Why do people struggle to monetize their websites?
Everyone who runs a website dreams of building it up into a money making machine.
We've all heard stories about successful online entrepreneurs who have turned their small websites into legit businesses that bring in impressive amounts of money every month.
In 2016, Women's Wear Daily published an article about millionaire fashion bloggers. Michelle from Making Sense of Cents regularly earns six figures every month from her website. Pieter's website, Nomadlist, just passed the $50k/month mark. And let's not forget about Pat from Smart Passive Income! These websites are all in totally different niches but they share a common thread - successful monetization.
Stories about websites that are making bank can be either incredibly motivating/inspiring, OR a depressing reminder of your own website's performance, depending on where you are in your online business journey. If you're struggling to bring in your first dollar through your website, you might be looking for a quick fix, the "secret" that'll bring you that type of success. Maybe you've heard those stories, read the monthly income reports, and tried out a dozen monetization strategies on your own website, crossing your fingers that it eventually works out. If that's the case, I'm guessing that you haven't had much luck.
The truth is, you can't start earning a significant income from your website at the flip of a switch. It takes A LOT of intention, experimentation and a clear business plan to successfully monetize your website.
Before we dive into the reasons why so many people struggle to monetize their websites, I recommend that you read these two posts:
- Here's what I think about blogging for profit
- Everything you need to know about monetizing your website
Making money from your website depends on the type of website you've built, the audience you serve or the niche you're in, and how you've chosen to monetize. Just because something works for one website or online business, does not guarantee that it'll work for another.
But before you start crying into a pint of ice cream, know that all is not lost! Even if you've struggled up until now, all that can change and you CAN monetize your website and build a successful online business! Yes, my friend, it's totally possible and within your reach!
It's true that some people struggle to monetize their website, but you don't have to be one of them.
Deciding to 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
The problem with monetizing a website is that it's often easier said than done. Although there are many ways a website can be monetized, people aren’t always successful from the start.
When people struggle to monetize their websites, it breaks my heart because they are leaving money on the table. By focusing on “win-win” monetization (read: making money through your website in a way that serves you, your audience AND any businesses/companies you promote, it should feel natural and genuine because you're doing something that provides value to everyone. This takes away the ickiness and lets you promote, pitch and sell in a more authentic and enjoyable way.
Assuming you let that be the guiding principle, let’s take a look at some of the ways that people struggle to monetize their websites.
We’re all guilty of making mistakes when it comes to monetizing our websites, especially if this is your first attempt, but I know from my own experience AND from my work with countless clients that these struggles can all be overcome :)
WEBSITE MONETIZATION MISTAKES TO AVOID
Mistake 1 : Letting a lack of knowledge hold you back
If you want to start monetizing your website but you aren't sure where to begin, don't let that hold you back! Instead, dedicate time to learning what options are available so that you can take action.
Start off by reading my recent blog post, Everything you need to know about monetizing your website and then turn to your BFF, Google, for more information.
Once you learn about the different ways you can monetize your website, you'll be one step closer to figuring out how you're going to get started and what you'll try out on your own site.
There is always a learning curve but the sooner you start studying monetization strategies, the sooner you can start earning money.
Mistake 2 : Waiting too long to start monetizing
Ever heard the saying "better late than never"? When it comes to monetizing your website, there's no better time to start than the present.
Whether this is your first attempt at monetizing your website or you've already attempted it in the past but haven't been successful, NOW is the time to re-focus and start implementing the new strategies you've been studying.
Don't hold yourself back from coming up with a plan or experimenting with monetization strategies. Too many people wait to get started because they:
- Fear that their audience is too small
- That they don't have enough email newsletter subscribers
- That they need more social media followers
- Their audience won't like what they're selling
- That they're not experienced enough
Waiting too long to start usually comes back to a fear of failure. I've experienced it myself but luckily I pushed through it and now my money and online business are growing every month.
Start where you are right now and make changes as you go.
Mistake 3 : Money mindset needs work
Many people still consider it a taboo to talk about money, which means that they don't engage in these important conversations. But if you don't talk or think about earning money, how can you expect to be successful at making it?
The good news is that there are so many resources available that will help you with your money mindset, work through any money blocks, and make these conversations less terrifying.
There are podcasts you can listen to (Farnoosh's So Money podcast is one of my faves), books you can read (here, here and here are a few good ones), coaches you can learn from (Denise Duffield-Thomas is everyone's go-to gal), money stories you can creep (have you checked out Refinery29's Money Diaries?) and literally thousands of blogs about personal finance and running a online business/making money online that you can binge.
Many people want to monetize their websites but they don't know where to start or how to frame it in a way that feels good to them. They fear that their audience or the people they are selling to will react negatively to their efforts, but in reality, this is unlikely. These same people might feel like they don't deserve to make money from their site for a whole whack of reasons, and by working on their mindset they are able to push past these limiting beliefs.
Don't let your money mindset hold you back from having a profitable website - you can do it!
Mistake 4 : Implement the wrong monetization strategies
Some people will try anything out and see what sticks, but this is a waste of time and energy.
Instead, I recommend sitting down and thinking about what will actually work for your website, considering your audience.
If the products/services/offerings you've created aren't resonating with your website's audience, ask yourself WHY NOT? Maybe it's because what you've created makes zero sense and doesn't actually serve your people. Or because you've plastered ads all over your website, which is a turn off. Or maybe you have too much going on, too many offers available, and people don't know where to start? What about marketing and promotion, maybe that's what you need to work on.
Get intentional with how you are going to monetize your website and don't be afraid to switch things up and start again if what you've tried isn't working.
Mistake 5 : Haven't primed their audience
When website monetization comes out of nowhere, it probably won't be well received by your true fans.
No one likes it when a sales pitch or promotion comes on too strong. People don't mind being sold to, especially when it doesn't feel sneaky or sprung on them, so make sure that you're warming up your audience before you go in for a hard ask.
For example, regular visitors to your site will be taken aback if a bunch of ads are suddenly plastered all over the place. Or if one day, every single new blog post becomes "sponsored content" - how authentic is that?
Prime your audience so that they know you have products/services to sell, that your website includes affiliate links or sponsored content, or that you advertise companies you believe in. Try adding new monetization strategies little by little so that it doesn't feel "sprung" on anyone.
Mistake 6 : Aren't tracking income and expenses
Money is energy so you have to give it the attention and respect it deserves. If you want to successfully monetize your website, you MUST pay attention to what's coming in and going out.
Believe it or not, you should track all money related to your website from day one, even if you aren't earning any money yet.
It costs money to run a website so you need to be tracking all expenses from the start. This is the "money out" stage.
Once your website starts earning money, however, that's when the real fun begins. Now you're tracking INCOME and money coming in, which is way more exciting!
Tracking income and expenses related to your website will make things so much easier come tax season and trust me, your accountant will thank you.
Also, you're way more likely to reach your income goals and increase the amount of money you bring in over time if you actually pay attention to money in/money out.
I recommend using a tool like my Income Tracker Spreadsheets to log all income and expenses related to your website. You can learn more about this product here and watch my video tutorial to see it in action!
Whether you use my Income Tracker Spreadsheets or keep track of your income and expense in another way, you MUST pay attention to money in/money out if you want to successfully monetize your website.
Mistake 7 : Aren't paying attention to different revenue streams
Once you start earning money through your website, odds are it will come from multiple sources. This could be from various products, services, affiliate programs, advertising, whatever. Website income rarely comes from only ONE place so make sure you are prepared for that.
This means that you have to keep track of your earnings and income coming from multiple places, which is where many people drop the ball. They save random receipts in their inbox folders, have zero organization, don't use an accounting system, and basically aren't taking their website monetization seriously.
As a result, many people get totally overwhelmed with the money their website makes, which stops them from playing bigger and limits the earnings their website can potentially bring in.
Don't let this be you!
Once your website starts bringing in money, make sure that you're keeping an eye on ALL income sources. My Income Tracker Spreadsheets is a great resource but you can use whatever tool works best for you.
Setting up your monetized website and online business for success
Jumping right in with a shameless plug for my Income Tracker Spreadsheets :)
I created this product because I wanted to offer a solution to many of these website monetization problems I kept seeing. You can read all about how the Income Tracker Spreadsheets came to be and see how I took the customer feedback from my first digital product and built these spreadsheets to take things a step further.
My goal here is to help people monetize their websites and grow their online business, and I truly believe that the first step is tracking the data and coming up with a growth plan for the future.
The Income Tracker Spreadsheets will help you to track the income and expenses related to your website. You can use them to plan out revenue over time, looking at your money on an annual, quarterly and monthly basis. It's super important to track and record data (“what gets measured gets managed” because what you focus on expands, as per the law of attraction. Woo-woo, but true!
Believe it or not, it doesn't have to be a struggle to monetize your website.
People make the same mistakes over and over again, but once you know what these common struggles are, you'll be able to fix them.
If you notice that you are making one of these website monetization mistakes, I encourage you to take action and correct course today! Don't be hard on yourself, we all make mistakes but hopefully we can also learn from them.
Your website might not be earning the kind of money you want it to today, but with a few changes I know you can reach your goals! Take time to learn about how you can monetize your website, what will work best for your situation, and get creative. It's totally fine to experiment and pivot because you never know what will be a success!
As you start your website monetization journey, a tool like my Income Tracker Spreadsheets will help you to track your income and expenses and get you to where you want to be faster.
Now it's your turn to tell me, have you made any of these website monetization mistakes? Have you had to try out new strategies in order to reach your income goals? What worked and what didn't? Have you learned any lessons about making money through your website? I'd love to know so leave me a note in the comments below!
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