Whether you’re working on your own site from scratch or trying to monetize a site you’ve purchased from a marketplace like Motion Invest, it’s important to be aware of all your different options for earning money.
But before we get into the basics of monetizing your website, remember how important it is to put yourself in your audience’s shoes every step of the way. After all, they’re the ones you’ll be appealing to with any monetization method you choose!
Start by answering these questions:
- Who is your audience? What problems are they trying to solve?
- What is your audience’s search intent when they find your site?
- Is your site primarily targeting visitors with informational content or commercial content?
Next, understand your competitors. I like to poke around the sites of at least five close competitors to see how they’re making money. You’d be surprised how much you can discover just by browsing their home page, a few blog posts, and their store or product page.
Once you have followed these steps, it’s time to roll up your sleeves and start testing what seems to work for your brand and audience. Here are 11 great ideas for how to monetize a site!
1) Use Affiliate Marketing to Promote Other People’s Products
Affiliate marketing is one of the most versatile and lucrative ways to monetize your website. Here’s how it works!
If you have a successful website in a given niche, you can apply to join an “affiliate program.” Then, you’ll be able to use affiliate links within your website’s content. If your visitors click through these links and make a purchase, then you earn a commission on the sale for directing them there.
This works great if you are writing product reviews. As an example, you could be reviewing outdoor smart home gadgets for your gardening blog. Many affiliate marketers are part of large programs like Amazon Associates.
Commissions for affiliate links vary greatly depending on the niche that you are operating in. You could earn from below 10% for common household items, or 70%+ with some direct affiliate programs or from successful offers on popular affiliate networks like ClickBank.
The possibilities are endless. Want to get a piece of the affiliate marketing action? Check out this in-depth beginner’s guide to affiliate marketing on Niche Pursuits.
2) Add Pay Per Click (PPC) Ads
The market for Pay Per Click (PPC) ads continues to grow every year, as ad networks get better at putting the right ads in front of users who will find value in advertisers’ products.
But how exactly do PPC ads work?
PPC ads reward website owners whenever a user clicks the banner ads on their site. Because this doesn’t require much effort from you as the website owner, this is a perfect example of passive income – the ultimate dream for most people who are trying to make money online.
All that you need to do is hit a minimum amount of monthly traffic, and you can start applying for PPC ad networks to advertise on your site.
The most popular of these is Google AdSense. Google AdSense taps into the massive amount of data that Google generates from people using its products, meaning that it can deliver extremely relevant ads.
From there, you have the ability to choose where ads appear and what kinds of ads are shown. Alternatively, you can let Google take the reins and optimize the ads for potential earnings.
Many website owners rely heavily on PPC ads for the bulk of their earnings. Google AdSense is just the tip of the iceberg, as there are many other ad networks that you can experiment with as well, including Ezoic, Mediavine, or AdThrive!
3) Build an Email List
A good email list is a fundamental part of many of the monetization methods on this list.
But it’s also not the way you’ll make money today, tomorrow, or even 6 months down the road. The goal of building an email list is to find the ideal balance between quality and quantity. You want to convert first-time readers into loyal followers who stay up to date with your content, and will purchase something further down the line.
Here’s how a basic email list strategy works:
- Collect email addresses on a landing page on your website, often using some kind of offer like a short e-book, cheat sheet, checklist, or other lead magnet.
- Send to your email list weekly with useful information, along with links to any of your content (such as blog posts, podcasts, YouTube videos, or guest posts).
- Later on, include affiliate offers or other monetization methods from this list in your content.
Just make sure of one thing: do not overdo your sales-focused emails! It takes a lot of work to build an email list, and much less to chase your followers away.
4) Accept Sponsored Content
Sponsored content is pretty self-explanatory: an advertising arrangement where someone from another website pays you to publish their content on your site. There are several key reasons for doing this, including:
- Improved domain authority and traffic gained from a backlink from your high-ranking site.
- Increased awareness about their brand, product, or service.
- An additional method of lead generation for their product or service.
Sponsored content is big business in the media world, and it is also a large market in affiliate marketing and authority sites.
If you have a website with consistent monthly traffic, it’s fair to say that you have likely had somebody reach out to you with an offer to do sponsored content.
This can be exciting at first, but it also might make you think “what is the real value of sponsored content on my site,” and whether it is even worth doing at all.
If another blog is offering to pay for sponsored content on your site, be sure to do some research about what sponsored posts typically go for in your niche.
If you want to build a name for yourself in your niche or similar niches, then you can reach out to other sites with a similar offer, except you’ll name the price and provide an idea for content that will benefit you both.
Whether you are in the selling mood or fielding inquiries from other websites, just remember one thing: authenticity. Sponsored content that is inauthentic or unrelated to your existing content will tick off your loyal readers.
5) Sell a Digital Course or eBook
Digital information products have been in vogue in the internet marketing world for several years. And this is for good reason.
These products are popular because once you put in the time and money to create the course or eBook in the first place, your marginal profit increases with every sale. This means that the right product is extremely scalable, unlike a physical product like say, branded merch, which costs the same for every new product sold.
The key to monetizing your site with a knowledge product is quality. Your site visitors will have a high bar for the value that they receive from a product, so you will need to invest in the following things, unless you are a writer, graphic designer, and conversion expert rolled into one.
- Layout and illustration for your eBook or presentation slides.
- Concise, informative, and error-free content for your learning material.
- A well-designed landing page optimized for conversion so that your followers actually purchase the product.
Think you can craft an information product that sells? The earnings potential is huge, but you will need to put in the work. Once it’s live, you can sell it on your own site, but also on third-party platforms like Kindle Direct Publishing, Udemy, or Skillshare.
6) Create a Membership Site
If you consider yourself an expert in your niche, then you can likely convince your followers to pay a premium for hard-to-find information.
Membership sites include “gated content” like exclusive blog posts, members-only forums, and other useful features that you can charge a monthly fee for people to access.
This will work much better in certain niches than others. Niches where useful information is highly valuable like investing, fitness, and hands-on skills.
But you don’t have to be offering rocket science advice to earn money from your ideas. The rise of Substack has shown us that people are willing to pay for quality information that they care about.
Just ensure that you can consistently offer value, otherwise your gravy train could fly off the tracks in no time! To get started with a membership site, there are self-contained solutions like Thinkific or WordPress options like MemberPress and Thrive.
7) Consult or Freelance for Your Audience
Consulting and freelancing is the least internet-focused of these ideas, but it’s also one of the most tangible. Just like in the “real world,” when you have special expertise and experience in a subject, you can charge a premium for your skills.
Going freelance or offering consulting services is also a great option for those who create or buy websites in their niche. Here are a few examples of how it can work:
- Business Skills: Whether sales, marketing, or finance is your forte, you can help others build their online businesses.
- Design: If you enjoy designing your own websites, you can surely find other people who would pay for your skills and expertise.
- SEO: Many authority website owners have a good knowledge of SEO. Use this knowledge to help local businesses boost their Google rankings and bring in more customers.
The point is, if you have an audience that’s getting to know, like, and trust you, it’s likely that someone will be willing to pay you directly to help them!
8) Set up an Ecommerce Store
The COVID pandemic saw huge growth in sites like Shopify, which make it ridiculously easy to integrate an ecommerce store into your existing website.
But that’s where the easy work ends. Since there is so much competition, it can be difficult to sell in many niches, and fulfilment of purchased products can take up a good chunk of your time.
But in some cases, it makes much more sense than others.
Got an existing loyal following in the pottery niche who you think will buy custom ceramic brushes that you make in your spare time? This is a favorable situation to start an ecommerce store.
Looking to sell bodyweight fitness products like gymnast’s rings or resistance bands for your fledgling workout advice site with a global audience? You are likely in for a tough ride. Like with anything, it’s important to do your research and be realistic about the competition for your venture.
9) Generate Leads for Other Businesses
Generating leads is all about playing the matchmaker. If you have an audience of high-quality followers who are engaged with your niche topic, you can connect them with other businesses who can offer them value.
If this sounds a lot like affiliate marketing, that’s true – the main difference is that you’re supporting businesses that sell high-ticket services rather than one-size-fits-all products.
For example, say you have a website that teaches drawing fundamentals through online tutorial videos. You can offer your leads to an online art school that’s looking for prospective students.
Selling leads can be local-based or international depending on the niche that you operate in. However, it can also be a daunting task! Here’s how other website owners have earned money by selling leads.
10) Start a Patreon or Ask for Donations
We get it. Simply “asking for money” seems out of place on this list.
You might be wondering if it will upset your loyal readers if you decide to treat them like ATMs. Won’t that make them leave for your closest competitors?
First off, hear us out. Starting a Patreon or asking for donations won’t be the right answer for many niche websites. But if your site is in a creative field where you offer original content to a highly engaged visitor base, it could be the answer.
Patreon is similar to the monthly membership site option that we listed before, but with a few key differences.
Patreon has an existing membership system built for you, so it is easier to get started without making major changes to your website. It is popular with artists and YouTubers, and gives you the option of having different levels of membership. People also know what Patreon is and trust it, even if you’re still new to them.
All that you need to do is create exclusive content that your fans will find useful. This works for certain website owners who are producing content at a high rate, but if this doesn’t sound like you, then you may need to go the donation route instead.
Many website owners include a widget for donations somewhere on their site. It is a passive, low-commitment way of asking your followers to return the favor for helping them learn about topics or solve their problems.
Still a bit wary about the idea of asking for donations? Try framing it differently.
Instead of placing a big red button on your site that says “donate now,” you could instead say “buy me a coffee” or “buy me lunch.” This humanizes your request, and can have a positive effect on your readers.
If you run a blog where you backpack across the world seeking sustainable eco-travel adventures, asking for donations to chip into your next plane ticket could go far. Other niches where this works well are art, music, or information-based niches.
And one last thing: Offering an ad-free experience in exchange for donations is common, and will leave many visitors feeling that their money is well spent.
11) Sell Your Website
People have many reasons for wanting to sell their website.
Some may want to focus their energies on another project and cash out on the hard work they put in with their site.
Others don’t realize how much value is baked into their website until the offers come knocking.
Regardless of why you are thinking of selling, monetizing your site by selling it should not be taken lightly. Selling a site online is different than selling your used car, as you probably won’t get to see the buyer in person, and it can be difficult to confirm that you are getting the right price. Here at Motion Invest we like to get you the best possible price for your site.
So, try selling with a broker like Motion Invest, where you can make sales quickly, at a fair market price, and with an easy handoff to the new owner.
Motion Invest specializes in small to medium size website sales, and we offer a guaranteed sale once your website passes our due diligence process.
Find out more about selling your website on Motion Invest here.
Site Monetization – Frequently Asked Questions
Why should you monetize your site?
Many website owners start their site with the end goal of making money.
But if you have a “hobby” site with engaged followers that offers you fulfillment, you may think that monetizing your site isn’t necessary. You may hate ads on other websites, and be looking to opt for a clean experience that creates values for your audience.
But here’s the thing. The possibilities for earning money with your website are expanding every day. You can earn money in unique ways that don’t hurt your users’ experience, and can help you to save a little extra money for retirement, or at least cover the costs of managing your own site.
So give monetization a try. You will find something that works for you.
Why is an “email list” always one of the top monetization strategies?
A good email list is the foundation of so many other monetization strategies.
Getting an email address from somebody is an incredibly trusting act, and so it is something that you should treasure immensely. And remember this: it takes much less effort to lose an email address than it does to gain one (just like the old sales adage).
So, always focus on providing useful and informative content for your email list through newsletters and other relevant information. Don’t blast them with offers and promotions for your new product or service, or they will hit unsubscribe and be gone like dust in the wind. (This is no joke – even one email that rubs people the wrong way can undo months or years of goodwill!)
How do affiliate marketers make money?
Affiliate marketers make money through affiliate links. But if they stopped there, they would likely hit the limits of their earnings potential.
Affiliate marketers employ a mixed strategy of the monetization method listed above (and then some more) to bring it sustainable income and continue to grow their audience.
We hope you’ve found this list of the top website monetization strategies helpful!
Now, you may have sudden ambitions to try some of these out with your own new website, and even envision yourself making enough to quit your full time job.
That’s the right idea, but don’t jump the gun – earning money online requires a complete, sustainable strategy that incorporates many of the monetization ideas we shared in this post.
The good news is, you can shorten the time it takes to actually make money from a website by buying one that’s already profitable! Just check out our list of websites for sale here on Motion Invest. If you’ve got the know-how, you can start making money immediately by picking up a quality niche website and growing it from there!