Many websites and blogs struggle to make money as a business because they lack clear knowledge about the main monetization strategies available to them.
There are four core website monetization strategies to get your site earning money. In short, they are: advertisements, making immediate sales, making delayed sales, and partnerships. Let’s look at each strategy in detail.
Website Monetization Strategies #1: Advertisements
Advertisements are the easiest website monetization strategy—but they’re also a sort of confession of failure. If you put other people’s advertisements on your site, you’re admitting that you can’t sell directly to your audience.
Maybe there’s a good reason for that. Maybe your audience will only deal with certain vendors or you’re forbidden by law from selling what your audience wants.
But more often I find that people who use advertisements as their website monetization strategy are basically letting someone else make the sale for them—a someone else who gets to keep most of the profits.
Here’s how you can tell if your advertising website monetization strategy is costing you money: put your Web browser into Private Browsing/Incognito mode so advertising networks can’t access your regular cookies. Then visit your website and write down on a piece of paper everything you see advertised on your site. Visit several pages on your site until you have a good idea of what’s advertised on your site.
Now look at that list. How many of those things could you sell yourself, either directly, through an affiliate program, or through a drop shipping arrangement?
(Drop shipping is where a manufacturer or warehousing company agrees to ship products directly from their warehouse to your customer; all you have to do is collect payment from the customer and pay the drop shipping company at the end of the month.)
If you could sell any of those products yourself, think about how much money you’re leaving on the table. If an ad click earns you $1, Google tacks on up to an extra $1 in fees, and the advertiser probably has a bounce rate of 90% or higher, so he’s paying over $20 for each successful sale—and the only reason he’s advertising is because he’s making a decent profit.
If you create your own ad and put it on your own site and everything else stays equal, you’ll earn for yourself the profit the advertiser made plus the extra $10 the advertiser paid Google to use the Google Ad Network, more than doubling your profit per ad click.
One of my best strategies is to implement Google Adsense on a site, weed out the best paying pages and remove Adsense ads from those pages, replacing them with awesome selling items.
Website Monetization Strategies #2—Immediate Sales
Some people visiting your site for the first time are looking for an immediate solution, and some of those people are willing to pay for that immediate solution. That gives you a chance to make an immediate sale.
If you can find the solution they need and promote it on your site, you can use the immediate sales website monetization strategy.
You can sell any of the following:
• digital products, such as ebooks and online courses
• affiliate products, such as Amazon products
• Drop shipped products
• Your own physical products
• Your services, or other services referred through an affiliate program
You can probably think of other things to sell too.
All you need to do is find out from your website visitors what their immediate needs are when they visit your website for the first time. Start your discovery process by first looking at your website statistics—what questions are they asking search engines?
Then, when you think you know what they want, see if they’re willing to pay for it. You can do this by linking to a possible solution with a price listed next to it and then tracking how many people click that link.
Once you establish that people will actually buy a solution to the problem you revealed, you can find an affiliate program, drop shipper, or content creator to provide you with that solution.
Website Monetization Strategies #3—Delayed Selling
Unless you run an ecommerce store, very few people visiting your site will be ready to buy immediately. Most of them are still doing research, looking for a free solution, or just surfing the Web for fun. If you can attract customers and not visitors to your site then you can have instant sales but nevertheless, these visitors are still very important.
You can monetize these people too—but not today. If you can convince these people to continue reading your content on a regular basis, you can use the delayed sales website monetization strategy.
If people read your content on a regular basis, you will eventually catch them in a mood to buy something—and if you happen to be selling something interesting in that content, they’ll probably buy from you. But for this strategy to work, you have to get people to read your content on a regular basis. Here are the three basic ways to do that:
1. Simply hope they come back because you write great content. This seems to be the predominant strategy on the Web, but I don’t think it’s very effective. All the big sites can do this, but when your website is fresh out of the box, you should promote each post and page as it is published.
2. Offer a syndication (RSS or Atom) feed so people can subscribe to your site. I’d be careful encouraging this. To grow your site you need to post often, but if you post often, a lot of people will unsubscribe from your feed. If you’re going to offer a feed, consider tagging one post a week as “featured” and offer the feed for the featured tag as your main feed.
3. Get people to sign up for a mailing list. This is the best strategy because you can easily use mailing list marketing tools such as split testing emails and list segmentation to craft highly effective messages which help you sell to your subscribers. I like to set-up and autoresponder series, much like a mini email course, that eventually turns subscribers into customers.
Website Monetization Strategies #4—Partnerships
When you host advertising, you basically rent your audience’s attention to your advertisers. Partnerships often do the the same thing, but they sound classier.
If you have a successful WordPress website, there are a whole host of people who want to borrow your audience to sell them something or get them to do something.
A simple example of the partnership website monetization strategy is the book deal. A publisher wants to sell books; you have a website with a loyal reader base; the publisher offers to pay you to write a book, and then the publisher sells copies of the book to your readers.
There are an incredible range of partnerships available for websites. The best way to find them is to ask yourself, “who wants something from my audience (and has a real chance of getting it)?”
I do recommend that you be careful about partnerships where you don’t get paid up front. There are plenty of people who will take advantage of you on the Internet. If you have any doubts, ask to use a payment escrow service.
But don’t let doubt stop you from using the partnership, delayed sale, immediate sale, or advertisement website monetization strategies.