites are the following:
- Opt for a clean & focused template that directs visitors’ attention to what you’re selling
- Use high-quality visuals that show off your products in the best possible light
- Simplify navigation and make use of suggested product sections
- Use social proof
- Use visible and well-worded CTAs to ensure sales
In terms of content, the biggest way an e-commerce website will differ from an info site is product descriptions. Here, instead of going into every bit of detail, you should aim to be brief, precise, and highlight the uniqueness of what you’re selling. Of course, e-commerce collection pages don’t have to lack information, as exhibited by Rain or Shine Golf. But, what you do include must serve the purpose of helping you make a sale.
The Challenges of E-commerce
Now, unless you’re dealing with a very small quantity of products and monthly sales, running a successful e-commerce business will require you to assemble a whole team of people. For entrepreneurs who are just starting out and dealing with a limited budget, this can pose a problem.
In these cases, joining a program such as Amazon’s FBA (Fulfilled by Amazon) can be an excellent alternative. It allows businesses to prepare and list products, but operational actions such as shipping and customer support are taken care of by Amazon, in exchange for a fee.
However, this type of model does have its disadvantages as well. According to this post about selling on Amazon, the FBA model’s biggest drawbacks include:
- multiple fees
- shipping costs
- co-mingling issues
- a higher level of competition
For most entrepreneurs who are serious about running a long-term business, FBA won’t be worth the risk. Instead, they will opt to take the slower route and dedicate the time and effort needed to build up an e-commerce business from the ground up.
Info Sites vs. E-commerce: The Final Verdict
Despite both options offering lucrative opportunities to make a regular income, you can see that there are some significant differences between the two types of sites.
When choosing which business model to go with, it’s important to consider how much time, money, and effort you are willing to invest. If you’re a budding entrepreneur who wants to sell their own products, then the obvious choice would be to open a webshop. If, however, you’re looking for a passive source of income that can work for you even when you’re taking things slow, an info site might be the better choice.
There are, of course, the alternative dropshipping and FBA options as well – but unless you’re willing to take a risk with stock and unreliable suppliers, they just might not be worth it.