While I’d argue that the glum mood targeted at web startups is overstated, there’s been a refreshing return to a focus on revenue models. Companies whose burn rates have them running on fumes by 2010 should be focusing on how they can get cash on their balance sheet. It all boils down to a couple of concepts. On the web you can charge for access to attention, utility, or information. Here are some ideas targeted at the sweet spot of small web 2.0 startups looking to stretch their investments with some revenue.
Advertising - If you’re not advertising, you’re leaving money on the table. Every page should have advertising. There is a veritable cornucopia of format choices for publishers out there and no reason why you can’t find something to fit your needs. TextLink ads monetizes words. AdSense does a good job for text-heavy sites with a lot of page views. SocialMedia.com is killing it for Facebook apps (note: I work for SocialMedia).
Payment Services - Payment services are an easy way to up sell customers to a premium service. Services like PayPal and Zong are a lot easier than dealing with credit cards directly. Zong makes it easy to charge users by their cell phone.
CPA Offers - CPA has two main uses: as a possible alternative to CPC or CPM advertising, and as a payment method. To the first point, a lot of publishers have a misconception that CPM is the best you can do. This isn’t always the case. If you can successfully convert a lot of users on an offer, you can sometimes make a lot more money than an advertiser would pay for ads on your site. One caveat is that since these offers only pay out on completion, revenues can be volatile as payments come in over time.
CPA can also be used to drive a virtual economy as well. A lot of Facebook publishers and even websites like Gaia Online let users earn money by completing offers instead of pulling out a credit card.
Sponsored Listings - Your user’s attention is valuable. If you have a niche, consider letting people buy their way to the top instead of earning it.
Consulting - Chances are that after a year in the business, you’ve picked up some useful knowledge. Other people in your industry will likely pay for that knowledge. Just be sure to charge a healthy rate and have a clear product.