How do bloggers and website owners monetize their blogs? How can anyone make money from a content website? What's their secret? The answer is, there's no secret. It all boils down to strategy.
What are the best ways to monetize a website? The answer is “it depends”. There are lots of ways to do it right. At the same time, there are lots of ways to do it wrong. Here are some tried and tested monetization methods you can use to turn your blog or website into a profitable business.
Selling Ad Space On Your Website
While this can be very lucrative, it's not suitable for certain types of blogs. For example, pay-per-click advertising or PPC ads on a business or agency website is not the best look. These kinds of websites are monetized through client acquisition (via blog posts, ads, marketing service pages) and affiliate commissions (on products we like and use). Adding advertisements would dilute the message, look unprofessional, and likely lose the business leads.
However, pure content sites and even affiliate websites can use pay-per-click advertising to good effect. Putting display ads on a website will affect speed performance and it will distract from the message on your website. But most business owners find that the disadvantages are small compared with the advantages. Food bloggers, fitness blogs, mommy and beauty blogs, and a host of other niches are well suited to this form of monetization.
I’d like to point out that the information in this article is aimed at bloggers and nice website owners. It’s not aimed at Saas business owners or websites with monetization strategies in place.
Google Adsense used to be a lucrative website monetization strategy for niche blogs but it’s not anymore. Selling ad space is a great way of making money, but Google Adsense is generally not recommended for websites with less than 10,000 visitors a month. Keep in mind that many people use ad blockers in their web browsers these days so monetizing traffic from these visitors will have to be through other means.
Your traffic won’t drop much if you put advertisements in the sidebar and in the content. Adding more ads per page might sound like a great idea but it can negatively impact the user experience. But the rewards from a well-optimized ad service can be worth any degradation in speed and user experience. These days, display ads are an accepted and popular monetization method for both large and smaller websites.
Programmatic Ad Networks
With a great team and a far superior product to Google ads, any blogger with at least 50k sessions a month should consider Mediavine. If your site is new and you get less than 50,000 sessions, try Ezoic.
Some bloggers take the ad concept a little further. They reach out to companies aligned with their niche topic and offer them ad space on their sidebar, in content, or on social media posts. What you lose in automation (from Mediavine & Ezoic) you gain in a personal relationship with the brand and potentially more lucrative ad space.
Affiliate marketing is the business of promoting products online and collecting a commission when people buy these products through special links called affiliate links. An affiliate link is a unique URL that identifies you or your website as the referrer. In 2021, this will be one of the top monetization strategies for websites. These links are designed to track clicks and conversions so the company offering the products knows if a sale came from your website or social channel.
You, as an affiliate, earn money via a commission every time a sale is generated from your website.
The easiest way to find affiliates is to use a database like this one (over 10,000 programs listed).
- Think about any of the products you use and whether the product is relevant to your audience.
- Search on Google for the product name or business name and add affiliate to the search query. Like this, “lifestyle product affiliate”.
- Contact the company or sign up through their affiliate program.
- Use your affiliate links inside the content you create so that you can earn a commission when someone that clicks a link makes a purchase.
Some of the best examples of affiliate programs online are
- Web hosting
- Amazon products
- WordPress products (or any digital products)
- Fitness products like bodybuilding.com
- Madison Reed & Avon
- CBD products
- Travel affiliates like Tripadvisor and Hotels.com
- Coffee beans and coffee makers
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Let's take a look at three of the best examples of affiliate marketing products and the different ways to monetize a website depending on the audience.
Web Hosting Affiliates
Some of the most popular and lucrative affiliate marketing options are in web hosting. BlueHost, a popular web hosting company, has the market covered. Everyone from Pat Flynn to every travel blogger on the internet recommends the service through affiliate links. However, I wouldn’t use Blue Host, so I simply don’t recommend it. It's a very lucrative affiliate program and promoting this product is a viable website monetization strategy. There's a temptation for new bloggers to promote this hosting company.
A much better option is Cloudways hosting. The commissions are much lower than with Blue Host. But that’s something bloggers and website owners will have to figure out for themselves. You can still make money from your website. Should they recommend a product that they don’t really like or use, just to capture bigger affiliate commissions? The truthful answer is “no”.
I encourage you to try Cloudways. It will be much easier to write about this web hosting company if you are a fan. And I'm sure you will be. Your audience will recognize this enthusiasm and won't be disappointed. This leads to a trusting relationship and future affiliate commissions on other products you recommend.
Some of the biggest commissions in the industry come from web hosting companies. Affiliates can earn money on a per month basis in some cases. Others offer a lump sump one-off commission.
Amazon Associates is one of the most popular ways to monetise websites through affiliate marketing. It works just like other affiliate networks. As a blogger or website owner, you link to products on the Amazon store and when people buy the product, you get a commission.
The difference with Amazon Associates is that the commissions are low compared to other programs. This means that for each purchase you’ll get a smaller percentage of the sale. But on the plus side, Amazon converts customers really well, and you get paid a commission on ANY item that your visitor buys within 24 hours of clicking on your link.
Where you lose on the percentage, you gain on the likelihood of them converting and the possibilities of them buying big-ticket items along with the product you recommended.
WordPress Themes & Site Builders
Another good way to monetize a blog through affiliates is to promote WordPress themes and website builders. I've included this here because it's a huge affiliate market and some bloggers make most of their income from recommending themes. With WordPress cornering 30% of the entire web, there is no shortage of people looking for new themes for their websites.
Website owners often change their themes regularly and some like to just keep up with the latest designs and user experience recommendations.
Security is also important and a big selling point of premium themes over free themes.
Brainstorm Force, the company behind the excellent Astra WordPress theme, offers some of the best affiliate commissions in the WordPress space. The company also happens to offer outstanding themes. I use Astra, their flagship product, on 90% of the websites I build. It’s a very secure and fast theme framework.
Website builders are drag-and-drop apps that let you build landing pages quickly. You can even design entire sites with these tools but I'd still recommend using them for landing pages, sales pages, and maybe the homepage of your website. Everyone needs good-looking landing pages and nobody wants to spend too much time building them.
In the past, website builders were too clunky to be a viable option for serious bloggers. But these days, there’s a much better option for site owners. It’s called Elementor. A lightweight and powerful website builder that many people recommend. They offer a great affiliate program too.
You can promote these products by mentioning them in blog posts. Create a resource page to direct people to if they ask you about your technical setup. Product review pages are another good way of promoting a product like a WordPress theme to your visitors. Again, I recommend that you only promote products you use and believe in.
And try to use affiliate link management tools like BetterLinks to organize, track, and optimize every link
Let’s imagine you’re a travel blogger and you know how to write great articles that get traffic. You can monetize your blog by offering writing services to customers. In this way, your blog also acts as a portfolio or lead generator for writing services. People will be able to see just how well you write by browsing the blog.
Make it easy for people to find you.
Set up a writing services page. Stick a high price tag on it, to avoid inquiries from content farms and low ballers.
Link to some of the best articles on your site. Include testimonials and case studies. If you’ve worked with brands and helped them achieve their goals, this is the place to brag about that.
This is something that takes a lot of skill to get right. I'm not a fan of putting sponsored posts on a blog or business website and I never do it. But if you truly love a product or service and the sponsored content conforms to your standards and values (whatever they may be), then it's worth considering. Many people make money month on month by offering sponsored content on their websites. Brands need new audiences and new eyeballs on their products.
It’s important not to sell yourself too short. If your blog gets decent traffic, make sure you’re compensated by brands for sharing their products with your audience.
The lower you price yourself, the lower the overall price drops further. It turns into a race to the bottom with brands winning out. Bloggers and site owners should try not to drop their prices too low or it will hurt the entire community in the long run.
Monetization of lifestyle blogs is often through sponsored blog posts. Many lifestyle bloggers write (or accept) posts on products or services they use or like.
Are you an expert on your topic? Are you one step ahead of your audience in terms of skills? If you answer yes to either of these questions, you have the opportunity to offer coaching services.
People generally pay a premium for coaching sessions so charge accordingly.
Which industries work well with online coaching offers? Well, any industry that has beginners looking for answers, advice, and guidance.
Do you have a food blog? Offer coaching services on setting up a kitchen or becoming a professional food blogger.
Travel blogger? Offering coaching on travel hacking, travel writing, travel photography are great ways to monetize a website by leveraging your traffic.
Do you code? Why not offer “
Fitness bloggers can offer coaching calls to people looking for ways to improve their diets or fix their workout routines. Many people don’t have access to dieticians or personal trainers but as long as they have an internet connection, you can help them.
Online education is one of the fastest-growing sectors of internet marketing. People are hungry for knowledge and short on time. Premium content appeals to people who are cash-rich and time-poor. Few people want to travel across a city, find parking, and pay for a physical classroom setting when they can take courses online at home.
Some courses are unsuitable for online delivery but it might surprise you how many weird and obscure courses are for sale online. And the market is worth almost 300 Billion.
One of the best platforms for selling a course is Teachable. Alternatively, you could run your course inside your WordPress website with course creation plugins. Paid memberships as a way of monetizing your content are trending at the moment. While the internet is awash with free content, people really see the value in curated content and well-presented information.
All of these products also have affiliate programs, so if you like using them, promote them to your audience.
Blogs can be a way of validating the market for a book on your niche topic. If you write about health & fitness for the over 40s and your audience loves it, courses and books that satisfy demand can be lucrative. Video marketing is huge and books are still a great way to package popular blog posts and repurpose content.
It’s never been easier to produce a book. In fact, it’s often as simple as clicking a few buttons. That’s a simplistic way of looking at it and in reality, creating an ebook or Kindle book takes some effort, but it’s nothing compared to the work involved in creating a book 10 years ago.
Kindle Create lets you transform a manuscript into a Kindle eBook quickly and at no cost. You can then sell these books on the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing platform. I use it myself and while it's not the most beautiful interface (especially the backend), it's effective and gets the job done. It's worth running some ads to your book at the start to get the ball rolling. SellerMetrics is a good tool for managing Amazon PPC.
Plus you get access to the audience of the world's biggest online store. But the great thing about digital products is they cost nothing to reproduce.
Here’s a strategy that works for a lot of ebook writers:
Figure out which blog topics around a certain niche perform well. Use Google analytics to find the topics that people resonate with.
Ask your audience. If you have an email list or a Facebook group it might even be as simple as asking them what they’d like you to write about.
Export the blog posts into a Word document and format them into a cohesive book. Use Kindle Create to build a Kindle book. You can also use Designrr, Canva, or Beacon to create beautiful ebooks for sale outside of the Amazon platform, like on your website.
You can also create ebooks to sell on your site. Another great option for passive income once the initial hard work is done.
The creator economy is thriving, and more and more people understand the importance of supporting their favorite artists, content creators, and influencers.
You can give visitors the opportunity to support your work by including a donation button or payment link on your website. The simplest way to implement this is to sign up for Buy Me A Coffee and either add a simple payment button or set up a membership option for superfans.
Hire Me Page
Do you have skills that you can sell to others? Do you offer an amazing graphic design service or freelance writing service but nobody knows about it? Add a Hire Me page to your website and offer services to visitors. Advertize your consulting services or freelance services to people for free on your Hire Me, Contact, and About pages.
If they are interested in your content, it's likely a portion of visitors will be interested in hiring you. A great way to use your content as a vehicle for monetizing a website.