The idea that you can launch a website and leverage it to generate revenue – real, tangible dollars – seems like a pipe dream to most. Sure, you know that it’s possible, but aren’t convinced that it’s realistic.
“Might as well play the lottery,” you think to yourself.
But here’s the deal: Monetizing a website isn’t akin to picking six numbers and hoping that the little “lotto ball machine” magically spits out the correct combination. Monetizing a website is a science. And if you know how the science works, you can do it…over and over again.
This isn’t to say it’s easy, but it is rather predictable.
It takes months of education and years of execution for most people to reach true levels of success with website monetization – so this article isn’t meant to show you how to go from zero dollars in revenue to seven figures overnight. However, it should provide you with some inspiration and food for thought. Because by the end of this guide, you’ll have a comprehensive list of specific ways websites can be monetized and turned into lean, green virtual ATMs.
I want to begin this article by peeling back the curtain a bit and showing you that this isn’t just hyperbole or hype – you can actually make some real money with a website.
To prove this, I want you to consider how much money the following successful blogs make:
Take a look at those blogs. You’ll notice that they all have unique styles, audiences, and niches. (I mean, one of the blogs talks about herbs and generates nearly a quarter of a million dollars a year!) Yet they all share one thing in common: They generate serious cash.
And that’s just blogging. We’re going to discuss 10 other website monetization strategies in this article. I just wanted to show you that before launching into the techniques and strategies as a way of showing you that it’s possible.
As they say, there’s more than one way to skin a cat…
So let’s dive right in and find out how you can monetize a website and build a sustainable cash-flowing asset. Keep in mind that these monetization methods exclude any discussion of local SEO or local-based business advertising.
One option is to sell physical products. In other words, you set up a traditional ecommerce website and you focus on selling tangible products that then get picked and shipped to the customer. This can be highly profitable, depending on the niche and the infrastructure you have set up.
There are a couple of different overarching strategies for selling physical products:
Either option works. It’s just a matter of which one is more conducive to the type of business you’re running.
Many entrepreneurs are turned off of physical products (and rightly so). But you have plenty of other monetization options to choose from. This includes the sale of digital products, such as:
The benefits of selling digital products include higher profit margins, no physical constraints, on-demand delivery, and recurring revenue streams (in some cases). If you can find a way to fit digital products into your mix, you should take full advantage of this option.
Selling online courses can be an extremely profitable way to generate website revenue and ultimately build a sustainable business. Best of all, it’s a passive stream of income (once the course is created).
Just to give you an idea of how much money you could potential generate selling online courses, here are three formulas to generating $10,000 per month with nothing but courses:
Those are just three simple formulas, but sometimes I find it’s most helpful to break things down into basic mathematical equations. Generating $10,000 per month might seem daunting, but making 50 sales at $200 each seems more doable. You can break it down even further and say you need to make roughly 1.5 sales per day.
Online courses can take on any number of shapes and sizes. You can offer courses on concepts and ideas (like politics or philosophy), courses on practical skills (like roasting coffee), or even hands-on workshops (like walking students through the step-by-step process of building their own website). The options are endless.
Some of the most profitable websites are membership sites where people pay to access some or all of the content. You’ve probably seen this with larger websites like The New York Times or certain sections of ESPN.com. It obviously comes with some tradeoffs – you ostracize non-payment members to a degree – but it can be profitable.
The key to selling membership access is to make sure the content you’re offering is worth more than what people are paying. If you’re going to charge $10 per month, you need to be sure that you’re offering at least $10 value. (And you’ll want to communicate this in a very clear and tangible manner.)
Do you have a professional skill or talent that you could potentially teach others? A website is a great place to build clout and sell consulting services. It gives you a platform to build credibility, show your value, and then ultimately schedule meetings so that you can profit from your expertise.
The only challenge with consulting services is that they aren’t scalable. In other words, you can’t sell an unlimited supply of consulting services like you can with eBooks or courses. Every client you work with requires some of your time. Price your time accordingly so that you don’t end up jamming your calendar so tight that you can’t work on your website.
As a self-promotional example, we sell SEO consulting services here on SEO.co and it’s something we do profitably. If you truly are an expert in your field, monetize that by driving organic traffic and pulling in leads.
Most people think that you have to sell your own products, services, or time in order to generate substantial revenue with a website. However, this isn’t true. One of the most profitable options is to develop quality content and then pepper it with affiliate marketing links to products and services from other entrepreneurs and businesses.
In fact, if you study some of the most successful bloggers – meaning the ones who generate the most money – you’ll discover that the lion’s share of their revenue comes from affiliate marketing.
Michell from Making Sense of Cents is very transparent about her earnings and she reports that roughly 62 percent of her seven-figure blog’s revenue comes from affiliate marketing.
No matter what industry you’re in, what niche you serve, the type of products or services you’re selling, or your long-term goals, you need to be building an email list at all times. An email list is worth its weight in gold. It’s the most profitable marketing asset you can have by far. And there are dozens of ways to monetize it.
The best way to build an email list is to create a lead magnet and opt-in form and display it prominently on your website. Then when you drive traffic to your site, you can nudge them into your funnel.
Once you have enough eyeballs on your website, you can leverage your traffic to begin generating revenue on-demand. One way to do this is by accepting and publishing sponsored content.
Sponsored content is a blog post that another individual or brand pays for in order to generate exposure with your audience. You typically charge a flat rate per post – like $500 for an article – and they provide you with the content. You then publish the content with a little header at the top that reads something like, “This article is sponsored by The Widget Company.”
Sponsored content is great because it provides you with content and revenue. It’s beneficial for the sponsoring brand because it offers them exposure in front of thousands of new prospective customers.
One of the keys to making sponsored content work is to avoid working with direct competitors who may siphon traffic and dollars away from your website. Instead, find brands with audiences that overlap with your own.
Pro tip: From a link building perspective, sponsored content should–per Google’s guidelines–include either rel=”nofollow” or rel=”sponsored” tags, or both. Google terms of service specifically calls out anything that is not so marked as a link scheme that should be avoided.
You’ll need to offer a ton of value and develop a loyal following first, but donations are one way to generate revenue. You won’t strike it rich with this approach, but it can be enough to offset your expenses and allow you to focus the bulk of your time on other revenue-producing strategies.
There are plenty of ways to accept donations, but if you want it to be professional, streamlined, and secure, we recommend using a platform like Patreon. You can integrate it into your website and generate recurring revenue and/or one-time donations.
Once your traffic reaches a certain point, your website becomes an attractive place for other brands to advertise. There are a couple of different types of advertising that perform well:
Advertising typically isn’t the biggest revenue producer for most websites, but it can provide a healthy stream of residual income that’s almost 100 percent passive.
Finally, you can always sell your website. In fact, some entrepreneurs build websites for the sole purpose of flipping them. This takes a lot of work and patience, but can potentially generate high six- and even seven-figure paydays. But, keep in mind, if your website is worthy of a seven figure payday, that means that it’s like producing a high, consistent, predictable steady cash flow. In many such cases, the best ROI is to continue to maintain such a site, not selling it.
In fact, once you become profitable in one area of monetization, it may be wise to work to diversify your site’s income stream(s) by trying your luck at other monetization methods, further solidifying and strengthening your incoming revenue.
Regardless of whether you’re selling physical products, blogging, or building a website with the intention of flipping it for a profit, you need traffic. In fact, you need lots of traffic.
At SEO.co, we specialize in helping entrepreneurs and businesses scale their organic traffic with the highest quality content and links. We do this through a combination of premium blog writing and strategic, white hat link building services.
For more information on our services, or to learn how we can help you generate more traffic from your website, please contact us today!