Do you remember those Sally Struthers commercials for International Correspondence Schools? They started with the phrase "Do you want to make more money? Sure, we all do." When it comes to your website, you want to know how to make money with your website.
This is one of the most common questions people have about building a website because there is so much bad information out there about making money with websites. In fact, there is a whole cottage industry of people out there who make money by telling people how to make money. Often those people know nothing about building profitable websites unless they are scamming people.
The reality is making money on the internet is not complicated. Once you understand the basic ways you can make money from a website, it is pretty easy. There are three ways to make money from your website: selling advertising, selling leads, or selling products. No matter what you do, your website has to in some way help someone sell something or it isn't going to make money.
Selling Advertising On Your Website
This is the most common and easiest to get started way of making money with your website. Almost every website that you visit nowadays is covered in ads. There are so many ads that it can be hard to even read the content you are looking for. People running these websites aren't good at selling things, so they just slap more ads on the page hoping to make more money. Advertising when done right can be useful and helpful to a website.
For example, say you ran a website about running because you like to run. If you ran ads for Nike's latest running shoes and someone clicked on that ad and purchased a pair of running shoes. That would be a useful kind of advertising. It helped make purchasing a related product easier when people were looking for information about it. That is good advertising.
Now, imagine you are on the same website, but it is showing ads for industrial oil extraction equipment. You aren't looking for industrial oil extraction equipment. You want information about running and maybe things related to running. Industrial oil extraction equipment has nothing to do with running shoes. Thus, those would be terrible ads.
The key to making money selling advertising on your website is to show ads that make sense for your audience and are advertising a product or service that they are interested in. Unrelated ads are bad ads.
Selling Leads On Your Website
Placing ads and getting paid on those ad views or clicks is the easiest way to make money from your website, but it is not the most profitable. The higher up you get in the buying process, the more money you make per sale made from any form of advertising or promotion on your website. Think of your basic ads as sort of the first level of the pyramid, the next level is leads, and the last level is sales. Each level is progressively more difficult and tends to pay more for results.
Selling leads on your website is like selling ads. Instead of placing a banner or some bit of ad code on your site, you are trying to get a visitor to fill out a lead generation form. This is sometimes known as CPA or Cost Per Action advertising, but it is really just lead generation.
Lead generation can be big money for websites. Some people who are good at it can make six figures a year from their website just in lead generation. But, it is a specific skill and it is more work than just signing up for Google AdSense and putting ads on your website.
Selling Products Or Services On Your Website
The most difficult and most lucrative way to make money with your website is to sell products or services on your website. It is the most difficult because you only get paid when you make a sale instead of getting paid based on clicks or pageviews. If you get good at selling products or services on the internet, it is often the most lucrative method. Usually the commissions on each sale are much higher than the advertising revenue you would otherwise make.
If you go down this route you can sell either your own products or services or someone else's. If you are selling someone else's products on commission, this is known as affiliate marketing.
Selling a product on your site can be as simple as selling a PDF ebook or as complicated as selling a software service like Basecamp. It also could be running your own ecommerce website. If you are running your business' website, then you are selling your own products or service via your website.
If you are doing affiliate marketing, you will be selling other companies' products. They should be related to the topic of your website. For example, if you were doing a site about running shoes, you might end up reviewing different types of shoes or apparel or even gadgets like the Nike+. When you review those products, you could have an affiliate link to Amazon or Zappos. Those links would allow you to get paid a commission when someone makes a purchase after clicking on your link.
Selling products on your own site is such a broad topic that I can't do it justice in just this one article. If you are interested in making money by selling direct on your website, a lot of the same basic rules apply. You need a good design. You need to create content. You need to do good SEO. You need to have good calls to action, or CTA's, on every page. You need to have some kind of email newsletter and drip email campaign. Beyond those basic things, every website is a little different.
So how do you make money with your website?
There are a lot of ways to monetize your website. Some are going to be a better fit for you than others. It depends on what you are trying to achieve, but there is one rule that governs all these different methods. Your website has to lead visitors to spend money on a product or service. That can be by clicking on an advertisement that eventually leads to a sale. It could mean filling out a lead generation form, or it can be making a sale right on your website. It can be some combination of all of those things. But, if your website doesn't eventually lead to people buying things, it won't make money.
Article posted on February 18, 2014
Top image by: nicmcphee