Monetizing is the process of turning a website into a business that can earn a steady stream of income. How is it possible to make money without selling anything outright? The secret to generating income with a free website is using your site to advertise and promote products or sites that in turn pay you for your service. Many websites also offer digital products such as pictures or e-book that are sold outright, but require no shipping or handling and no direct involvement to complete the sale.
Some of the most common ways of Monetizing a website:
- AdSense or Pay-Per-Click advertising
- Affiliate Marketing
- Direct Sales of Digital Products (like e-books)
- Renting Advertising Space
All these are tried and proven methods that are very effective, and can easily be used together when needed. The simplest methods for beginners are AdSense (PPC) & Affiliate marketing, especially for a new site. To sell private ad space it’s important to be able to show a decent level of traffic as most companies won’t be willing to dish out for advertising on an unproven site.
Contextual advertising is one of the most basic ways to monetize a website. This is also known as pay-per-click advertising, if a user clicks on the link, you get paid x amount of money. It’s that simple.
The amount varies depending on the keyword, but you can expect an average of about $0.20- 0.50 per click depending on the demographic and in some instances is as much as a dollar per click. Although the payout per-click isn’t very high, the fact that no sale is required makes this a truly passive income source and can easily add up to a decent monthly sum of money.
Doing the Math:
Let’s imagine the ads relevant to your site pay .50 per click, 20 clicks a day would equal $10.00. (Note that it only requires your user to CLICK not purchase or sign up for anything.)
That would average about $300.00 a month with AdSense alone.
Affiliate marketing can be defined as promoting a product in exchange for a percentage of whatever sales are generated through your site. The percentage of the commission varies by company and product. This is one of the most profitable ways of monetizing as site as the commissions on a good affiliate program can be as high as 75% of the sale. This is also a truly passive form of income as the company whose product or service you promote deals with all aspects of customer relations, shipping & returns, and your only part in the process is offering a link or banner ad on your page & promoting the product.
Doing the Math:
You have a website that offers quick weight-loss advice to soon-to-be brides. You promote affiliate products that pertain to your niche, such as beachbody.com.
If a visitor to your site navigates to one of the sites you promote and purchases a product you early a commission, lets say you make five sales a week that earn you a $12.00 commission each (a relatively low commission, depending on what the product is.)
That would mean a total of $60.00 per/week or $240 per month from that affiliate alone. Note you can promote as many affiliate products as you like on a page or website.
Writing and selling your own e-books is another effective way to monetize your website as well as start building a client list. Although this avenue isn’t for everyone the advantage here is twofold: you get keep 100% of the earnings (meaning more money faster) & being published, even self-published, gives you the almost automatic status of an expert within your field or niche. This can drive more users to your site & ultimately help you build a solid fan-base.
Doing the Math:
Selling digital products is by far the easiest form of passive income to understand for a new comer.
Continuing the fitness theme, you write an e-book outlining various flash diets, cleanses and work out programs to loose those last 5 pounds fast.
You sell it on your site for $19.99, requiring an e-mail to send the download link to.
If you sell 3 books a week , a very conservative number, that is $239.88 a month.
Another way of making money with your niche website is to rent advertising space to other sites or businesses for a monthly fee. This is usually best pursued once you have a steady flow of users to show, as most companies won’t want to invest in advertising on a new unproven site.
Doing the Math:
The price of advertisement space depends on a variety of factors, the primary one being how much traffic your site gets & how responsive your users are.
If your website is getting 500 visitors a day, you could charge around $50.00 a month for an ad.
Tips For Success
To make the most out of your website it’s a good idea to use several methods together on the same site. AdSense ads don’t take up much space and can easily be included on every page. It is also rather simple to include an area for advertising for Affiliate products. Many blogs and websites also create content around products they are promoting.
An example of this would be top ten lists, ‘Top Ten Web Hosts of 2012”, “Top Ten Pet Gifts This Christmas”, “Top Ten Must Reads of 2013”. These types of articles are not only very popular and perfectly suited to the internet marketing, but they provide you with 10 affiliate opportunities that could possible generate income.
Doing the Math:
Using AdSense, affiliate marketing, ebooks & paid advertising together would equal $829.88 dollars a month. Keep in mind that these numbers are a very conservative estimate of what is possible.
Niche websites aren’t the only method of earning passive income online. Outlined below are 5 of the most popular & most profitable methods of making money online. Not all of them are passive, and do involve a time for money exchange, but they are profitable and can be done on your time and from the comfort of your home. Some, like e-commerce, or content writing can be as time-hungry, or more so, than a regular 9-5. I’ve included them here though just to give you as much information as possible on the topic of making money online.
Selling Stock Photography
Making money online selling stock photography is a great option for all you hobbyists out there who already have the equipment and would like to start earning some cash selling your pictures. Stock Photography sites like istockphoto.com or dreamstime.com offer photographers the chance to do just that, sign up is free of charge as is selling uploading your pictures for sale, so it is almost completely risk free & you can get a 15-60% commission for your work
. Bear in mind that many these sites require high quality work and won’t accept images that have a lot of noise or are over corrected in photo editing programs, so having decent equipment is a big plus.
Write Articles for Content Farms & Blogs
Writing articles for article submission sites is another way of earning a passive income online. Article farms, such as suite101.com and infobarrel.com. The way this works is that the author, you, write an article. It can be about most anything, gardening, gadgets, technology, cooking, etc.
The document is then submitted for review, this is where they test it for quality and make sure it is original. If it passes the document is posted to the site.
When your document is posted the site places ads on the page, both banner ads and pay-per-click. If a reader clicks on one of the ads or links on your document, you receive a percentage of the profits.
The advantage to this method is that you don’t need a website, and it requires no investment other than the time needed to write the articles. The downside is that you need quite a few articles to make any money, 50 articles might make you a few hundred dollars a month.
Writing & selling e-books
Writing and publishing your own e-books is a great way to make some cash with little to no overhead! If you have a marketable skill, niche hobby, unusual life experience or simply a story that you would like to share with the world while making some extra cash this might be the way to go! Amazon.com offers some invaluable resources for anyone interested in self-publishing without owning and managing your own site.
YouTube – Tutorials, Funny Animals & Babies
Making money with YouTube.com is another tool in the passive income arsenal! I know most tend to think of it as a place to go watch funny videos, or see the newest music videos but there really is so much more than that, and with the new monetization options can offer an alternate way of making some residual income.
Of course, you’ll probably have to have a few goes at it, and like anything it’ll be trial and error for a while, but a little persistence can really pay off. Of course, in order to be eligible for monetization on youtube.com you have to be sure all your content is not only original, but that you own the rights to all scenes shown and/or have permission from everyone shown in the video to post it.
Perhaps the most obvious way of making money online is e-commerce, or basically selling items via the internet. This is of course, not in passive as it involves shipping, dealing with disgruntled customers or questions. This could mean opening your own online store or selling items via eBay, amazon or another similar portal.
While this can be an excellent source of income, it does demand a good amount of time as it would fall to you to handle inventory, orders, packaging and shipping in a timely manner, as well as handling returns and/or customer complaints. But, if you do have the time or inclination, check out some great resources to get started!
This form of online business is of course the least passive of the lineup and more closely resembles a stone and mortar business. The only difference being that there is no time to open and closed the virtual store. This method of course requires shipping, products, and possibly a staff to make money.
Content is the backbone of your web business. It is why users visit your site, what search engines use to rank your site, and can ultimately make or break your business. To understand the role content plays lets go back to the content = product analogy: no matter how much you advertise, how beautiful your store is, how well organized your displays are, if the product itself is low quality, poorly engineered or simply doesn’t work, your business will ultimately fail.
What Makes Good Content
Good content is well organized, easy to understand and provides the expected information in a clear concise way. Remember that in general, users are impatient, when they open a webpage page they expect to be able to find the information they are looking for almost instantly, or they’ll browse away almost immediately. An average users attention span is 3 seconds, 3 seconds and they’re out!
Studies have shown that web users skim text looking for headers and keywords that coincide with what they are looking for rather than actually reading all the text available. This is the reason that using headers, section and emphasis (bold, underline, italics, b) to help guide the reader’s eye, like map markers, is so important.
A few points to remember:
- Forget the smooth funny intro that made your friends giggle, summarize the entire point of the page in the first paragraph of text.
- Include descriptive heading, or headings on all your pages.
- Accentuate keywords and phrases with bold, italics, underline or links to help summarize the point.
- If a page is very long, see if it can be divided into a few shorter pages, sumarized or even just devided into sub-sections with headers on the same page. This will help your users find the information they are interested in faster, and seem less overwhelming that one long block of text.
For more information on how users read on the web, and how best to write for them, check out this excellent study.
There are a few useful plugins you need to install to help your websites ranking. These are free add-ons to your site that serve various purposes. These plugins here are all behind the scenes plugins, in other words they don’t change how the site looks, that help with search engine optimization & managing your site.
- All in One SEO Pack – A plugin to help optimize your site for search engines.
- Google XML Sitemaps – Also helps with Google ranking as it creates a sitemap for your site. Just install it, and you’re ready to go.
- Google Analyticator – helps track how many people are visiting your site using Google Analytics.
How to Install Plugins
To install plugins you can either download it to your hardrive and install it from there, or search through the wordpress platform and install it directly to your server.
For the sake of this tutorial I’ll be using Justhost. It’s the host I recommend because I’ve been using them for years and can vouch for their service. The general steps shown here are relatively the same for most hosting services although some minor details, such as menu names, might be different.
There are of course a good number of hosting services with this function, but Justhost is simply my personal favorite. It’s reliable, easy to use and very cost effective & I’ve used it for years for all my personal sites and most of my clients throughout my years as a web developer.