How to Monetize a Website
By Steve Gillman
For the sake of this discussion on how to monetize a website,
I will assume that you already have a site and have some traffic
coming to it. If not, that is your first goal. Once you have
enough daily visitors to your site (or blog), you can make that
traffic into an income stream in a number of different ways.
Use Pay-Per-Click Advertising
The easiest way is to simply sign up as a publisher with any
of the pay-per-click companies. Once your account is approved
you place the code provided into your site pages and relevant
ads are displayed. Advertisers pay for every click that the company
delivers to their sites, and you get a cut of the action - usually
half or more. Google and Yahoo are perhaps the largest and most
well-known of these advertising sellers, but there are many others.
Use Affiliate Programs
Some of the first Internet profit opportunities, affiliate
programs are simple in concept. You mention a product on your
site and every time a visitor clicks on the link and then completes
a purchase you get a commission. Amazon.com was one of the earliest
big players in affiliate sales, but they are one of the worst
to sign up for at the moment - at least if you plan to promote
their books. They pay very little on a sale, and nothing when
instead of buying a new book your prospect buys a used one -
which they are encouraged to do.
There are thousands of affiliate products you can promote,
ranging from vitamins to houses and pet food. Some of the best
though, are those products that are digital. The production cost
for each sale is essentially zero, so commissions can be higher.
This includes audio downloads and ebooks. On my website, BestMeditationCDs.com,
I make $42.50 when someone buys an $85 meditation program that
I promote. On Clickbank.com some e-book publishers pay out up
to 75% of the sale's price on any sale you refer to them.
Sell Related Products
If you want more control over your business, you might want
to sell your own products in order to monetize a website. I know
people who sell surveillance equipment and laminating machines.
Some financial-topic websites have started selling their own
specially minted gold and silver bars. Even if your website was
set up as simply an informational site rather than an online
store, you can usually find a relevant product or two to sell.
Instead of getting paid for each click on ads you have little
control over, you can sell your own space. Some busy websites
make hundreds of dollars per month for each of the ads on their
pages. On at least one of our sites I have been offered $600
to put a line of text and a link up for one year on one page
(I refused because of the nature of the site they wanted me to
This is really the same as selling advertising, although you
can choose to be honest in your review of products or ebooks
sent to you. You need to have a well-trafficked site for it to
be worth much for authors and vendors to pay you for a review.
One benefit of this monetization model is that you get a lot
of free products sent to you. Without asking I have received
six or seven free books, courses and other things from people
who hoped I would then mention their product on one of my sites,
(and I did do a write-up on a credit-card-sized toothbrush
for on my backpacking site - no charge).
If you have a busy website but you do not want to create a
newsletter on a relevant topic, you can let others with newsletters
put their subscription forms on your site. For example, if you
have a blog or website about fishing, someone with a free fishing
tips newsletter might want to get subscribers from your site.
I have seen rates ranging from 20 to 50 cents per subscriber.
The buyer hopes to get more value than that from the ads in his
or her newsletter. Have the thank-you page that subscribers are
sent to hosted on your site and you will know how many sign-ups
If you provide valuable information on your site, you might
not want to give away everything for free. Save some of the best
and make a simple PDF report or e-book to sell. I sell ten different
e-books on various topics. One of my best sellers is an e-book
on ultralight backpacking.
Sell Thank-You Page Space
If you sell anything on your site, your buyers eventually
arrive at a thank-you page after their order is complete. This
space can be sold to other vendors who want to offer a non-competing
product. Some webmasters who don't like to promote too much on
sites where they sell their own products use the thank you page
because after all, the primary sale has already been made. This
is also a good place to put a subscriber form for a free newsletter
- which you can charge for if the newsletter is published by
Make a Newsletter
If you have your own newsletter on your site you can sell
advertising in it, put affiliate links in it, or monetize it
in just about any of the ways you would monetize a website. Some
newsletter publishers just provide nothing but information every
week to build credibility, and then once every month or two do
a separate mailing to promote something that they can make a
big commission on.
Ask For Money
This is by far my least favorite way how to monetize a website,
but it has worked well for others. Rather than try to sell something,
some people simply ask for donations to keep a website going.
Personally I would prefer to sell something, but if you are offering
something of real value there is no ethical reason why you can't
ask for a donation. We recently downloaded a free program for
reducing the file size of photos, and it works so well that my
wife plans to donate to the creator of the software (and yes,
the site has a donation button).
Use a Site to Find Partners
If your primary business is offline, you might still use your
blog or website to help you find new opportunities and partners.
For example, if you invest in real estate and you have a blog
on the topic, you might ask for people to contact you if they
know of a good deal that is available or if they want to partner
with you on a project.
Park the Site
Sometimes a website is essentially empty of content, but still
has traffic. This could be due to a catchy name or perhaps there
used to be a fully-developed website there at one time before
you bought the domain name, and people are still coming in from
old links. If you have any sites or domain names like this, you
can put them with a domain-parking service that automatically
places ads on them for you and shares the revenue.
Forward the Website
If you have a site that fits the description above and don't
want to park it with a service, you can forward it to another
website in order to monetize that traffic. This could be another
website that you own, or (for a fee) you could forward it to
a site owned by someone else.
There you have it: A dozen suggestions on how to monetize
a website or blog. Each of them has its advantages and disadvantages,
which you'll discover as you try them. One of them might lead
you to a new income stream from your website.
You Can Make Money Writing
- The free course, and the book sold here are more about how
to generate traffic, but they do cover how to monetize a website