While it’s always a good idea to get custom developed enhancements for your sites, using ready scripts can save a lot of time and money. Look at the list below: all these software products can help great deal to make more money with your sites.
Besides that, looking at them can give you a lot of ideas for further growth and improvement. I know doing the research for this post generated many new ideas for me.
Niche wikis can feed your site with user generated fresh content. This may improve your rankings in the search engines, your traffic, sales, ad revenue and so on. Users who contribute content often eagerly promote it as well.
– Tiki Wiki is one of the most popular wiki softwares and it’s a lot more than wiki – integrates blogs, forums, image gallery and more. And it’s free.
– Wikiwig is also free and has a visual editor which will save you and your users from learning a wiki language.
Web Fetching and Content Agregators
Publishing duplicate content shouldn’t be the primary way to enrich your website. But smartly placed and relevant news, reviews and comments can improve greatly the user experience and increase the pageviews and the revenue it generates.
– PHP RSS Reader – very professional RSS agregator although a bit expensive (from $97 to $297)
– Free RSS to HTML PHP Script – here is a free alternative but without an administrative panel and not many features.
Communities, Social networks and Dating
Before starting a community or social network around your main site make sure you have a clear idea how it is going to be unique as these things are very hard to raise up and make alive. For sure you should think about niche (related to your main site) network or dating site, not a general one.
If you can do it successfully it will turn into very powerful free advertising and broadcasting platform for your main business.
– Facebook page or group. This is not really a PHP script but I ought to mention it. Before investing time and money into buying or developing your own community, try to start a Facebook fan page or group around your niche or site. If you can make the page active, you have a chance to go further.
– BuddyPress is a great social network for WordPress sites. It’s free and quite well supported with many themes and plugins.
– Dolphin 7 is a high profile free social network engine. Very popular and feature rich.
– SocialEngine is commercial and judging by the users feedback it’s well worth the money.
– Chameleon is good if you want to start a niche dating / match-making site. Starts from $597.
– VidPersonals is another good dating software with multimedia support. Starts at $99.
Membership Areas, Subscriptions, User Management
Sometimes the best way to monetize your expertise and knowledge is not through consulting or through offering it for free and earning from advertising. Sometimes the best idea is to protect more advanced pieces of your content and to charge for access to it. Here are some good softwares which can help you do this:
– Quadodo is one of the free solutions. It’s not very fancy but does most of what you may need.
– OmniSecure looks better, does more and has good support. Of course this comes with its price – the software price starts at $197.
– aMember is might be the most popular solution famous for the large community around it.
Sharing and Recommendation
When users share your content this leads to more new visits and pageviews. Besides that people tend to trust their friends a lot more than other forms of recommendation so usually this kind of traffic is very efficient.
– addthis.com isn’t exactly a PHP script or at least not one that you can download and install on your server. It’s a free web based service that will provide the most popular social media icons at the bottom of your pages. It’s very easy to use and you don’t need to care about updates etc. They also provide analytics so I decided it’s well worth including in this list.
– Omnistartell is one of the good options if you want to host the widget yourself. This will cost $57.
Reviews, Ratings, Polls and Voting
The most important things that these tools do are two: they increase visitors participation and engagement with your site and they can provide a very important social proof for the quality of your products or services.
– MicroRate is a basic but free script that will let your visitors rate your content or products.
– Five Star Review Script is more comprehensive Amazon-style rating widget. It’s a bit pricey however, starting at $50 per year.
StarsRate – another paid one, but it’s good and costs only $28 one time fee.
LimeSurvey is a lot more than a rating tool. It’s fully functional survey software and is open source and free.
Email Newsletters and Autoresponders
Keeping in touch by e-mail is one of the most powerful ways to get your visitors visit your site again, buy from it or subscribe for your affiliate offers.
– Inout is a complex and feature rich mailing list manager for $49.
– BFT Autoresponder combines simple and easy to use mailing list manager with autoresponders. All for $37
– Tellmatic is for you if you are looking for something free and open source.
By themselves image galleries don’t usually make money, but they are huge link and traffic magnet.
– Piwigo looks great and is free open source solution
– Coppermine is also free and although I dont like how its code is written, it’s quite good and can be used as photo contest as well.
– TinyWeb Gallery is also free, supports video, has ajax and flash effects, really cool one.
– PhotoStore is commercial solution with a bit different purpose – it allows you to sell images. It can be a very powerful revenue generating tool if you have original niche photos.
– Another photo store is Pixaria which is one of the most popular commercial solutions ($249)
Graphs and Charts
Graph and charts can help you make great infographics and visualizations that often attract links or lead to social media shares and bookmarks.
– FusionCharts is very impressive commercial package having several licenses (start at $69)
– MaxChart are simple but free. Good enough for basic charts.
– JPGraph was the first I have ever used. A bit complicated but offers very big variety of charts and a high level of customization. There are free and commercial licenses.
– AMCharts are easy to use flash based charts. Very modern looking with reasonable level of customization options.
E-commerce Systems and Tools
These scripts are intended to help you directly make money from your site. Of course you need something to sell – it could be software, movies, music, books, or even physical products like furniture, cars and clothes.
– JShop Server is one of the best rated tools in this category. I have not tried it myself, but it looks promising. GBP 200.
– CS Cart is also a commercial shopping cart software but it has a 60 days free trial. Very modern outlook and seems to be easy to use.
– Oscommerce is the most popular free open source shopping cart solution. I am horrified by its code and I don’t like the administration panel but it’s free and popular and there are a lot of modules, plugins and themes for it.
– Squirrel Cart is reasonably priced commercial software that has all the features of the more expensive ones.
– Years ago CubeCart was my favorite. I have not used it recently but I believe it’s probably still good. And the price is very decent, having even a free version.
Forums can make some money by showing advertisements but their effect is stronger in an indirect way – they are great to keep users interest in your site and to build more trust, traffic and links to it. Just have in mind that starting a forum is not an easy thing to do because no one wants to post in it while it’s empty.
– PunBB is cute little forum, very easy to integrate in existing site and customize. It has just enough features in most cases.
– SimpleMachines is for you if you need more features. It has everything that the commercial forums do.
– vBulletin is widely considered the best forum. It’s commercial but sometimes is worth the money especially if you are sure your forum will be active. I don’t think it’s better than SimpleMachines but most people are familiar with it which reduces the barrier to participation.
If you sell anything on your site you should think about customer support software. Not only it will reduce the time you spend answering emails – it will also improve your customer supports which leads to more happy customers spreading the word about your products or services and thus to more sales.
– Iscripts SupportDesk is a support suite containing everything you may want to use for customer support for $147.
– HelpdeskPilot is modern looking and fully featured software with 15 days free trial. The prices for the licenses are a bit steep however, starting at $399
– HESK is one of the few support suites that have free versions. The paid licenses are also very reasonably priced, just at $39.
– Here is a completely free one: TrellisDesk! Regardless of being free it’s a very high quality support desk software.
– LiveHelp‘s main purpose is live support chat and it’s maybe the most popular one. License prices start at $120.
– HelpCenter Live is the free open source alternative
Running a niche classifieds section is yet another method to increase traffic or directly make money if you charge for posting classified.
– NetClassifieds is one of the easy free solutions which can help you do this
– 68 Classifieds is a higher quality but commercial one which has hosted license for $40 and downloadable licenses starting at $150.
It’s very uncommon to have a popular and lucrative site without a blog these days. Even if you are just selling products and not looking for advertising revenue having a blog can greatly improve the image of your business.
– WordPress is definitely the super-leader. This blog runs WordPress, every blog runs wordpress, social comunities, shopping carts, many other sites are based on WordPress. There is no other software category which to have such a strong leader. Besides that it’s completely free!
– b2evolution tries to compete by being more than just a blog. Well, WordPress is also a lot more than blog, but b2evolution is at least worth a look.
– MovableType used to compete WordPress succesfully but in the recent years remains in its shadow. Still it’s a very good software and you may like it for a change.
Running niche auctions can earn you commissions in direct way or just increase the participation and popularity of your site (like the most of softwares reviewed here)
– WeBid is open source, free and looks professional. What else you may want?
– If you are looking for penny auction, this Ajax PHP Penny Auction for $99 is a good choice.
If you sell your own products or service, running an affiliate program is a good way to get marketers work for you (for a commission of course)
– Postaffiliate is one of the oldest and most popular affiliate program scripts. It has a simple free version and a feature rich starting at $199.
– JAM is one of the good Postaffiliate alternatives. I have no experience with it but it has good reviews.
If you are content publisher and/or blogger, then running ads on the site is probably one of the main sources of income. Adsense and Chitika are great, but often the most money are made by selling advertisements directly to advertisers.
– A.M.Y. is modern, simple and only $29 with unlimited domains license.
– Inout Adserver is a lot more complicated and feature rich but this comes with it’s price, starting at $149
– PHPads is simple, modest and free. It can do the work if you don’t need much.
This completes the list. Am I missing an important category or product?