I am not a professional web designer. Truthfully, everything I know about HTML and CSS was rather poorly scrapped together from a few different books. I’m still in the dark about how a great deal of it works. Yet, you might have noticed I have more than five websites going at any time.

There’s a reason for that. Websites generate you publicity and money while you sleep. Since I’ve had multiple websites for many years, I want to share with you some of the things I have done that have gotten positive (money-making) results.

Tip 1: Modesty is a wonderful thing, unless it’s a special occasion, don’t Flash your customers

The truth hurts. A totally Flash based site is still a nearly sure way to drive people away from your site. The first mistake is the beloved Flash intro. I have a fast computer because I am a computer ADDICT FREAK running multiple PCs and Macs. Most people are not computer geeks like I am. Most people have two computers, tops. One is an over-burdened, virus-ridden, crapped out Wintel PC that the whole family uses. Perhaps they have an equally spyware-ridden laptop with an iffy-at-best wireless connection to the internet. Flash intros clog up a sluggish PC faster than you can say, dial-up. Yet it amazes me how the big entertainment superstar sites are saturated with lavishly designed bloated Flash movie intros that even take my computers an agonizing 30 seconds to load. A little Flash is great though, just confine it to assets like audio players like Wimpy, short movies embedded in your site, and photo galleries like JAlbum, stuff like that.

Tip 2: All roads point to product

Make it redundantly, pathetically, moronically easy to get to your product. Put a link to the purchasing part of your site on every page 2-3 times. Make it virtually impossible to miss. Links to purchasing items need to be on the index page, but everywhere else too. Do the six year old test: Could a six year old find out where you are selling your book/cd/anorak collection/puppy collars in 2 clicks?

Tip 3: Go into detail

And another thing: go into detail! People want to read about what they are buying. They want to know they are getting something good. They can be told through pictures, which truly are worth a thousand words, depending on what you are selling. Words help, too, as I would have to know a lot about an independent artist CD before considering buying it. Reviews are nice. Previews are much better.

Tip 4: Get your own domain name

It is worth the $10.00 per year, trust me!!! Having your own domain name looks more professional, makes your site easier to find, and makes your site more visible to web robots. Even if you are a very small time operation, at least buy your name or the name of your online store.

Tip 5: Expand your repertoire

Shoppers love variety. I go to my favorite sushi restaurant and I like the idea of being able to order any one of 97 zillion different types of seaweed roll, even if I do somehow get the same thing every single time. The weird thing about the internet is that you can sell anything in any amount. The more choices you have, the more you will sell.

Tip 6: Give something away for free

This one has worked WONDERS for me. I wrote an album of songs called QUEENIE several years ago and primarily gave the songs away. The recording quality was not great. I was going nowhere fast. I gave songs away on websites, I gave them away to radio stations, I gave away copies of physical CDs. This practice rocketed me to popularity on three of the biggest websites going and gave me a decent amount of exposure with a budget of $0. I decided to do the same thing with Forever Fifteen, to make it free, and I have gained a modest amount of fame as well for the book, which brings me some very nice dividends each month. But you don’t have to limit yourself to giving away the types of things I have (audio). You could give away a free PDF eBook, free ringtones, free desktop wallpapers, a free Flash game, free bumper stickers. Be generous to a fault. Never worry about people “stealing” your downloads. There are a zillion people surfing the internet. If a half million “steal” your download, then the other half million who never would have found out about you just got exposed to your product and image for free. In the endgame, you get more exposure and make more money, because they’ll be back.

Tip 7: Back Up Your Data. I have learned this one the hard way: if you don’t back up, you are going to wish you did. Back up your website or suffer like I have in the past from being STUPID.

Above all, the best thing you can do to sell more stuff is to put yourself in the place of someone surfing your website. What’s in it for them? Why would they stay on your site, and why would they want to return? Think of yourself and the way you buy things online and go from there. Then think of what your friends buy online and what sites are attractive to them and why. And never, ever spam people. Happy selling!