So, you have built a fully functional website or blog and you are trying to figure out how to monetize it. Well, there are tons of ways you can make it work for you. In this book, we have compiled a list of 37 methods of turning your website into a money maker without even making significant investments in it. Let’s get started.
- “Pay Per Click” advertisements (Google Adsense)
Google operates two advertising programs: AdWords and Adsense. The former entails showing adverts on the results returned by Google search. As a website owner who needs to make money from your site, you don’t need the former, but the latter — Adsense, which lets you display adverts on your site instead, and you’ll be paid for it!
The best part about Google Adsense is that it is incredibly easy to set up and the returns are quite motivating.
How does it work? After you sign up with the program, Google will attach a tiny block of code on your website to identify the kind of content you post there and the type of visitors you receive. This code is also used to uniquely target your visitors with relevant advertisements while considering the niche of your website. If your website is all about fashion and apparel, for example, Google will begin showing your audience adverts for fashion-related stuff: clothes, accessories, shoes, etc.
You earn money whenever a visitor clicks on the advert. (It’s that simple!)
The average pay per click is somewhere in the middle of $0.50 and $5. And when your site has robust traffic, you can comfortably earn hundreds (sometimes thousands) of dollars every month.
How do you apply for AdSense, you might ask? Before even applying, consider taking a glance at their Terms and Conditions (they update them quite often, and they are strict on those rules). Now open another tab on your browser and sign up with the program.
Benefits of joining AdSense
- If you own more than one site, AdSense lets you manage all your ads from one place
- You don’t need to sell any specific product to earn money; you simply display other people’s promotions on your site
- You audience will only be showed ads that are relevant to them — no annoying and irrelevant stuff
- AdSense doesn’t even require you to understand the technical part of the program, they will do the complicated part for you
- Both you and your audience would love good web design. Well, Google AdSense gives you greater degree of customization concerning the adverts they supply
- Did we mention it is free to join? Yes, it is. And joining it is incredibly easy
- No initial investments are required, whether in term of money or time
- Limited language support
- Minor mistakes can result to lifetime ban (as we earlier mentioned, Google AdSense are very strict with their rules)
- Traffic exchanges and traffic from social networks are restricted
- Invasive tracking brings privacy questions
- You can’t change country or the name of the payee
- Sell your own stuff (can be eBooks or any other digital product)
You have a huge potential to make money by creating a “per sale” service that let’s your audience access your material at a fee. There is no middle man you can worry that they may slash some of your earnings.
Are you too good at something that you would like to pass the skills to someone else? Why not start an online course on your website? Alternatively, you can write eBooks about or create podcasts within your area of expertise and ask your audience to buy them based on whichever friendly plan you can formulate.
Besides selling digital products (eBooks, tutorials, and stuff), you can also sell physical products
This approach may look simple and straightforward because all you need is enough knowledge in something or possession of a product you can make yourself, so you can simply avail these items on your site and start making money immediately. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as it looks. Creating a quality product requires massive investment in terms of time and financial resources. Other resources like content and design may be required. Besides, you will need to set up a third-party payment gateway to complete such operations as shipping, payment, and even taxes — you are almost assured of having problems in the initial phases.
When you get everything right, you will be an independent content creator or seller of an item with greater say on your cash inflows.
Here are some valuable resources I thought would be great for starters:
Guide to selling products from your site
How to create “Buy Now” button on your site with PayPal
Benefits of selling products on your site
- As aforementioned, you have total control on things like price and output
- You get to keep the lion’s share of your earnings. No middle men, just the tax man.
- It is a great way of getting the most out of your talent or skills. (Selling handcrafted products, for instance)
- Accept donations from your visitors
If you are a beginner blogger or you’re just starting out with your website and you don’t have many monthly visits, but your site has a sizable and engaged community, you can simply ask your followers to donate. It isn’t the best paying way of monetizing your site but can help you meet the expenses as you work towards making your site more established. We know of some programs that have been sustained in their entirety by donations. A good example is the Videonlan project (the guys behind the ever-versatile VLC Media Player) although their case is a bit unique. Another good example are the operators of the web.acrchive.org who make a lot of money purely from donations.
Asking people to support your journey shouldn’t be hard, and that’s why Paypal offers a tiny donation button you can add on your site to keep you going — here is how to create one. There is a detailed guide about how to accept donations on wikiHow, check it out.
Benefits of accepting donations
- It is easy to integrate
- You can easily establish recurring payments (with Paypal)
- Payments are almost always secure
- It is a showoff gratitude from your audience
- There is always that discomfort you feel when asking people to donate, it feels like begging
- It is both unreliable and unsustainable
- Review products and other people’s websites
This technique of monetizing your site is applicable if you are a leader in a specific niche. If your website or blog is popular among parents, for instance, you can review children toys. If you are into video games and you’ve built a sizable following on social media, why not review the latest releases from the comfort of your website and let your social media followers flock there?
But even if you haven’t established your site to be an authority in any niche yet, you can start off as a reviewer — all popular reviewers began from somewhere.
How does product review pay? Manufacturers would normally pay you to review or test their products on your platform with hopes that someone in your audience will be impressed with the product and proceed to buy. You may as well review products without being asked by the manufacturer, but you will be aiming to boost traffic this time, which can help you build the reputation of your website or even increase your referrals if you are signed to an affiliate program.
The most assuring thing about reviewing products is that manufactures will eventually come to you once your website has gained root in a specific niche.
Benefits of reviewing products
- You have the freedom to set your own prices
- You can use review materials for marketing
- One of the surest ways of becoming an authority site in a given niche
- Doesn’t require huge investments as you don’t need to own the products you are reviewing
- Very difficult to make money if you are not an already established figure in the niche
- Create an e-Commerce site (you need to work hard)
- You can move away from the traditional approach of making content to be the center of your website’s survival and instead base it on products or tools. A website that offers a certain product or tools is an online store or e-commerce site.
But this could be the hardest way of monetizing your website because there are tons of e-commerce sites on the web already and you must compete with a lot of them. The only way to stand out of the pack having a better strategy than anyone else and employing the most effective marketing techniques you can ever come across. Also, it is just as important to find a unique niche, preferably one that hasn’t been overcrowded yet.
How much money do you stand to make from an online store? Let’s say your store is one of the most successful in your niche, you can earn over $100,000 per month. The initial investments leading to such income can be significantly high. A yet-to-very-established online store can bring about $500 in a month.
How do you get started? We need a whole separate post to outline how to go about it. Here are two brief guides:
How to start a WooCommerce online shop (for WordPress)
How to start a Shopify e-Commerce shop (for Shopify)
Benefits of running an online shop
- Access to global market 24/7
- You can manage your shop from anywhere
- Measured results through various online marketing strategies
- You can sell almost anything
- Initial investments can be very high
- It is highly demanding. Unless you have a dedicated team to handle your clients and other aspects of the business, you will have a hard time running it alone
- Flip your site (Build > Sell > Reinvest)
Well, you have probably never heard of this before, but you can sell your website to someone else, make some good money, and reinvest it in another new website. You just add everything that makes a good website: AdSense, search engine optimization, and even having sold some products on the site. There is always a buyer out there trying to avoid the hard labor of creating a functional website from scratch.
Honestly, I don’t suggest that people should make sites and sell them and even make a business around that activity. I am a big fan of building something that you can use in a long time, or forever.
But you can’t ignore how lucrative this business can be. Imagine a scenario where your site earns about $400 per month by selling ad space. If everything else is working perfectly, the price tag on such a website will be somewhere between $4000 and $10,000.
Better yet, you can opt to deal in ready-made sites. They are cheap, but you can make pretty decent money from it
Where can you sell your site?
Flippa — the most well-known website market
WeBuyWebsites — a marketplace strictly dedicated to buying websites
FEinternational — if you have a high-end website, sell it here
Benefits of selling websites
- Low set up and running costs
- You enjoy higher margins and better cash flow
- You can do it from anywhere
- There is always a market
- Establishing a fully functional website complete with SEO and other necessities is harder, especially when you must do it en masse
- Create an affiliate program
Once you have established your online shop or put some content on offer (whatever you choose to sell on your website) you can establish an affiliate program and enlist affiliates to help you market your products out there for a commission.
The idea of having your own affiliates spreading the word about you on their platforms is one of the best ways of building the fame of your site and boosting the sales of you are running an e-commerce site. It is a win-win situation: you get a lot of traffic from the referred visitors and boost your sales while the affiliates get their commission plus recognition for identifying with your brand (if it’s a brand of authority in your industry).
If you are using WordPress, there are plenty of plugins that you can utilize to achieve any affiliate marketing goal.
Benefits of having your own affiliate program
- It cuts the marketing expenses because the affiliates will do most of the marketing
- You are almost certain that every lead will end up making a sale
- It is straightforward and dependable
- Easy to manage and control
- You will always be pushed to offer higher commissions even when your earnings are low
- Build an amazon store page
Ponder over this: Amazon, the largest e-Commerce company on the planet, sells almost everything your audience could ever want. Doesn’t it make sense to add an Amazon page on your website instead of creating your own online store that you might have a hard time building?
If you think about it, you will quickly realize how cost effective and rewarding it is to have Amazon on your page. Also (to my surprise), many bloggers and website owners don’t seem to be too much into this venture.
It is important to note that this approach works very much like Amazon’s own affiliate program — you get a commission when the member of your audience proceeds to Amazon to complete a purchase. The commission can be anything between 1 percent and 10 percent. It is still a great way of monetizing your site.
Now those were the top ways of monetizing your website. Let’s look at other not-very-well-known ways of making money. They aren’t minor ways. Rather, they are ways that deserve special mention:
- Selling text-link ads
You can sell text-link ads to websites that need them most. We don’t really recommend this, but it is worth trying out. The reason why we don’t root for this way of making money is that Google Terms of Service are strongly against it. So, if you get involved in this kind of business, you risk being penalized, and it could be for life!
- Set up “infolinks”
If you are not a huge fan of Google AdSense, you can opt for infolinks. Infolinks is a handy online advertising platform enabling website owners and bloggers to display relevant ads on their sites and earn money. As you can see, it works very much like Google AdSense. Sounds interesting, Huh! Here is how to set up infolinks on your site. There is only one major drawback about infolinks: their payouts are remarkably small compared to Google AdSense, but it’s worth trying out.
- Use monetization widgets
A web widget can be in the form of an application or a web page. In this specific case, you will use web page-based widgets. Web widgets are normally independent from the host web page and have very limited interaction with the rest of the web page.
How do you make money from widgets? Well, they work in a way similar to Google AdSense — they display relevant ads on your site in exchange of money. There is a guide to it, check it out.
- Establish RSS feed ads
RSS feed ads work exactly the way they sound: you allow RSS feeds on your site along with ads. The best part about RSS feeds ads is that you can choose to use partial or full RSS feeds, whichever suits your needs. Another advantage is that they boost your page views while earning income. Which option you choose, RSS Feeds ads are split into two groups: pay-per-click (very much like Google AdSense) and traffic-based ads. There is a guide on how to get started at Blogging Basics.
- Create a business page/paid directory.
Business directories keep popping up on the web like mushrooms and that could mean one thing: they are minting money for their owner. A business directly is any site with a list of businesses in a given niche depicting their location, size, and activity.
At the start, you comb sources to get information about these businesses and present them in a presentable way on your site. But as time goes on, and you build reputation, new business will seek your assistance in listing their information on your directory. Here is an example of some of the biggest business directories on the web (in no particular order):
BOTW (Best of the Web) — BOTW has been here since 1994 and now has over 16 million businesses in its database
About Us — About Us enjoys about 150,000 visits every month
Google My Business — A business directory run by the owner of the most popular search engine on the planet is destined to be a monstrous directory.
Do you wish to venture into this line of business? Here is a step by step guide on how to get started.
- Offer writing gigs
What about writing for other bloggers at a fee? Yes, many bloggers and site owners don’t have a lot of time to spend on writing every article uploaded on their sites/blogs. So, if you are good in gaming, for example, and you run a website dedicated to posting gaming updates, you can start a content creation service which can benefit other time strapped bloggers.
There isn’t a guide or set of tricks to help you make it in this method of monetizing your website.
- Sell podcasts
It is easier to sell podcasts today than it has ever been, thanks to services like Apple’s iTunes. But there is a better approach to it: Why not take full advantage of your website’s influence in a certain niche and start selling podcasts to your readers/listeners. If you have paid close attention to the activities of most political commentators in the United States, you might have noticed that most of them no longer include iTunes’ links on their YouTube or social media pages. Rather, they direct you to their podcasts on their own websites. This approach can be employed by pretty anyone with podcasts to offer.
The benefits of selling podcasts on your website are numerous, including the fact that no one will deduct part of your pay for hosting them on their service for you.
- Create videos for YouTube
Let’s be honest, no one on the internet monetizes videos better than YouTube. The social network lets you earn money on views received by your videos. The minimum payout is $100. Before a channel qualifies for YouTube Partner Program, it must receive 10,000 views or more.
Things get a little complicated when you throw ads in the mix. If a video accumulates 1 million views, for instance, but no one clicks on any of the pay-per-click adverts displayed on that video, you earn nothing. Google has a rather intricate way of awarding content creators for videos they upload on the platform.
But you’re trying to make money from your website, right? How does YouTube get involved? If you have been producing a lot of video content on your site lately, you might have noticed that it is hard to increase your audience from your website. You need to move those videos to YouTube — which is the world’s largest video repository — and include a link to your website. You would have killed two birds with one stone: you would have created a way of boosting traffic to your website while getting paid for your videos at the same time. We already know of a dozen ways web traffic can be monetized.
- Be a consultant
Picture a situation where you are so good at Information Technology that your site is entirely based on providing information about the latest releases and emerging trends in the world of technology. How do you monetize such a website further? You can start offering consultancy services to your readers and visitors right on your website or blog.
The goal is to make the most out of your expertise in your field. If you are looking for inspiration, look at what Neil Patel is doing and how he has established his site not only to be a one-stop source of every bit of information you need about SEO (search engine optimization) but to be a reputable SEO consultancy platform as well. And there is a list of proven tricks to make it big in the world of web-based consultancy services, check the out.
- Add a forum (membership-based forum)
If you are using a WordPress site, you can benefit from a range of plugins that can make the whole process as easy as ABC, bbPress is one of those Plugins. It doesn’t mean creating a forum on regular websites is hard, Website Toolbox leads you through three simple steps to make one.
Use content lockers
Instead of creating great content and requiring your readers to subscribe to access it, you can choose to introduce content lockers where the reader will only pay for certain content by unlocking it with payments. The best part is that you can switch it around to take various forms. For instance, instead of paying to see the content, you can require the reader to view a certain advert.
There is a YouTube tutorial on how to set up content lockers. The approach may be a little different on a WordPress site, here is the guide.
- Affiliate marketing
If you are new to this concept of spinning some cash, just know it entails promoting someone else’s stuff on your website and if, hopefully, someone sees your promotion and responds to it by buying the item, the guy you’re promoting for will award you an agreed commission.
So, this is how it works: You begin by signing up with a third-party affiliate program (the likes of CJ Affiliate and Amazon Affiliate Program) or the affiliate program established by the entity (also known as the merchant) whose products you wish to promote. Either way, you will be given a referral link and/or banners which you will display somewhere on your website while promoting the merchant’s products. The whole concept is built on whether someone in your audience will be pleased with your promotion or the product you are promoting and decide to give it a try.
When someone in your audience clicks on the banner or referral link, they are led to e a page where they can see the merchant’s product and make a purchase. It doesn’t always entail buying a product; it can be a download or completing registering for something. Whichever intent, you, as an affiliate marketer, will earn a commission if the person you referred completes the process as required.
Where can you find merchandise to promote? There are as many options as there is sand in the sea, but here are the three most popular affiliate programs:
Rakuten Linkshare has been around for a long time. Its popularity is increasing every passing day. If you are an avid fan of football, you’ve probably discovered that Rakuten is the jersey sponsor of Barcelona F.C, an indication of popularity. Rakuten has managed to ward off competition for many years it has been around by providing features that are distinctive and user-friendly. Such features include rotating different banner adverts for particular products, ease of administering and optimizing among others. But what makes Rakuten be one of the best affiliate marketing programs is its flexibility in promoting offers.
Clickbank is yet another remarkable affiliate marketing program. Its popularity has been fueled by its specialization in digital products. The program has been around for a long time as well, earning a great reputation in marketing eBooks and other digital products. One of the impressive things worth mentioning about Clickbank is the fact that you can gain unrestricted access to millions of eBooks immediately after finishing the sign-up process. No one else does that in the sphere of affiliate marketing. Marketers make a killing on Clickbank with its sumptuous commissions. The payment process is fast, marketers have the freedom to sell what they like and the site itself is stunningly easy to navigate and use.
It has been dubbed the king of affiliate marketing due to its huge number of sellers (over 1.5 million sellers). This immense number of sellers makes this program the best place for beginners to start. It isn’t entirely a newbie paradise. Experienced marketers are impressed with the atmosphere created by the program to develop custom tools and web pages that have APIs. Amazon Affiliates have a stunning one million partner merchants! No other program has ever come close to having such many partners. The program is also very flexible and easy to use.
Therefore, if you don’t start well, you may end up messing up various things. There are resources you need to have while embarking on building affiliate marketing websites.
1. Training and inspirations
There is nothing wrong with creating an affiliate marketing website from scratch. However, you need sufficient training to create a really successful affiliate marketing website. Having the inspiration to push the idea is also an added advantage. Starting an affiliate marketing website is overwhelming.
2. Video Tutorials on Affiliate Marketing
Basic education about affiliate marketing isn’t enough for building a successful affiliate marketing website. Video tutorials about affiliate marketing can be of great help especially when you have basic affiliate marketing knowledge but you need to improve it and kick-start affiliate marketing career. Affiliorama is the best place you can get affiliate marketing tutorials.
3. Email platform
Your website needs to be linked to a Google email platform. Although not every strategy in online marketing involves the use of email, having a reliable email strategy can have a remarkable impact on the sales. Some of the reputable email platforms to choose from include MailChimp, GetResponse, aWeber e.t.c
Backlinks are a valuable resource that should never miss on your affiliate marketing website. They serve to link your web page to other websites hence boosting the traffic and your website’s outreach. Backlinks help popularize your website within the circles of a niche of your choice. For instance, if you are selling fish, you need backlinks linking to websites that sell or talk about fried chips, chili and anything else that can go together with fried fish.
- Google Webmaster Tools
Search engines are a great source of traffic for blogs and websites. It is good to know how search engines view your affiliate marketing website. One tool to use is Google Webmaster. Actually, Google Webmaster is a group of tools that help users see how their websites are crawled, how the pages are indexed and the performance of keywords. Google Webmaster can also identify if there is a malfunction in your website.
Benefits of joining an affiliate program
- If you are good at marketing, or if your site is sort of an authority in a given niche — say, in golfing, fashion, or motor sports — and you have a significant following, you stand to make an insane amount of money
- It is based on performance, not the investments you commit
- Affiliates can increase your reputation
- Affiliates can also increase the traffic on your website while increasing sales
- You will find that some program offers meagre commissions that makes the whole thing to be unmotivating
- You don’t have any control on what the affiliate program chooses to do
- You have no say on your competitors
- Revenues are not guaranteed
- Affiliate links can be hijacked
Link your site on craigslist and sell skills and possessions
If you can’t design a website for an individual then probably you have an old toaster you need to sell on the craigslist. Many graduates are offering their skills online as consultants of almost anything you can mention depending on their expertise. Additionally, you can sell items you no longer use on the Craigslist and earn some quick bucks. Craigslist has over 40 million users. Better yet, every large city has a special section reserved for it. The website is highly convenient to anyone with a drive to make money.
- Link your site to ebay and auction products
eBay is the best site you can use to auction stuff that you no longer use. Clothes, cars, electronics…you name it, eBay can auction it. You can choose between the options of straight auction or flat rate. To compensate for the service, eBay takes a tiny amount of what you earn and that’s just Okay. You need to know that eBay thrives on an elaborate feedback system which requires you to build a great reputation as a trustworthy seller.
- Selling homemade items
You can sell handmade items on your site. You can also collaborate with sites like Etsy to promote your homemade merchandise. Etsy is a platform where crafts and other homemade creations are availed for sale. It can be anything you made at home: beautiful candles, soap with your signature fragrance, hand knitted scarves, homemade jewelry, essential oils, postcards, art prints, crocheted small animals etc. To send sales in the roof, you need to charge your clients reasonable top keep them coming back for more knitted kitten clothes. Just like eBay, Etsy will ask for a small percentage of your earnings.
- Publishing eBooks
Have you ever thought or offering your book for sale on your website or in conjunction with KDL (Kindle Direct Publishing) This is the best opportunity for men to capitalize on their previous writing works that have never been finished. If you have an unpublished book and you believe you are not in a so nice financial situation, quickly dash to Amazon, publish it, set the best price you can think of and put it up for sale. You need to promote your eBooks widely on social media to expose them to most people. Consider publishing a book within your area of expertise and not just a fictional story.
- Taking online surveys
You can make your site to be part of crowds pooled by consumer companies to conduct online surveys and get consumer feedback. For just 6 hours, you can earn up to $50 which is channeled in your Paypal account. Some of the websites offering survey services include My Survey, iPoll, and Pinecone.