In this epic blog post, our Guest Contributor, Mark Tong gives you over 17 proven, practical, actionable ideas to help you monetize and make money from your website. As a bonus, Tong unpacks the one essential ingredient most methods of monetization rely on!
Be honest. You’re excited. You’d love to know how to monetize a website. But you’re also skeptical.
Not whether websites can be monetized, I mean the evidence is all around you.
No, you’re skeptical about whether you can monetize a website. And I don’t mean a few hundred dollars a month. I mean thousands of dollars. Maybe tens of thousands.
Well, I used to be the same.
Sure, I could see that websites could be profitable, but mine? That was a different story. Finally, I got fed up watching people around me making money. So I researched and read.
But nothing changed.
Once I put my skepticism on hold, however, and tried some simple methods to make money with a website, everything changed.
First, I made money for myself and then for my clients. And not just with one form of monetization.
I successfully monetized sites with ebooks, affiliate marketing, online courses and advertising. Because there isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution when you’re working out ways to monetize a website.
And there is a solution that will fit yours…
But first, this post is epic!
Not surprising as it is the definitive guide on how to monetize a website. It is therefore long. In fact, it is 7,828 words long! But don’t despair.
We’ve divided it into these clickable sections, so you can just click the section you are interested in right here ⏹➡️⤵️
How to Monetize Your Website and Earn Money
1. Become an Affiliate Marketer
Personally, and for clients, I’ve experimented with most ways to earn money with a website. None of them have come close to the earning potential of affiliate programs for the time and energy spent.
What is affiliate marketing?
Let’s break it down. Basically, an ‘affiliate’ is a person ‘attached’ to a company (or another individual) by an agreement to promote their product(s). So you are the affiliate, and the other company could be Amazon (or your buddy who’s made a cool app).
How you earn money
In essence, you place a link, usually a text link, on your website. Your visitor clicks that link, and it takes them to a product or service the company is selling on their website. If your visitor buys, you get a percentage, which can vary, 30-70% being fairly common.
Can any site take advantage of affiliate marketing?
Pretty much, yes. The main difference is the implementation.
Now, the two may sound the same, but there’s a big difference.
In the first example, the visitor comes to your website to read a product review and (hopefully) buy the product. In the second example, the visitor comes to your website to read about the particular field, (photography, gaming or reading in our example). They are not there to buy anything.
So why wouldn’t you just set up the first type of website?
The answer is trust.
If you go to a used car dealer for the first time, you know the cars are for sale and it’s the salesman’s job to sell you one. And you want to buy one (unless you’re a tire kicker).
So what’s the problem?
The problem is, you believe, probably rightly, that the salesman will try to offload on you the car he wants to sell, not the car you want to buy. Contrast this with getting a weekly car magazine full of helpful advice about how to buy a used car, how not to get ripped off, and so on.
And suppose after reading this magazine for a while, you found it had recommendations for particular used car dealers that the staff at the magazine had vetted? You’d probably go buy a car at one of them, because you trust the magazine’s recommendation.
The answer is, both review sites, and content sites, work great. If you’re going to start a review site, however, you need to make sure you build trust, just the same as the content site. One way to do that is to check out the Golden Rules further down.
- One of the cool things about affiliate marketing is you can get started right away. There’s even an affiliate plugin that will automatically place links from a network of programs on your website.
- The more visitors you have, the more chances you have of earning money. Nevertheless, even if you have a small audience, you can target them with very specific, higher price tag items and still make good money.
- The other cool thing is, if you haven’t even started a website yet, it might be to your advantage. You can design your website from the ground up (using our helpful guide >>> How To Install WordPress In 15 Minutes Or Less : A Step-by-Step Tutorial To Install WordPress and Set Up Your Blog ) around the products you will promote first and then spend your time attracting visitors that already use and buy similar products.
- The main problem people have with earning money with affiliate marketing is that they concentrate on the ‘affiliate’ side of the equation and not the ‘marketing’. There are two Golden Rules with affiliate marketing:
- You will earn money in direct proportion to how much effort you put into marketing the product(s). If you write a one-sided, 100 word product review and place 5 affiliate links to the same product in the text, you might get a few visitors clicking through, and maybe a sale. If, however, you write an in-depth review of, say, 1-2,000 words, telling people the good and the bad and put the same number of links to the same product, you should see a massive increase in visitors clicking through AND buying the product which equals a massive increase in the money you’ll be earning.
- Only market products you can truly recommend. Either you have bought them yourself, have tested them and would buy them, or they are recommended by someone you trust.
Affiliate marketing is one of the easiest and quickest ways to monetize a website/blog. With only a few regulations to adhere to, it’s an ideal choice to monetize a website.
2. Sign up to Google Adsense & Other Ad Networks
What are Ad Networks?
Ad networks are companies that act as the middlemen between those who want to advertise and those who want to make money showing adverts. This in effect makes you a ‘publisher’ of ads.
How you earn money
The Ad Network usually has a pool of advertisers looking for advertisement space. You sign up to the Ad Network and they place a piece of code on your website that shows the ads.
When a visitor to your website clicks on the ad, you’ll get paid. There are variations of this and sometimes it’s more complicated, but if you go with Google Adsense, for instance, all the technical stuff is taken care of for you.
Different Ad Networks
If you want to monetize a website without adsense, (which is by far the biggest and best known ad network), there are several others worth considering:
It’s impossible to say which network you’ll earn the most money from. However, for a beginner Google Adsense is the market leader. They also make it very easy for you to get up and running.
- It’s one of the quickest and simplest ways to monetize a website.
- If you use a company like Adsense, they will target their ads to your visitors.
- So how much does Google AdSense pay per 1000 views? Well, don’t expect to make a lot of money, not until you have high traffic. You’ll get around $0.05 to $0.50 per click. And only about 1 in a hundred visitors to your website will click on an ad.
How to monetize a website with adsense or another ad network isn’t the question, it’s fairly straightforward. However, unless you have, or intend to set up, a very high traffic website, you may be better off considering other monetization options.
3. Sell Ad Space
How do you sell ad space?
There are several ways you can sell ad space on your website.
- Approach companies or people you know personally, or from research, that have products to sell and offer to sell them space.
- Advertise on your website that you have ad space to sell – you can install a plugin to make this process easy.
- You can go straight to an ad network.
As we’ve already covered number three, we’ll stick with the other two points.
How you earn money
You charge the advertiser a certain amount per thousand impressions. (Called CPM, or ‘cost per thousand’). When the ad loads and is displayed to a visitor, that’s an impression. Basically, it’s one ‘view’ of the ad.
So if your rate is $1.50 CPM, an advertiser will have to pay you $1.50 every time their ad is viewed a thousand times on your website.
- Unlike affiliate marketing and ad networks, you get to keep 100% of the advertiser’s money.
- Theoretically, you are also in charge of what you show where. However, if you’re running a business, you still have to give the advertiser what they want, or they’ll probably go elsewhere.
- Compared with using an ad network, selling ad space directly can be tough going in the beginning.
- As with Ad Networks, you need a lot of traffic to earn significant money. Although, what advertisers are really interested in is the conversion rate. Which means a lower traffic website that has a more targeted visitor to the advertiser’s product can charge a higher CPM. Even though the advertiser might get less impressions, they’ll probably get more conversions, and hence, sales.
Selling ad space directly isn’t for everyone. If, however, you’re not worried by the extra work involved, it can potentially earn more than with ad networks.
4. Master Email Marketing
What is Email Marketing?
When a visitor comes to your website, you usually offer them an incentive to give you their email address. This address is then stored along with all the others you’ve collected in a list by your email service provider. You then market to that list.
How you earn money
Your subscriber clicks on a link in an email. This usually either takes them to a page where they can buy something from you, or from a third party who then pays you a percentage.
Different ways to use email marketing
Email marketing allows you to use many of the methods listed in this post, including:
- affiliate marketing.
- selling your own products.
- advertising your own services.
- Email marketing in itself is not a direct way to earn money from a website. However, combining it with one or more of the methods listed in this post will earn you more income than any of the methods on their own.
- You can market to the same list again and again, so long as you don’t spam or burn out your list.
- You can start building your list before you’ve even built your website. And if you’re smart, you can build a targeted list.
- It’s back to the matter of trust again. It takes time to build a decent sized list, and it takes time for the subscribers on that list to trust you. Until they do, they won’t buy.
In 2020 there are some internet marketers creating serious income without an email list. And without their own website. I would recommend, however, if you’re not a bona fide digital marketing genius, that you build a website and start building an email list from day one. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.
5. Promote Your Services
How do I sell services?
Your website can be an online advertisement for anything you want. Your services are no different. Create a ‘Hire Me’ page for your particular service. It doesn’t have to be flash, so long as it tells your visitor the basics:
- Hey, this is me.
- This is what I do.
- This is why you want it.
And most importantly, which you can’t believe anyone would forget (but they do):
- This is how you contact me.
Now create a menu item for the page called ‘Hire Me’ or ‘Use My Brain’ or anything that will catch your target market’s eye, and you’re good to go.
How you earn money
People read your page, contact you, hire your services and pay you. Hey presto, you’re a freelancer!
If you want to get flash (and attract more clients) then make your ‘Hire Me’ page all about your clients needs, rather than yours. So lead with:
- What the client is looking for.
- Why you can provide it.
- Why you can provide it better than anyone else.
And make it super easy to contact you, work with you, and pay you.
If you want to make this your chief source of income from your website, you can turn the entire site into a showcase for your services. The minimum you should do is have a portfolio of your work your potential clients can view or download.
And again, don’t forget to put your contact details!
Different services you can sell
This is down to what skills you have already, unless you’re willing to learn some new ones. However, before you do, you may have more marketable skills than you think. Most people underestimate what they know, and can do. For instance, have you ever:
- set up a website using wordpress?
- written posts (online or offline) and had them published?
- spoken at a public event?
If so, you could offer:
- Website creation
- Freelance writing
Don’t be fooled, either, into thinking the service you’re providing needs to be something your potential client can’t do for themselves. Services that save clients time are just as valuable.
So sit down and make a list of everything you could offer, or do a Google search and find out what other people are offering, and see if you could too. Now, for extra points, work out how you could do it better, cheaper, or faster.
- All you need is a website, a ‘Hire Me’ page and a skill someone wants and you’re set to go.
- If you have an in-demand skill, you can charge accordingly.
- Obviously you may need to attract a lot of visitors before someone hires you.
- You may need to gain some new skills that are more marketable than your present ones.
Most people think they need to have some highly specialized skill to offer their services on the internet, but that’s not necessarily the case. If you have a skill that’s in demand, or you can just save someone time, offering your services on your website is a smart move.
6. Charge for Premium Content
What is premium content?
Premium content is content that your visitor perceives as being more ‘valuable’ than the average content on your website. The important point is that your visitor, not you, must perceive it as being more valuable. It makes no difference if you believe a particular post you’ve written is the best thing since the internet began, if your visitor doesn’t, then it isn’t ‘premium content’. Period.
How you earn money
Because your visitor believes your premium content is more valuable than your free content, they will pay for it.
So how do you make sure they pay for it? One method is to use a paywall. There are three types of paywall:
- Hard – a visitor cannot access any content unless they sign up for a subscription, although it could be a one-off payment. In this instance all content on the site is premium content.
- Soft – a visitor can read most of the content for free, but must pay to read certain posts.
- Metered – a visitor can read all the posts for free, but only a certain number of posts, often in a given period. After they have exceeded this limit, they have to pay.
Of the three, the last two are by far the most common. One reason is that a hard paywall will drastically reduce the traffic to your website, especially if it isn’t established. For that reason alone, I wouldn’t recommend using one.
The easiest way to create premium content and ‘lock’ it so your visitor has to pay to ‘unlock’ it is by using a paywall content locker. These are plugins that make setting everything up simple.
Different content you can charge for
Which type of website is best for earning money from premium content? Well, not everyone will pay for premium content, so you need to know what your target visitor perceives as valuable. As a general guide, content that relates to a visitor’s work is often seen as the most valuable. This is closely followed by content related to entertainment and then hobbies.
The format that premium content comes in can include:
- If you genuinely can create, or curate, information that your visitors will pay for, this can be a great way to earn money from your website.
- There are lots of opportunities to create premium content on your website.
- Not everyone will pay for premium content.
- On most sites you can only place a small percentage of the content behind a paywall before you risk annoying your visitors.
- Working out which content to make premium can be tricky. As can working out how much to charge.
- This works best on established sites.
This method may not be for everyone. If you’re willing to experiment, however, and take a few risks, this method can yield good results. After all, you can always convert premium content back to free content if it doesn’t work out.
7. Run a Membership Site
How do you create a membership site?
Membership sites are fairly easy to create. There are a range of plugins available that run most of the process for you. Once you’ve installed them, your job is to create enticing enough benefits for people to want to pay you to become, and importantly, stay a member.
How you earn money
Obviously you earn money every time someone pays to become a member. The reason membership sites are often thought of as the ‘holy grail’ in terms of monetizing a website, is because you earn not only when someone joins. You earn every time their membership renews.
Different membership sites you can create
There are seven different types of membership sites you can build, but the real question is, what is your membership site going to be based around? The possibilities are endless. There are membership sites out there based around:
- personal finance
- real estate
Whatever you can think of, there’s a membership site for it! And before you think, who can make money out of a sock membership site, Blacksocks apparently has over 60,000 members in 74 countries.
- I’ve already mentioned the greatest benefit of membership sites, recurring payments, usually monthly, but can be weekly or yearly.
- It also takes a huge amount of effort to get a customer, so one that is tied into a repeat payment is manna from heaven.
- If you’re smart, you can make more money by charging less. This might be a little sneaky, but charities have been doing it for years. If you charge a very low monthly subscription, say $10 or less, some people will forget they are paying out each month. Others will remember, but won’t bother to cancel for such a small sum.
- One thing few people will tell you about a membership site is the amount of work they take to run. Sure, a plugin, or raft of plugins, will take care of a lot of the tech side of things, but your members will probably soon devour all you offer. The only answer is to create new benefits or content to keep them happy.
- The other downside few people talk about is the ‘churn rate’ for membership sites. This is the rate at which you lose members. Every site loses members, no matter what you do, which means you constantly have to replace them. An average churn rate can be as high as 10%, depending which niche your membership site is based around.
Membership sites are definitely something to consider in monetizing a website in 2020. They can be a lot of work to get right, especially for a new site with little to attract membership. However, if you’re willing to stick at it, they can be very financially rewarding.
8. Create Online Courses
How do you create online courses?
There are many ways to create online courses:
- Turn a series of posts you’ve written into a set of lessons.
- If you’ve written an ebook, use it as a basis for an online course.
- Create one from scratch.
How you earn money
Every time someone buys your course, you make money. What percentage you make depends on whether you use your website purely to advertise the course, or if you use it to host the course as well. Hosting it yourself is cheaper, but can be more complicated and time consuming.
Different online courses you can create
- Text: Can be created from a series of pre-existing posts as mentioned.
- Video: Again, this can be created from a series of pre-shot videos. The problem is, whereas you can rewrite a post fairly quickly so the content is fresh, it might be harder to do this with a lot of videos.
- Audio: If you’ve done a lot of instructional podcasts, you could repackage them as an online course, but see note about video.
- Slideshow: Many people gloss over this one, but slideshow courses can be popular and easy to make.
- Multimedia: It might seem natural to want to combine all these formats into one course. However, I’d caution against that. People tend to prefer one medium to the other and putting together such a course could be time consuming and expensive. Instead, if you want to take your courses to the next level, then recreate the course in different formats, so people can choose the one that suits them best.
- Online courses are hugely popular and can be very profitable.
- Once you’ve created the course, there’s very little in the way of costs, so every sale should turn in a decent profit.
- Depending on the length and format of your course, it can be time consuming, and pricey, to make. Start with something you can put together simply and quickly and concentrate on refining and enlarging it when you know you have buyers.
If you’re just starting out, creating online courses isn’t the simplest option for monetizing a website. Personally, I’d try some of the other methods listed here first. Indeed, I’d suggest perhaps becoming an affiliate for someone else’s courses first to see how the whole thing works, and then build your own.
9. Put Together a Conference or ‘Virtual Summit’
What is a virtual summit?
A collaborative online event where experts are interviewed by a host. It’s like a conference but online with the venue being your website and the host being you.
How you earn money
There are many ways to earn money before, during and after your virtual summit, the most common being:
- All-access pass – many of the interviews are free, but to view ALL the interviews, you need to buy a pass.
- Adding an extra product you can buy when you buy the all-access pass – called a ‘bump’.
- Adding an ‘upsell’. This is basically the same as a bump, but you offer it to them after they have bought the all-access pass.
- Selling physical products.
- promoting digital products.
- marketing services.
- Selling affiliate products.
Different types of virtual summit you can create
The format of virtual summits can vary, but typically they are based around a series of video interviews. These feature experts in your chosen field speaking on whatever topic you have chosen to host your virtual summit on.
Speakers at your summit are usually willing to take part to grow their influence and reach a new audience.
Although you can theoretically host your summit on almost any topic, if you want to make the most money, base it around the main theme of your website. So if Astute Copy Blogging was to host a virtual summit, the topic might be ‘grow an email list’.
Or, if you are yet to build a website, choose a topic you understand and believe you can persuade experts in that field to speak on.
- A virtual summit, if done right, can make money not only during the event, but before and after.
- Also by hosting the event, it can raise your own profile and traffic to your website dramatically.
- It’s a lot of work! You need to give yourself at least 3-4 months to organize it, maybe longer if it’s your first summit.
- It’s not only a lot of work, it’s also complicated to get everything to work smoothly. If it all goes badly wrong, you might gain some negative publicity.
- If you’re unknown and your site is new or has very little traffic, you might struggle to get well-known speakers.
A virtual summit isn’t for the fainthearted. And perhaps is best left until you’ve successfully established your website and have some traffic and credibility in your space. But if you’re willing to go all out and dive in, it can be a real money earner.
10. How to Monetize a Website – Write Ebooks
How to create ebooks
I’ve created and self-published seven ebooks. There are several ways to go about it, the simplest being, rather like online courses, to collect your previously written posts on a single subject and turn them into a book. Or you could start from scratch.
If the thought of a blank page scares you, there are books or software you can buy that will guide you through the process.
How you earn money
You can earn money directly, and indirectly, from your ebooks by:
- selling them directly on your site.
- marketing them on platforms like Amazon & Kobo, with a link from a specially created page on your website.
- promoting the ebooks and making money as above, but also place adverts in them for products or services you, or others sell, and make further income. Just make sure the adverts are related to the subject of the book. If you write a book on how to write a novel, then an advert offering your services as an editor or proofreader is fine. An advert selling running shoes isn’t.
Different types of ebook you can create
To create income, the main difference is whether you create fiction or nonfiction ebooks. I’d only recommend writing fiction if you already have an overwhelming urge to do so. And then I suggest you don’t try to do anything else.
The main reason is, it’s very hard to sell anything off the back of fiction. You can sell a course on how to write, or publish a book, or maybe editor services. However, just because someone likes your Regency Romance or Tech Thriller doesn’t mean they’re likely to buy anything else off you. So unless you can sell enough books, it’s a hard gig.
Nonfiction is much easier. For instance, I ran a website about, among other things, how to be more assertive. I then wrote an ebook on the same topic and published it on all the usual digital channels: Amazon, Kobo, Apple and so on. People:
- Bought my book, and came to my website from lead magnets in the book, and then bought other things such as a course on how to be more confident.
- Came to my website, read posts on how to be more assertive, and then bought the book.
- Took my course on confidence, came to my website, and then bought the book.
This ‘circle of income’ is much easier to set up with nonfiction.
How to sell your ebooks
As this post is about how to monetize a website, I’ll stick to that method. So you can:
- Create a page for your book(s) on your website and place ads or just links on the other pages and menus pointing to it.
- Write posts on your website on the same subject and link to it.
- Guest post on other sites and place a link in your author bio to the book on your website.
- Ebooks are inexpensive to produce and once finished, can provide excellent profit margins.
- If you are selling them on your own site, there are plenty of plugins available to make the process easy.
- As mentioned, ebooks can be part of a ‘circle of profit’ by linking them to other similar products.
- Ebooks can take a long time to write and can be trickier than people would have you believe to publish.
- Once published, you’ll also have to make sure they are visible.
- If you want to create a professional ebook, it can cost a lot more than you think.
Ebooks can be a marvelous source of evergreen income and high profit margins, but can take a lot of effort to produce. Nevertheless, I’d recommend giving one a go at some stage in your monetizing journey.
11. Design Digital Tools
What are digital tools?
Digital tools are normally pieces of software that help you complete a certain task. For instance, I use a digital tool called KDP Rocket that suggests keywords I can use to promote my ebooks on Amazon. If I had to come up with the same list by manual research (which I used to) it would take me dozens of hours. KDP Rocket does it in minutes.
How you earn money
First spot a problem that a digital tool could solve. Then check there isn’t already one being widely used, or if there is, that you can create a better one. Then create the tool or get someone to do it for you.
You can advertise your tool on your website in the same way you would an ebook or course you’d created.
Different tools you can create
There’s a tool out there for almost everything. Some ones I use regularly include:
- Creating polls or surveys.
- Analyzing the Amazon kindle marketplace.
- Creating book covers.
- Finding the most popular content on a particular topic.
- Finding email addresses.
- Creating shareable social links.
- Once created and the costs covered, like ebooks digital tools offer very high profit margins.
- You can also create a suite of tools, rather like creating a book series. For SEO purposes I use a suite of tools, each one allowing me to save time, or get information I couldn’t otherwise get.
- Spotting a gap in the digital tool market can be difficult.
- If you are a software developer, you can create the tool yourself, but it could be very time consuming.
- If you pay someone else to develop it, not only might it be expensive initially, but you must pay to have it updated. And most tools need a lot of updating.
Digital tools can give the same profit margins as ebooks, and can usually be sold at a higher price. However, like online courses, they might be something best left until you’ve tried a few simpler methods.
12. Open an Ecommerce Site
What is an ecommerce Site?
In its simplest form, it’s an online store where you can buy goods. You can find ecommerce stores that sell services or deal in finance, but we’ll stick to the most common kind. So the ‘store’ is your website and you’re the store owner.
How you earn money
As in a traditional bricks and mortar store, someone comes to your ecommerce store and buys a product. If you’re dropshipping (see below) you’ll only get a percentage of the sale, so it’s like affiliate marketing, only the customer buys on your site rather than getting redirected to another.
How do I set up an ecommerce store?
The best way is to use an established ecommerce platform such as:
Most of the main platforms have plugins that simplify the setup and running of your store. Or you could go down the route of building an Amazon store.
Different ecommerce sites you can create
There are as many types of ecommerce store as there are traditional stores, probably more. You have two main decisions however:
1. Broad or Niche?
Broad might be an ecommerce store that sells products related to sport, whereas a niche store might only sell fishing gear.
You can get even more niche and sell only certain types or brands. So in the fishing example you might only stock fishing rods, and maybe only for certain types of fishing.
Going wide might seem the obvious choice, but if your store sells the same range of products as everyone else, it’s difficult to stand out.
If, however, you sell hard to find products and brands, there may be less demand, but you may attract more customers, with a higher spend average.
2. To drop ship or not?
If you drop ship, you do not have to buy or hold stock, or fulfill your customer’s order, it’s done for you. The alternative is to buy your stock in advance, store it and dispatch it yourself. Or you can use a fulfillment center.
Margins are usually higher if you don’t drop ship and you also have more control over your stock. It’s also more work and risk.
- Retail sales via ecommerce stores globally are somewhere around the $27 trillion mark and have been steadily increasing year on year.
- If you use an ecommerce platform, you can have your store up and running in a day.
- The costs involved in running a store are low, especially if you use the drop shipping method.
- Although you can have an ecommerce store up and running quickly, it can take a long time to make appreciable sales. Because it is so easy to enter the ecommerce space nowadays, competition in many areas is fierce.
- If you decide not to drop ship, you might have to pay out for stock that never sells, leaving you out of pocket.
Setting up an ecommerce store on your website can be a simple process. However, making money from it can be anything but. If you decide on this method of monetizing your website, be prepared for challenges, but if you get it right, the rewards can be great.
13. Accept Sponsored Posts
What is a sponsored post?
Sponsored posts are content that a third party pays you to display on your site. Usually it will have a link back to something they are promoting or selling.
You can also be paid to write the content yourself, showing the third party or product they are trying to sell in a good light. Typically this would be done by writing a glowing review.
How you earn money
You are usually given a one-off payment to display the sponsored post for a certain time. This can be permanent, or for as little as a week or less.
A popular type of sponsored post is a ‘native ad.’ They look a lot more like your regular, or ‘native’, content than other sponsored posts, hence their name.
- Compared to some methods of monetizing a website, sponsored ads are fairly straightforward, and once you gain some traffic, you’ll probably find advertisers come straight to you. I sometimes receive 3 or more requests a week.
- Some website owners refuse to have sponsored content. The reason is, the most valuable asset you have is trust, as I’ve mentioned before. If a visitor comes to your site, reads the sponsored post, buys the product and is disappointed, you may lose their trust. And once you’ve lost trust, it’s near impossible to get it back. Some visitors, if they spot sponsored content on a website, will distrust all the content on that site.
- The other potential problem is most people will want a ‘do follow’ link in the sponsored post, which Google can give you a penalty for.
I have never accepted sponsored posts on any of my sites, nor have any of my clients. This despite regularly receiving 1-3 offers a week for sponsored posts.
Nevertheless, if it’s clear it’s a sponsored post and it isn’t misleading about the product or service it’s promoting, then they can be a relatively simple way to monetize a site. Just remember, your visitor’s trust is priceless. Don’t abuse it.
14. Ask for Donations
How do donations work?
Sometimes I’m asked if you can monetize a ‘free’ website, one with no ads, affiliate marketing links or premium content for instance. The answer is yes, and your site doesn’t have to be nonprofit. In fact, many ‘normal’ websites ask for donations. The method, however, is the same. Simply place a ‘donate here’ button or link on your website wherever people can see it. There is even a WordPress Donation plugin you can use!
How you earn money
At its simplest, when people click on your ‘donate here’ button or link they’ll be taken to a payment page, maybe Paypal or Google Pay. They choose how much they want to donate (you can suggest an amount) and then they usually get directed to a ‘Thank You’ page.
The important point is that you need to make it super easy for them. That way you’ll get more donations. Remember, you’re relying on their goodwill. Don’t put obstacles in their way like asking them to create an account or sign up to your email list.
How to ask for donations
The most important rule is to give people a reason you are asking for donations. For instance you can point out donations help:
- towards the cost of running the site.
- ensure the site stays free to all visitors.
- fund development costs if you offer a free digital tool your visitors can use.
- It’s very simple to implement.
- You keep 100% of the money – you may need to pay paypal or similar a small percentage.
- If you are genuinely providing your visitors with a valuable resource, you might be pleasantly surprised with how generous they are.
- This won’t work with all sites. Those who offer a valuable free resource are more likely to receive donations.
- It is also difficult to use this method in tandem with any other. At least, any other visible method. If your visitor perceives that you are earning money from your site, they might wonder why they should donate to you as well.
Because the amount of money this method generates is rather a lottery, and because it’s hard to implement alongside other methods, it’s not suitable for everyone. However, you can always try it, and if it doesn’t work, drop it and switch to something else.
15. Flip Websites
What is flipping?
Flipping usually involves starting a website from scratch intending to sell it when you believe it will fetch a certain amount of money. You can also buy an existing website and do the same thing.
How you earn money
You earn money from the sale of the website, but the amount people will pay is down to three main factors:
What type of website flips well?
People want to start websites all the time, but to do some from scratch is time consuming. New websites also have the disadvantage of no credibility in the eyes of the search engines and no traffic. They may also have no content.Therefore buying an existing website makes sense.
It also makes sense as stated above that those with the highest revenue, profit and traffic will flip best.
Niche websites also flip well, so we’re back to a fly-fishing website perhaps, rather than a generic sports gear website.
- If you build the website yourself, the costs are low.
- There are lots of owners looking to offload a website they think is useless, or they don’t have the time for. With some effort you could transform it and sell it for a nice profit.
- You may have to pay certain costs if you sell it on a flipping site.
- If you can’t build it yourself, you’ll have to pay a developer or buy an existing website.
- If you don’t have the time, or can’t find what you’re looking for, you may have to use a broker which is more expense.
- Rather like buying a used car, you can get burned if you don’t know what to look out for.
Flipping websites takes a certain amount of time, and possibly money, so it’s not the most straightforward way to monetize. However, if you can build simple websites that make money, it’s worth a shot. It’s also worth checking that you don’t spend time and money building a great monetizable website and then regret selling it later.
16. Install Repixel
What is repixel?
It tags your visitors invisibly, so third-party companies can re-target them on Facebook. It’s like retargeting.
How you earn money
You put an ad on repixel’s marketplace, setting the CPM (cost per thousand) you will charge. Any website owners who want to place a pixel on your site contacts you and if you agree a deal, repixel places the pixel on your site.
- The advantage is there are no ads on your website.
- You may also say yes or no to each advertiser, something you don’t have such control over with ad networks.
- As you only pay repixel when you get paid, you can’t lose any money, although you may not make any.
- You must pay repixel 20%.
- In essence you are allowing your visitors to be tracked without their knowledge.
Unless you have a high traffic site, repixel is probably best used with another monetization method rather than on its own.
17. Copy Others
This might seem a little flippant, but I’m serious. If you’d asked me how to monetize a website in 2018 or how to monetize a website in 2019, I might have replied differently. All the methods listed here work in 2020, but the world is a fast moving place, and nowhere more so than the internet.
Smart digital marketers are coming up with new ways to monetize a website all the time. Keep your eyes open and do a little research now and then.
One time not so long ago, few websites earned serious money with affiliate marketing, or online courses. Now, it’s normal.
What’s the next big thing in monetizing a website? I don’t know, but I know it’s out there.
18. How to Monetize Your Website & Earn Money Using Other Methods
- Set up a crowdfunding website: Some people have had huge success raising money via crowdfunding. However, you’ll need something for people to invest in as well as your website.
- Create a Paid Directory: Then charge to be listed and/or to use it, although letting people use it for free will probably lead to greater growth
- Sell Podcasts subscriptions: Create a podcast, host it on your website and sell subscriptions
- Create Banner Ads: These are covered under ad networks and ad space, but warrant a separate entry here as some people monetize their sites only with banner ads.
- Use Text-link ads: NOT RECOMMENDED. Text link ads violate Google’s terms of service. If you use a ‘no follow’ link you might be okay. Whether it’s worth the risk is up to you.
- Use Infolinks: An alternative to Adsense, they are simple to set up but have a very low conversion rate. As they run on a per click basis, the corresponding payout is also low.
- Use RSS feed ads: Although RSS has declined in popularity compared to email, some people still use it.
19. The Essential Ingredient Most Methods of Monetization Rely on.
All the methods listed in this post require you to monetize your website visitors. What does it mean to monetize website visitors? It means converting traffic (visitors) to your website into revenue. In fact, this post could have been called ‘how to earn money from website visits’.
Which means to earn money from these methods, you need traffic. And the more the better.
How to get more traffic to your site.
- Use paid ads. However, these can be a steep learning curve and can eat up your budget very quickly.
- Place content linking back to your site on websites that have more traffic than yours. The cheapest and most effective way to do this is to guest post.
- Build up a following on social media (or use your existing one) and direct them to your website.
- Place content on your own site and optimize it for search engines, particularly Google.
A plan to increase traffic to your website that involves all four may be the most successful.
20. The Magic Element in Monetizing Your Site That Allows David to Slay Goliath
Would you like to be a giant slayer?
To make more money with your small website than many much larger sites with much greater traffic do?
Well, you can. All you need is ‘targeting’.
I’ve mentioned it before, and you’ve probably seen the phrase bandied about, but what you may not realize is that it is the key to maximizing your website’s earnings.
Here’s a simple example: if your site has 10,000 visitors a month and a rival site, 100,000, all things being equal, you’d expect the larger site to make 10 times the revenue from the same monetizing methods.
But what if your 10,000 visitors were targeted visitors, and theirs weren’t?
Suppose, however, you’d targeted a particular niche with your website. Then targeted the audience interested in that niche rather than building a general website that appealed to everyone slightly, and no one specifically?
Whatever method of monetizing you were using you would get a much higher conversion rate. And the cost of running your smaller, more targeted site would take less time, and money.
Which is exactly what smart website owners are doing. To increase your conversion rate, keep visitors on your website long enough for them to take the required action whether it is to:
- view an ad.
- click on a link.
- buy a product.
And the second thing is to serve them up ads or products they want.
And by smart targeting, you’ll have done both.
Now You Know How to Monetize a Website, it’s Your Turn.
Are you still excited? And skeptical?
It’s up to you. You can be like I was and watch others successfully monetize their website. Or you could join them. I’m not asking you to give up your skepticism, just put it aside long enough to see what I saw.
So pick ONE monetization method listed and try it. If it doesn’t work, try another. Find the solution that works for you.
Because what’s more fun? Being skeptical? Or being successful?
Let us know what you think.
Disclosure of material connection