Statistics say that if you own a website, 89% chances are you had money factor in your plan somewhere down the line. And it is perfectly fine to think about money in your plans. We all have, after all, done everything in our lives to one day earn money, right?
Owning a website opens up a lot of ways to earn huge bucks, but how exactly?
This blog post will show you the various ways in which any website can earn money.
Selling Ad Space
Take a look at your website. There is space on the left, right, top, bottom, sometimes even in the middle of the post. Why let it stay blank when you can help companies and brands put up their advertisements and compensate you with a good amount of dollar bills?
This is the easiest way for a website to make money. When I say easiest, I mean it; because selling ad space is something that any website can do, the one which has just started and the ones which are already on a roll! You just need to find the right program for you.
Now, there are 2 ways you can get yourself enrolled in any sort of advertisement program. If you are an established website, chances are you are already receiving a lot of emails from both big and small companies, asking you to put up their advertisement banners on your blog. It will be easier if this is the case, since, you have plenty of options you can choose from. But the downside to this can be that you have to put up the advertisements that you are assigned to display. These can be related to your niche or can be totally opposite to that, in the sense that your position to have a say in it will be much weaker.
On the other hand, if you are a newbie and have yet to stabilize your website, you might have to search, research and dig your way to find an advertisement program that suits you best. You can enroll yourself in any of the advertisement programs available online but again it will have the downside of a weaker position. Another thing you can do is dig a little deep and find specific companies who are willing to buy your ad space in return for money. Selling your ad space directly to a company gives you a much stronger hold on what will be displayed on your blog posts – whether it will be relevant to your customers or not. This factor is very important, as you can guess, it is because your entire blog represents your brand.
For example, on this very website, had the ads been on the latest Korean dramas released this year, as a customer, you would not find this website reliable unless the content is so damn good that you don’t even notice the display ads. On the other hand, if this blog post came with advertisements regarding new blogging tools, advertisements by Google AdSense, or offers for tools to enhance your website, as a customer, the content on this website will look much more reliable and professional. Don’t you think?
Now, that you know what you need to do in order to get yourself a good display advertisement, you need to figure out what kind of ads would you want to enroll for. There are 3 types- CPM (Cost-per-mille), CPC (Cost-per-click) and CPA (Cost-per-action).
‘Mille’ is Latin for Thousand (1000). As you can probably guess, CPM means that you will get paid after every 1000 visitors see the ad. As you can probably guess, it can take a while or it can be accomplished within a few seconds, but it will pay only after 1000 people have come across the ad displayed. These work well with companies with the primary goal of creating awareness and letting people know of their existence. For this to work best, all you need to ensure is an abundance of traffic, nothing else.
Some companies would not pay you just because people would know of their existence. These companies want the customers to come and visit their page to add value to their existence. So, these companies are willing to pay only after a certain number of visitors click on the ad and land on their company pages. These numbers will vary from company to company and from program to program. These work for companies that are already established and maybe want their customers to look at some newly launched project or something similar.
The companies which offer CPA take it further to another step. These companies are looking for customers who are willing to take some action and not just see or visit the page and then leave. So, these are the ones who will pay you only after a visitor from your website has taken some form of action and converted. ‘Conversion’ means when a random visitor becomes a part of your community and is now linked via email, followings or subscriptions. Only when a visitor converts, does this sort of program pays you.
Pros of Selling Ad Space
Now, that you know the basics of earning money via selling ads, let’s look at some pointers on why you should go for this.
This is the simplest and the most common way to earn money. There are bloggers earning more than $1,000,000 /year just by selling space on their blog for ads. There are literally 1000s of reliable and secure online programs you can get enrolled in for setting up a blog with advertisements.
Setting up advertisements also increases the chances (if done with specific companies) of your visitors finding your blog helpful, because of the various new things that they get to know and explore via your advertisements.
This is one of the best ways to earn money because you literally don’t have to do anything once you get yourself enrolled. You just have to sit back and look at the numbers increasing in your bank account (most probably your PayPal account, since it is how most companies transfer money).
Cons of Selling Ad Space
If not selected carefully, the advertisements can do more harm than good. Yes, it is a great way to earn money but it, somewhere, compromises with your brand name. nobody likes to see advertisements when they are trying to pay attention to the content. You know it to be true too, advertisements are a sort of distraction. Think about it – you are reading an article you need to read, suddenly an advertisement comes on regarding a sale going on an eCommerce website. You open it and spend an hour or two scrolling down content which at the end of the day, you probably won’t even buy. You end up wasting your precious time.
Now, as a company, you have done 2 things, drove the customer away from your website to another, i.e., a customer who wanted your service in the first place is now going somewhere else, forgetting all about you and your content. The next thing you did is destroy your brand name; when the customer realizes that it was an ad on your website that directed them to something which had the potential to make them waste a huge part of their day, they might not come back to a website that has similar kinds of advertisements, and if it turns out to be more specific, they might not return to your website specifically, thinking – “I might end up wasting more of my time, I rather not go there again!”
It is one of the easiest ways to make money online, and if you are a rookie in the blogging field, I would suggest you try this at least once and as soon as possible. But keep in mind the entire time, its consequences. You could end up in the best place financially or you could end up failing. Make sure you don’t randomly go for any advertisement program. Do your own personalized research, note what is best for you and your website, look at what might be beneficial for your audience and select the program which you think is the best. If you end up stuck between a bunch, try out all of them, not together and definitely, not in excess but subtly and slowly. It might take some time, but if done right, it can take you places you would never have imagined in your most insanely rich dreams! Remember, there are bloggers earning $10K per month in advertisements and there are also people struggling for years with advertisements and still making $3.69 half-yearly.
The first thing that might have come to your mind at the mention of selling products must have been – “But I am not a retailer or an eCommerce website. How can I possibly sell stuff online? There are already many e-commerce websites online and if I go for this, I probably won’t even be able to make my brand known with this much competition!” Let me tell you something. This, right there, is a huge myth and huge misconception about selling products online.
Opening up a website is like opening up a company. And what do companies do best? They sell! Everything and anything! What makes a company a company is the product they are selling. The products can range from everything to everything else and so can the range for online businesses and websites. Yes, you can find your success through this. All you need is some talent and a lot of clarity on what to do.
Let me start by giving some success stories.
Harry, a guy with a random name, from Germany thought that beard maintaining products should not be an expensive affair. He was done with the expensive and not-so-available beard maintenance products. So, he set his mission, created his own business and started a business online- an eCommerce website that sells only those products which are related to beard grooming. 10 months later, he had bought a production factory, was marketing to 100,000 email subscribers, and had raised over $122.5 million. He is the owner of Harry’s Razors.
Another story which might interest you is of Monica who used to doodle during her office meetings, but once she gave birth to her daughter and became a stay-at-home-mom, she started expanding on her world of characters, writing backstories and songs for each one, taking a content approach while testing the designs on physical products. She used Printify to print her own merch, including mugs, leggings and kids’ décor. Presently, she owns MoMeMans.
Another person, who is a big fan of Rubix cubes, when tired of looking high and low for the perfect Rubix cubes, was determined to make a business where no one else would ever have to search so much. Today, it is the best website to find the perfect Rubix cube, its accessories, souvenirs and even competitions and championships of solving Rubix cubes. This website now sometimes works on making world records in the field. (cubelelo.com)
Do I still need to show you how you can make money by only being an expert in your choice of trade?
If there is still some doubt, keep on reading. Maybe you will find your answer then.
In some cases, you don’t even have to sell tangible, shippable products. You can sell digital products like eBooks, courses, photographs, talents, and the possibilities are so many that I can’t even make a list!
You can make an eBook (minimum 50 pages) and can get people to buy your book in return for cash (maybe $2-3/ 50-page book). You can sell it on kindle books, google books, amazon reads, and literally any other book site where you may have to pay to read.
The same goes for online courses. You need to make a detailed, exhaustive course on something that is your niche and provides the customer with a value that they cannot get anywhere else. Once, done, you can start asking your audience to provide you money for the knowledge that they gain from you.
If you are a photographer, you can always upload your spare photographs online and sell them (the digital copy, of course). This might be a new idea, but there are bloggers who are into it. You have to be careful about it, though. Maybe you can post a single picture and ask the audience to pay you to look and own a few pictures from the entire album for a few dollars.
Now, do you start seeing yourself as an entrepreneur who can sell stuff online? Maybe an entire store someday, but starting from a single product now? Another amazing company started like this. They started by selling books online. The founder thought of making it easy for people to buy books online rather than going to all the stores in the entire town and still not finding that particular book. Readers, have you been there? Probably not, because this came up. I bet you have at least heard of it if not used it. Amazon.in. Does that name ring a bell? Yes, it started with selling books, now it sells everything!
Is the concept of selling goods online a bit more clear now?
Pros of Selling Products
It is pretty easy to set up once you get to know the basics of it. even if you don’t know it, it is easy to get access to hundreds of free courses online to teach you how to set up your website for selling products online.
It is a great way to share your knowledge and talent with people around the world, to let them know that you have created something that can be of help to them. The feeling that comes with it, the feeling that you could help someone is great and you wouldn’t want to miss that at any cost!
Since it is your own product at the line, you would be having full control over it – the price, the audience target, the quality, the customer trust, brand name, and accessibility. You would basically be an entrepreneur or if I may, CEO of your self-made company. Every single decision will be yours.
Cons of Selling Products
To find success in a path like this, you need to really think – think about some product which you can sell that nobody else can manufacture or nobody else even thought of manufacturing.
In the examples given above, everybody wanted those cheap razors, beard grooming products which were easily available, Rubix cube which were rare to find and doodles from a person who put her own charm into the drawings. What will your product provide which no product from someone else could provide your audience? This can be a hard question to answer and an even harder feat to achieve.
Lastly, it might be a bit tedious for a newbie. A lot of promotions and marketing is required which I do not suggest right at the start. Gaining some experience of the industry first would be better.
Selling a Service
Yes, selling a product and selling a service is not the same thing, they might sound almost the same, but they are not. The thing that makes both of them different is that a product is mass-produced but a service is more of a customized order that you need to fulfill. To sell a product, you need to advertise the product and when the order comes, you send it to the customer but to sell a service, you need to advertise yourself (profusely) and when someone wishes to hire you, you need to personally contact them, ask them about their conditions and demands, strike a deal and then start working till they are satisfied. It is a much longer process but compensates with an equally larger commission.
To sell a service, you need your best talent and be sure that your talent is something that someone would pay money to see. Selling a service is hard but if done right, it can be the start of both offline and online career to an extent that cannot be defined.
Quoting some successful stories can be of
Isis King, the first transgender model on America’s Next Top Model. When she started seeing success in her life, she eventually opened up her own website, showcasing her own portfolio to let people know of her work and had the opportunity to hire her directly. What she did was put up her resume (her portfolio on the website) for people to know that she was available to provide her services in the modelling industry and could do a background check on her. A good idea for getting more projects, right?
Another story is of an Indian man, Abhiraj who was tired of looking and hiring professionals to fix his household things, one day came up with the idea of a business where people could easily find professionals such as plumbers, caterers, yoga instructor, photographers, etc. based near you for hire. So, he set up Urban Clap, a website where people could come and hire professionals from this company on a contract basis. Now, who wouldn’t want to use that?
There are thousands of artists (illustrators, graphic designers, make up artists, software designers etc.) who have put their talents out on their websites for the world to see and hire them. You are also buying a service right now – but the knowledge we provide you is free.
See how it works? It is like using the website as an online resume which anyone can go through.
Pros of selling a service
You no longer would need to contact head-hunter with a finite number of contacts, to get you a job. There will be no middle man – only you and the contractor, which you probably know, cuts out a lot of confusion and commission payment.
You would be selected only on the basis of talent and expertise. It won’t matter much if you are a newbie or not, the only thing that matters will be if you will be able to handle the project or not. Since the contractor is able to see your work online, they wouldn’t need to look for people to give their opinions on you.
Another factor that could count well for your is that when you are online, you are literally connected to the whole world, implying that you are not restricted to just your city, or country but to the entire world and every single place where you are needed!
Cons of selling a service
To sell your talent is a complex and slow process. You need to really be on top of your game, you need to know every single thing about your profession which the customer might want of you. Since, you are already online, ready with a portfolio and strategies which can help your potential customer, you need to be talented enough to fulfill that because even a single negative comment on your website, or about your website could hurt your business in a way which is hard to recover from.
Has it ever happened to you that you are reading something on a blog and suddenly a related item comes up at a discounted rate with the blogger stating that “If you buy from here, you will receive the item at a discount!” and you go to the link and buy it from there? Well, what the blogger did was, in short, affiliate marketing. Affiliate marketing is an arrangement between your website and a company whereby you direct potential customers towards your site.
How does it work?
First, you must get yourself enrolled in some form of affiliate marketing program with a specific company or product range. When it is done, you usually get a personalized link to use in your blog post, in the sense that if someone uses this particular link to go to the company’s website to buy something, the company will get to know that this specific customer was driven here from your website. And for driving traffic to their website, you receive compensation for it in the form of cash.
Again, just like selling ad space, it is compensated after some set amount of traffic is diverted. Therefore, it is preferred to have at least 500 subscribers or at least 50,000 visitors per day to earn a decent amount of affiliate marketing. But nothing can be sure. There are websites with a loyal audience of around 10,000 and the owner earns around $6-7 k in affiliate marketing per month. So, it really depends on what you are marketing, how good is content, the trust factor you have with your audience and if the product is really beneficial for the customer.
There are mostly two sets of arrangements regarding affiliate marketing – cost per click and cost per acquisition.
Cost per Click: in this sort of a program, you are paid after a certain number of potential customers have clicked on the referral link on your website and have reached the company’s portal to display the product. It pays on the basis of the amount of traffic generated.
Cost per Acquisition: Acquisition implies that the potential customer has now “converted” for the company as well by buying the product via your referral link. So, it pays only when a certain number of visitors are now the company’s customers or have bought the product from them. In short, they pay you only after they have acquired their target from you.
Affiliate marketing pays quite good. Different programs have different commissions based on the type of product, the company that manufactures it, the target audience, your traffic generation/ day, your reach (social media and email subscribers), availability of the product marketed and so much more. But on an average, the commission if between 3-10% per sale.
How can you find an affiliate program for your website?
The two most common ways to find and get yourself enrolled in an affiliate program is via direct contact and previously established affiliates.
The more stable and secure way is to get yourself enrolled in a simple affiliate program such as that of Amazon.in., eBay, etc. It is easy, reliable and can be easily set up but limits your product range. Chances are low that you will get the perfect product that you would love to promote for your audience on your website and which pays a high commission rate. But if you dig a little deep, you might something just right in store for you.
The other way is to contact directly the company whose product you want to market for your audience. Now, most companies do not display their ads for affiliate marketing but it is only rare that a company would not have any sort of affiliate marketing involved. A smart and easy way to find out the affiliate marketing opportunities for a particular company is by typing “company name + affiliate programs” in the google search bar and you will find it easier to find their affiliate programs. In this method, you will have a little higher chance of receiving the product of your choice.
Pros of Affiliate Marketing
It is one of the easiest and least complicated methods to set up and earn money. Looking for a good affiliate program and creating a blog post around the product is easy enough in respect to other methods. Once you do it, then all you have to do is sit back and see the money increase your bank account balance.
If done properly, it can prove beneficial for your blogging career. When you promote products using your brand name, people who take a leap of faith in you and end up with really nice products which they are thankful for, your brand value increases many folds by an increase in the number of loyal subscribers.
Cons of Affiliate Marketing
Same as mentioned in the section of Selling Ad Space, if not used properly, affiliate marketing can do more harm than good. You need to know that the people coming to your website are trusting you to fill in the gaps of their knowledge which they can use later on. If the product you promote is not useful for them in any way, then not only will they stop reading your content, they might not even return. And if they don’t return, you won’t even have a chance to get them back. So, keeping in mind the influence of your brand, you should make sure that the affiliate programs you are enrolling in are really worth the trust of your audience.
Subscriptions or Premium Content
Have you ever come across a website where you had to create an account to get access to its content? Well, this is exactly like that with the only difference being that of free and paid.
The idea behind Subscription is to provide the ones who paid something extra that would not have been available otherwise. These can be some extra blog posts, early drafts of future blog posts, extra tutoring lessons, access to new software or maybe your well-kept secrets, etc. You need to figure out a product or a service that people cannot physically buy, but do need to access regularly from your website. That will be your USP (Unique Selling Point).
Another similar thing you can do is make an exclusive community for your paid audience. You make an online group, give the paid audience a username and password to log in to a world where they can communicate with other members and enjoy the premium content that you post for them. This way the visitors feel like they are a part of an exclusive community which makes them feel special and loyal towards you as a brand and, therefore, they would be more willing to pay for the special service.
Some example which I would love to quote is of Boss Babe and Club Penguin.
Boss Babe run by Natalie Ellis, is a website for podcasts and empowering women to work towards their ambition and take control of their lives. They have a community of their own for which you need membership. The exclusive members of the community get to listen to podcasts first, get the first opportunity to book Boss Babe’s seminars and webinars along with workshops and many other things.
Club Penguin was a gaming website for kids. If you have been a penguin on the website, you would know there were two kinds of penguins – the normal ones and the premium ones. Every penguin could play every game and do just the same things but the premium penguins who charged $79 a month used to get extra benefits like extra chances of complex games, better houses to live in and small-small things that lure you to buy the premium membership. I have played the games for 2-3 years and I have literally seen the growth in the number of premium penguins in the club! So, trust me when I say this – If done right, you won’t need to hustle anymore with making money online.
Pros of Subscriptions/Premium content
The first benefit it brings to you is that it makes your customer feel more important and special, i.e., they feel as if they have something that others don’t have. A sense of being in the blogger’s “Special List” is a feeling that is great! To have early access or better content from someone you like is a great gift.
Having a subscription membership for a website is like playing-hard-to-get at a party. It makes the potential customer feel as if there is something special and they want to try it. They are attracted towards it but are unsure of it. so, they evaluate it. If you are able to draw their attention at this point of time, you go home with the biggest prize you can imagine. You just need proper planning and marketing strategies to let them know what possible advantages they might have if they subscribe to you.
Cons of Subscriptions/Premium Content
The only downside that I can think of it is that if you are not careful, you will not just lose your customers but might also face some legal action on the basis of customer rights where money form audience was falsely taken from them with no return of what was promised.
So, even though it can do wonders for you and your business, it has to be taken care of carefully and only when you are sure that you are ready.
Sponsored posts are basically a deal between a company and you wherein you must write content that promotes that company or its products among your audience in return of money.
It is a good and easy way to earn bucks if you have a lot of audience or traffic coming to your website regularly. Since, there is no restriction on the number of visitors who must come to your website, this is a better option to promote other company’s products.
This not something that is recommended unless it is a sure shot way to money.
Pros of Sponsored Posts
You get to choose the product and promote what you think the audience will like and, in some way, benefit your visitors in making them aware of the presence of these products.
It is easy money since the major content will be provided by the company itself. Your job would only be to let your followers know that this product would be something that you would personally use.
Cons of Sponsored Posts
If the product and company is not what you would personally use in real life or is not related to your niche/ website in any way, it is strongly recommended to stay away from it. Since, it is something that will represent your brand when the post is live, you need to think whether or not it goes with it. If it does, it can take you places, but if it not related, you will only damage your brand name and followers for few bucks.
This is a relatively new concept which started when someone on the web shared his concerns with his audience saying that the sole purpose of his website was to benefit people and make them self-sufficient, but with the growth in the blog and increasing expenses, he had no choice but to either shut down the website or monetise it. But there was a third option which he suggested. If his audience was benefitting from the knowledge he provided and wanted him to continue with his tutoring sessions, the audience might be even willing to donate funds for the business to let it keep running.
So, he asked his loyal followers to consider this, and today it has started a chain of bloggers and vloggers to ask for donations so that they can keep doing work and create content for their audience.
One of the biggest success stories I can give you for this is a website (which you already know and probably have used at least once). After it started growing way too fast for its owners, it came across this problem where the founders were thinking of monetising the site and no longer making it free for the audience. So, they tried to communicate this to their audience and slowly a solution came out where the founders made it easy for anyone to contribute to the website in creating its content and keeping it free. This website is Wikipedia. Yes, the open-source information pool would not have been like this had people not donated finances and knowledge.
Since it is a relatively new concept, it has not been explored much in order to create a pro and con list for it but it has also been explored enough to let us know that it is quite a safe, interactive and straight-forward approach to take for business.
Sell or Rent Internal Pages
This too is a relatively new concept and might be a bit complicated to understand at first. As the name suggests, you rent out a page or a part of your website to other companies or bloggers to use and the rent they provide for it is your income.
Think of your blog as real estate. Suppose you own an estate consisting of around 50 houses. You only need to use one or maybe two houses for yourself. The rest you can rent out to others for extra income, right? The only difference that might arise is that on a website, you have much more than 50 internal pages.
Same goes with renting internal pages on your website. You set a deal with someone who wants a separate blog as a sub-part of your website and earn money from them. It is mutually beneficial for both parties. For you, there is no additional cost in accommodating another person, rather you will be receiving money while doing nothing. In addition, you might even get new followers from the other blogger who were exploring the website.
For the other party, they get to interact with your audience as well. If they are a newbie and you are an already established business, then, they will have the best exposure of a lifetime.
Earning money from a website might seem a bit of a dream and a hassle but if done right, it can become your simple reality. You just need to find the right kind of earning for your website. Each website is different with a unique combination of features which have to have a unique way of earning money. What will work for one website might not work for another or might work insanely well for some other.
My suggestion would be to go in detail of all these methods (since, now you know the major areas where to look) and try hands-on-experience on most of them before settling down for one.