Right. Let's get one thing straight. This is a guide to making your website earn money. It's not some get-rich-quick scheme (indeed, when I tried it I didn't get rich quick) - it's just a nice way of earning a little extra money.
Now I know what you're thinking. This is the way to earn big cash off the web, right? Wrong. Actually, banner advertising isn't very good at paying, at least for the little guy. Why? Well, you reckon you can really write to Microsoft and ask them to buy some advertising on your own website? It's not going to happen. Sorry, but it's about as likely to happen as, well, something very unlikely.
Banner advertising is good for people who have loads of traffic. I'm talking over a million page impressions a month. (Not hits. Page impressions. Hits are meaningless. Page impressions aren't.)
There are some people who pay by impression - so, providing you've a sensible amount of traffic, you can earn something. Something being the operative word - you can't earn megabucks this way either, with most campaigns being around $3 cost-per-thousand-impressions. Still, it all adds up - one thing to remember is that a US cheque costs around £6 to pay into a UK bank account. Ouch.
You could go it alone, but if you fancy running an accounts department in your spare time, you're more lunatic than Mr Lunatic from Lunatic Village. It is, however, possible to join someone who'll sell your space and still sell your own ad banners if you want to.
Affiliate programmes are usually commission-based. These are great for everyone concerned - good for the advertiser, since they only pay when
someone buys from them, and good for you, since, well, you get paid. Eventually. And therein lies the rub.
You'll get around 5-15% commission on stuff you sell. But most affiliate schemes only pay you when you've earned a sensible amount of money. The affiliate scheme at Amazon say they pay you after every quarter, providing your commission is £100 or over. Now, that would mean you'd need to sell around £1,000-worth of books through your site. If you've the traffic, fine. If you haven't, it might not be for you. And, of course, this money's quarterly.
Having said that, when I first joined them, amazon.co.uk paid out on amounts of £25 and over, and were even kind enough to enclose a freebie t-shirt with the paycheque. They're one of the best affiliate programmes to join, since you get a helpful e-mail each week letting you know what people are looking at, what books people bought from your site, what are good-selling books you might like to consider adding, and so on.
There's more than one way to boil a chicken
There are other ways to earn a sensible crust from the web. Selling pornography is very lucrative - but not very nice, and to have something worth paying for over the 'net in the UK might put you foul of the long arm of the law.
If you know other ways of earning money from your internet pages, then let me know. I've personally tried all of these methods, and got cheques from all of them - although it does take time.