Everything you need to know about monetizing your website
Why and how you should monetize your website
Gather round folks, today we are going to talk about a subject that is a lil’ taboo but oh so popular : MONEY!
Money talk brings out some pretty strong emotions in people, whether it’s good, bad or ugly. Some people get off talking about money and use it as motivation and fuel to reach new levels in their businesses. However, there are loads of people who shy away from the subject because they consider it a private subject, something that isn’t discussed in polite company.
If you’ve been reading my site for a while, it should come as no surprise that I LOVE talking about money and business, and genuinely enjoy coming up with creative ways to get everything my little heart desires. In the past I've shared my thoughts about blogging for profit, earning six-figures as a freelance web designer/developer, and how to budget with irregular freelance income.
A look at my analytics tab tells me that this type of blog content is super popular, which means that clearly my readers are interested in the subject too :)
As such, today we are going to take a look at how and why you should monetize your website.
There’s money to be made in websites and believe me, you don’t want to leave any cash money on the table because you were afraid to go big and put yourself/your site out there. With a bit of creativity, I truly believe that any website can be monetized and you can start earning money from it in no time at all!
Let’s take a look.
Why should you monetize your website?
There are two reasons why people want to monetize their websites:
- They started their website for fun and are now looking to make money from it
- They started their website with a business goal in mind and want to maximize revenue
Either way, it’s important to recognize that the website isn’t what makes money : the site is merely a tool to promote and facilitate a business model. You start off with a business idea and use the website to attract an audience, which helps you to earn money.
There’s a saying on the inter webs that I love :
"Pave views into dollars"
... or Euros/ pounds / yen / pesos / rupees / whatever. I see this as a reminder that as your website grows and you build up an audience, it would be foolish not to monetize in some way.
Off the top of my head, here are just a few reasons why you would want to monetize your website:
- There’s money to be made online and so many creative endeavours to try out
- It costs money to run a website and monetization helps cover/offset those costs and compensate your time and efforts
- It’s fun to experiment with revenue sources
- Come up with ways to better serve and help your audience through products/services/offerings
- Build a business that interest and benefits you
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Most people who monetize their websites do it because they want to support themselves in a way that serves their ideal lifestyle. Yes, it takes a lot of hard work to make money from your website, but there are some pretty huge payoffs.
For one thing, you could potentially transition from a full-time job into supporting yourself through the money your website brings in every month. Self-employment is a dream to many people who are fed up with the “rat race” and running a website is a great way to go about it.
Making money through your website also means you can earn a living from wherever you want. The terms “digital nomad” and “location independence” are thrown around a lot, and as someone who has experienced it first hand, I can confirm that it’s a wonderful lifestyle. Being able to work anywhere with wifi is a true blessing.
Monetizing a website is also a great choice for entrepreneurs who are looking for work that is a better fit for their lifestyles. Maybe you are a parent who wants to spend more time with your kids, or you have health issues that make a traditional job a real challenge. Or it could be that you live in a place with limited employment opportunities and you aren’t happy with the options available, so you decide you’d like to take a go at it and earn a living online. Most experts agree that a better work-life balance would benefit us all and the flexible schedule that comes with running a website is a huge part of that.
Lastly, there’s real money to be made online because websites allow you to impact and reach way more people than traditional one-to-one or one-to-few business models. When you run a website, there’s an almost limitless amount of people you can serve since you aren't restricted by the people in your environment, network or direct vicinity. Instead, you can speak to thousands (millions? billions?) of people and serve them in whatever way you want.
How to monetize your website
There are plenty of different ways that you can monetize your website and depending on what your goals are, some might make more sense than others. Before you decide what monetization choices are right for you, it’s important to understand the options available.
Here’s a quick look at the most common ways to monetize your website:
You might use your website as a platform to promote and sell services to your audience, and depending on what you’re offering, this will be set up a little differently to suit your business.
For example, you could offer consulting, coaching and/or various professional services through your website. Your website will serve as an information platform and marketing funnel, and it’s particularly effective if you embrace content marketing to build an audience and then sell your service to them.
Another popular way to monetize your website is by selling products to your audience. This could be through a full-blown e-commerce store but more often than not, it’s by offering a smaller amount of physical merchandise, digital products, a membership site, etc.
Selling products to your audience is a popular choice because it’s relatively easy to scale, there isn’t a lot risk, and start up costs and overhead are low.
I sell two digital products on my website : Website Growth Tracker and Income Tracker Spreadsheets. These products were fun to create and quick to produce, meaning I could go from idea to sales without much delay. If you are interested in monetizing your website and growing your online business, I recommend using my Income Tracker Spreadsheets to keep track of all your income and expenses.
Many people use their website as a platform to sell tickets to events, workshops, seminars, paid webinars, masterclasses, online programs, etc. These events can either be live or online, but either way, your website is used as a promotion tool and a way to collect payment and attendee information.
Affiliate programs are hugely popular because they work for virtually every business in any industry. There’s little to no barrier for entry so even new websites can start participating in affiliate programs, which is great for people who want to start monetizing even with a small audience.
The most important thing to remember is that affiliate programs are most effective when you promote products/services/whatever that you ACTUALLY use or believe in. Your audience will be able to tell right away if you’re promoting a shady product or something that you don’t use yourself, and that’s a sure way to lose their trust and even ruin your reputation.
Many websites start small with something as simple as Amazon affiliates (e.g., simple text links to things you mention) but there are TONS of affiliate programs available and your participation can be as involved or casual as you’d like. You’ll create website content mentioning or promoting different products/services/offerings (e.g., blog posts, videos, webinars, etc.) and will get a percentage of every sale you referred.
Affiliate programs can also come in the forms of up-sells through products or services, for example as a bonus add-on.
If you’re interested in learning more about monetizing your website through affiliate programs, be sure to check out my online biz friends Justine Grey and Michelle from Making Sense of Cents. These ladies taught and encouraged me to include affiliate programs on my own website, and you can see examples of this in a few blog posts I’ve published (here and here).
Advertising ton your website can come in many forms : banner, display, in-text, sidebar, small pop-ins, pay-per-visitor or pay-per-click, etc.
Ad revenue is directly related to the size of your audience so websites with a higher number of page views will receive higher advertising revenue. Advertising can be super profitable once you reach a certain level of website traffic or have a hyper-targeted audience, which is why it works really well on big or niche sites.
Sponsored content used the be most commonly associated with bloggers, but that’s no longer the case. Nowadays, sponsored content is used on websites across all industries because it’s basically akin to online editorial content. This shows up as blog posts, product reviews, tutorials, video or audio content, etc.
Tips for monetizing your website
Before you start monetizing your website, I strongly recommend that you focus on “win-win” monetization : make it mutually beneficial.
Your goal should be to use your website in a way that adds value, serves and helps your audience AND you AND the businesses/companies you work with.
As you build and develop a relationship with your online audience over time, eventually you will be in a position to influence their purchasing behaviour, especially if it aligns with your brand and what they’ve come to know you for.
Through my own monetized website and by working with clients on their own profitable sites, I’ve come up with a list of tips to help you get started monetizing your own website:
- Set up separate banking accounts to keep track of all income & expenses related to your website (try not to mix it with your personal accounts!)
- Get creative : try out different monetization techniques and have fun learning how it’s done
- Don’t hesitate to pivot : if something isn’t working and sales aren't popping, don’t tie yourself to a sinking ship! Pivot and change up your business as needed
- Create complimentary offerings : it’s easier to sell to an existing client than a brand new one, which is why so many businesses focus on creating complimentary offerings. Someone who buys Product A might also buy Product B if you can show them how it can take them to the next stage and get them the results they want. Think about how you can capitalize on whatever’s working - let the data guide you and listen to the feedback from your customers
- Track what’s coming in AND what’s going out : This will majorly save your butt when tax season rolls around. You don’t need a fancy or expensive accounting system either, just make sure that whatever you’re doing gives you a high-level yet detailed look at the money related to your website
The best way to learn about something is by doing it so if you want to start monetizing your website, I recommend jumping right in and fine-tuning as you go! The results might surprise you :)
How to track your website’s income and expenses
Once you decide to monetize your website, you’ll need to start tracking income and expenses - otherwise known as money in, money out.
I created and designed the Income Tracker Spreadsheets with website owners and managers in mind, and this digital product is a great place to start if you want to test out website monetization.
These spreadsheets are for anyone who has or is interested in monetizing their website because it offers a detailed look at the income earned as well as associated expenses. It’s exactly what you need and none of what you don’t.
The Income Tracker Spreadsheets are also a source of inspiration so you can see how YOU can monetize your website : it’s filled with examples and ideas to try out, no matter what type of website you’re working with.
Ready to purchase the Income Tracker Spreadsheets? Get 'em here!
No matter what type of website you have, there’s a way to monetize it. With a little creativity and willingness to experiment, you can come up with income streams that serve your audience AND pad your pockets. That’s what we call a win-win!
As website owners, we shouldn’t shy away from money talk, especially when there’s so much knowledge to share and ways to be successful without feeling like we’re selling our souls. Monetizing your website can make all the time and effort worthwhile, because no one wants to feel like they are working for nothing.
As you monetize your website, you’ll need to start tracking income and expenses so that you have a good understanding of how the money changes over time and whether you’re on track to reach your business goals. This is where a tool like my Income Tracker Spreadsheets comes in handy so click here to get yours today!
Now it’s your turn to tell me, have you monetized your website? If so, how? If it’s something you’re interested in but haven’t tried out yet, what’s holding you back? How do you keep track of your website’s income and expenses? Do you use a tool like my Income Tracker Spreadsheets? I’d love to know so leave me a note in the comments below!
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