Whether it’s a small side hustle or your entire monthly income, monetizing websites has never been more popular – or more profitable.
“But aren’t ecommerce sites the only ones that generate profit?”, we hear you ask. Well, no – actually, far from it!
There are multiple ways you can make money through a website. Sure, online stores play their part, but these days, anyone can grab a slice of sweet profit pie… and we can show you how.
Some methods of monetization are simple, some a little more complex, but all can work wonders – if done right. Below, we’ll take you through the eight most common ways to monetize a website, as well as providing a rating for how easy each is to set up.
- 1Selling Products
- 2Selling a Service
- 3Selling Ad Space
- 4Affiliate Marketing
- 5Accepting Donations
Ease of setup: 3/5
Selling products. It’s probably the first thing that came to mind, right?
Today, there are over 650,000 ecommerce websites that generate $1,000+ annual profit – a number which is only growing year-on-year. And the best part is, anyone can set one up!
How to Create Your Own Ecommerce Website
DIY ecommerce website builders, such as Shopify and BigCommerce, have made it easier than ever for non-techie folk to create their own online store.
They are online tools that come with pre-designed templates. All you have to do is pick a template, add your own content and products, and embed any features you need.
Features are things like subscription forms or website analytics. Most basic features can be found already built into Shopify and BigCommerce, but both provide app stores where you can install any extras needed.Shopify Review – Discover how Shopify could boost your ecommerce sales
For the more technical of you out there, WordPress.org is the route most budding entrepreneurs take. WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that is self-hosted and lets you build your site from the ground up.
There are pre-designed templates you can use, but WordPress is a lot more fluid, offering limitless customization. Unfortunately, you’ll need to have a sound knowledge of code – or a fairly hefty budget to hire a web developer – in order to use it effectively.WordPress.com vs WordPress.org – What’s the difference?
Success Story: Harry’s Razors
Harry’s Razors was born from one simple concept – shaving equipment shouldn’t be this darn expensive! Founded by two normal guys – neither of whom are called Harry – the company set up its own ecommerce website using Shopify.
Thanks to the platform’s built-in tools and easy-to-use interface, the founders quickly got to grips with it, and started building their solution to shaving.
10 months later, Harry’s Razors had bought a production factory in Germany, were marketing to 100,000 email subscribers, and had raised over $122.5 million. Not too shabby. Earlier this year, the pair sold the business to Wilkinson Sword for an estimated $1.4 billion.
This is just one example, but goes to show that any idea, however simple or small, can be transformed into an ecommerce empire.Ecommerce Online Store Builders Comparison Chart – See how Shopify and BigCommerce compare
Selling a Service
Ease of setup: 4/5
Another common way people make money online is by selling their services. It could be anything – from creating tailored diet plans, to a window cleaning business.
This works in much the same way as online stores. The big difference is, you don’t need an ecommerce-specific website builder.
How to Sell Your Service Online
Website builders like Wix and Squarespace are even easier to use than ecommerce platforms. Wix in particular is arguably the easiest way to create your own website.
Much like ecommerce platforms, it lets you pick from over 500 pre-designed Wix templates. What makes Wix easier is its drag-and-drop editor, where you can literally move anything on your website to anywhere on the page!Wix Review – Take an overall look at what Wix can offer you
Wix Template Review – An in-depth analysis of Wix’s layouts
The trick to selling a service is finding your USP (unique selling point). What makes your service different from others out there? And why should people buy into what you’re providing?
Success Story: Isis King
Isis King was the first transgender model to appear on America’s Next Top Model. As her career went from strength to strength, she built her very own website using Wix, which showcased a portfolio of her work.
It has also allowed agencies and brands to get in contact with her for potential collaborations. This has since gone on to form the bedrock of her modelling career, as she continues to redefine what fashion means in the modern day.Website Builder Comparison Chart – Compare the best platforms side-by-side
Selling Ad Space
Ease of setup: 4/5
You may find them pointless or annoying, but the truth is, displaying adverts on websites is one of the simplest ways to make money.
The most common way to sell ad space is by using a pay-per-click model. This is where you receive commission from the advertisers every time someone clicks through to their advert from your web page.
The average CPC (cost per click) for sites selling ad space is $0.25. To put that into some context, you’ll have to be generating around a thousand clicks a day to earn $100,000 a year in profit.
There are two ways you can jump aboard the ad bandwagon. The first (and most popular) is by using Google Adsense. This involves Google embedding the code on your website in order to advertise, and reading what your page is about to ensure all ads are relevant to your content.
The second is to sell ad space directly to companies. Naturally, this requires a bit more legwork on your part, but it does put you in a stronger position when selecting the type of ads that are displayed on your site, and when negotiating a higher payout per click.
Website ads are simple to set up, but not a big money-spinner – unless your website gets a lot of monthly traffic.
Ease of setup: 3/5
Thanks to the rise of bloggers and ‘influencers’, affiliate marketing is more popular than ever. You may well have used an affiliate link without even realising it. But what does it actually mean, and how can it make you money?
Affiliate marketing is an arrangement between your website and a company whereby you direct potential customers towards their site.
How Does Affiliate Marketing Work?
There are two different ways of generating profit from affiliate marketing: CPC (cost per click), or CPA (cost per acquisition).
Similar to ads, CPC is where you receive money every time someone clicks a link on your site that sends them to the affiliate (partner company).
With CPA, you don’t receive money unless that user actually ‘converts’ – i.e. buys a product or signs up to a service from the affiliate. As you’d expect, CPA fees are far higher than CPC, as you’re literally making the affiliate money – unlike CPC, where they may just browse.
Rather than simply providing ads to users as a sideshow, affiliate marketing can link neatly with your content. Today’s users are much more tolerant to this kind of marketing, and you’ll generally find it a much more lucrative option.
For example, you could have an affiliate relationship with Harry’s Razors. If that were the case, it’s likely you’ll produce content about its shaving products which contains unique links to Harry’s Razors site.
These unique links are important. It’s how your affiliate can track that a customer purchase originally came from your website. These are known as affiliate links, and they’re actually pretty easy to create.
If you’re going to be linking to one platform a lot (e.g. Amazon), you can set up an account and create affiliate links directly with them. Otherwise, you can set up an account with a site like Skimlinks, which generates an affiliate link for any URL you enter – although it will take a small commission.
Naturally, the more traffic your website gets, the more traffic you can potentially redirect to an affiliate. In this respect, it’s a lot like selling ad space – you need to get a lot of site visitors in order for it to be a worthwhile revenue stream.
Ease of setup: 4/5
While selling ad space and affiliate marketing rely on your website getting a lot of traffic, donations can be a more effective way of making money if you build a really engaged community.
If your visitors (literally) buy into your content, it makes sense that some will be willing to show their appreciation for your work via a donation.
Beyond charities, donations are standard among podcast websites, many of whom rely on generous funding from listeners to maintain their show.
Wikipedia is perhaps the biggest example of a nonprofit site that accepts donations. It’s an open-source information pool that’s free to use, and the founders want to keep it that way. In order to show appreciation for the resource, though, you can now leave a donation.
How to Set Up Donations on Your Website
Most major payment gateways will let you embed donation buttons on your site. Usually, people opt for PayPal due to its universal popularity, and how easy it is to use.
After setting up your PayPal account, you can create and customize your very own donation button.
You can change the button text, add set donation amounts, or let your visitors choose how much they want to pay. You’ll then be provided with the HTML code needed to embed the button on your website.
After people click the button, they’ll be sent to PayPal’s website, where they can fill in their details and complete the donation. Easy to set up, but as mentioned you will need to have a loyal following and be producing great content for it to be worthwhile.