If you are hoping to make your way online you will before long build your own website. You usually won’t be able to earn money from your website from the start. But as your traffic grows the time will come when you can start to think about monetizing your site.
There is little point in trying to earn money from your website when you still don’t have many visitors. Your first job should be to create quality content, to encourage people to come to your site and look around. Your primary focus in your early days needs to be to build up traffic.
Once you have enough traffic, though, you can then start to think about which money generation methods will be most suitable for you. You already know that the Get Rich Quick schemes you see littering the internet are scams. There are whole websites devoted to reviewing and publicising online money-making scams. But there are many legitimate ways to earn money from your website. It does take time, though.
Here are a few ways that you could earn money from your website.
1. Google AdSense
You may notice as you travel the web how often you see the same ads. Indeed not only are the ads identical as you travel from site to site, they often seem to be targeted at you. You might wonder how the internet knows that you need to buy a new car, buy your wife a birthday present, or book the cat into a cattery.
The reality is that many websites are members of the Google AdSense programme. Google AdSense is, of course, a Google product, so it keeps track of what you search for online. It uses this knowledge to know which ads it should pitch at any individual browser.
These are different from Google AdWords, which are those ads that appear at the top of Google’s search listings.
AdSense provides most of the banner ads you see on various websites. They can be a great way to earn money from your website if you have enough visitors. The downside is that they can be very intrusive and turn people off your site. Some people immediately leave sites that are plastered with AdSense ads. Quite a few people suffer from “banner blindness” and completely ignore banner ads, not even appearing to see them.
If you choose to have the ads on your site, you sign up to Google AdSense. You decide on the size of the ad blocks you want on your site and insert a particular snippet of code from Google. Before long Google starts serving targeted ads to the people who browse your site.
For you to earn money from your website through Adsense, though, people have to click on the ads. There are a variety of factors that influence how much you receive per click.
In all reality, you will need high traffic levels for your Google AdSense income to be of much consequence. A further complication is that you have to earn at last $US100 before Google pays you. And that can take some time in your early days. I tried it on a site for over a year once and never reached the $US100 payout level.
Be aware that although it is easy to apply to be part of the AdSense program, Google does have strict rules, which they track and enforce. For example, you are not permitted to game the system by clicking on the ads on your own website.
2. Sell Your Own Ad Space
Once your site grows to a size where you have a steady following you could consider selling advertising space yourself. This avoids having Google as the middleman. If you succeed, you get to keep all the advertising money, unlike with the AdSense ads where you only see a very small part.
If your site has made enough of an impact you may have people sounding you out about advertising on your site. Of course, you need to be fair to your visitors. You don’t want your site to become too crowded with ads, and the visitor experience suffering.
There are several ways you could choose to charge. You could set up a fixed price, for instance charging $X for a sidebar ad. Another option is to charge so much per visitor. This is often quoted in $ per thousand impressions, known as CPM (Cost Per ‘Mille’ – it’s Latin for thousand).
3. Accept Sponsored Posts or Articles
When your site receives a good few visitors you could decide to accept sponsored posts or articles. A while ago I wrote about How Influencer Marketing Can Help You. If you reach the stage where businesses consider you to an influencer, they may propose that you run a sponsored post or article on their behalf.
Once again, this won’t happen in the early days of your website. It is hard to earn money from your website before you establish a reputation and build up a regular base of traffic.
Once you reach the level where people begin to take notice, you could create a marketing kit to offer to businesses that approach you.
4. Sell a Service – Use Your Site as a Portfolio
One common use of a website is to act as an online portfolio for somebody who performs a service. This could be one of the first ways you can make money from your site. For instance, if you take on freelance design or writing work you can keep a portfolio of your work on display on your site. You can then market your services, and direct potential clients to come and take a look at what you are capable of producing.
5. Sell Products in a Store
If you have a product to sell you could set up an online eCommerce store. There are plenty of plugins you can use if you run a WordPress site that can help you with this.
There are many sites online built as an online store.
Be aware, though, that setting up an online shop can be very hard work.
You have to create listings on your site for every item that you sell. Then there’s the need to describe them and price them and include ways that customers can pay for their purchases. You will have to store inventory of the physical goods somewhere, and when you sell stock you need to package and freight the items.
Sometimes the hardest part of this, though, is coming up with a suitable product to sell in the first place. It has to be something that people want and which they will be willing to buy.
6. Create a Digital Product or eBook
If you have built up enough knowledge to be authoritative on a subject you could write an eBook or create some other type of digital product. Perhaps you could create a series of videos telling people how to do something.
While you could place your eBook on Amazon, you are likely to make more money if you can sell it from your site.
Obviously, you need to build up traffic and promote your digital product. You can’t expect to sell it if nobody knows it is there.
In reality, this can be quite challenging, as you first need to create a high-quality digital product. People are not going to pay for something that does not meet professional standards. It is particularly important that you make the effort to produce as good a product as possible. People very much rely on reviews and word of mouth nowadays, so you want to make sure that you are selling a complete, quality product.
7. Sell Coaching
You might be in a niche where you have skills that you can sell 1-1 or in a group situation to potential clients. Larry, for instance, sells his life coaching services on his Larry Lewis site.
Depending on your skill and reputation, and the demand for coaching in the field you are in, you have the potential to earn a good income from coaching.
You will need to put quite a lot of effort into marketing your coaching services.
The one negative aspect of coaching online is that there is only one of you (unless your site represents a whole team). You can easily get to the point where your coaching takes up as much time as you are willing to devote to it.
8. Create a Course
It is a good idea to survey your target audience before starting to gather an guide to ideas for what topics to create your course on. There is no point spending hours writing the course, only to find that nobody wants to take it.
Similarly, once you have built your course, it may well be worth running a beta course first. This happens when you run the course with a small test group of people first for free or at a reduced price. This gives you the opportunity to iron out any problems that have come to light and gain valuable feedback before you fully market your course.
9. Affiliate Marketing
Affiliate marketing involves you promoting a product for somebody and they giving you a percentage of the sales should anybody make a purchase as a result of your promotion.
The most famous affiliate marketing programme is the one set up by Amazon. You can apply to join the Amazon Associates affiliate program. (That link is to the Amazon UK version – you might need to Google to find your local Amazon programme). You can place links on your site, connecting you to Amazon for particular products. If any of your visitors follow that link and then spend money at Amazon within a set period of time you receive a small percentage of the sales. You will still make your commission even if the person buys a different product on Amazon from the one they looked at as a result of your link. The percentage Amazon pays you varies depending on the product category, but it can be up to 10%.
There are many other firms that offer affiliate marketing opportunities. Indeed there are many specialist websites that are set up to earn the owner affiliate marketing commission. I will write in more detail about affiliate marketing in my next post.
Even if the way you earn money from your website is through affiliate marketing you will still need high-quality content like any other website. Google does not like thin content websites and penalises sites it believes are simply small affiliate marketing sites with little valuable content.
So, for instance, if you set up as an affiliate for a vacuum cleaner company, you will need to build up a large bank of useful content about vacuum cleaners. This could be reviews of different models, tips for using them, maintenance tips, things to avoid when buying one etc.
10. Accept Donations
If you build up a strong community you may be able to encourage your visitors to donate to the running of your site. Popular forums regularly ask their members for financial help.
You can add a PayPal Donations button to your site to help people make donations.
You will need a highly engaged and focused community, though – a group of people who love your site, use it often, and who would be upset if you were to close it down because of lack of funds.
11. Create a Membership Site
This is another one of those monetization methods that need you to build a solid online reputation first.
If you write well or create good videos or stunning photography you may have built up something of a fanbase. People come to your site in the expectation of seeing a new post from you.
This is particularly common when you set your site up to educate and help people in a particular niche.
Once you have got to this point you could consider what more you could offer your supporters. Do you write extra in-depth posts? Do you offer your videos in high definition? Can you offer podcasts of your written posts?
The idea is that you set up a gateway on your site. You still produce enough material to attract new people to your site. But you only let people see your best quality material in a paid locked-off area of your site – your membership area.
You will, of course, need to heavily market your membership area, and make it very clear what the advantages are for people who join it.
Conclusion on Ways to Earn Money From Your Website
As you can see from this list, there are many different ways that you can earn money from your website. The hard part, if you are a beginner rapidly trying to earn a living online, is that most of these ideas take time before they become viable.
Perhaps the best solution is to find something that you can do as a contractor first, and use your site as a showcase. Then once you are sufficiently well known you can try out some other ideas from this list.
I will cover most of these ideas on how to earn money from your website in more detail in future posts on The Reinvention Men.