Delegating Tasks: 15 Key Roles for a Revenue-Producing Website

Saturday, August 11, 2007 at 1:00pm by Site Administrator

If you’ve cast your business into the digital realm – that is, plan to earn revenue online – consider how much like a business running a revenue-producing website really is. On the surface, it seems like it’s easy for one savvy digital entrepreneur to run the entire show. While that may be true for a while, the complexity of necessary roles will eventually weigh you down.

Entrepreneurs, especially bootstrappers, have a tendency to feel they need to do everything themselves. Write it into your business plans to eventually add team members to whom you can delegate tasks. Here’s a list of key roles for an income-producing website.

  1. Standard business roles.
    The normal roles/tasks of a terrestrial business are necessary as a base:

    • Public relations – press releases, etc.
    • Human resources – hiring, firing, policy.
    • Fianance and accounting – budgeting, cash flow, accounts receivable + payable.
  2. Content writing.
    Websites that never add new articles are likely to stagnate. You need fresh content. However, this is typically considered to be all there is to a setting up a website or blog, but as this list will show, there’s much more.

  3. Copyediting.
    An article does not have to be published on your website the moment the writer completes it. Not everyone writes well on a consistent basis. That doesn’t make them bad writers. A good copyeditor will take the raw energy of an article/ blog post and improve grammar and coherency by applying the rules of copyediting. They’ll also check for copyright issues, attribution, facts, and broken hyperlinks.

    Unfortunately, after 9/11, a lot of editorial type roles were ditched in the publishing industry, with the expectation that writers would copyedit themselves.

  4. General editorial.
    An EIC (Editor-In-Chief) or Managing Editor will keep watch over a publication’s consistency, topic range, editorial calendar, assigning creation of visual content, running meetings and bullpen sessions (where staff dissect the previous issue) and more. This role varies greatly from publication to publication, and sometimes includes Publisher.

  5. Publishing.
    In print, the Publisher is the person who runs the overall business, get ads and sponsorship (or manages the manager of the ad sales team as well as the EIC. They also ensure there is enough operating capital, which might mean acquiring business operating loans or investment capital. New print publications historically do not turn a profit for the first 3-5 years. That has changed for Net publications. Sometimes. The equivalent of a Publisher for a website might be a Channel Manager, a Webmaster (depending on the department running this role), Portfolio Manager (if there is a parent company with other properties), or dozens of other possibilities.

  6. Comment moderation.
    Your website is your company’s face to the public. PR (public relations) departments understood this in the 1990s and often wrested away the role of Webmaster from more technical people, who were often perceived as socially inept nerds. Those Webmasters who remained in the role and had a technical background were often scapegoats.

    The same sort of situation could happen with comment moderation. It takes the skills of a diplomat, sometimes, to properly handle the comments that people occasionally leave. And whether the commenter was justified or not, you cannot have a quick-termpered personality moderating and responding.

    Have a comment policy, display it clearly, and stick to it. If your weblog uses WordPress, use the Comment-Policy plugin.

  7. Managing negative dialog elsewhere.
    This role should really go hand in hand with your site’s comment moderation. You can separate the roles, but they should part of the same team – probably Public Relations. If people comment negatively, elsewhere, about your business, services, or products, you cannot let things go. Neither can you get upset, no matter how much it bothers you. Diplomacy is key once again, though very easy to forget.

  8. SEO of content and site structure.
    SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a dirty word in some circles online, but like Rodney Dangerfield might say, they don’t get no respect. There are lots of honest SEOs using completely organic, whitehat methods (Google’s Matt Cutts) to improve a website’s ranking in the search engines and increase traffic.

    Search traffic tends to be more targeted than incidental traffic, so it’s as important as any regular subscribers – sometimes more so. SEO has many aspects, and includes stronger titles, better keyword placement and variation, link building, and much more. Some people like to say it’s not rocket science, but the best SEOs seem to have a considerable amount of technical understanding of the Web.

  9. Link building.
    While link building is a part of organic SEO, it’s often worthwhile hiring someone to do only this full-time, under the wing of an experienced SEO if possible. Not only should a link builder build links, they should be tracking backlinks as well, using a variety of SEO tools. Technorati‘s Cosmos is useful in this regard, especially when paired with Yahoo! Pipes to build a backlinks tracker.

  10. Article promotion.
    A key component of link building – besides commenting on other websites, blogs and forums, or guest writing elsewhere – is to promote your best articles on social media sites. This is called Social Media Marketing, or SMM. However, this has to be handled in a delicate, never spammy manner. A good SMM (often skilled in link building) is worth their weight in … well, you get the idea.

  11. Site design.
    Good entrepreneurs are often Renaissance men/ women who have the multi-discipline skills of a Leonardo da Vinci but are often Jacks/Jills of all trades. Unless you really know design, let a good web designer build your site’s theme. You can stick to CSS tweaks and hacks, if you have a need to tamper with a website’s appearance.

  12. Web analytics.
    While you shouldn’t be obsessed over web analytics on an hourly basis, monitoring various web metrics for your site is in fact important. And it’s not enough to just monitor them but to understand long-term trends and short-term phenomena, then produce an action plan to utilize them.

    • What are your visitors searching for? Did they find it?
    • As your traffic has increased, have revenue-generating transactions increased?
    • Are your landing pages effective, based on the “trail” of pages visitors use?
    • Have you defined site goals and are they being tracked?

    Don’t rely on any one tool. Google Analytics is great overall though very complex, and not real-time. Performancing’s PMetrics is ideal as a real-time intermediate solution for blogs. Sitemeter or similar products are good for a quick, real-time overview of a couple of simple metrics. All three are free, under a certain amount of traffic and/or most features.

  13. Online ad campaigning.
    Online ad campaigns are similar to old media advertising, but there are many technical aspects to master:

    • PPC (pay per click) and search marketing, PPA (pay per action), CPM (Cost per mille/ thousand), etc.
    • Split-test tracking (with web analytics) coupled with landing pages and other copywriting.
  14. Online promotions and marketing.
    In addition to advertising, you may want to run online contests or affiliate programs. If you sell a brandable product or service of your own, affiliate programs not only allow others to share in your profits, the are a great way to build links.

  15. Technical administration and webmastering.
    If you have a website, you’ll want some sort of webmaster to over see technical matters. If you have company email accounts or even an actual office with networks, etc., you also need network and other types of administrators.

Not all of these roles require a different person – many can be combined. How much of these roles you apply depends highly on whether you expect your website to generate revenue. This revenue could be either through products or services, or through ads on a blog. Of course, only businesses with a product or service to sell will want to consider an affiliate program.


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Filed under: Entrepreneurship

1 Comment »

  1. You might want to consider GoStats as an altnerative web stats soltuion. It’s near realtime and comprehensive while still easy and fast to read.

    Comment by Richard from GoStats — August 11, 2007 @ 10:54 pm

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