When it comes to making money through a website, the basic principles of capitalism remain the same: you have to speculate to accumulate. While your speculation can take the form of the investment of time, money, or speculation on a technology or brand, it is important to understand that while there is not an exact formula or one size fits all solution to website monetization.
You should not let this discourage you, however, because there is no shortage of ways to monetize a site that have stood the test of time and are powerfully consistent.
The following is a list of the most common ways to make money from websites and blogs, as well as a consideration of pros and cons of each method.
One of the most prevalent means of making money from a blog or website is the use of PPC advertising. The most common option in this regard is the Google AdSense platform where Google will pay you to display adverts in your site in exchange for a share of the money paid by the advertiser.
This method is so easy it is often the first way a blog owner will attempt to make money from their site. However it is important to keep in mind that certain sites (including pornography and gambling based content) are not eligible for these programs and there are a variety of rules on how the adverts can be displayed.
CPM (cost per impression) advertising is an advert that pays for every person who sees it. This form of advertising was more common in the days before Google’s dominance and today is more often a part of pop-up and pop-under advertising.
CPM advertising networks are typically more sympathetic to more controversial sites that Google’s programs are prone to turning away as well as websites of perceived lower value. However, the revenue per impression is very low, often only fractions of a cent, and pop-ups and pop-under adverts run the risk of alienating your visitors in a way that other revenue streams may not.
In text advertising are adverts which are placed within the written content of your site. These adverts look similar to internal links and redirect users to external advertising pages when clicked.
In-text advertising is a powerful and profitable way to monetize your site without having to waste valuable site real estate on advertisement placement. And because in-text advertising targets text content, it is easy for advertisers to provide highly targeted advertising through the use of keywords that users are prone to clicking.
Direct Banner Advertising
Direct advertising involves selling your own advertising space directly to advertisers. Because direct advertising allows you to cut out the middleman, your advertising spaces are able to earn substantially more profit due to avoiding third party commissions and the ability to dictate your own rates.
Unfortunately, most advertisers will not consider doing business with you directly until you have a very large audience to offer. Although the exact figure depends on the advertiser, your audience may have to be as large as 200,000 unique hits per month before direct banner adverting becomes a feasible alternative to ad networks.
As the name would suggest, sponsored reviews are somewhat self-explanatory. Sponsors are willing to pay many website or blog owners for producing and hosting a (generally favourable) review of a product.
These reviews are some of the most lucrative ways to monetize a website, especially if you possess a loyal readership. Sponsored reviews also have excellent synergy when used in tandem with direct advertising and e-mail lists.
The Money is in the List
Direct advertising generally involves curating an email list on your website for the purposes of sending adverts to the people on that list. Creating and managing such a list is a balancing act between getting users to sign up for your content and maintaining the high quality of content necessary to keep people from unsubscribing.
However, an opted-in mailing list is a great way of drilling down to a list of people with a definite interest in your niche and who are more likely to respond to web content. Consequently, it is one of the most powerful and profitable methods to monetize virtually any type of website.
Product’s supplier pay commissions to people that recommend and sell their products. Knowing your niche and having a loyal audience makes affiliate marketing especially profitable as these two factors are necessary prerequisites to powerful conversion rates.
While there is a wealth of potential affiliate networks available online, the most reputable and widely used is Amazon. Affiliate marketing is often be used in conjunction with some of the other methods already discussed, especially sponsored reviews and direct marketing.
Sell Your Own Product
If selling someone else’s products does not appeal to you, selling your own is the obvious alternative. Most web hosting companies offer free or cheap support for a variety of e-commerce platforms on the internet that allow you to easily collect payments from consumers.
Payment processing done independently of an e-commerce platform is possible, but payment processing and site security can increase your overhead and operating cost by opting to do so. Tangible products also have associated shipping, handling, and storage costs, but the profitability of your own products should far exceed commissions earned through affiliate marketing.
Write and Sell E-books
There are a variety of free e-book distributors available on the internet, the most reputable being the Amazon Kindle Platform. Similar to running your own blog, writing your own e-books depends on understanding your niche and delivering a product that can fill an otherwise untapped part of your market.
Writing content in markets that are more saturated has the potential for higher earnings but typically requires a higher quality product. If your niche is small then the potential user base is small and you will have to ensure your content is well marketed and highly desirable. Apart from time investment, e-books are also one of the least costly ways to monetize your website or blog, especially if you have an existing readership to market it to.
Selling Your Services
If you are an authority on a subject and can demonstrate that fact through your website, you can use this to sell your services on a consultancy or freelance basis.
For instance, if you are an experienced web developer, you could duplicate your own methodology and structure for people looking to create a site of their own. You could also help people add features or resolve bugs on existing sites – all for a fee that represents the time it has taken you to acquire this knowledge and the potential boon that it brings them.
Job boards are websites like Monster and CareerBuilter that help facilitate employers with access to skilled professionals looking for work. While running your own job board would require competition in a fiercely competitive and saturated job board market, creating a highly niche job board and collecting revenue as a middleman between interested parties wherever your own website’s niche allows this to occur is a viable strategy for monetization.
Asking for donations is typically a hit and miss method of monetization that relies crucially on retaining a loyal fan base. While there are many examples of sites that manage to support themselves by this method alone, typical readership is not inclined to pay for access to material they believe should be free. Consequently donations are typically only a last resort for websites that are otherwise very difficult to monetize.
Selling Your Website
Similarly, because you are only able to sell your website once, it should only be considered as a last resort when other methods of monetization have failed.
You should also keep in mind that the value of your website is largely determined by the size of your readership, their perception of the quality of your site within your specific niche, and the quality of your domain name. Consequently your relative page rank position compared to your competition can be a vital resource.