If you already have a website, there’s a good chance that you’ve already found a way to make money from it. In fact, you probably started the site as a business from Day 1. Even if you are making money already, though, you’re probably not making as much as you could. And if you haven’t started making money at all, this is especially important.
Here are three good ways to generate revenue from your website.
Adding advertising is the easiest and most common method of generating revenue from a site. If you’ve tried generating revenue, that’s probably the first thing you did.
There are four distinct types of advertising you can use on your site.
The fastest, easiest way to start generating advertising dollars is with contextual advertising, and when most people say “contextual advertising” they mean Google AdSense.
Since you and Google both make money the same way, from people clicking on the ads, their goal is also your goal: get the best-performing ads in front of your users as often as possible. For the most part, you can just sit back and let it happen.
The advantage to AdSense is that you have to do almost nothing to make money. Google handles everything after you put the code on your page. Plus, you get paid when visitors click the ads, not when they actually buy something. So you don’t have to worry about tracking what products convert the best, etc. Put the AdSense ads in a great spot on your pages and let Google do the rest. There are many sites across the Internet who use AdSense as their only source of revenue and do very well.
Easily the fastest way to get started with AdSense is to download Joel Comm’s e-book What Google Never Told You About Making Money with AdSense. I was skeptical at first (to say the least), and the infomercial-type site didn’t help any, but it came highly recommended, and I was not disappointed. Using only a few tips from the book, I was able to triple my AdSense revenue with less than an hour’s work. I haven’t found any other resource that can match this book—not even close.
Other Contextual Networks
AdSense reigns supreme among contextual ad networks, due not in small part to others being so late to the party. Yahoo! Search Marketing (formerly Overture) is the only other PPC provider that can match AdWords’ number of advertisers, but they have only recently begun a program similar to AdSense. Called Yahoo! Publisher Network (YPN), it is now running in beta and is available by invitation only. Early indications are that it definitely has potential to match AdSense, but the jury is still out.
To date, I haven’t heard of any website owner who has had more success with another contextual provider than they did with AdSense. I’ve done some experimenting myself as well, and nothing else comes close. I’m going to stick with AdSense until I find something better.
There are literally thousands of companies who will pay you to refer customers to them. This is called affiliate marketing. It can be difficult to find which companies have an affiliate program, but major aggregators like Commission Junction make the process much easier. They list more than 1,500 advertisers with affiliate programs and allow you to manage all your affiliate activity in one place. Other highly regarded affiliate aggregators include Affiliate Fuel, LinkShare.com and ClickBank.
There are at least a couple of distinct ways to make money with affiliate programs.
Most people are content to put affiliate banners and buttons in traditional locations across their site and hope that people click on them and decide to purchase something from the advertiser. Average click-through rates on graphical ads are well below 1%, though, so don’t expect to generate much revenue with this method.
A better way to make money with affiliate programs is to actually draw attention to the product or service with an article or other content on your site, or in an email to your customers. Highlighting the product as content causes it to be read by immeasurably more people, and thus leads to much higher click-through rates and revenue.
Additionally, if you’re planning on recommending a product or a company anyway, check first to see if they have an affiliate program. You may very well be able to recommend it and generate some revenue at the same time.
There are lots of ad networks like AdBrite and Text-Link-Ads.com that will sell ads on your site for you. You simply block out some space for them, set your prices (they can help with this) and wait for advertisers to sign up. You usually get complete control over which advertisers get to appear on your site, and some of the networks will actively sell the spots for you in exchange for a percentage of the revenue.
If your site generates a significant amount of traffic, you may be able to secure sponsors who pay you a flat fee every month to advertise their product or service. The easiest way to get sponsors is not to seek them out, but to let them find you. When they do, be sure to make it apparent that you’re open to having advertising on your site by having some affiliate ads running (see above) and by including an “Advertising” link where it can easily be found. That link should take them to a page that describes, at a minimum, what advertising is available on your site and how to get in touch with you. You might also want to include rates for each placement.
Sell a Product
You may be able to supplement your revenue, or discover a new business altogether, by selling a product. For a fee, many companies will allow you to be a reseller of their product and will ship the product directly to the customer with your name on the package. I’ll detail some of those programs in a separate article, but you may already have a product you can sell.
The content of your website may be a product in and of itself. If so, you may be able to charge for access to it. This is a hard one, though. Few sites have managed to develop a working subscription model without destroying the business, and those who have frequently give away some content for free, while reserving “premium” content for paying subscribers. This model definitely isn’t for everyone.
Sell a Service
Can you provide a service that is valuable enough that others would pay for it? Would you be willing to speak to a group about your knowledge and experience? If so, you may be able to add a significant new revenue stream simply by making it clear on your site that your services are for hire.
There are any number of ways to make more money from your website. Most fall under one of these three categories, but these ideas may lead to others that I haven’t listed. You’re always thinking about what your visitors may be interested in, so the key is simply to expand that thinking into things that they may be interested in that there might also be revenue behind.