I've been running online sites and forums for many years. Over that time, I've discovered that one of the top things people want to know when they meet me, is how to make money (or make more money) from a website or blog. Some of the inquiries come from men and women who are trying to figure out what kind of business they could run online based on how much money they might make. Others come from people who already have websites and want to know more or better ways to monetize their efforts.
And some of the inquiries come from dreamers who've read too many pitches from Internet hucksters and put the "make money online" question this way:
"I'm tired of working so hard. How can I set up a website like yours so I can make money without working very much?"
I always chuckle to myself at those inquiries. Most "armchair riches" occur because the business owner is still working when most other people are watching TV or have gone to sleep, but she's working from her armchair instead of her desk. But, I digress….
Three critical website monetization factors
There are three primary factors to consider when you're looking for the best ways to monetize a website or blog:
- The focus of the site (your niche)
- How much that audience spends on products or services related to your site's special focus.
- The size of your audience
As a general rule of thumb, the smaller your audience, the more likely it is that you'll need to make money through some form of product sales (selling something yourself, or getting a commission on the sales of another company's products or services.) The bigger your audience, the more likely it is that you can make money by putting ads on your website or blog. And the more money your audience spends on products and services related to your niche, the more money you could make from advertising income and/or product sales.
Keeping those factors in mind, read through the list of ways to make money online below, and choose the best monetization strategies for your site. Remember, too, that you don't have to limit yourself to only one way to make money from your website. The best plan is to develop multiple revenue streams. Expect the nature and size of those multiple revenue streams to change as your website or blog changes and grows in popularity.
Common ways to monetize blogs and websites
Sell your own products online
No matter what type of products you sell, you can sell them online provided that they are shippable and you have a way to process orders and accept payments online. Start small and test the waters using an outsourced shopping cart such as 1shoppingcart.com, or selling on Ebay.
Summarize your knowledge and sell it online
No shippable products to sell? Not to worry. Create an ebook or guide or even a checklist and then sell that online from your own website or blog. Don't have a merchant account or storefront? Sell it through Amazon Kindle, or ClickBank or other services that will sell the electronic information product for you and send you a royalty on each sale. In that case, you would market the product and link to it from your blog or website.
Monetize your muse
Is there a novel inside you? Or one you've already written but couldn't convince a publishing house to buy? Sell it yourself through Kindle. Will you get rich and become famous? Probably not. But you will become a published author and maybe make a wee bit of money in the process. (And, then you could create and sell a guide to how to publish your novel on Kindle for fun and profit.)
Sell your services online
Using your website to promote your service business is even easier in many respects than selling products online. Have an attractive website and include articles that show off your expertise. Be sure each article and each page on your site includes your contact information and a link to your credentials. If you're selling design services, or anything visual, include a portfolio page. If your services can't be visualized, include a case studies page. And don't forget to put a call to action on every page! If someone is interested they need to be able to quickly spot a "Hire me" or "Contact me graphic that takes them straight to the information they need to reach you.
Hold training seminars via webinars or teleseminars
Charge to attend. Or, let visitors attend the live event for free, but make them pay in they want to access a recording or transcript at some time after the event takes place. Be sure to record all your events even if people have to pay to attend live. You can then package the recordings up and sell them as a separate product in the future.
Buy other people's products at wholesale and sell them
Go slowly here. Before you buy a large quantity of merchandise, be sure there really is a market for the product and that you have an affordable way to drive customers to your storefront or eBay.
Become an affiliate for other companies
With affiliate sales, you make money when someone clicks on a special link on your website, then makes a purchase on the merchant's site. Look for companies that have products that are a good match for the subject matter of your site or blog and then see if they have affiliate programs you can join. Or, go to affiliate network sites such as ShareASale.com, Commission Junction, and LinkShare and search for merchants that have good offers that will interest your site's audience. The success of your affiliate advertising will depend on a lot of things, including how good a match the affiliate offers are for your email list and website audience, how good you are at preselling the offer, the volume of traffic you get, how good the affiliate ads and offers are, and what the offer landing pages look like.
Get paid for sales leads
Known as lead generation (leadgen for short), selling sales leads online usually involves getting someone to fill out a form and provide contact information so a merchant can follow up with a sales call. The form may be on your site or the merchant's site, and usually to get paid, the person who completes the form has to be a qualified lead - meaning it comes from a customer who includes real contact information and is a likely prospect.
Make money from pay per click ads networks
The most well known of these is Google Adsense. But other programs can bring you income too. Kontera, Vibrant Media and Chitika are three others to look at. How much money will you make? It depends on the amount of traffic you get to your website and how much advertisers pay for ads in your niche as well as where the ads are placed on your pages.
Sell display advertising and sponsorships on your website.
Display ads are the banner ads you see on the top and sides of websites, or sometimes covering up a website for a few minutes before the main page loads. These are usually soldon a cost per thousand basis (CPM). To sell these ads directly, you'll usually need a fairly large number of visitors to your website. If you don't have a large number of visitors, look for display advertising networks that work with small publishers.
Sign up as a publisher with a banner advertising network
Finding the right banner ad network to work with may take some detective work. Some of the networks require a lot of traffic; others provide ads only for certain niches. Several to check out include:
Sell ads in your email newsletter
If you have a website or blog, you should be asking visitors to sign up for a newsletter on your site. When you send out a mailing to alert people about what's new on the site, include an ad or two from other companies.
Sell subscriptions to your website
If you have specialized content, put some or all of it behind a paywall. (ie., the only way for visitors to get to the special content is to buy a subscription to your website. ) To work, you have to be able to offer subscribers something they can't get elsewhere, or can't get easily elsewhere. Case studies, research reports, expert webinar transcripts, and tightly focused member forums can help you attract subscribers. In addition to the monthly subscription fees you earn, you can sell additional products to your members.
Ask For Donations
No one likes to beg for money, but you have loyal fans, ask them to buy you a cup of coffee or help pay to keep the site live.
More ways to make money from your website
The list isn't all-inclusive. In fact there are a couple of things I purposely did not include – like accepting money to write glowing reviews of a product, or accepting money to let someone put an "unbiased guest post" on your website so they can link to their own website or a website they are being paid to promote. I regard practices like that as unethical and in some cases, there could be some legal ramifications as well.
But, there are other ways to monetize websites and blogs. Be creative, and look at sites you visit regularly. Consider how they make their money, and whether or not you could adapt their methods to your site.
© 2012 Attard Communications, Inc. All rights reserved. May not be reprinted or republished in any format without written permission from the author.