A business website doesn’t just exist to advertise your products and services. On the contrary, a well-developed site can actually generate income for your company. But, knowing how to monetize your site is key.
Website monetization refers to the various methods used to convert site traffic into real online revenue. Not all monetization techniques, however, are appropriate for every business. Using the wrong advertising type or failing to take users’ privacy concerns into account can actually result in a reduction of traffic in the long term, so it’s important to know what will and won’t work for your business.
Let’s take a look at how to monetize a site, and figure out which type of monetization is right for you.
8 tips for how to monetize a website
There are a number of monetization strategies you can use, each one with its own pros and cons. Here are eight of the most common methods of monetizing a website, along with tips for deciding which option is best for your business.
1. Affiliate marketing
Affiliate marketing is the process by which a website earns money by promoting the products and services of another business. A good fit for product-centric sites, affiliate marketing affords the host website a commission when a visitor purchases an affiliate’s goods. For example, the Amazon affiliate program is one of the largest of its kind and provides marketers with a commission of up to 10% on product sales.
Although affiliate marketing can be lucrative, it’s important that website managers evaluate whether or not an aspiring affiliate is a good fit for the company. After all, showcasing ads for irrelevant or low-quality products on your website can annoy your visitors and diminish clients’ trust in your business. For these reasons, affiliate marketing is most appropriate for social networks, news sites, and forum sites where customers regularly post product reviews.
2. Banner ads
Banner ads are those rectangular advertisements that appear on webpages to promote another company’s products or services. Depending on the amount of traffic your site gets, banner ads can be a lucrative monetization strategy that brings in a monthly fee from paying sponsors.
High-traffic sites offer invaluable digital real estate for potential advertisers, and they can earn significant revenue from banner ads as a result. On the other hand, newer sites with few page views and those with comparatively low traffic are unlikely to make much money with this technique.
Aspiring advertisers should also note that not all web audiences are created equal. Whereas sites with large, wealthy audiences are typically ideal, smaller advertisers may be able to earn more if they target highly relevant sites. For example, a family-centric blog is far more attractive to a company that sells children’s clothing than a blog that promotes auto parts.
While banner ads can generate helpful revenue for your website, hosts should use their judgment when selecting potential advertisers. In the long run, showing too many irrelevant or intrusive display ads can affect user experience and turn people away from your website. You can only sell ad space on so much of your site, so you want to make sure you’re filling it wisely.
It’s worth noting that you shouldn’t sell pop-up ad space. Pop-up ads already run the risk of annoying site visitors and impacting your site’s Google ranking. If you have a pop-up, it should be focused on your business, not someone else’s.
3. Site sale
While some owners view their websites as passion projects, others are content to spend just a short time developing a page before moving on to the next undertaking. Site flipping involves selling your website to an outside party in order to turn a profit. Many online resources exist for selling websites, including eBay’s page for website and business sales.
Not all websites are suitable for flipping, and salability tends to depend on overall income. To attract potential buyers, a website must generate a great deal of traffic or successfully earn revenue through other methods of monetization.
4. Pay-per-click (PPC) ads
Referring to “sponsored” ads that appear at the top and side of search engine result pages, pay-per-click ads are a great way to drive qualified traffic to your website. While most people in the e-commerce field are familiar with the concept of PPC advertising, website owners may not realize that these ads can offer an effective method of monetization as well.
Just as Google AdWords places business ads on the Google search page, Google AdSense performs a similar function for publishers such as website owners and bloggers. If your website offers tips for healthy living, for example, Google AdSense may opt to place ads for workout clothes or cleanses.
With PPC advertising, advertisers pay the host site for each click their ads receive. As a result, this monetization method is only lucrative if your site generates significant amounts of traffic on a regular basis. Additionally, the type of site you host can affect the value of your PPC advertising, as higher-cost products tend to pay more for clicks than those with lower value.
5. Email lists
Many websites use mailing lists to keep customers informed about new products and upcoming events. Business owners may not realize, however, that they can also earn money by “renting out” their email lists to other companies.
As the name suggests, email rental involves sending online communication to members of your mailing list on behalf of an outside company. If you have a robust mailing list, email rental can yield significant revenue for your business. In fact, a recent report suggested that the average email-list rental fee is $68 per thousand addresses.
Unfortunately, this monetization technique is not without its drawbacks. When you rent out your email list, you run the risk of annoying clients with irrelevant promotions. In the long run, you may even lose customers who opt to unsubscribe rather than continue receiving unwanted communication. Email marketing is a powerful tool at your disposal, and losing your own dedicated followers to make a quick buck can cost you in the long run.
6. Membership sites
A membership website is exactly what it implies: a site that offers users select content for a price. To succeed with this method, however, website owners must build a team of content creators and find users who are willing to pay for that content. VIP treatment, enhanced networking opportunities, and discounted access to products and services are a few of the perks that companies offer to attract premium members.
While membership sites offer benefits like continuous income, they also pose some challenges for site owners. Not only do these sites require more money to set up and maintain, small businesses may also struggle to produce the extra content needed to keep members engaged. Additionally, websites risk upsetting their regular visitors if they put some of their best content behind a paywall.
Monetizing your website with memberships can be a great source of funding. However, if your content isn’t up to the task, you’re far less likely to see a profit. Take the time to develop high-quality content and generate a solid web following before putting effort into membership-based monetization.
7. Sponsored posts
If you have a blogging space on your company site (which you should), you can accept sponsored posts from other companies. These companies will generally reach out to you with a desire to post on your site in exchange for money or a post on their site.
This can be a great way to get quality content on your site without the effort of writing it. It can also bring in additional money and give your brand more credibility. There is of course a huge but here: The brands you grant a sponsored post to need to align with your own company and audience.
You have your own product to sell, so make sure you’re not accepting sponsored posts from companies that directly compete with you or contradict your efforts. It’s also important to ensure the company posting on your site isn’t involved in any underhanded business dealing and isn’t currently the focus of bad press.
Lastly, if you’re going to link to a company’s site, make sure they have a quality site that isn’t filled with content you disagree with. Search engine optimization (SEO) is a huge component of having your content discovered online, and linking to questionable sites can hurt you.
8. Online courses
As your business grows in its niche and becomes more respected as a thought leader, you naturally have more to offer your audience. Selling online courses allows you to open up an additional revenue channel while further establishing yourself as a thought leader in the industry.
Create quality webinars that break down topics relevant to your business, then offer paid access to these webinars. LinkedIn can be an especially powerful place to promote this type of content, as many of the users are professionals looking to grow their knowledge.
Building your brand and your revenue
Monetizing your site can bring in additional revenue, but more importantly, it can help you establish your brand with different audiences. Experiment, have fun with the process, and don’t be afraid to venture into uncharted waters.
You know your audience better than anyone. Think about what they want and what they need, and find a way to deliver that while making some additional income. Once you’ve found that sweet spot, don’t stop improving your online marketing skills. Your audience and wallet will thank you.