Building a website with great content that engages a reader is just a small part of what it takes to create an online business. Once the visitors begin to trickle in through search traffic, social media, or rss feeds, monetizing them is the next step. Finding a monetization strategy that is not overly intrusive and keeps the users happy, is one of the toughest parts of making money with a website. If making a profit is your goal, a wide variety of techniques should be tested to get the most out of your traffic.
Here are the top 4 ways to monetize a site:
Adsense or Banner Advertising
Using Google Adsense or banner advertising to generate revenue is an easy way to make money with a website. Adsense is a simple to use program that creates pay per click or pay per impression ads to match the topic of your site or page. Setup can take just minutes, but is usually one of the least profitable methods. By using only Adsense or ad networks as a monetization strategy, you may be leaving a lot of money on the table. You also are losing the chance to convert these 1 time visitors into long term customers.
Direct advertising can also be sold on a CPM (cost per 1000 impressions) or a flat monthly rate. Doing direct deals can often generate more income than with an ad network, because you are removing the middle man.
Becoming an Affiliate
Affiliate programs allow you to sell someone else’s product to collect a commission. Selling products as an affiliate removes the difficult parts of selling a product, like dealing with customers or inventory. Affiliate income is usually greater than the cost per click from an advertising network, but it does take more skill to generate these sales. Affiliate networks have programs for almost any product that you can think of. The top affiliate networks include Commission Junction, Clickbank, and a multitude of CPA networks. These networks work on a cost per sale or cost per action basis, and usually focus on specific types of products.
Types of Affiliate Networks
Commission Junction is a network that has programs which pay on a per sale or per lead basis. They probably have the largest amount of offers to choose from (other than Amazon.com). There are literally 1000’s of products you can sell on your site to earn a commission. The downside of CJ is that the commission rates are usually lower than many of the other networks. Support is also lacking and they do have a reputation for siding with the merchant over the affiliate in a dispute.
Clickbank is a network that specializes in digitally distributed products like e-books and software. They have a huge range of products and offer a large percentage of the cost as a commission. It is not uncommon for a clickbank product to give “75%” of the total sale as a commission. In a percentage of sales, a chargeback will occur when a product is refunded. In this case an affiliate will lose the commission.
A CPA, or Cost Per Action network specializes in lead based commissions. For example, if you are promoting an auto insurance offer, a network will pay you every time a person inputs their personal information into a lead form. An auto insurance lead offer will pay out when a user fills in their name, address, and information about their driving history. It is much easier to generate leads for a commission than to have a user make a credit card purchase. CPA offers can usually give the affiliate the most for their traffic, but there are some significant downsides.
One of the main downsides to working with CPA offer is called “lead scrubbing”. Lead scrubbing occurs when a merchant (the company paying for the lead), does not give you credit for each lead that you generate. When you begin generating leads, the merchant will assess the quality of your leads and adjust the “scrub rate” until they are profitable. They are not given “permission” by the network to do this, but it still occurs very often on almost every network.
Another downside to CPA offers is a high percentage of chargebacks in certain niches. Lead merchants in the education space are well known for this, and will often chargeback a large percentage of the leads generated by the affiliate. Many times legitimate leads are rejected to keep the merchant profitable. This is especially problematic when affiliates are paying for their traffic.
Emails and Newsletters
Starting a newsletter is a way that you can turn a one time visitor into a repeat customer. A newsletter can provide general news about a topic, or help to solve a problem that a user has. If you own a site that teaches a user how to start a blog, a newsletter can show them how by sending them emails every 2-3 days. An auto-responder like Aweber, can be used to do this automatically and turn visitors that may only see your site once, into customers that will return over and over again. The best practice to keep a user subscribed to your list is to send them 3 – 4 quality emails for each email that tries to sell them a product.
Sell Your Own Product
Creating a product or course for your website is one of the most profitable, but time consuming ways to make money with your traffic. A great product can take months or years to create. But when the work is done, you own it and take 100% of the profits. Owning the product will also give you the ability to improve the sales funnel and increase conversions. You will also be able to sell affiliate products on the backend.
Having a site that gets a “flood of traffic” and having a site that generates “a lot of revenue” are two completely different things. The type of monetization strategy you use for you website will depend on the niche and the type of user you cater to. A strategy that works for one site, will not necessarily work for another. Experimentation and split testing will help you figure out how to generate the most money and keep your visitors returning.