In September 2005 I was offered a stake in an Internet business due to my experience in the IT industry. My partner would lay out the capital and I would make my contribution by designing the website and handling all the technical issues. My partner got the idea from a program he signed up for, called the Business Partnership Program. This program consisted of a huge list of affiliate programs that we could promote through our own website. Like most of these "Make Easy Money" schemes they promised we could make up to R50000 (round about $7000) in the first few months, but we all know that good returns only comes through hard work.
So we started our own website (www.liafin.co.za) publishing a wide range of these products on our site, most of them being e-books. We later found that the shotgun approach is not working and we started to theme the site around health care, fitness, weight-loss and sport. The problem is that neither me nor my partner are experts in any of these fields, so it is quite hard to produce good quality and unique content on our own, meaning that we publish a lot of articles available for syndication (rest assured that this post is not about duplicate content ). This comes down to the fact that our site is mainly affiliate orientated, simply put, we do not actually provide any unique useful information apart from listing e-books and products related to the categories I previously mentioned. It is more like a directory than anything else if you can call it that way.
My question is, is it ethical to run a website like that, knowing very little about the products we promote apart from the fact that they were recommended by respectable sources and that some of them are best-sellers in their field.
We all know how frustrating it is to run across spammy sites like Made For Adsense sites or sites consisting of a couple of pages, listing only affiliate links and nothing else. I feel that our site is very close to the latter and would like to know if anyone have good advice for moving away from this and making the site more useful, more acceptable in terms of good Internet etiquette and honest business.
I know that it is much easier to make a success from being an expert in a specific field and knowing a lot about the thing you do. This allows you to produce unique, useful, related and fresh content for your website, a never ending source of content and ideas. Are we wasting our time with this project? Should we consider a field where we have more experience and knowledge about? What about sites like Amazon, it is impossible for Amazon to be an expert on every product they sell, but people do not necessarily see them as spammy.
Bottom line is, is it possible to transform a site like this into a useful site, relying mainly on affiliate and advertising revenue? If so, can anyone please provide a couple of pointers to get us in the right direction. If not, be blunt about it, your honest opinions will be greatly appreciated.