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The following 8 methods are the most effective ways to monetise your website.
- Banner Ads
- Affiliate Marketing
- Accept Donations
- Sponsored Content / Links / Shoutouts
- Creating Digital Products
- Selling The Site
The Passive Income Spectrum
8 Ways To Monetise Your Website in 90 Seconds
The simplest and most passive way to monetise your website is to put banner ads on and collect revenue from advertisers.
The leading ad network for this is Google’s Adsense program.
The setup process basically involves copying and pasting a code snippet like the one below on to your site and submitting it for review.
<script data-ad-client="ca-pub-123456789" async src="https://pagead2.googlesyndication.com/pagead/js/adsbygoogle.js"></script>
The code snippet should be pasted into the template of the site if you want it displayed on every page. For wordpress and other CMS’s there are plenty of plugins that integrate and optimize adsense.
Tips for getting sites approved on Google Adsense
Adsense has got more fussy in recent years about what sites are approved to run ads. Here are some tips to make sure your site gets through first time.
- Ensure the site has a significant amount of written content. I’ve had simple but good web apps rejected in the past because they were seen as “thin content” sites.
- Don’t have any duplicate content either internally or scraped from other sites on the web.
- Create content that delivers what the visitor expects. Be careful with pushing the limits on ad placement and page view optimizations.
- Googles algorithms are still highly focused on text based semantics. Having high quality, relevant content on the pages with ads should make it easy for the algos to figure out what the site is about and display relevant ads.
- Ensure navigation is simple enough that a manual reviewer can find the pages on the site that contain the ad code (if it isn’t site wide).
- Use an ads.txt file to declare authorised advertisers.
If you are having any issues be sure to check the Adsense Program Policies.
Adsense tends to be the highest earning ad network for most sites because Google is the biggest player in the display advertising industry. They have the most advertisers through Google Ads and their exchange partnerships so can create more demand for placements. However there are certain instances where alternative ad networks make sense.
- Amazon Associates & eBay Partner Network – will talk more about these in the next section but they also have banner options
- Adcash – banners and pops, an option for “lower quality” sites
- BuySellAds – Requires high traffic volumes
- Coinzilla – Cryptocurrency ad network
- Propel – Mainly known for pops, lightboxes and push ads
- Infolinks – inText ads
- RTX – Small but nice ad platform, formerly 50onRed
Affiliate marketing is when you link to 3rd party websites to earn a commission if a visitor follows your link and completes a purchase on the external site.
A website owner will sign up to an affiliate program or affiliate network which will provide a custom tracking link for an offer.
This can then be placed on a website or landing page which will send traffic to the merchant. When a visitor clicks the link a cookie will be stored in the visitors browser and any sales will be associated with the affiliates account. A commission on the sale will be paid out to the affiliate.
Amazon Affiliate Links
Because Amazon is the e-commerce industry leader their affiliate program is the most widely promoted affiliate offer. Amazon Associates is available in the following countries:-
- United States, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Canada, Japan, Spain, India, Brazil, Mexico, China, and Australia
It’s possible to link to any page on the Amazon site and add your affiliate tag to the link. Commissions range from 1-10% depending on product category.
For some categories such as Antiques eBay’s Partner Network is more appropriate because this is where consumers are spending their money.
CPA offers are commissions or bounties paid out for specific events. For example a merchant that wants more users may set a $5 payout for anyone that sends a new user to the website or app.
When the user signs up and confirms their email address (process known as DOI – double opt in) the payout is generated and sent to the affiliates account.
CPA offers tend to scale well and are performance focused so they convert and are easier to optimize.
6 Top Affiliate Networks
Here are some affiliate networks that I would recommend.
- Commission Junction – Huge range of offers from high quality merchants
- Clickbank – Digital products, high commissions and some rebill offers
- AWIN – UK focused affiliate network with high quality ecom based brands.
- GlobalWide Media – CPA network with lots of offers in lead generation and app installs
- MaxBounty – The first CPA network I signed up for and still going over 10 years later.
- Clickdealer – CPA and smartlink affiliate network
Finding Unique Affiliate Offers
Some of the best affiliate marketing offers aren’t published on popular networks. Growth startups often have affiliate programs built into apps where you can “refer friends” via an affiliate link to earn a payout.
The downside of these type of programs is that the tracking and analytics is often poor or non-existent which makes performance marketing more tricky. For monetising websites however these types of offers work great.
Try going to popular websites in the niche that have a product or services for sale and scroll to the bottom of the home page. Look for a link which says something like “affiliates”, “partners”, “rewards”.
These affiliate programs are usually less saturated, niche-specific and convert great.
Always check minimum payouts and terms when signing up to an affiliate program and go through the accounts and KYC process before you start sending traffic. I’m as guilty as anyone for having affiliate accounts all over the web with a balance less than the min payout which will just sit dormant if you stop sending traffic.
A new trend has popped up across social media over the last couple of years where creators are supporting themselves through community donations.
You may have seen links in profiles or people on Youtube talk about Patreon and BuyMeACoffee. These platforms make it possible for supporters to go online and setup one off or recurring payments to the creator.
In certain niches this can also be used effectively on websites. The key is to have supporters rather than just followers. You need to be doing something that gives people a reason to support your cause.
Patreon is partly donations but is much more focused around building a internal segmented community. There are tools to do polls, live streams, and produce content to a members only community.
A highly engaged visitor sets up a monthly contribution to join that community and be part of the movement.
BuyMeACoffee is a simple web app that lets people send some “thank you” funds. This works well when providing free content that adds value. There are also options for monthly or annual subscriptions.
A bit like Patreon this works best when the content creator is actively working and producing content for the subscribers. However BuyMeACoffee is much more focused on one-off, impulse donations.
If a website is an authoritative resource for a topic that is of interest to corporate enterprises there may be an opportunity to leverage that to build a consulting businesses.
Consultants are hired on a temporary basis to provide expertise which a company is unable to find internally. The top ten fields that businesses bring in external consultants are:-
- Business Strategy
- IT – Software Development
- IT – Hardware Infrastructure
- Social Media
- Training/Personal Coaching
- Human Resources
Consultants earn between $500-2000 / day depending on the supply and demand of expertise in the field.
Further earning potential may be possible by developing a consultancy into an agency with broader skillsets across multiple personnel.
There’s no reason why you can’t setup an account with all the suppliers if the product is something that might get searched generically. However in most cases if demand is going to be driven through a website I’d recommend Merch by Amazon.
Simply design a t-shirt or hoody, upload it and submit for approval. Once it’s gone through the product will be live on Amazon. Link to it from any website and drive traffic to get paid whenever someone makes a purchase.
Sponsored Content / Links / Shoutouts
Sponsored content enables new brands and marketers to distribute content across 3rd parties. This can be used as a method to monetise your website through selling sponsored posts, links and product reviews.
Sites that have a lot of inbound links and aged domain authority are of particularly high value to SEO marketers who will pay a premium to have an article and/or backlink posted.
Here are some methods to start attracting this type of business.
- Create a “sponsored post” page and provide a PDF download with information about content guidelines and prices.
- Contact link building SEO agencies such as RhinoRank and FatJoe and asked to get put on their lists of link providers for your niche.
- Google “your niche sponsored post” and look for what other companies that have recently done sponsored posts and press releases on sites in the results pages. Contact them via Linkedin or email.
Prices vary within a range of $100-$2000 USD for most publications depending on readership, domain authority and niche.
Selling links is more of a grey area as this is against Googles webaster guidelines. A link inserted into an existing page or post is called a niche edit link. Prices are similar to sponsored post but the publisher doesn’t add additional content to the site with the benefits and drawbacks that brings.
Product reviews and shoutouts are another source of revenue for websites. Manufacturers will often send the latest product releases and commissions to industry influencers who they trust will provide favorable content.
Start by doing free reviews of quality products that you use and trust. Build an audience before contacting the manufacturers and brands relevant to the niche.
Creating Digital Products
Perhaps the biggest opportunity out of the ones listed here is to create digital products. These scale rapidly and are very effective way to monetise your website.
Here are some of the options for creating digital products.
When selling digital products it’s almost always worth setting up a sales funnel. A standard lead magnet to autoresponder email system will work well as a starting point.
Selling eBooks on Gumroad
Gumroad is a simple platform to sell eBooks. You don’t need any software just create something in Google Docs, export it as a PDF and upload it to Gumroad. Add some details and pricing and your digital product is ready to sell.
Gumroad has positioned itself as the Shopify of digital products.
There isn’t a huge amount of organic traffic on the site so marketers will need to drive traffic to their products themselves.
SAAS – Software As A Service
Software as a Service will likely be my focus in 2021-2022. If you can create something that solves a real world problem then it scales very well and is extremely profitable as the costs involved are minimal.
Software is disrupting every industry on the planet and it’s only going to become more prevalent in the future.
SaaS platforms can be built on the web so a user logs in via a standard browser from any device.
Monthly/Annual rebilling provides steady, manageable and predictable revenue streams.
Industry leaders like Sendgrid, which is now worth billions, show how much of an opportunity there is currently in SaaS products.
Membership sites provide additional value to a core group of fans. This can be in the form of private forums, additional content or 1-1 coaching.
To create a memberships site there needs to be a seperate section of the website that includes a login page. This needs to be integrated with the billing platform. WordPress plugins such as MemberPress make this easy and there are plenty of 3rd party solutions such as Patreon which we spoke about previously as well.
For membership sites to work well there needs to be exclusivity alongside content that is not available anywhere else.
If you provide educational content that online courses is an obvious way to monetise your website. Online video based education is booming currently.
Sites such as Skillshare and Udemy not only provide a platform to create and manage the content but also have a significant amount of organic traffic. This has the added benefit of making it a discovery platform for your brand.
Videoing yourself can be daunting at first but it is perfectly possible to get started with a smartphone, $20 microphone and free editing software. If you really don’t want to appear on camera then there’s the option to record your screen and do a voice over.
Selling The Site
If a website is popular but you don’t have the motivation to work on it then selling is a viable option. This can generate a large one time payout based on a fair valuation of the site at the time of sale.
Flippa is an online marketplace for websites, apps and domains.
Sites generally sell for 2-4x the annual revenue. Provide as much information as possible to differentiate your listing from the numerous low quality websites.
For low volume websites Adsense is easy to setup and completely passive. For medium volume sites banner ad earnings can be suplmeneted by promoting 3rd party affiliate offers. Once a high volume audience has been established digital products can maximise revenues and build a sustainable business around the website.
This article is part of a free online course where you can learn digital marketing.
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