So, you want to make money online? Maybe you already have a website you want to make money with, maybe you’re thinking about making one in the future, or maybe you are just curious how content creators pay the bills. Whatever the reason, we’re glad you’re here. Read on and we’ll discuss some of the most common methods of monetizing websites.
First Things First
I’m not here to tell you the correct way to make money on your website. Every person’s goals and situation are unique to them. A person who wants to work on a blog full time will have a massively different strategy than someone who runs a charity website and is just trying to pay for hosting services. Regardless of your goals, your path to success likely starts at the same place. You will need to pick a subject or theme for your site and start creating content to go with it. You’ll want to have a site that is well designed and doesn’t look like some teenager threw it together in 10 minutes after taking an intro to HTML class in high school. A well designed site helps draw people in, gives them a sense of comfort, and gives you the appearance that you are not just some amature. This is easier said than done though. Once you have your site ready and your content started, it’s time to get a following. Again, easier said than done, but it is instrumental to your success.
Ways to Monetize
Without further ado, here are some of the most common ways to monetize your website.
Affiliate links are pretty simple. You provide a link to a product on an external site, your viewers make a purchase, and you get a small kickback. This is one of the first ways many website owners monetize their site. If you are linking to good products and are transparent, it is a win-win-win. It is very unobtrusive to your viewer. You are doing product research for them and providing a link to great products. It is also very easy to manage and maintain. If you continue to bring in viewers and they keep buying items using your link, you keep making money. However, if you are advertising sub par products, it can have a negative effect on your reputation.
One of the most common ways to use affiliate links is through Amazon’s affiliate program. With this program you earn a percentage of the purchase price of all items bought via your link. The percentage you earn varies depending on the category. One really great perk with this program is that you get kickback regardless of whether the viewer buys the product you send them to or buys something else. If you link them to a book and they buy a board game instead, you still get paid.
Pay Per Click Advertising
Pay per click advertising is exactly what it sounds like. You show ads on your site, your viewers click on the ad, and then you get paid based on the number of clicks you generate. Your viewers don’t have to buy anything, you just have to get them to navigate to the page. How much money you can make this way depends on you cost per click (CPC) and your click through rate (CTR).
For example, if you have a $0.25 CPC with a 1% CTR you would make an average of $1 every 400 visitors to your page. The type of ad and the advertiser affect your CPC. A click on an ad for diamond engagement rings is probably worth more than a click on an ad for USB cables. The size of the ad, location, and relevance affect the CTR. Once you set up pay per click advertising you don’t have to do much to maintain it and it and it becomes very passive. One of the most common examples of pay per click advertising is Google Adsense. Google allows you to choose what type of ads you want to display. This helps show users the most relevant ads to them. It also completely takes care of finding the advertisers for you. You just sign up, fill out a few forms, and then paste in the code they provide you.
Other Advertising and Sponsored Content
Sometimes pay per click advertising doesn’t fit your needs and you want to be a lot more specific with your advertising. You can dedicate specific spots on your site to ads and sell the space directly to companies you believe in and you know will appeal to your viewers. You can also have certain pieces of content sponsored by an advertiser. You can see examples of this all over YouTube. “This episode of the *whatever show* is brought to you by *some advertiser*”. These types of ads and sponsorships are able to be much more targeted at your audience and can provide a more consistent and stronger revenue stream than other advertising.
Premium content is simply content that is valuable enough for your viewers to pay for. This can be in the form of videos, online courses, ebooks, recipes, etc. Once the content is created, this can be a huge passive revenue stream, but it can be a lot of upfront work. It also requires your readers to put a lot of faith in you and trust that they will receive good value from the content they are purchasing. Another positive about selling premium content is that it reinforces your site as an authority on your subject and doesn’t involve any 3rd parties.
We are all familiar with subscriptions, but many people overlook this monetization method. Subscriptions can come in a few shapes and sizes. It can be similar to Netflix where all content is behind a paywall. Another option would be to have content be free in limited quantities, and have a paid unlimited subscription.
An example of this would be a news site that lets you view a few articles a day for free, but you have to be a member to see any more after that. Another popular option is having all content be free, but being able to pay to remove ads and have premium features. This is what Pandora and Spotify do with their paid versions. One of the big downfalls to subscriptions is getting enough trust for people to take the leap. One way to help combat this is by offering a free trial of your subscription. This can get someone hooked on your site who would have otherwise passed it up. Another great thing about subscriptions is how reliable they are. Subscriptions are often as close to a reliable salary as one can get from their site. Some of the most common ways to set up subscriptions are via plugins, PayPal’s recurring payments option, and membership management software such as MemberClicks or Wild Apricots.
Offering Services or Coaching
Another popular option for creators is offering services or coaching. If you are a personal finance blogger you might offer a service to meet one-on-one and create budgets for your viewers. If you are a fitness blogger you might have a service to create a customized meal plan and exercise regimen for your viewers. This can be a great way to earn a good amount of money without needing a large viewership. It is also great for building up your brand.
There are some down sides though. This type of coaching is always ongoing work and is never passive. It takes a lot of trust from your viewers to pay money for these services, so it is important to have a good amount of supporting content. There can also be huge scalability problems. If you are the lone creator and owner of your site and you see fast growth, you may not be able to scale well enough to meet the demand.
If you have a large and dedicated following, selling merchandise can be a great way to bring in additional income. You can have custom merchandise made and earn a profit on each sale. It also doubles as advertising in many cases and helps to increase brand recognition. You’ll need to put in some work to find a good company to create your merchandise, come up with some good designs, and sell a variety of items. Once you get it all set up, it can be quite passive.
The last thing on our list is donations. This one can be fantastic or detrimental. If you utilize donations you are relying on the whims of your readers and their generosity. As you might imagine, this can be a very inconsistent income. On top of that, it has the potential to seem needy or like you are begging and can be bad for your reputation. You definitely don’t want to annoy your viewers.
It is often a bad idea to combine donations with too many other forms of monetization as it can make you seem desperate. With that said, there are plenty of websites, such as Wikipedia, that exist purely on donations. Some of the most popular donation methods include Patreon. Patreon utilizes recurring payments and tiered rewards for supporters. Another popular option is PayPal. It is very simple to use and set up. They give you the code for a “donate” button that you can paste into your site. The last common one I want to mention is Ko-fi. It allows supportes to tip creators a few dollars here and there. It presents the donation as “buying a coffee” for the creator to allow donating in a more human way.
There are a ton of ways to make money with a website. Although we’ve listed the most common ways, there are many alternatives. We’d love to hear from you. Do you have a website? Do you want to? Tell us about it in the comments or on Twitter @EscapeTheBoxLab. If you like our content subscribe to out new email list! As always, thanks for visiting and we hope to hear from you soon!